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Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

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Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby Eigenguy » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:21 pm

I have been wanting to do Minaret Lake for a while and with the road closing soon, I'd like to get to it soon. I originally thought this hike was about the same length as Duck Pass (about 11 miles RT), but recently found that the measurement on Mammoth Trails is incorrect (after looking at others' GPX files) and it is actually 15 miles roundtrip. I plan on starting at Devils Postpile and ending at Lake Minaret (I won't be doing the cross country to Iceberg or Cecile). On Duck Pass I got a late start (around noon) and really cut it close with sunset.

On the same site, people rated this hike as an "easy day hike" which seems a bit suspect to me since so many people hike to the lake, and then setup camp there for longer trips.

Do you think this hike is doable in a day? Is there anything particularly tricky such as a steep climb or rock scrambling? I am thinking I could make it if I start at 8am the latest, but I am curious what others think.



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Re: Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby SSSdave » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:41 am

Sure easily for some people.

Hello Eigenuy,

One cannot discern whether your input is about day hiking or backpacking? You say "On Duck Pass I got a late start (around noon) and really cut it close with sunset." That could be just to reach the pass and camp as a backpacker or could be as a day hiker just returning to the trailhead.

As someone new to the board, how do you expect anyone to provide a meaningful answer without any information about how physically fit you are, your experience, the altitude you live at, and how much gear you are carrying? An active trail runner in shorts could easily reach the lake and return to the trailhead in just a few hours. A reasonably fit day hiker at this time of year with only 11 hours of daylight would have to be walking at a good pace to reach the lake, take a pi$$, and then return because uphill on a rocky irregular trail tends to be slower than walking 3 mph along a flat level route. A low elevation urban person that doesn't regularly exercise or climb uphill trails would also have to contend with their body not being used to less oxygen at those elevations.

The distance is 7.5 miles and 2500 feet of up vertical at 7.5 to 10k elevations thus for an average fit backpacker with a 30 to 40 pound pack moderately strenuous half day effort.

One other thing, it is already late October now and Minaret Summit could close for winter with a large storm as has happened occasionally over the years.
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Re: Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby maverick » Thu Oct 22, 2015 12:44 pm

There is supposed to be a couple of inches of snow at higher elevations from last weekends storm, an interagency controlled burn was supposed to take place in Reds Meadow, but has been delayed because of the snow. Keep this in mind before heading up, give the Mammoth Visitors Center a call for a conditions update.
Check out this web cam at Mccoy Station in Mammoth: http://www.mammothmountain.com/winter/s ... /mccoy-cam
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Re: Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby Eigenguy » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:18 pm

Thanks. I ended up doing the Shadow Lake hike instead, to test myself, and that was enough for now. I started at 10am and finished around 2pm. It was somewhere between 35-45 degrees when I started and was quite bundled up. After a mile, I got really hot and was able to hike in a long sleeve shirt and shorts the rest of the way. There was no snow anywhere in the Reds Meadow Valley along the road starting past the ranger station and ending at the resort, and I only saw it on the mountains. Of course, my hike was somewhere in the 8000-9000 ft elevation range. I saw about 10 people, all in pairs and one group of three guys. Some people were wearing even less than me!

I think I am going to hold off on Minaret Lake until next June when the days are near their longest, or July if the road is still closed. I also want to work towards a faster pace. Based on my pace today, I think I could make it next summer if I start early in the morning, and then have some time to rest, eat, etc. but with the shorter days now and my current pace, I would have to hustle both ways with very little time to recover. I live in Mammoth so am acclimated and in good shape, though my pace is around 2-3mph because I seem to take my sweet time on rocky sections. Fortunately, I carry maybe 10 lbs at the absolute most (day pack, not backpack).
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Re: Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby Jimr » Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:07 am

Interesting. I would consider 2mph an average speed and 3mph a fast speed. 3mph on a flat sidewalk is a fairly fast gait.
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Re: Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby Eigenguy » Fri Oct 23, 2015 10:36 pm

Jimr wrote:Interesting. I would consider 2mph an average speed and 3mph a fast speed. 3mph on a flat sidewalk is a fairly fast gait.


You're probably right given the GPX files I've seen. I've noticed that there many backpackers can really pass me quickly, maybe at twice the speed, and soon be out of sight. I am guessing I am about 2.5-3mph on smooth and level dirt (I've always been an impatient walker), but go down to 1mph or lower on rocks, climbs and descents. I'd like to improve on the climbs/descents or get better grip on my shoes or something. I also tend to slow down a lot on the way back.
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Re: Minaret Lake Out and Back Doable?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:56 am

Your walking pace and overall day-hike rate are two very different things! What really kills your overall time are excessive rest breaks. But, what is your goal? I take lots of photos and like to spend some time at my destination just poking around. So I may spend an hour or more there, then walk out at a steady pace without rest breaks. Someone else may prefer to stop a lot (for example if you are into taking photos of flowers or small scale features) on the way in and out. If on the other hand, you simply want to push for the athletic work-out, then eliminate rest breaks all together. Lately, I have noticed many more trail runners and day-hikers who simply are out there for the work-out. They are the ones who wiz past me. Figure out your goals, hike your own hike, and do not worry about other hiker's paces.

I always feel I am going slow on the way out. I think my mind is simply tricking me- I look at my watch and 10 minutes SEEMS like an hour!
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