Images of my hike out of the John Muir Wilderness on the Cottonwood Lakes Trail. The lake pictured is about 4 miles up the Cottonwood Lakes Trail from the trailhead in Horseshoe Meadow but has no name that I can find: it may be a seasonal lake dependent on snow/rainfall.
Typical appearance of the trail heading back to the trailhead at Horseshoe Meadow. Pines, a few current bushes(genus Ribes), a few heath species(family Ericaceae), riparian species growing along Cottonwood Creek, granitic soils, rocks, boulders. The tramp down was bereft of smoke from the fires all the way to the trail head.
Extensive wetland near the junction of the Cottonwood Lakes Trail and the South Fork Lakes Trail. The upper reaches of the wetland is dominated by Willow species(genus Salix), extending from the foreground to the tree line in the midground. Lower slopes of the wetland is dominated by perennials, grasses and forbs. Close to 11,000′ in elevation, this wetland would be considered sup-alpine.
A small brook crosses the Cottonwood Lakes trail with a tiny waterfall, falling among the mosses and grasses into a shallow pool.
The John Muir Wilderness sign that I passed, leaving. Funny thing: when I was in forestry school, majoring in interpretation(of natural history), I wrote a paper on John Muir, focusing on his evolving relationship with Teddy Roosevelt. The issue of damming the Hetch Hetchy Valley was the death blow to their relationship. And, as it turned out, the death of John Muir a year later: it was widely believed that he he died of heartbreak over the flooding of Hetch Hetchy.
The morning that I hiked out the sun rose, casting a warm glow on the trees and granitic mountains near my camp. Live, dead and dying the trees are all beautiful.