John Muir Trail Day 11

Iva Bell Hot Springs

Daily Neet Beat
Today we woke up next to the beautiful Iva Bell Hot Springs. We had our own little soaking pool with just the right temperature which we enjoyed watching the sunset from last night. I am tempted to stay here and hang out at the hot springs. They are all over the hill in several different drainages. There are not a lot of people here because it is hard to get to and does require backpacking and finding them. We dropped around 3,000 ft  yesterday and did a serious diversion away from the John Muir Trail to see them. We ran into 3 high school kids doing the John Muir Trail. One guy, Liam, said that he knows someone who has worked in the Sierras for over 20 years and told him he had to go to the Iva Bell Hot Springs. I agree now that I have been there, this is definitely a slice of heaven. But who was this Iva Bell? I am curious to find out….
We get up in the morning and now have to climb back out of Cascade Valley and up to around 10,000 feet where Purple Lake is. The Purple Lake Trail climbs from 8,500 feet to over 10,000 feet in 2.5 miles and we have over 3,000 feet to climb up today. Guess you pay your dues when going to a special place like Iva Bell. We climb 8.4 miles and close to 3,000 feet and get to Purple Lake around 11am. We are now back on the John Muir Trail headed south. We hike over a small pass and drop into Lake Virginia which is this beautiful deep blue with altered Paleozoic rocks tilted vertically and shot through with hydrothermal fluids. The geology here is fascinating. We then drop down some steep switchbacks down, down, down, into Tully’s hole. We passed a bunch of people climbing up who looked exhausted on the southern exposed slope with dry land plants such as sage. This climb of over 1,000 feet up a steep ridge with tight switchbacks clearly is tough. I am glad I am going down. We finally set up camp at the junction with Fish Creek Trail after I twisted my ankle. Hopefully it will be OK.

Just the Facts

From Iva Bell Hot Springs to Fish Creek Trail junction with JMT via the Purple Lake Trail
Camp: Fish Creek Trail junction
Miles: 13.1
Total Miles: 125
Elevation gain and loss: 3,036 feet up and 1,169 feet down
Sunny and pleasant

Photos of the Day

Climbing up out of Cascade Valley on the Purple Lake Trail

Lake Virginia with altered Paleozoic rocks in the background

Looking Down into Tully Hole. What comes down here must go up!

Soaking my twisted ankle in a very cold stream



  1. I’m sorry you twisted your ankle. But aren’t you and Ray already pretty twisted, sister? But seriously, I hope the stream did the trick!

    1. It did! I was fine after about 3 days. I used a compression sleeve and started using a hiking pole. My ankle was totally healed by the time we hiked out.

Leave a Reply