Main Features and Location Notes
Draft Edition; Much more information coming!
I can't help but notice the vast wilderness areas wrapping around the Reds Meadow Trailhead. It is surrounded by fantastic Sierra terrain to the Northwest, the West, and Southwest.
To our Northwest (previous map) and West we've the stunning beauties of the North end of the Ritter Range running up to and kissing the bottom of the Cathedral Range across the top of the Ansel Adams Wilderness of the Inyo National Forest.
To our South and Southwest (map above) we have the JMT tracking across a series of lakes nestled in the undulations acorss the top of the North edge of the rim of Fish Valley. The John Muir Trail brings us to a deep descent preparing us for the steep climb over the Silver Divide and subsequent descent to the VVR ferry on the Northeast end of Lake Thomas Edison.
The map above also shows an alternative route that walks us all the way into the Vermilion Valley Resort and our next resupply. Following the trail South from Reds Meadow into Fish Valley brings us to Iva Bell Hot Springs. Iva Bell is about the highest degree of quality I've seen at natural hot springs anywhere along the trails. Heck, I've got to compare it favorably with a lot of "improved" hot spring up and down Highway 395.
The reason is that Iva Bell has three levels of hot springs running up from its base, each with a nice campsite or two. Each hot spring climbing the mountainside gets progressively hotter, with the upper spring running between 98 and 104 degrees. A cool creek runs 50 yards away from the campsite.
Iva Bell Hot Springs is a wonderful place.
I have traditionally followed up my typical two-night stay at Iva Bell with an attempt at a big miles day. I shoot for making the whole hike from Iva Bell Hot Springs to Vermilion Valley. I will dig the miles I measured during the trips out of my notes as I continue to build this Southern end of the guide, but I think Butch told me it was 28 miles. If I feel good and the day is going well I will try to make it in one long day.
If not, no big deal. There are lots of sweet places to camp on both sides of Goodale Pass on the Silver Divide. The lakes "indian" lakes are especially nice. My favorites are the Lake of the Lone Indian and Papoose Lake.
Though the route of the John Muir Trail past Deer, Duck, Purple, and especially Lake Virginia is nice, the alternative route through Fish Valley is much quieter and less-traveled. Iva Bell Hot Springs can get some Summer weekend backpacker traffic coming out of Mammoth Lakes, but I've always encountered a very wide variety of very cool backpackers out there.
Nonetheless, I still try to time my stay at Iva Bell for mid-week, if possible, to give myself the best chances of snagging the upper campsite & proximity to its very hot spring.
Inyo National Forest
Fish Creek Trail to Iva Bell Hot Springs
Those squares breaking the USGS maps up into grids are the Universal Transverse Mercator / Military Grid Reference System, otherwise commonly known as UTM.
What's important for our general reference purpose is that each side of a square is 1000 meters, or a Kilometer.
From my point of view that is 1000 yards or .62 of a mile.
Diagonal: 1414.22 meters, if my trig is correct.
That converts into 4,639.8 feet or .88 of a mile.
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