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31882Re: Considering the Iva Bell detour

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  • sanfran_rwood
    Jun 20, 2013
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      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "Erica" <xericamunsonx@...> wrote:
      > I'm working on our itinerary - and I'm finding myself
      > seriously considering the detour to Iva Bell Hot Springs.
      > I'm finding myself completely torn between doing a "pure"
      > JMT hike - and soaking my tired muscles into the night under
      > the Sierra stars.

      As a few other folks have noted, quite a bit of the JMT you'd be skipping is (for SoBo'ers) possibly the most boring and tedious. It doesn't get nice again until if levels out and suddenly your start seeing those vistas again -- coincidentally enough, looking down into Cascade Valley towards Fish Creek (at about 37.55227,-119.03026). The portion after that would be sad to miss, but the canyons you'd be replacing it with are also great.

      > - It seems there are 2 good places to re-join the JMT - near Silver Pass (before Lake Virginia and Purple Lake), or heading to VVR and re-joining after VVR. I am debating heading to VVR anyway (but was dreading the hike to it) - would it save significant miles compared to heading back to the JMT - then leaving again for VVR (with no ferry)?

      There are actually three; the first is a steep climb out of Cascade Valley to Purple Lake; the second is to continue up Cascade Valley until its end pushes you up to the JMT just after Tulley Hole but before the Silver Pass ascent, or the third, just skipping it all and heading to VVR.

      Frankly, I wouldn't recommend going straight around to VVR because you'd miss Silver Pass (the first of the series of passes that provide so much of your bragging rights), with gorgeous Squaw Lake, and you'd also miss the wonderful descent down to Quail Meadow.

      The way I came out of Cascade Valley the time I did it skips Purple Lake and Lake Virginia and rejoins the JMT at the low point after Tully Hole. That's the easy way.

      If you really want the nice lakes back into your hike, there is a trail shown climbing out of Cascade Valley to Purple Lake. The portion of Fish Creek after that isn't anything special, but that climb looks tough. If I'm reading right, it looks like you'll climb from 8366 to 9900 feet or so. That'll undo a lot of the soaking you'd done at Ive Bell...

      > - I really don't want to miss Lake Virginia or Purple Lake
      > (and I could potentially still see them) - but as an argument
      > to stick to the JMT - is there anything else I'll be missing
      > on the JMT that I should consider?

      Although those lakes were very nice, the more important thing you'd be missing is Silver Pass.

      > - And, lastly, scenery-wise how is that trail to Iva Bell? If it's particularly un-exciting or hot/exposed...that would be a good argument to stick to the JMT.

      The opposite: the climb out of Red's Meadow is un-exciting, and (depending on the weather) hot and dry. It's under a thin conifer canopy that eliminates views without providing the ferny goodness of heavy forest. Much of your alternate is very exposed, so it'll be a critical sunscreen portion, but with great vistas and often close to streams or rivers.

      After you start climbing again (and you'll have descended to 6350 feet or so, which you'll have to pay back), you'll be in a classic steep-sided Sierra river canyon. The wet crossings of Fish Creek shouldn't be any trouble at all.

      (Say "hi" and "thank you" to the trail workers based at Island Crossing if they're still there.)
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