Devil's Bathtub on the Edge of the John Muir Wilderness

The Devil's Bathtub

Originally the trip was just supposed to consist of just me and an old buddy.


Instead he ended up bringing his daughter and her girlfriend who were both in their early teens.

We had planned to spend one day hiking to and swimming in Doris Lake, spend one day canoeing on Edison Lake and then backpack in to the Devil's Bathtub, a natural lake in the John Muir Wilderness above Edison Lake, and spend two nights.

The trip overall was enjoyable.

The time we spent at the Devil's Bathtub was a mixed bag.

The mosquitos were voracious in the early morning and evening and could only be driven back with a smokey fire which worked well but left us permeated with smoke.

The first afternoon was a typical warm August day.

When we arrived at the Devil's Bathtub we set up camp and then took a swim in the lake.

Unlike Doris Lake the Devil's Bathtub was cold and clear.

Me and my buddy swam to an offshore rock and sunned ourselves like a pair of old walrus'.

The second afternoon was the wild one.

The sky was sunny and clear in the late morning and into the early afternoon.

I took a break from the others, following a bear path up to a high meadow directly under the rocky peaks. I never saw the bear and assumed he was probably off his path sleeping somewhere at midday.

As I was returning the cup in the peaks at the bottom of which lay the Devil's Bathtub was rapidly filling with clouds. I took another quick dip in the lake to wash off the grime from the trail.

As I set on a rock drying the raindrops began. I stood under a huge cedar and waited out the cloud burst. After a good rain it let up and I returned to camp.

Once in camp the rain returned with a vengeance.

This time it did not let up and the area that our tents encircled was rapidly filling up with water.

Me and my buddy started digging a couple of short trenches to drain the water away from our tents.

As we were doing so the rain let up.

And then we found out why they call it the Devil's Bathtub.

The lightening was marching up through the forest.

The strikes were becoming more frequent and definitely louder. We huddled under a giant cedar in a forest of cedar wet to the bone. Then we stated hearing the lightening at the same time we saw.

The lightening continued it's relentless march towards us and

Ka-Boom! It struck about a hundred feet away!

We thanked God profusely as the march of the lightening continued up across the lake!

So we learned first hand why this particular spot held the name of the Devil's Bathtub!

Later after the rain had stopped and we had gotten a fire started I walked over to the spot that the lightening had struck.

Early I had seen a peculiar charred stump while collecting word.

I had kicked the stump which was about six inches thick and waist high.

It had felt like a kicked a steel column.

As I approached the spot that the lightening had struck I noted that the same stump that I had kicked was now smoldering.

The stump was totally dry after the fierce downfall of rain.

And it was hot to the touch.

My theory is that this stump had been struck by lightening more than once which refutes the theory that lightening never strikes the same spot twice.

The weather conditions at the Devil's Bathtub could be explained by the cup in the peaks under which the Devil's Bathtub rested. The peaks must funnel the storm clouds together to increase the severity of the storm.

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