Mammoth Lakes to the JMT

Lakeside camping in the High Sierra

Lakeside camping in the High Sierra

Mammoth Lakes to the John Muir Trail

August 31-September 4, 2017
Group size: maximum of 8 (7 guests, 1 guide)
A moderately strenuous itinerary.  We'll shuttle cars so that we can hike in over spectacular Duck Pass, hike a section of the legendary John Muir Trail, and come out a different route to our cars.  All experience levels welcome, but some fitness required.  A perfect introduction to the High Sierra. 

Trip fee: $1,050 per person
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Included: all meals starting with dinner day 1, through lunch day 5; water filters, camp stoves, pots, pans and related kitchen gear; wilderness permit, maps and experienced guide (ORE/CMA founder Roddy McCalley will lead all trips in 2017).   Basic gear (backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad) can be provided for a small additional fee. 


Day 1: Thursday, August 31
Camp location: Skelton Lake, elevation 9,900'
Hiking distance: 2 miles with packs

Meet at Coldwater Trailhead, elevation 9,120' (above the town of Mammoth Lakes) by noon. Shuttle cars to Horseshoe Lake. Introductions and gear check. Hike to Skelton Lake, make camp.

Orientation to Leave No Trace practices, durable surfaces and informal trails, and how to enjoy lake- and stream-side environments without causing too much erosion.  Nuts and bolts of backpacking: water filtration, camp cooking, topographic maps.  Intro to local flora and fauna.

Day 2: Friday, September 1
Camp location: Upper Purple Lake, elevation 10,100'
Hiking distance: 8 miles

Break camp, hike over Duck Pass (10,800') and meet the John Muir Trail.  Take the JMT south to Purple Lake. Hike around Purple Lake, avoiding campsites heavily used by JMT hikers, and walk up the basin almost a mile to make camp by the small upper lake.

Day 3: Saturday, September 2
Camp location: Upper Purple Lake, elevation 10,100'
Hiking distance: 3-5 miles without packs

On our third day in the John Muir Wilderness we'll keep our camp in the same place and go for a day-hike up the Purple Creek drainage to the remote and pristine upper basin.  This seldom-visited area is home to ephemeral alpine flowers and a string of crystal-clear lakes, and within the home range of one of the Sierra's herds of bighorn sheep.  This is the reward for hiking over Duck Pass with heavy packs the day before--now we get to wander the high country with just lunch, a water bottle and a camera.

Your guide will be sure to introduce you to notable local flora and fauna and discuss the life zones of the High Sierra.

Day 4: Sunday, September 3
Camp location: Deer Creek Crossing, elevation 9,100'
Hiking distance: 9 miles with packs

On our fourth day we'll hike back down to Purple Lake and take the John Muir Trail north for about 8 miles to Deer Creek Crossing.  These are relatively easy miles as we don't go up over any passes, mainly contouring along the side of a long ridge.  We'll have huge vistas to the west, so rest stops along the way will be perfect opportunities for your guide to discuss (to the level of group interest) the geology and history of the Sierra Nevada.

Day 5: Monday, September 4
Hiking distance: 6.5 miles with packs

Break camp and hike out over Mammoth Pass (9,400') to Horseshoe Lake.  We should be out by mid-day.  If your travel plans permit, join your guide for lunch at the Base Camp Cafe in Mammoth Lakes, a local favorite!



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