JMT – Day 13 – Evolution Lake to Knob at Mile 132

Evolution Basin

Evolution Basin

August 15, 2014

Following the meandering shoreline of Evolution Lake, the trail takes us further into the basin. It’s slow going here. Not because of the tread under our feet or because of the altitude. One simply cannot hike through this amazing basin without frequent stops to admire the splendor. And in my case constantly clicking the shutter button. By the time we reach Wanda Lake, I start seriously worrying about the amount of space on my SD cards.

The route up Muir Pass is not as difficult as we phantomed. The trail is gently graded as it strolls through the swath of alpine scenery dotted with numerous lakes and small yellow wildflowers. Only the very last part steepens but relief is quickly found atop the pass where the iconic Muir Hut sits directly next to the trail. Built by the Sierra Club in 1931 in the honor of John Muir’s work, the hut provides hikers with temporary shelter on an otherwise exposed and desolate section of trail.

Atop Muir Pass with Evolution Basin in the background

Atop Muir Pass with Evolution Basin in the background

Sarah and Michelle join us for compulsory photo in front of the hut. We share a snack atop the pass and welcome each new hiker with a cheer.  I am in an exploratory mood and Dave does not object little bit of scrambling and so when Sarah and Michelle depart, we spent the next hour playing in the granite outcrops surrounding the pass. We come back to the hut just as Kevin’s group approaches the top. We make sure to say hi, and before we know it we’ve been here for two hours. Luckily the rest of the day is downhill and we can easily make up the time. Or so we think.

Muir Hut looks so small from this perspective

Muir Hut looks so small from this perspective

The scenery on the South side of the pass continues to WOW us.The trail descends to Helen Lake on a reasonable thread. From there a creek carves into the canyon leaving a crumbly and often narrow path above its corridor that contains few semi exposed sections. It is neither nerve-racking nor dangerous but it needs to be hiked with caution and caution means slower speed.

From pure granite we start walking back into the greenery. Blooms line the waterway. Monkey flowers mostly with their bright pinks in a stark contrast to the dark tall walls. Shortly afterwards the whitebark pine returns forming thickets of shrub like trees. The lower altitude bring wildlife too. For the first time in couple of days we hear the song of a bird. Frogs chirp nearby, and marmots, the trail bandits are hiding among the rocks.

Dave heading towards Helen Lake

Dave heading towards Helen Lake

In the elevation of around 11,000 ft we come across a knob tucked away from the trail with a view of small meadow and an unnamed lake below. Sandy patch privately hidden in the cover of the stunted pines it is the perfect spot to spend the night. It’s early and we have the stamina to push forward but I am not ready to drop into the thick cover of trees quite yet and so we pitch the tent and enjoy the rest of the day by a beautiful waterfall few hundred feet from our site.

Taking a break on descent from Muir Pass

Taking a break on descent from Muir Pass

Early nigh

Early night

Miles today: 9

Cumulative miles hiked: 132   Miles left: 79

 

Tomorrow we are in for another sweat fest and the trail will claim another victim.

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