Iva Bell Hot Springs

Crater Creek to Iva Bell Hot Springs
(10 miles, +1,900/-1,800 feet).

I slept well last night, so I was eager to get up and start the day.  Ultrashuffle beat me to the punch, but not before the end of yet another gorgeous predawn light display.

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Early riser
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Fire in the sky

Eventually we all woke up, ate breakfast, and were packed and ready for the day.

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Bee’s Knees, Geo, Scamper, JimmyJam, and Finder
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Here we go!
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Lovely penstemons
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Up close
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Flowers everywhere!

Our first challenge of the morning was a crossing of Crater Creek.  Fortunately, there was a man-made log crossing.

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Finder crossing Crater Creek

That would be the first of several crossings for the day, including just getting across the trail itself when it was full of water.

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Bee’s Knees crossing another stream
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Scamper negotiates a stream (I mean the “trail”)

The walking got easier once we neared a vast expanse of granite.

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Crater Creek finds a seam
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And plummets toward the San Joaquin
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Scamper and Ultrashuffle at the brink of the falls
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Finder checks out the towering granite canyon
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And studies the falls
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This is amazing!
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A view of the lower part of the falls

We stopped for a good long break here to enjoy the view.

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Scamper takes it all in
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View down stream of Middle Fork San Joaquin
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Pretty flowers
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And succulents!
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Sierra Fence Lizard

After our break, we followed the trail where it was hacked right into the granite as it led us to an impossibly idyllic wood perched above.

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Wow
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Meadows and mountains
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Even more stream crossings

After climbing to about 7300 feet, we started our descent towards Fish Creek.

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First view of Silver Creek across the valley
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Mariposa Lilly
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Fish Valley

For the last 700 feet or so of descent, the trail switchbacked quickly to the forest floor.  We stopped for lunch on the switchbacks, where two weekend backpackers stopped to talk with us.  They had just been to Iva Bell Springs, but they had not seen anyone else on trail, and we did not see anyone else the rest of the day.

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The last switchback

Fish Creek was absolutely raging.  But fortunately for us there was a well-built bridge to take us to the south side at Fox Meadow.

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Fish Creek from the bridge
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Bucky ball mushroom

We all stopped to admire some bear claw marks that were left on an aspen trunk long ago.

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They sure can stand tall!

After about another mile, we stopped at a nice camping area to rest on some huge trunks.

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Nap time!

And from there we followed the trail gradually uphill towards Iva Bell Hot Springs.

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Lovely tall trees
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Walking among giants
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The “trail”
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Boulder and raging river
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Towering granite walls
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Slowly up
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More water on trail
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Finder crosses a “seasonal” stream
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And then some snow

The crossing of sharktooth creek was on a high log above raging water.  With her steady balance, Scamper volunteered to carry extra packs!

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Thanks Scamper!

Soon we found a lovely campsite and Ultrashuffle, Scamper, and I dropped our packs to find the springs.  Unfortunately, the one with the view at the top was low and tepid.

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Not so inviting
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But yes, that’s a nice view
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Technicolor algae above the pool

On returning to the campsite, I ventured out with Finder who found two other pools.

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Nicer, but still not very hot
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The nicest one, but that’s lots of algae!

With night falling and mosquitoes stirring, we decided to skip the hot springs and enjoy a fire in our lovely wide flat spot.

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Home sweet home

The mosquitoes chased most of us to bed, but Finder and Geo stayed up to watch the sunset and enjoy the fire.

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