Day 6: Muir Trail Ranch to Evolution Meadow (9 mi.)
Aug. 2: We awake to another cloudy day that portends rain—again. It’s not supposed to be like this in the High Sierra in mid-summer. Where’s the sun!!!!
James finds time for another trip to the hot springs before we leave camp around 10:20. After retracing our steps to the Florence Lake Trail, we head east to rejoin the JMT. In a couple of miles, we cross rain-swollen Piute Creek on a steel footbridge (8,050) and enter Kings Canyon National Park. It’s almost noon and it’s raining again.
We now start to ascend alongside the South Fork San Joaquin River. We cross the South Fork for the first time on a suspension bridge and for a second time, around 2 p.m., after Evolution Creek joins the South Fork on the Goddard Canyon Bridge (8,450). Here we stop to take off our rain gear before starting up the steep switchbacks on the canyon’s east wall, heading towards Evolution Valley alongside Evolution Creek. The climb is mitigated by grand views of cascades across the valley and of the river below.
At about 3:45, we think we’re on the home stretch. The trail has flattened out and Evolution Meadow should only be about another ¼ mile. We hear James and Andrew making lots of noise like they’re having fun, perhaps swimming. And, when we come to Evolution Creek, we find them up to their waists in the water. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to do the same if we are to get across. After all the rain, the creek is high, but at least it’s not raging at this point. After some trial and error, they’ve found a way across where we will only have to wade through a maximum depth of about 3 feet of water. If my legs were only an inch or so longer, I could have made it across without getting my shorts wet. At least the water wasn’t freezing and the creekbed was more sandy than rocky.
As we walk through the woods bordering Evolution Meadow (9,200), we pass a campsite occupied by a horse party. The riders are out on a day ride, but a packer/wrangler is in camp with the mules. They’re loose and make a beeline for us as we pass. They seem to be especially attracted to James and follow him as he leads us forward in search of an empty campsite. We soon find a large site in the woods alongside the meadow.
We’ve another long wait for the mules and, consequently, dinner. Debbie grills tri-tip steaks and accompanies them with some great beans plus carrots and broccoli. Unfortunately, we don’t get to eat until almost 9 and it’s after 10 by the time we get to bed.
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