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50 Mile Mammoth High Sierra Loop
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John Taylorson
(heyjt) - M

Locale: SoCal
50 Mile Mammoth High Sierra Loop on 08/18/2013 18:39:01 MDT Print View

My wife and I had four days to wander the High Sierra while our son was off to camp. We choose a route neither of us had been on before and were once again surprised by the beauty and majesty of the High Sierra! A full trip report is on my blog at

Here are a few details on gear:

Bear Canister: We are both used to bear bagging and not having to use a canister for our food, so the extra 3 pounds kills our base weight. Without the can, my base weight was 9 pounds.

Water: Our plan was to carry minimal water as we were going to be surrounded by water—no need to carry more than needed. We used Aqua Mira in all our fills; using five drops per liter. It’s been over 10 days since and we feel no effects of sickness.

Cooking: We use a supercat alcohol stove. All meals were simple, freezer bag, no cook or “just add water” meals. We basically only used the stove for coffee in the morning and dinner in the evening. We used maybe three ounces of fuel a day.

Duck Lake

Day 1 -- 9.5 miles

Our trip began out of Mammoth Lakes at Coldwater Creek. Our goal for the day was Ram Lake via Duck Lake Pass above Purple Lake, but the altitude and our lack of being in decent backpacking shape made Purple Lake our first nights destination.

Look down on Fish Creek

Day 2 -- 14 miles

From Purple Lake, we took the JMT past Lake Virginia down to Cascade Valley and followed Fish Creek to Lost Keys Lakes. The hike was mostly downhill and provided spectacular views and a huge variety of flora due to the multiple plant communities we walked through.

Ina Bell Hot Springs

Day 3 -- 18 miles

After a great night sleep at Lost Keys, we hiked back down the hill to Fish Creek, shooting lots of photos and video. The hike went from spectacular to incredible as we continue to drop in elevation and into the Jeffery Pine belt. Here we past through groves of Aspen carpeted with lush ferns, towering redwoods and a multitude of animal life, including a mink!

One of the day’s highlights was a quick soak in Ina Bell Hot Springs!

From Island Crossing at 6,300’, we began to climb out of the valley and back into the high country. Our last night was spent at Reds Meadow where we joined a group of JMT thru hikers heading north.

Heading back to Mammoth

Day 4 – 8 miles

Our last day we left camp early and hiked up and over Mammoth Pass back to our car.

I have a lot more detail, photos and a video on

Enjoy and hike light!