Johnston Meadow – ½ way between Deer Creek and Duck Lake
8120 – @ 9600 ( – 645 / + 2125 ft) – @ 13.6 miles
Free Maps Online – Day 8 – Map 12
More blowdowns on the way and all through DPNM – but not at all as bad as we were told. There were some difficult parts, but nothing like what we were warned about. And the trail crews were out in force rocking those trees. We met a nice NPS worker who was leading his advanced crosscutting class.
Across from DPNM, we could see the field of devastation from the fire a few years back that added to the blowdowns this season. We did not know at the time that we would actually walk through that field of burned trees.
We found poor signage through the park, though it was closed and maybe not all the signs were out. We ended up down at Rainbow Falls, which was also nice. Luckily, that’s where I figured out what was happening before we walked all the way to Fish Creek. We backtracked and rejoined the JMT. The climb out was nice.
When we saw that the trail was taking us into the field of burned trees we were excited. As in other instances throughout the trip, it was fascinating to look at something on the horizon and then be there walking in it a few hours later. Getting a close-up look at the way the land responded to the fire was also interesting – seeing the new life growing through the bones of the old.
The hike up to Red Cones and the walk along the ridge there was also lovely. Anytime you get to walk on “level” ground after a lot of descent and ascent, it feels nice!
We found a host of crap at a creek crossing – old fuel canisters and a Bear Can that felt full. The stuff was heavy and rusty. Sadly, we left it there. That was some trash we just could not pack out.
A little hiccup later in the day…We could not tell whether or not that creek with the trash was Deer Creek. There is no water between Deer Creek and Duck Lake – about 5.5 miles. About 1 mile after the creek, I realized that had been THE creek and we were kinda screwed. I kicked into gear to try to make Duck Lake before dark. The distance between Jake and I grew steadily and after a bit I heard him calling out. Luckily, he was fine, just wanted to re-connect. Also luckily, not long after that reunion, we found an unmarked stream and set up camp for the night.
Can you feel it? We are getting closer to VVR! It is also clear to me at this time that I am probably going to run out of food before we get there.