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North Lake to South Lake

Day 4 of 7

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Thursday, August 15th
Evolution Meadow to Evolution Lake
6.4 miles
1700 vertical feet (ascent)
130 vertical feet (descent)
5:37


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Yesterday had been longer and tougher than I had originally thought it would be. I knew it would be long, but I think I had expected the 5+ miles (actually more than 6 miles) of downhill to start the day would have been much easier. Today, though, I knew would not be as long or hard (though there was still the matter of about 1600 feet of climbing today). So I let everyone sleep in a little bit today. We didn't get started until about 10:40am.

Today would be a tough day for me, personally, though. I developed blisters, probably due to the heavy pack and long day the previous day. Also, Jean had discovered that she could now fit all our garbage into one of the bear canisters (we'd eaten enough food to clear out space). She gave that now very light bear canister to Nathan. That, plus the fact that I was now carrying Jared's bear canister for him, meant that my pack was now just as heavy as it had been on the first day - if not heavier! I was not happy. But I slogged through, vowing to distribute the weight a little more equitably tomorrow.

The trail starts climbing immediately, though starting at a fairly gradual rate. Early on, we passed a family of 4 coming in the opposite direction; they had two young boys, probably just a bit older than ours. They were one of the few kids I remember seeing on the trail.

Shortly after that, we ran into another backpacker coming in the opposite direction. We got to talking and it turns out he had read my web site. (If that's you, feel free to write in and let me know how your trip went.) He was doing the same trip as us, but in the opposite direction. He mentioned the waterfall at the Evolution Lake outlet stream, so we made a note to check it out.

A little while after that, we were passed by a couple in the same direction. Included in that couple was the man I'd seen at the trailhead on the first day. He asked me about the missing trekking pole, but I said we were just managing without it. They were going at a pretty steady clip. At the rate they were going, I'm guessing they might have finished the trip in 5 days instead of their intended 6. We never saw them again on the rest of the hike.

Evolution Creek

After about 2 miles of steady but gradual climbing (about 350 feet), we reached the edge of McClure Meadow. I walked through a campsite at the edge of the meadow and marveled at the view of the large meadow, but it would get better. We continued up the trail, then found a spot to rest just off the trail by the edge of the meadow. Forest cover blocks much of the views of the meadow from the trail, so you really need to walk out a bit to see it.

McClure Meadow

We put down our packs. I was the first to walk out into the meadow, and said audibly, "wow!" I implored the rest of my family to come out and see the view. They all in turn said "wow." We could see the vast expanse of the meadow and look upstream at Evolution Creek. The scene is backed by the awesome sight of Mt. Mendel, Mt. Darwin, Mt. Spencer, and others, looming thousands of feet above the meadow. Well, you can see the pictures.

McClure Meadow

McClure Meadow

McClure Meadow

Several other groups of backpackers were in the area, as well, soaking in the views. After a long break here, we returned to the trail and continued the climb. We passed the ranger station; it sounded like the ranger was chopping wood or perhaps doing some construction work. We left McClure Meadow behind, to be followed by tiny Colby Meadow about a half mile later.

Colby Meadow, I think

The Hermit, I think

We rock-hopped across a stream, and then started the crux of the climb, a series of relentless switchbacks climbing about 800 feet in total. About halfway up this section the views started to open up, allowing us to look back down at where we'd just come from. When we reached the top of the switchbacks, we were in a different-looking world with more granite and less trees, but still a little bit of climbing left to go.

View from the switchbacks

View from just above the switchbacks

Soon enough we reached Evolution Lake, at around 4:15pm. There were lots of people here, most of them not appearing to be doing much of anything. I think they were doing what our kids would now be doing - waiting for their hiking partners to find a good campsite. We dropped our packs and started exploring. Jean found a site near the outlet stream, close to the waterfall the hiker had mentioned this morning, but I preferred to be within sight of the lake itself. There aren't really any large sites, and not a lot of sites with good wind protection. There are lots of sites exposed to wind. Everyone appeared to be in the same boat as us, looking for a good camp site. One pair of backpackers apparently decided they'd just throw out the rule book and camped on the grass, right next to the trail (and also too close to the water).

Mountains

Mountains near Evolution Lake

First view of Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

We eventually found a decent-sized site that would fit our tent, though it was fairly exposed to the wind. At least we probably had one of the best views of any site, being high enough to have a great view of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Northwestern shore of Evolution Lake

Northwestern corner of Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

We got cleaned up, enjoyed dinner with a great view, and enjoyed the sunset. We were in the tent by 9pm, and we could hear backpackers still coming in at this late hour.

Evolution Lake at sunset

Evolution Lake at sunset

Evolution Lake at sunset

Evolution Lake at sunset

Evolution Lake at sunset

Evolution Lake at sunset

Evolution Lake at sunset

Moon over Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake after sunset

Trail north of Evolution Lake


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