Day 2: Purple Lake to near Lake of the Lone Indian (6.5 mi.)

July 29: After a not very restful night, I’m awake at my usual hour—around 5:30.  By 6:15, I’ve packed up my gear inside my tent, but everything that was left out to dry—pack cover and poncho—is still wet.  The hot water and coffee are soon ready, so people start to congregate around the fire.  When enough coals are ready, the cook starts to bake a sausage and potato quiche in her Dutch oven.  After breakfast at about 8:30, we pack up our tents, which are not quite dry.

We start hiking around 9:30 a.m.  There’s no rush today; we only have to hike about 7 miles to put us into position to do Silver Pass tomorrow morning.  Generally speaking, we will be walking south along the eastern wall of Cascade Valley with Fish Creek down and to our right.  It’s already partly cloudy when we start out.

After returning to the JMT, we cross the outlet from Purple Lake and head up and over a saddle to Lake Virginia (10,300).  After fording its inlet, we climb up and curve around a mountain before steeply descending via switchbacks to Tully Hole (9,520) and the west bank of Fish Creek where we stop for lunch on some boulders near, but not too near the creek.  (The closer one gets to the creek or into vegetation, the worse the flies get.)  The sun briefly makes an appearance.

After lunch we walk downstream along Fish Creek for a ways.  Kris stops to soak her feet, Tony to take a bath, and George to cast his line into Fish Creek.  George catches and then releases his first fish.  We’re on our way around 1:30.

After passing through a patch of incense cedars, we arrive at a steel bridge over Fish Creek a few minutes after 2 p.m., and it starts to sprinkle.  From here, we follow a stream up towards a basin with several lakes.  We get to the camping area (9,700) up and across the trail from a small, pleasant meadow around 2:30 p.m.

Despite our 1 ˝-hour lunch/bathing/fishing break, we have to wait almost 2 hours for the mules to arrive.  Unfortunately, the weather isn’t very conducive to exploring or photography, much less sunbathing.  Some of us while away the time by finding and clearing spots to put our tents, only to later have these spots occupied by the mules.  It may be the first time this happens, but it won’t be the last.

Since the rain stopped, our cook is able to grill mahi mahi steaks, which are accompanied by salad and garlic potatoes.  Delicious!!  We also get a special treat—apple crisp for dessert, but it’s not ready until almost 9 p.m.--after several people have already turned in.

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