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.
Eventually we all woke up, ate breakfast, and were packed and ready for the day.
Our first challenge of the morning was a crossing of Crater Creek. Fortunately, there was a man-made log crossing.
That would be the first of several crossings for the day, including just getting across the trail itself when it was full of water.
The walking got easier once we neared a vast expanse of granite.
We stopped for a good long break here to enjoy the view.
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.
After climbing to about 7300 feet, we started our descent towards Fish Creek.
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.
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.
We all stopped to admire some bear claw marks that were left on an aspen trunk long ago.
After about another mile, we stopped at a nice camping area to rest on some huge trunks.
And from there we followed the trail gradually uphill towards Iva Bell Hot Springs.
The crossing of sharktooth creek was on a high log above raging water. With her steady balance, Scamper volunteered to carry extra packs!
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.
On returning to the campsite, I ventured out with Finder who found two other pools.
With night falling and mosquitoes stirring, we decided to skip the hot springs and enjoy a fire in our lovely wide flat spot.
The mosquitoes chased most of us to bed, but Finder and Geo stayed up to watch the sunset and enjoy the fire.