August 4, 2015
11 miles JMT + 2 mi MTR today, 111 total
Marie Lakes to Piute Bridge
Courtney and I woke up at 5:30am and said goodbye to Heather and Jennifer on our way out of camp. We climbed over Seldon Pass first thing, which was a fairly easy climb since we had done the brunt of it last night. The view over Marie Lake from the pass with the sun coming up over the mountains was beautiful. We stopped to take photos and video (we took a video at the top of every mountain pass) and then looked forward to the rest of the day being downhill!
We cruised to Sallie Keys Lakes where Andrew had supposedly camped last night, but we didn’t see him there. He must have gotten up early today, too.
After eight miles we reached the junction for Muir Trail Ranch. MTR was another resupply stop, but Courtney and I hadn’t sent a food box there because it was only 20 miles from the last stop. However, we knew Andrew, Heather and Jennifer were stopping there, and it was only two miles off trail, so we decided to check it out.
MTR itself was quite cool: it was made up of a series of little cabins that each had their own hot springs inside. Unfortunately, the rental price was quite steep and had to be booked months in advance. There also wasn’t the option for backpackers to camp or go to the bathroom; the crew at MTR seemed to want to cater only to resort guests, so they weren’t as friendly as VVR. On the upside, they did allow us to to go through their resupply buckets, which were organized and filled with food that other hikers had left behind. Knowing we would probably be short on food, Courtney and I perused the buckets and found some great free energy bars and trail mix blends. We laid our tent out to dry in the sun and used one of MTR’s power strips to charge our phones. We had lunch with Andrew in the grass and waited on Heather and Jennifer, who never showed.
After an hour we decided to try and find the nearby hot springs, so we hiked up the trail a little ways and forded a shallow river that led to a series of small, dark pools in a meadow. We sat in the hot springs for a while before exploring a bit more. We found a beautiful, secluded little swimming hole surrounded by granite cliffs, and when we jumped in for a swim, we were delighted to find that the water was the perfect temperature. We swam to the middle where the pool was deep and Courtney and Andrew climbed the granite cliff and jumped into the water below. We leisurely paddled around the pool, deciding that it was our favorite swimming spot to date.
We dipped again in the hot springs before fording the river back to the trail, and hiked back to the JMT at 2:00pm. We hiked for another three miles across Piute Bridge and found a campsite near the river, surrounded by my favorite Ponderosa pine trees. It was only 3:30pm, but we enjoyed being in camp early. The three of us laughed about two hikers we had passed earlier, two girls who were chanting as they walked, “let – it – out! Let – it – out!” and it was only after we passed them that we realized they had been farting all the way down the trail.
While we cooked dinner, Courtney and I compared our itinerary with Andrew’s. They were very close, though Andrew had his summit date of Mt. Whitney a day or two before ours. After comparing notes, he decided our daily mileage made more sense, and we made a plan to stick together until the end of the trail.
We played a few games of farkle and went swimming in the river before turning in to bed at 7:00pm.