Last week, I had the great fun of taking Dwight to see some of the places I loved the most while hiking the John Muir Trail last year: Muir Trail Ranch (MTR), Selden Pass and Marie Lake.
Dwight is always significantly impaired by high altitude, but thanks to Diamox, and a few days’ of acclimatization time at the fabulous Muir Trail Ranch (elevation 7,665 ft.), he hiked successfully to almost 11K, with over 3200 ft. net elevation gain, and made it to our target destination, Marie Lake.
Muir Trail Ranch deserves its own write-up and photo gallery, so I’ll save my “Ode to MTR” for another day. I’ll just note that Dwight’s acclimatization time included some leisurely fishing on the South Fork of the San Joaquin River, where it runs through the ranch by the tent cabins. Here are two images of the San Joaquin, where Dwight fished with his 3-oz. Tenkara rod, while I enjoyed some rock scrambling and tree-worship on the rock outcroppings high above the river.
The next day, powered by Diamox and MTR’s superlative breakfast, Dwight aced the climb up the tedious, sun-baked switchbacks that north-bound JMT hikers face when they leave Muir Trail Ranch, and successfully crossed Selden Pass to reach our coveted campsite at Marie Lake.
The hardest part of this hike is right at the beginning, gaining 2000 ft. elevation in the 3 miles between MTR and a lovely crossing of Senger Creek, which provides the first opportunity for water (and which, farther down, is the same creek that sparkles past the front doors of the little log cabins at MTR).
Once past Senger Creek, we soon found ourselves on what I think of as “a Sunday walk in the park” along the Sallie Keyes Lakes (elevation 10,313 ft. at the upper lake’s inlet), with a comfortable duff trail beneath our feet and the magnificent trees shading us.
Soon, the trail reaches lovely Heart Lake (10,572 ft. at its inlet). It’s a little gem – water provides a lively musical recital all along the trail here, and flowers both large and tiny fill the rock crevices along the right side of the trail and the little meadows or marshes on the left side, as we head gradually up to Selden Pass.
Before long, we find ourselves at Selden Pass (10,877 ft.), richly rewarded with a panoramic view of my favorite lake of all, Marie Lake (10,567 ft).