Our journey down the John Muir Trail, name dropping all the way, continues this week.
Here we go with part 8.
The Rainbow Fire. The Rainbow Fire (named for nearby Rainbow Falls) started on August 20, 1992, after lightning struck about six miles south of the Devils Postpile. It was a very large and very high intensity fire due to the fire suppression efforts of the decades prior to the lightning strike. In the illustration above, the red areas show where less than 10% of the original vegetation remained after the fire. If you are planning a southbound 2019 JMT hike, you’ll not notice the after effects of the fire until you leave Red’s Meadow, and then you will be out of the burned area within a couple of hours.
Red Cones. I’ll bet you can guess this one. These two terrain features are called the Red Cones because they are red and because they look like, well, cones. I could find no evidence to support the rumor that they were named by the California Transportation Department after the cones they put up in construction areas. They are as volcanic in origin as they look, and last erupted about 5,000 years ago; surprisingly, there is still enough CO2 being emitted that it affects tree growth, though it is not dangerous to humans. Climbing to the top of either is a pleasant enough side trip if you are interested.
Crater Creek and Upper Crater Meadow. Probably named for the craters at the top of the nearby Red Cones (though we do not know who named them), Crater Creek and Upper Crater Meadow first appeared on a map in 1901.
Purple Lake. From Genny Schumacher Smith’s 1976 book, The Mammoth Lakes Sierra: “From the outlet of Duck lake the trail drops down to join the John Muir Trail, then rounds a granite slope to Purple Lake. Many-hued rocks reflect into its water, giving it a purple tint at certain times of day. These are some of the ancient metamorphic rocks…” Purple Lake is a popular camping spot the first day out of Reds Meadow, though I prefer Lake Virginia, a few miles farther. It can also have an abundance of mosquitoes early in the season. The name first appeared on a map in 1914.
Ram Lake. The lake was named in 1948 by William A. Dill of the California Department of Fish and Game. Dill felt the name was appropriate because the lake was near Bighorn Lake.
Good hiking, Ray