Day 5: Minaret Creek Junction to Deer Creek
Our first stop for day 5 was a visit to Devil’s Postpile National Monument. We were there early enough to beat the regular tourist crowd and we also got to see the sun rise over the odd columnar rock formations.
It was a really interesting stop to make and we even dropped our packs and took the time to follow the trail to the top of the rock formation to see the unique hexagonal “floor” that had been polished by the last glacier.
Our next stop was Red’s Meadow Resort, near Mammoth Lakes. We were able to enjoy a home cooked breakfast at the cafe, get in touch with our families thanks to WiFi and stock up on some resupply items from the store.
Perhaps the best part of our stop at Red’s Meadow was our first experience with a hiker bin. For those who have thru-hiked, a hiker bin is a bucket full of items that other hikers didn’t want or need from their resupply shipments. We were lucky enough to score some sunscreen, a half-full tube of Nuun hydration tablets and random condiment packets!
We particularly liked the signpost as we came into Red’s Meadow. It was nice to know how far from home we were, though that detail is certainly more important to the PCT hikers! Unfortunately we were too early in the day to indulge in beer and we decided that showers weren’t important enough yet (it’s amazing how nice a cool mountain stream can feel!)
Leaving Red’s Meadow we were in the bright and hot Sierra sunshine. The forest South of the resort had been burned in a large wildfire back in 1992. The area is now filled in with aspen trees, whitethorn and lots of gooseberry bushes. Some of the pines are coming back but it’s a short and harsh growing season.
It was a relief when we made it back into the forest, even if it meant a climb. We enjoyed the views back North towards the Minarets as well as the views South of two red cinder cones, whose peaks we ended up hiking between.
We took a short break for lunch and to soak our feet which were quite sore and swollen from the heat of the day.
Our last couple of miles brought us up a ridge beyond the cinder cones and through some lovely wildflower-filled meadows.
We made it into our camp at Deer Creek right as the heat and length of our day started to get to us. Thankfully we were met by our new trail friends who invited us to share their site.
Good friends at the end of a challenging day can make all the difference!