John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day Three

Quail Meadows to Sallie Keys Lakes: 16.5 miles.

Sept. 14th, 2011.

I got another late start and somehow didn't get on the trail until 9:50 am. I must have needed the recovery time and at least I was leaving an hour earlier than the day before. Camping at Quail Meadows was a perfect place to rest and get ready to hike up Bear Ridge first thing in the morning. I was fresh and ready to head up the 2,000 feet of switchbacks. The trail is well graded along this steep section and it didn't take long to get to the top. I noticed the first tree graffiti carved into the white bark of the trees in this area. At first I thought it was some way of indicating the altitude, but soon I realized people had actually carved their initials into the trees. I wondered who would do that in such a pristine wilderness area?

Bear Ridge switchbacks.

Tree graffiti on the JMT.
I made good time and quickly passed the Italy Lake Trail Jct., Bear Creek Meadow and Rosemarie Meadow. Soon I was chasing the clouds up toward Seldon Pass and passing beautiful Marie Lake. I was still noticing some difficulty getting a full breath of air toward the top of the pass and I felt like I was struggling at the top.

The view of Marie Lake on the way to Seldon Pass.
After Seldon Pass I wandered through an amazing pastoral area filled with flowing creeks and a small lake/tarn surrounded by granite walls. It reminded me of the puffy grass and meandering streams just below Donohue Pass. Total peaceful beauty.

Meandering creek on the way to Heart Lake.

Once past Heart Lake I caught my first glimpse of Sallie Keys Lakes. I had read much about these beautiful remote lakes and I was surprised to come across a lone hiker walking along the shore without a backpack. It turns out he was with a large group that had a base camp set up between the two lakes. There was even a group taking pictures of two girls in row boats on the lake when I passed by. I found a peaceful remote spot in the trees across the lake and set up my tarp and bivy. I did my usual evening routine of stretching and had some dinner by the lake. It was actually calming to fall asleep to the familiar sound of 'Brown Eyed Girl' being played on guitar across the lake that evening. . .  I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain from another passing storm. Another great night on the JMT.

Sallie Keys Lake & more storm clouds.

Paddlers on Sallie Keys Lake.

Map (click for full size)

Elevation Profile (click for full size)

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