Day 4: Selden Pass

22 July 2020 
Florence Lake Trail to Muir Trail Ranch to Marie Lakes 
(8 miles, +3,700/-800 feet).

Today we headed two miles down to Muir Trail Ranch to get our resupply buckets.  There is a sign to Muir Trail Ranch, but there was a cryptic amendment posted below that was somewhat confusing.


But we figured it out and found the resupply.  It was not open yet so we decided to go to the hot springs.  That is, until we discovered that it’s a long wet crossing to get to them. 

A hiker coming across the river explained everything to us about crossing the river and locating the springs.  And then he got curiously fixated on where we were relative to the town of Fresno (of course, that’s what we called him the rest of the day: “Fresno”).

We decided to skip the hot springs and returned to Muir Trail Ranch right when they opened.  (Unfortunately, Half Cookie and I discovered later that we left our water treatment drops by the river, but Flower Power was kind enough to let us use hers!)

The woman working at the resupply was very nice and soon we were madly stuffing our packs with food from the buckets we mailed three weeks ago.

Resupply explosion

As it turns out, it was a good thing we did not spend extra time at the hot springs because we had a very big climb ahead of us today.  Almost 4,000 feet!

And with all the bonus miles we hiked from the last two days, our hike today would set us up to get to Reds Meadow a day early, too.

The first 2,000 feet up to Spenger Creek were dusty and exposed through hot stands of manzanita.

2019.07.22 10.57.17
Soooo many switchbacks
Ward Mountain

We originally planned to stop for lunch at Spenger Creek.  But Finder and Bee’s Knees got way ahead and Ultrashuffle, Half Cookie, and Flower Power were way behind. 

By the time the advance party made it to the creek they discovered that the flies were so bad that they needed head nets.  When I caught up to them they decided to press ahead to look for a non-buggy place to take a break.

I waited for the others to catch up and then raced ahead.  Alas, I could not find Finder or Bee’s Knees.  I climbed and climbed and climbed and still no sign of them.  My stomach growled loudly as I worried about how far apart we all were.

When I finally found them, the conditions were no better.  Flies were everywhere.  I was so frustrated I just sat down on the ground and jammed a snickers bar in my mouth.  But the flies were so bad I quickly had to put on my pants and my headnet.  I curled up into a ball to minimize exposed skin surface.

I swear I counted 60 flies on me at once!  But maybe my dark mood biased me….

Soon Half Cookie and the others caught up and she took care of me during my mini-meltdown.  I felt a little better and we decided to press on.

Soon we were in meadows with light breeze, just enough to keep the bugs at bay as long as we kept walking.

Delightfully bug free
Ward Mountain again
Snow surveyor emergency hut

It was nearly 2pm and 3,000 feet for the day before we finally found a breezy place to lunch on the shore of Sally Keys Lake.

I took a swim and it was as though I had never been upset in the first place!

Sally Keyes Lake: my savior!

We discussed whether or not to call it a day at the lake, but some southbound hikers raved about Marie Lakes on the other side of the pass and we still had lots of daylight, so we decided to keep hiking.

Looking up at the next high point, I thought we were almost at Selden Pass.  But I had forgotten about Hart Lake.  (D’oh!)

Heading towards the Hart Lake outlet (not Selden Pass!)
Looking back at Sally Keyes Lakes
Hiking around Hart Lake
Hart Lake

Fresno caught up to me and asked me again where I thought Fresno was.  Weird!

Soon we were just below the pass above a beautiful meadow in a bowl where we stopped to wait for Finder to catch up with us.

Below Selden Pass
2019.07.22 15.52.05
Hoary Buckwheat
Lovely bowl
Ultrashuffle needs a charge

I got a little loopy.

2020.07.22 15.53.36
Put your shorts on!

The last little bit of approach to the pass wound in and out of some very pretty mini-canyons.

Mount Senger
Last peek south from Selden Pass
2020.07.22 16.19.15
What a view!

And then: Marie Lakes!

Half Cookie’s jaw drops: Marie Lakes from Selden Pass

This picture of Half Cookie is by far my favorite I have ever taken in the Sierra.  I am going to send it to Backpacker Magazine!

We enjoyed the pass for a bit, but Flower Power was not feeling well and she quickly made her way down to the lakes.  I followed to see if I could help.  I checked my map to see about our options if she needed to descend further this evening, but as soon as she was able to rest she felt a little better.

We decided to camp at the lakes for the night.  (And, as luck would have it, we set up not too far from our new friend Fresno!)

Selden Pass from Marie Lakes
Home sweet home
2019.07.22 17.26.44
Half Cookie checks on Flower Power
2019.07.22 17.22.46
Bee’s Knees by the lake
Mount Hilgard and Mount Gabb

It got a little chilly later on, but it was warm enough for Flower Power to come out for an evening walk when she was feeling better.  She helped us identify Half Cookie’s new favorite Sierra flower: Ranger’s Buttons!

Hiding from the wind
Ranger’s Buttons

And finally.  After an extremely eventful day.  It was time for bed!

Last light from our tent


One Comment Add yours

  1. Susie Flores says:

    Just beautiful. Marie Lakes looks awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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