TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

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tim
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TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by tim » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:57 pm

I did a trip from Duck Pass to Reds Meadow via Iva Bell Hot Springs (~31 miles) with my 9 year old twins over 5 days this week (7/31-8/4). We drove up from the Bay Area on Friday (7/30) and stopped at Tioga Pass for a quick warm-up hike up Gaylor Peak (just over 11000ft).
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Once we started walking on Saturday morning we had a great time and amazing weather - not a single cloud for the whole trip. After a moderately exhausting climb to Duck Pass (1800ft elevation gain), the first night was at Pika Lake, which was incredibly beautiful, and above most of the bugs (~1.5). We'd been warned by the rangers to expect really bad skeeters, but overall we didn't fare too bad, as they seemed to be largely confined to between 8000ft and 9500ft, and three of our four nights were above or below that altitude range.
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Then we headed from Duck Lake along the JMT to Purple Lake and down the switchbacks to Fish Creek, with the bugs getting progressively worse as we descended (~2 at Purple Lake, 4 at Fish Creek).
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We decided to ford Fish Creek there and head up to the Minnow Creek trail as we'd heard a few people coming the other way complain about the depth of the water at Second Crossing. The ford we used was easy (~2 feet deep with not much of a current) and we camped on the opposite bank at a well used packer campsite, with a pleasant beach nearby, and a fire ring to hold the bugs at bay while we ate dinner.
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The next day the skeeters continued to be problematic almost all the way along the Minnow Creek trail until we descended below about 8000 ft near the hot springs (where the bugs were ~1.5 again). We were lucky enough to have the hot springs all to ourselves that afternoon, until another group (a family of 3 doing the JMT) arrived around 6pm.
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The next morning we pushed onto Cold Creek (virtually no bugs), and on the final morning we left early with the promise of ice cream at Reds Meadow spurring the kids on to walk the last 6 miles in 2 hours 40 mins.

It was a really fun trip. Its the first time we've tried more than 3 days and I was surprised how much easier the kids found the walking the last two days, once they got acclimatized, so it turned out our 6 mile per day target was a bit conservative by that point. Now we've got to figure out what the target will be for next summer - my daughter thinks Whitney (one of the longer ways) sounds like a good idea. I just have to figure out how to carry all the food for more than 5 days, as between us we emptied my stuffed Bearikade completely (and we couldn't even fit the first day's food in there when we started walking). Unfortunately the kids are now trained to expect decent meals including dessert every night!
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maverick
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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by maverick » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:53 am

It is all ways great to see a new generation of backpackers in the making Tim.
I can never get tired of the views from Duck Pass, it really is a good place
to take kids/newbies on a intro backpacking trip. Thanks for posting.

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by windknot » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:49 am

Thanks for the pictures and the report! I need to visit this area soon. I second Maverick, I always enjoy seeing new generations of backpackers. It reminds me of myself at that age (not too long ago!).

Matt
You can read a few backcountry reports here: http://wanderswithtrout.wordpress.com/

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by huts » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:23 pm

WAY COOL!!!!!!!!
I talked my dad into taking me backpacking when I was eleven and I have not missed a summer since.
I'll bet you made a good choice about Second Crossing.

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by hwy395lvrz » Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:00 am

I'm considering going south on the Minnow Creek trail from the hot springs to Olive,Peter Pande and Wilbur Mae lakes.How steep is that climb? Looks like about 2,500 ft. in 1.5 miles to me.Do you recommend your route instead,climbing from the valley up to Marsh Lake?Thanks for any info.

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by maverick » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:11 am

Hi Hwy395lvrz

I would recommend doing the trip out of Edison Lake from the west, unless
there is something specific you want to see, and also depending on how many
days your out for.
Here is a great TR from one of our members that will give you an overview
of the route/area.
http://www.sierra-trails.com/sliver/silver01.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by tim » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:12 am

The Minnow Creek trail up from the hot springs would be a very long continuous climb. However apart from the first bit it is in very well shaded forest and the trail has obviously received some recent maintenance so is in good condition. The turnoff is not signposted as far as we could see and we walked straight past it without noticing on the way out to Island Crossing the next day.

The shorter climb up from Fish Creek is easy (800ft or so) and also well graded and shady. Of course you have to ford Fish Creek twice to get there. However you get a nicer valley to walk through whereas there weren't particularly good views on the lower Minnow Creek trail (mix of forest and open areas but those aren't on the edge of the canyon like the JMT across the valley)

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by hwy395lvrz » Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:40 pm

Thanks for the replies guys! Maverick,I appreciate the link.I've been checking out that same TR for awhile now.I don't know,for almost 35 years now my approach has always been from the east side(hence the handle).I really wanted to check out Cascade Valley,Fish Creek areas.The self-sustaining lakes of the Silver Divide areas are intriguing to me as a fisherman.
Tim,nice TR.Your kids look happy as can be,just to be with you.Thanks for the heads-up on the climb from Iva Bell.Always wondered why there are'nt any trail reports approaching those lakes from that direction.How did you get back to your vehicle at Coldwater after the shuttle from Red's?

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by tim » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:09 am

Once you get the Reds Meadow shuttle up to Mammoth Mountain (costs $7 per adult - exact change only), there are free shuttles in Mammoth. You get the bike shuttle down to the village and then the Lakes Trolley up from there to the bottom of the Coldwater Campground and its ~10 mins/half a mile walk back to the trailhead parking. You can of course do this in the opposite direction as well. Not sure how late in the fall this all runs - probably stops around Labor Day or soon after. We left Reds Meadow on the shuttle at just before 10am and it was nearly 12 by the time we got the car, as the various bus times aren't coordinated.

Obviously if you go the direction we did then you have the advantage of starting at just over 9000ft at Coldwater not 7600ft at Reds Meadow. The one thing I will say about the Minnow Creek trail is that it is virtually deserted - we didn't see anyone at all up there, though even Cascade Valley is pretty quiet compared to the hordes on the JMT.

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Re: TR: Duck Pass to Reds Meadow loop with kids

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:18 am

Nice trip report and photos. Great trip with the kids. Mine can't quite do a trip like this yet (oldest is 8, younger one 4 and a half), so the backpacking we've done has involved shorter hikes beginning with their backpack debut when they were 6 and 2 and a half respectively. My dad got me into the Sierra at about age 6 (my bro was 3), with my first backpack trip at age 8 (to Pear Lake en route to climb Alta Peak). My bro was about 8 or so as of his first backpack trip, which I recall was the MR on Whitney, an extended family trip (mom, dad, bro, me, aunt, two cousins). My kids are not strong enough to do what my bro and I did at the same age (probably physically strong enough but not same level of stoicism), so we're taking it a bit slower with them. Thanks for the great post.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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