Friday, November 2, 2012

John Muir Trail - Day 11

August 20, 2012 –Piute Pass Junction to Sapphire Lake
Mileage:  14.5            Elevation:  10,900 feet

Early out this morning due to positioning for Muir Pass tomorrow and extremely heavy packs!  We are hiking by 7:00am.  The trail follows a canyon created by the San Joaquim River.  At the Goodard Pass turn off we start the steep switchbacks into Evolution Valley and McClure Meadow.  The trail climbs a huge waterfall and the views are exceptional.
Mary and Justine crossing Evolution Creek
Upon entering Evolution Valley the ascent is more gradual.  The valley is very long with glimpses of high peaks and waterfalls.  Ranger David checks our permit and gives us a positive weather report for the next few days. 
Evolution Valley

At the end of the valley we cross the creek and then start the steep climb that will take us to Evolution Lake.  We have seen pictures of this lake in most of the guide books about the JMT and are excited to visit.  It is a tough trail, but the lure of the lake calls us.  As we round a bend and the water comes into view it brings tears to my eyes…it is that beautiful!
Evolution Lake
But!  We are not stopping since there are more hiking hours in the day.  We continue on around huge Evolution Lake, with its towering peaks all around, then up to Sapphire Lake.  We set up camp at this high windy rocky area, just 4 miles from Muir Pass.
Campsite at Sapphire Lake

We hiked with Mary and Justin on and off today and are camped near them.  Together we work out a plan to hike the next 5 passes most efficiently.  Tomorrow may have to be a 20 mile day if we plan to get over Mather Pass the following day.

Evening at Sapphire Lake is exquisite.  We are surrounded by great walls of stone and high peaks.  The setting sun brings out the deep color and texture in the rocks.  It is a very special place.

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