Mt. Senger ... next chapter
Muir Trail Ranch to Sallie Keyes Lakes and Selden Pass
A leisurely day ... at the half way point of the John Muir Trail
0615-0930 outside Muir Trail Ranch (59°F; dry, clear & calm)
It is a beautiful morning but our boots are still not dry. We dally a while here. I pump water and bump into the Volunteer Ranger again. I hear all her stories. She offers me a "glittery" bear sticker embellishment for my permit. How sweet. You can tell she really loves her job. She gives me a few tips about camping the other side of Selden Pass. I doubt she speaks from personal experience; the tips are probably second hand from other through trekkers. Irene cooks up a corn fritter breakfast and finishes a letter to Sheilina from the warmth of her sleeping bag. Arty, the injured trekker and his two comrades depart their overnight camp headed for the ferry, I guess. Finally the warm sun convinces us we can pack up and mosey over to the Ranch, drop off our mail and hit the trail.
0930-1030 Muir Trail Ranch 37°14.275 / 118°52.830 - 7.7K'
Irene buys a couple more postcards and sits in the store to finish composing her mail. I use the time to shoot some photos of the Ranch facilities. We fill up our water at the Ranch spring water tap (really good water) and move on.
The climb out of Muir Ranch is dry and hot and arduous. We pass boy scouts hurrying down to the hot springs, a couple older JMTers and a mother and her young son also doing the JMT. The woods thin out and provide a view of Blayney Meadows but we can not quite see Florence Lake. There are a few more magnificent red pine trees dispersed in amongst the less impressive foxtail here high on the trail.
1245-1315 Senger Creek 37°15.206 / 118°51.860 - 9.8K' (66°F)
Finally reaching the refreshment of Senger Creek, it seems the climb from Muir Ranch was tougher than expected because we are still in that low-energy-hot- spring-lounge mode. Now we are back on the trail working. Although cool in the shade, the mosquitoes are a little bothersome here so we move on quickly after pumping water, washing up and having a snack.
We hike through one of those junky landscapes with lots of downed trees and helter-skelter new growth. We come upon an open meadow where off in the distance a herd of deer bound off into the trees not stopping to pose for pictures.
It is that time of day when Irene thinks about a bath. We make it to the Sallie Keyes Lakes and start looking for opportunities (see above painting Mt. Senger). We pass by someone's underwear close to shore and hope the owner is not "lost at sea." The trail traverses along the western edge of the southeastern lake so there is no real privacy for a bath here.
1500-1700 Sallie Keyes 37°16.499 / 118°52.715 - 10.2K'
We note a rocky peninsula, ideal for our afternoon bath, on the north shore of the western Sallie Keyes Lake a couple hundred yards off the trail through a marshy delta. The spot is worth the effort to get to it. It provides some seclusion, great access to the lake and a large expanse of warm rock for sunbathing. We spend a leisurely two hours swimming and sunbathing with such apparent pleasure that other travelers on the other side of the lake decide it is a good idea and jump in as well. We maintain the privacy of distance. Once again refreshed, we move on up toward the pass.
Selden Pass is beautifully deceptive. It appears to be closer and a more intimate space than it actually is. The gorge is wider, the trail is longer and the rocks are bigger than at first glance. It takes us an hour to cover a distance that I thought would take only twenty minutes.
1800-1930 Selden Pass 37°17.397 / 118°52.374 - 10.8K' (60°F)
Once at the pass, we climb up a plateau on the west side to seek a small lake by which we might camp. We do not find the lake and are unimpressed with the accommodations and the view. Instead we find flat ground right at the pass suitable for a bivy camp. We have enough water for dinner and all night long (many times you wake up parched in the middle of the night and you need something to drink). So, we settle in to enjoy the setting sun and a nice big dinner. The more we eat the less we have to carry. I am tired, my back hurts and I'm chilled (probably from my swim earlier). There are a few pesky bugs even up here at the pass where there is no standing water to encourage them. I turn in early, but not until after a few obligatory sunset photos. It is amazing how good it can feel to just be laying down, at rest and warm after a full day. However, we only hiked a little over seven miles today.
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