The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
Minaret Creek to Duck Creek
Miles: 14.9 Elevation Gain: 3047′
Trip Miles: 52.6 Elevation Loss: 1309′
Max elevation: 10105 ft
Min elevation: 7664 ft
Total climbing: 3182 ft
We had a light breakfast in camp, since the Red’s restaurant was only a few miles in our future. We made quick work of the 2 mile downhill stretch into Devils Postpile. We stopped to admire the hexagonal basalt columns formed by ice and fire. Well, lava and glaciers. You know nothing, Jon Snow.
From there, it’s just a mile or so into Red’s. We had a nice big, hot breakfast made complete with a root beer float, of course. We picked up our resupply bucket from their store and set to refilling our bear cans. While working on our resupply we chatted with some other JMTers who had also camped near Minaret Creek last night. With food loaded up in our packs and our bellies, we were ready to hit the trail again.
The next few miles took us through the regrowth after the devastation of the 1992 Rainbow Fire. From there it was a trek uphill toward Deer Creek. That was our originally planned stopping point for the day, but since everything had already been offset, we no longer needed to camp there.
As we approached Deer Creek, it started to sprinkle. We stopped for a snack and rehydration break and debated the merits of staying there and potentially staying dry versus pushing on to Duck Creek. It was early enough in the day that moving on made the most sense.
From Deer Creek it was another 5 or so miles uphill toward Duck Creek. The trail led along a ridge above Cascade Valley. The views were slightly dampened by the smoke hanging in the air from some nearby fire, but that just made the vistas across the valley more mysterious and beautiful in their own way.
Along the way, we passed several small groups of JMTers. There was a friendly, older, Asian couple that I stopped to chat with. They were on their 3rd and final year of section hiking the trail and their enthusiasm and dedication at their age was an inspiration.
Arriving at Duck Creek brought us in to a wide, open, sloping meadow with expansive views across the valley. There were already quite a few small groups and tents scattered across the meadow. We made our way up the hill a bit toward a copse of pines and found a secluded flat spot to throw down the blue mansion.
After that, we went to the creek to wash off as best we could in the icy water and to refill our water supplies. We snacked on crackers and hummus, strolled around the meadow, and took pictures before dinner. But by 8:00 we were fed, and tucked into the tent ready to get some rest to recharge for the next day. It started to sprinkle as we were falling asleep and it rained some more at some point during the night. But inside the tent we were cozy, dry, and warm.