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September, 2010 - Duck Lake Trail Backpacking   -   2010/09/25Viewed 306 times this month, last update: 2010/09/25


The first week of September, Vanessa and I took a vacation up in the Sierras. We stayed in Mammoth Lakes for a day to acclimate to the altitude, then took off for a two-day backpacking trip from Lake Mary to Duck Lake. We stayed overnight on a small ridge between Duck Lake and Pika Lake, and very much enjoyed the unmatched beauty and isolation of Duck Lake. It was our first backpacking trip together, and so a single-night trip seemed like a good idea, though the trail is about 6.5 miles, and 2000 feet up from Lake Mary to where we camped, which was at about 10,000 feet of elevation!

We both had heavy packs, and of course I had about 20 pounds of camera gear! I think it was worth the extra weight though, as I think I got some good pictures!


Duck Lake At Dawn


Pika Lake Reflections


Pika Stream


Duck Lake Waterline


Stream, Meadow, Wildflowers at Dawn




Sunset





The Duck Lake Trailhead is at the southern end of Cold Creek Campground, adjacent to Lake Mary. From there it is only a couple of miles to the first very scenic lake along Mammoth Creek: Arrowhead Lake.



From that point on, the trail closely follows Mammoth Creek, stopping next at Skelton Lake:



From there, the trail continues to the headwaters of Mammoth Creek, Barney Lakes. Barney Lakes marks the start of the most difficult part of Duck Lake Trail, the massive switchback portion that ascends 600 feet in less than half a mile, on a rocky mountainside. On our return trip, one of the mule trains that frequents this trail had a break-down of sorts, where one rider had to re-shoe a horse right on the mountainside.



Duck Pass, at 10,800 feet of elevation marks the end of the switchbacks. From Duck Pass, Duck Lake Trail continues South to the far end of Duck Lake, which I walked on my previous trip. Starting at Duck Pass is Pika Lake trail, which goes west toward the Western side of Duck Lake, and to Pika Lake. We took this trail, as I wanted to camp on the ridge between the two lakes.



Vanessa and I made camp, rested, and had dinner in a nice clearing overlooking Duck Lake.



The Night was actually quite nice. Little wind, and surprisingly warm, until about 11:00, when we had to bundle up for added warmth. It probably dipped just below freezing, but not for very long.

In the morning, after I took a few hundred pictures, we headed back to the trailhead. We were both tired, and Vanessa had huge nasty blisters on both her feet. She is an absolute trooper though, as we had a very nice hike back down, and in good time.



Here is a map showing, via the pictures taken, our route:


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See also: January 3rd, 2012 - Heart Lake, September, 2010 - Mammoth

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