Oct 13, 2019 – 8 miles with 2,890 feet of descent
We had another cold night up at Cecille lake as temps again dropped into the low teens. It didn’t seem quite as bad though as we found ourselves tucked in between a rock wall and some trees providing us with some shelter from the wind. We had decided the night before that we would set an alarm for 6:40 a.m. with the plan to be packed up and heading down towards Minaret Lake where we planned on having breakfast. Part of the reason for the earlier start was because we knew we had another half mile of off trail hiking to start the morning and then about 7 miles to the trail head.
There was a bit of nervousness we had as we left camp at about 8:00 that morning. The main reason was we had a few things on our mind that could make the end of our trip a little interesting. On our first day after we had already gone about 5 miles in when Amy had remembered she had forgotten to take the salmon jerky out of the truck when we left. It wasn’t until this morning that she also mentioned that there was some dried pineapple and a few boxes of Starbucks coffee in there as well. So you can imagine what thoughts were racing through our heads. How bad would the trunk look after bear decided to use it as a buffet? Would we be able to drive it? How would we get home? All of these thoughts made for some very imaginative scenarios play out in our brains as we neared the end of our trip. Oh and not to mention we still didn’t know if we would have enough gas to get back into Mammoth and to a gas station. So we all donned our packs and left camp with our fingers crossed.
The off trail down to Minaret Lake actually wasn’t hard to navigate it was just steep, with lots of loose gravel and scree. About half way down we got our first glimpse of Minaret Lake and it was beautiful. Having lingering snow with the fall colors lining the lake and the Minarets hovering high overhead made for a spectacular spot to have breakfast and enjoy our last morning before ending our trip.
The rest of the morning was fairly mundane as we had a relatively smooth trail following a creek down to Devil’s Post Pile and Joanne’s car. Joanne was showing off her trail legs most of the hike out as she took the lead, with both Amy and I doing our best to keep up. Joanne was a great addition to the group. I know she had some trepidations about joining Amy and I as she felt she was going to slow us down but that was never the case.
Once at the trail head we found that we still ended up having about another quarter mile to hike to get to Joanne’s car. Oh and I forgot to mention that at this point in time Joanne wasn’t exactly sure if she had her car keys. She had taken them out of the pocket of her backpack and couldn’t remember where she had placed them. However as she walked up to the car and reached for the door handle the car opened. Thank goodness, the keys must have been buried deep in her pack. I think this is when our minds really started to get creative on what condition our truck would be in. We got to Agnew Meadows trailhead where we had started our hike and we were pleasantly surprised to find the truck just how we left it, PHEW!!! Now we just needed to get back to Mammoth and a gas station before we ran out of gas. We joked about how every time we go backpacking we learn something. Whether it is learning to check backpacks to make sure all of the buckles are there, having all of your tent stakes or making sure you had gas in the vehicle you need to get out in (all of which we have experienced at some point or another), it is always a learning lesson.
We said goodbye to Joanne as we got back into Mammoth and we made it to the gas station adverting an extension to our trip. We exhaled and had a few laughs on how we were able to avoid some potential disasters. Amy and I can’t wait now to get home and continue our plans for our BIG adventure in 2020, the PCT. We have been dreaming of having the opportunity to through hike the PCT for the last 8 years and that time is fast approaching. We look forward to being able to blog more as we hope to complete the hike in one continuous path. Until then thanks for reading and following our adventures.