Day 53 Big Pete Meadow to San Joaquin River

It was almost a petting zoo today, with so many animals in abundance on the trail. Finally a warmer night meant we were all rested heading into our next pass. Beginning in a forested valley, our first mile was filled with deer, grazing contentedly in the forest. It was almost possible to walk up and touch them. After some short stream crossings and almost falling of a log because of a fish, we made our way up. Climbing steadily for six miles, we initially followed the river to our left. After some rocky switchbacks and periods of forest cover, we eventually came out on to a small plateau. Here we cast our gaze to the north, and could see a series of ridges. With a surprising amount of snow accumulated in this south facing valley, it made a change for us to hike up it. Crossing the river twice, we cut through some narrow canyons, at points right along a lake shore. Some parts required us to boulder hop above the snow, while others saw us just trudge across it. As we made our way up we saw the valley split, and in heavy snow you would want to make sure you picked the right pass. Some heavier snow sections were completed just before the top, as we reached Muir Pass, just below 12,000 feet. Once accomplished, we admired a stone hut built in the 1930’s by the Sierra Club, and caught sight of marmots running merrily across the snow. From here we descended north into a large basin, requiring more snow crossings and boulder scrambling, but nothing too troublesome. A gorgeous set of lakes was enough to make Jo and Sole Catcher jump in for a quick dip. Lunch was overlooking Evolution Basin, with more lakes to come. Descending gently for a change, we meandered around the sides of these beautiful lakes, catching sight of one fisherman. More chipmunks and small rodents were seen, as well as yet more deer. Picture perfect, it was a shame we couldn’t camp here. A series of short, sharp switchbacks saw us plunge back into tree cover. The last five miles before dinner saw the trail meander through the base of the valley, filled with running streams, meadows and forest. Just before we had to cross Evolution Creek, we supped and tried to fill up on water, even as we were ferociously attacked by swarms of mosquitos. What could be a dangerous ford in high snow years, was only calf deep for us, but marked the first true crossing where we got out feet wet. Camp was soon after, down in an adjacent valley next to a running stream. The white noise of rapids smothering any other noises.

Miles hiked – 20

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