Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 12 - Over Selden Pass and into Muir Trail Ranch - 110 miles, the half way point

Today is August 8th and I have many many choices as to how far to go.  I can either stay at Sally Keys Lakes or go all the way to the Muir Trail Ranch.  I don't plan on being there until the 9th but I'll see how I feel and how the weather is.  I start uphill immediately upon leaving the Meadow and come across what must be the most beautiful lake in the world.  Lake Marie is stunning.  I stop for a long time, snack, take photos and just can't take my eyes away.  Some people pass by, headed for the pass.  I am glad I have this lake to myself right now.  Another place to come back to another time.  After a while, I am so taking in with this glorious beauty I start to cry silently.  How else to respond to this grandeur around me and to feeling deeply at home. I belong here and somehow nature responds and affirms - the breeze seems gentler, the sun brighter, fish jump, birds flitter about….

(Lake Marie)

I continue to keep the lake in my gaze as I climb up switchbacks to Selden Pass.  I can't believe I am here.  I have read about this Pass and the lakes and never imagined what it would feel like to finally be here.  Gorgeous.  I chat with a few hikers who are hanging out on top, american and turkish men and we share tales of hikes we have done.  I will meet them again in the hot springs in the meadow at the ranch.  For now, I meander along the lakes, heart lake, Sally Keys Lakes and take my time.  

(Selden Pass and Heart Lake)

It is just about lunch time and I cook a good lunch and dip my feet into the water.  I scout around for campsites when the sky is turning dark and more ominous.  That decides it for me. I don't want to spend a night high up, fairly exposed and in strong rain or hail again.  Not if there is a ranch with some comfort of company and my resupply within reach.  I pack up and head down the hill. And a long never ending hill it is.  As thunder starts and it drizzles, I find myself on a steep exposed hill with shrubs but no trees.  I find unexpected energy and speed.  No way will I be getting hailed and thundered on, no way will I get fried by lightening.  I make it to the ranch in record time for me and am hurting but really pleased with my decision.  I am here a day early and that is good.  I now have 2 full days of rest ahead of me.

Lots of hikers have gathered.  Some are renting the last available cabins, some are resupplying and repacking to head out again, some are waiting out the rain in the tiny shop or under the awnings that protect the buckets and repacking areas.  I do the same.  I don't have my reservation for my night of luxury until the 10th and so I get a bit of food and head to the camping area.  Fortunately it stops to rain long enough to set up my tent and chat with a few people.  I get oriented as to where the hot springs are and head over to them.  I have to ford a cold and strong river and make it by using my hiking poles.  Then a water logged trail across a meadow and there they are, holes in the meadow with steaming hot water and rocks surrounding them.  The mountain ranges are framing the meadow and it is heaven on earth.  I take off my clothes, put them on the rocks that nature has so thoughtfully provided and slide into the water.  Just then, the sun comes out of the clouds and hits the meadow, the water and me.  Heaven on earth!  I chat with a few hikers who join me and don't leave until I have grown webbed hands and feet.  

Back at my tent, the campsite has filled up with hikers.  We exchange experiences, anxiously gage the weather and as it gets really overcast again, we all disappear into our tents and await the downpour.  We are lucky, the rain is light and we can have dry dinners and all of us get to bed early.

(Descent to Muir Trail Ranch)

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