8.5 Miles

2,700 ft elevation gain


We had the benefit of staying in Mammoth before our hike thanks to the Sundeens who were generous and let us stay at their cabin. It was perfect as it was only about 4 miles from the start of our hike. Amy and I were excited but also a little nervous since the temps had dropped significantly leading up to our hike. We knew the weather in the Sierras in mid-October could get cold. Well the forecast was just that. Highs in the low 50’s and lows around 25.  We at least thought that our gear would help us handle this cold weather but only time will tell.

Our day started out great with a good breakfast at The Stove in Mammoth. We had our last meal sitting in chairs and not  having to worry about dishes using freezing cold water. Then it was off to the ranger station to get our permit. Each time we go I feel like we are being tested by the rangers there, as we are quizzed at length regarding rules of backpacking. After successfully passing our test we got our permit and headed for the trail.

Once at the trail we both needed to make a pit stop before starting. To our dismay all the bathrooms at the trail head and campground were locked. Guess we were being denied that last luxury of civilization


We were on the trail at 10:30 heading up Duck Pass.  The cool weather was great for hiking up hill most of the day. We passed a few day hikers but never saw any other backpackers throughout the day. We passed by Arrowhead Lake, Skelton Lake and Barney Lake before getting to the top of Duck Pass around 12:45. Being on top of the pass at 11,000 feet with gusty winds didn’t make you want to stand there too long to take in the sights.

Duck Lake was huge and deep with that amazing deep blue color. It was accented with white caps due to the wind. It probably took us about 30-40 minutes to walk the length of the lake.

After that it was a lot  of ups and downs the rest of the afternoon. We got to Purple Lake around 3:00. Decision time!  Do we press on to Ram Lake another mile and a half or do we stay at Purple which is also at lower elevation. The decision was simple, we were staying.

We had a great dinner of risotto sitting by the lake. The temps have dropped quickly with the sun going down. We layered up and made an attempt to stay out as long as possible. However, that didn’t last long. We are now in the tent trying to stay warm and it is only 7:10. With sunrise being at 7:00 in the morning it might make for a long night. We are both warm so it should be okay until we have to get up in the morning.