August 19, 2104
Day 16 – Muir Trail Ranch (7,600ft) to just before the switchbacks that lead up to Evolution Basin, campsite at (9,940ft).
13.2 miles – 1.5 miles back to the JMT plus another 11.7 miles.
Camped near Darwin Creek just below the switchbacks up to Evolution Basin.
Woke to high cirrus clouds that traverse the sky most of the day, turning dark and threatening late in the afternoon with occasional claps of thunder but no rain.
The cut-off trail back to the JMT (1.5 miles) and then the JMT gently climb up the valley of the South Fork of the San Joaquin River through a fairly dull forest. In fact, much to our disappointment most of the day is spent in nondescript woods.
Just past the Piute Creek crossing, however, a beautiful section of trail hugs the cliff face of the canyon with views of the river below. This narrow canyon feels quite different from any other section of the JMT.
Just past the Goddard Canyon junction switchbacks up the hill afford views back over the valley. A short scramble down the hill we find this awesome cascade with a large hollow that looks like it was blasted out of the rock face.
A short distance beyond, the trail meets up with Evolution Creek with more of the cascades over wide granite slabs we’ve come to love, and this beauty, Evolution Falls.
Next, the Evolution Creek crossing, the only time we have had to actually wade across a creek during our entire time on the JMT. Past here the trail leaves the creek bank, although we continue to parallel it at a distance, and traverses more not so remarkable forest.
Once we reach McClure Meadow the skies to the east have turned dark casting Hermit Peak in shadow. Up from here we catch just the occasional glimpse of the creek and or mountain peak. For one brief moment Hermit Peak is lit behind this lovely small cascade.
We see more people out on the trail and camped at the various campsites along the way than on previous days.
We hike as far as we can go before hitting the next set of switchbacks up to Evolution Basin. At Darwin creek several tributaries tumble down the mountain side and continue down wide granite slabs to a meadow below with a view of Hermit Peak above. A delightful surprise to end the day.
Along the creek we find a good tent site. A couple of other sites in the vicinity are also in use. As we are just below the 10,000ft fire limit, Don builds a fire to take the chill off the air and dry out our wet socks.
Note – For the most part I try to leave my journal entries as I had originally written them, cleaning up the writing but without changing the tone. For this particular post I’m surprised that I described this particular day as boring, when in fact it resulted in some of the best photos of the trip. Just goes to show the bias fatigue and mood can have on one’s perspective.