September 22nd, 2018
Agnew Meadows mm 915 to Purple Lake mm 894
Distance: 21 miles
0630 – 1830
It was relatively warm at our spot overnight…maybe only into the 40’s. I was even sweating. We walked about 100 meters down the trail and the temperature dropped 10 or 20 degrees in the meadow and near the river. It just goes to show how important site selection is.
It was a short 6 mile hike to a tourist feature called the Devil’s Postpile. It is an exposed cliff of columnar basalt. The columns were formed when a lava lake cooled. I had thought I was leaving the volcanic features behind at Lassen, but these mountains still have tons of evidence of volcanic history…just not recent activity.
From there, it was a quick jaunt to Reds Meadow, a small resort and campground right on the trail. We found Dorothy and News Feed there, along with hot showers, laundry, a cafe, and general store. The shower cost $1 per minute and I splurged on 8 minutes. Most expensive shower ever but I guess it was worth it. Stellar decided to do laundry, so I threw some stuff in with his.
The 2 of us then had a most expensive breakfast at the Mule Cafe. I got french toast and bacon, which wound up being the equivalent of a $3 item at McDonalds, only here it cost $12.50! Seriously, it was the tiniest pieces of bread and 2 meager pieces of overcooked bacon. What a rip-off. To compensate, I did a few shots of half and half creamer and smothered a ton of butter on the toast.
We didn’t feel very satisfied afterwards but later reaped the bounties of all the JMT hikers stopping by. First, 2 ladies in the cafe overheard us lamenting the lack of food and offered to give Stellar all their extras from their resupply box. This was a boon for him, since he needed 4 days worth of food and was going to have to spend a ton of money at the general store, otherwise. They literally brought over a box full of stuff. I scored some olives, sundried tomatoes, and dried shiitake mushrooms to spruce up my meals.
More JMT hikers dumped extra stuff on us and we were having a field day. The best was when a lady brought over a platter of subway sandwiches…I have no idea how she got them there but I took 2. This saved us from buying another expensive and disappointing lunch at the cafe. Some of the best trail angels are other hikers. Thanks to all!
Finally, clean and our stomachs full, Stellar and I left around 2 pm. Dorothy had departed before noon and News Feed met a friend that he would be hanging out with over the weekend. I felt that I had lingered way too long, but there was also cell reception, so it was hard to break away.
It was an uphill trail for 10 miles or so and we figured we could probably only do 12 more miles for the day. I would be shy of my 25 mile average but could probably make up the miles later.
As we climbed, we noticed a couple of fires burning to the west. I felt relieved that they were still far away and mostly behind us, but who knows if they could affect the trail in days to come. I am so happy for my trail schedule so far, as I have just managed to thread the needle between all the fire closures. I couldn’t have timed things more perfectly.
We made it to a lake and stream just before dark to call it a day. It felt like another pretty relaxed day, which is crazy to think that we had a long stop and still did 20 miles. Most others are shooting for 15 miles in a full day. There were many other campers at the lake but plenty of room for all. I picked a spot too high and close to the stream, so was worried about wind and condensation, but it was ok.
Purple Lake was actually purple the next morning.