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An Evolutionary Odyssesy

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An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby desertdawg » Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:45 pm

Last week we spent 8 days, seven nights wandering the Sierra Nevada aimlessly. We started and ended at North Lake, about 20 miles west of Bishop, CA. We entered through Piute Pass and exited over the Lamarck Col. A great trip in an awesome mountain range.

We hiked 10 miles per day for the first 3 days then got slowed by a storm in the Sierra IN AUGUST :eek: ( It didn't amount to much). We initially wanted to go over Muir Pass into the Ionian Basin to climb a Colorado like ;) Class 2 Mt Goddard. (Getting to the top of most CA 13er's is slightly more difficult than most CO 13 and 14er's.). Predicted storminess had us stay low and miss the Ionian Basin, however we more than made up for this by spending some time on the Darwin Bench and climbing 13, 262 foot Mt. Goethe via it's Class 2 west face. On the last day we popped over the Lamarck Col and our descent to the North Lake trailhead.

Our first night was in the Buttermilks. View is west towards Mt. Humphreys. The Humphreys basin is on the other side of this ridge.
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Day one was a trek over Piute Pass into the Humphreys Basin. Piute Pass Trail.
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View south down the valley we just hiked up.
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View NW into the Humphreys Basin
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Mt Humphreys from the west.
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Our camp in the Humphreys Basin. Looking west to the Glacier Divide. We would be on the other side of the divide in 3-4 days.
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Another view towards the Glacier Divide.
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We spent one night in the Humphreys Basin then traipsed down Piute Canyon till it met the JMT at Godddard Creek. We moseyed down Goddard Creek until we hit the turn for Evolution Meadow and the Evolution Valley.

Guess they'll have to change these signs.
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We noticed the weather was different than expected for early August, windy with lots of cumulus clouds blowing in from the west so we stopped at the McClure Meadows ranger station to inquire about the weather. Ranger Dave notified us that 1-3 inches of snow were forecast above 10,000 feet in about 36- 48 hours. We were prepared for stormy weather but once above 11,000 feet there ain't much in the way of wind protection and since our plans had us hanging out in the exposed Ionian Basin atop Muir Pass we decided to hang in Colby Meadow until the forecast storm blew over.

The Hermit from Colby Meadow
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The Evolution Range from Colby Meadow
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On one of our rest days during the storm break we did a 14 mile hike to Wanda Lake near the Muir Pass. It was cool, dark, and windy but no precip.

Evolution Lake
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Wanda Lake with the Muir Pass in the distance.
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The Goddard Divide, Mt Goddard on right, from the south end of Evolution Lake.
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The JMT/PCT heading north through the Evolution Basin.
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After 4 days of 10 plus miles per day, 3 with packs, we did a down day on the day it was supposed to storm. We wandered the meadows, snoozed then decided to head up McGee Canyon. Only about 5 miles this day.

Mt Mendel and Mt Darwin from the McGee Canyon mouth.
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McClure Meadow looking west.
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Mt McGee
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The predicted storm never materialized this far south, just wind and cool temps. Night time lows dropped into the mid to high 20's. I had just purchased a smaller, lighter 30 degree bag for this trip, leaving my 20 degree bag at home, but I was never cold. After 3 nights in Colby Meadow we ventured up to the Darwin Bench for a couple of nights before our departure over the Lamrack Col.

Mt Goddard(center right) and The Hermit(right) from the Darwin Bench
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The Hermit from the Darwin Bench
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Mt Spencer
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Mt Wallace, Evolution Lake, Mt Spencer, and ???
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The Hermit with Peter Mt in the background
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TBC. Mt Goethe and the Lamarck Col



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An Evolutionary Odyssesy - part 2

Postby desertdawg » Thu Aug 13, 2009 3:47 pm

On Saturday we decided to hike a ridge to the north of our campsite. Once on top of that ridge we noticed it averaged about 5 feet in width and just kept going east so we followed iti up and up and up to the top of Mt Goethe @ 13,262 feet.

Our camp on the Darwin Bench
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The ridge leading to Mt Goethe.
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Peaking out.
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Pointing to the Lamarck Col which we will cross on Sunday.
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We summited Mt Goethe on August 8 which, coincidentally, was my 2 year anniversary for open heart surgery, I had an aortic valve replacement. View to south.
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View north,Mt Humphreys, Humphreys Basin, Mt Morgan, Dade and Bear Creek Spire way out there.
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View SW towards the Goddard Divide with the Darwin Bench and Evolution Valley in the foreground.
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View NE. Goethe Lakes, Mt Humphreys, Humphreys Basin, Mt Morgan.
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A happy cirque.
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Mt Goddard from the Darwin Bench
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The Lamarck Col from the west.
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Two of the Darwin Lakes
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Climbing to the Col
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Another sign that needs to be changed thanks to our legislative system
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Looking east down Lamarck Canyon towards Bishop, CA 9000 feet below.
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One last look at the snowfield before crossing the Col from the east.
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F*&% You
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This is where we screwed up royally. We were following many use trails, there is no "official trail" on our Thomas Harrison map though there is a "main"
use trail that is fairly easy to find from the east but not too easy from the west if you don't know where it is.

We ended up down climbing to the right of the snow in the photo. It is much steeper than it looks. In fact, I found it easier to face the mountain and climb down like I was going down a ladder. It was steep and I had a 35 pound pack on. That was the easy part compared to the next hour.
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Once we got to the flats we had to cross furniture size talus for about an hour, I bet we went less than a half mile. It was agonizingly slow and frustrating. Our little detour probably cost us 2 hours. Oh well. Life goes on.

Once past the talus we found the trail and proceeded 2 miles to the trail head. We started day one with 50 pound packs and ended with 35 pound packs. I ate my last Cliff bar and drank the last of mt water during the last 2 miles. An interesting observation was that the average age of the people we saw looked to be over 50. We saw many 4-8 person groups of couples in their 60's and a few people 70 or older, some out for 2 weeks!!! Where are all the youngsters? I started backpacking in high school and try to get out every year and have so for the past 30 years.

Photo quality not as good as i would like, lighting was difficult and I was using an old Canon a530 that has been beat to hell.

A few panos

Glacier Divide from Humphreys Basin
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Mt Muriel, Mt Mendel, and Mt Darwin from the east.
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Mt Muriel to Mt McGee from the McGee Cyn bench. The Hermit in the middle.
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby gary c. » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:40 pm

Those pictures are great! =D>
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby maverick » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:47 pm

Great TR, and I really enjoyed your pictures, especially the one from Darwin Bench
which is one of my favorite spots in the Evolution area, if it would have been taken at
sunset with some clouds and color it would make a beautiful 16x24 picture over
someone's fireplace.
The shot from the top of Goethe towards the NE resembles the "Diving Board" on Half Dome.
Thanks.
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby Packtofish » Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:38 pm

Very nice, I really dig the panos.

How crowded was it?
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby copeg » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:30 pm

What a trip report! Thanks for posting :righton:
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby Shawn » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:33 pm

Man, that is a great TR!
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:42 pm

Thanks for the photos. I really love that area. Just gazing at your photos gets me into a dreamy, blissful state.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby BrianF » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:40 pm

Great TR. My son and I were in the area also a couple of weeks ago. Interesting your comment about the age of the hikers. I also was commenting on the lack of young groups. The vast majority of the backpackers we saw were at least in their forties, and many older like me. Most of the teens and twenties and thirties were with older hikers, presumably parents.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby mulepacker » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:06 am

Great pictures. Great post. It makes me want to get back into that area. But, I just want to also comment on the age of the backpackers I see. I agree the vast majority of hikers apprear to be around my age (52) or older. I have a 17 year old son, who hates backpacking. He would rather play video games or watch Survivor Man or Bear Grills (sp?) on TV rather than make his own adventures. And, it not that I haven't tried to do everything to make it easy for him, including carrying all the sharable items on trips. I really wonder who in the next genertion will share the passion for the backcounty as we do?
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby desertdawg » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:28 am

Packtofish wrote:Very nice, I really dig the panos.

How crowded was it?


Crowds on the JMT were busy. In 2 days on the Darwin Bench, no one. On Lamarck Col, busy. McGee Canyon-no one though we talked to people who had done it the same day.

On your planning thread, from Florence Lake there appeared to be lots of people using that trail head. One pack train on Piute Pass, 2 other people around Desolation Lake in Humphreys Basin. Hutchinson Mdw to JMT, maybe 6-8 people.

Thanks for comments.

Mulepacker,

I have a 13 year old daughter who has been backpacking with me a couple of times. We go car camping(dispersed-no campgrounds) almost every weekend. She has only 2-3 friends who go camping, mostly with us. Really sad I think. I grew up with 3 sisters. We went on a 3 week tent trailer vacation for 8 consecutive summers all over western North America while growing up. One of my sisters has a 13 year old son who hates camping so my sister never goes and she misses it sorely.

I fear the day my daughter loses interest, hopefully she won't.
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Re: An Evolutionary Odyssesy

Postby BrianF » Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:08 am

I count myself fortunate that my 16 yr old son loves to backpack and camp. We started him young and still the vast majority of our vacations are camping or backpacking trips. However, none of his friends backpack, a few camp occasionally, and only one has shown interest in joining us on a trip.
It concerns me about the future of wilderness, if in a few years the numbers of users drops off as us older folk visit less. I remember 20-30-40 years ago running into many groups of younger hikers; the majority of us were. I am sure it is many of the same people we are seeing out there now who have a life-long love of backpacking.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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