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Duck Pass Trip

Day 6 of 6

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Saturday, August 12th
Pika Lake to Coldwater Campground
5.0 miles
400 vertical feet (ascent)
1800 vertical feet (descent)
2:55


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GPX File

Wanting to get an early start back home, we got up early and did a good job packing up and breaking camp at bit after 9am. We followed the trail across the Pika Lake outlet stream, then back through the muddy part of the trail near Duck Lake, then up the steep climb to the intersection. Turning right, we quickly went over Duck Pass and started our long descent.

Rocks over Pika Lake outlet stream

Trail next to Pika Lake outlet stream

Pika Lake outlet stream flowing into Duck Lake

While we descended, we started to get passed by trail runners. It looked like there was a high school cross country track team doing a trail run. I'm guessing they started at the trailhead early, ran out to the southwest end of Duck Lake, then started back. They came mostly in clumps of 3 or 4 or 5 (or more) runners.

As we approached Barney Lake, we saw a horse train coming the opposite direction. I saw something I've never seen before: the last person riding had her face down in her phone, probably texting. Texting while riding a horse. Admittedly, the horse was going real slow and didn't have to be steered much.

Barney Lake

Barney Lake

After a snack break at Barney Lake, we hardly stopped after that. We started to see lots of day hikers between Barney Lake and Skelton Lake. After Skelton Lake the trail levels off a bit on the way to Arrowhead Lake. Then it descends more steeply and longer than I had remembered on the way up. But we made good time, arriving back at the trailhead in less than 3 hours from the time we left camp.

We retrieved the stuff from the bear locker that we had left, changed into clean clothes, then drove over to Whoa Nellie Deli near Lee Vining. It was 1:30pm by the time we arrived there, but still had a big lunch crowd. After lunch, we continued north on highway 395, then turned west onto Highway 108, returning to the Bay Area the same way we'd come. Thankfully, there was no traffic this time and we were back to the Bay Area around 7pm.

This wasn't the trip we had intended, but we stayed safe and made the most of it, visiting some really nice lakes. I am glad we stayed the last night at Pika Lake, as that was my favorite camp site of the trip. Ram Lake was also really nice, and having it all to ourselves was appreciated. Still, this is a reminder to never take anything for granted. Next time, I'll make a better effort to check on current conditions in the days and weeks leading up to our trip.


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