August 16, 2012 – Crater Meadows to Lake VirginiaMileage: 12 Elevation: 10338 feet
Early out from Crater Meadows, we hike a lovely forested trail to Deer Creek, where we fill up our water bottles since the next 5 ½ miles is dry. The elevation gain is gradual which makes for quick hiking. At one point a lone trail runner comes by. He is racing to meet his girlfriend who is attempting to break the Whitney to Yosemite “hiking” record of 3 days 15 hours! He expects to meet up with her in the next few hours. We hike on pretty excited to show our support for her effort as she passes us.
|Soaking feet below Purple Lake|
We also encounter two pack trains of mules with the US Forest Service. They have been working to clear trails of downed timber due to the devastating wind storm of November 2011. They have received special governmental permission to use chain saws in the wilderness during the early season for this, but then had to go to cross cut saws later in the season. The US Forest Service has worked closely with the Pacific Crest Trail Association in this effort. The damage has been noticeable during our hike since the Red’s Meadow area. It has been an incredible effort and the trail is now completely clear!
The lone runner returns along the trail. He has not met up with his girlfriend. He is worried, but believes she probably left the trail at Vermilion Resort.
We head up the last two miles toward Lake Virginia as the weather begins to cloud up! The coolness makes the climb easier. As we arrive at high, exposed Lake Virginia the force of the storm has increased and we are engulfed in thunder, lightning and rain. We quickly move into “rain drill” mode, throw up the tent in a somewhat protected area and dive in. After two hours we crawl out as the skies are clearing. By evening the views are exceptional with high mountains reflected in Lake Virginia and receding clouds lit up as the sun sets.
|Evening light at Lake Virginia|