Day 5: Rosemarie Meadow over Selden Pass to Muir Trail Ranch (9.8 mi.)

Aug. 1: My birthday!  Iím greeted with the strains of Happy Birthday when I approach the group gathered around the fire for breakfast, and, thank goodness, that's that.

The day starts out cloudyóbad news after all the rain yesterday.

No need putting on boots quite yet, we have to start our day by crossing the stream and the soggy meadow.  Along the trail above the meadow is a rocky bench where several hikers had camped overnight. We stop here to change into our boots before continuing the climb we had started yesterday towards Selden Pass (10,900).  Itís a few minutes before 10 a.m. when we finally get started.

Itís a gradual climb over 2.5 miles to Selden Pass.  Along the way we pass Marie Lake, the source of Bear Creek, with its rocky islands and grassy shoreline.  I arrive at the pass around 11:35 a.m.  After a brief stop to take photographs, weíre on our way down the steep, rocky switchbacks towards Heart and Sallie Keyes Lakes.  An hour later, we finally find a few rocks to stop, sit, and eat a sandwich.  Of course, it starts to rain again, so itís a quick stop.  It continues to rain/drizzle on and off, but never as hard as it did the preceding day. 










We continue our gradual descent, reaching a large meadow with a small cabin used in the winter by snow survey crews.  Here we meet a forest service ranger and a work crew, one with a big GPS unit on his back and some shouldering shovels.  Later on we meet their pack train.  At Senger Creek (9,740), the trail begins to descend more steeply, switchbacking down to 8,400 where we are to veer off the trail to descend to a junction with trails to a campground near the Muir Trail Ranch and to Blayney Meadow.  At the point where we are to leave the JMT, we find Mark and Dina sitting by the trail wondering whether James, who is always out in front, has taken the correct route or not.  When the last of the group arrives, we decide to proceed down to the junction where we need to make a decision about where to camp for the night.  This side trail is steeper and more rugged than the JMT was on this mountainside; more like our trails back east.  At the junction we find James; itís about 4:30.

Tony and a few others leave to check out the public campground next to the Muir Trail Ranch.  Tony reports that there is a campsite big enough for all of us, and after waiting an hour or so for the mules, some of us give up and move down to the campsite to gather wood and start a fire.  Tony remains to let the pack staff know where we have decided to camp.  Quite soon after we stake out our campsite, a group of boy scouts move into the campsite adjoining ours.  They quickly set up camp; we have to wait until 6:30 for the mules and our equipment. 

Meanwhile, James leaves to find and use the hot springs on the other side of the swollen river.  After a while, he returns to report that he managed to get across the river on a log, walked a mile or so along the shore, but couldnít find the hot springs.  So Tony shows him on the map where they are and off he goes again.  This time heís successful and soon others hikers are stopping by to ask him how to find the hot springs.

For dinner we have chicken and tortillas, since itís too late to make enchiladas.

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