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Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

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Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby trailnerd » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:37 pm

Hi, newbie here seeking some advice. I’m planning to take my wife and two 11-year-olds on an up-and-back from Florence Lake into Evolution Valley and Evolution Basin the second week of August. The adults and one of the kids have some backpacking experience, mainly on trails, but also including, for two of us, some x-country travel. The fourth member of the party has no backpacking experience but is a strong hiker. Here are my questions: (1) I gather NPS is routing people to an alternate crossing of Evolution Creek because of the high runoffs. Does anyone know anything about the alternate crossing? Will it be difficult or hazardous for kids? (2) I’m considering making a partial loop by taking the x-country route over the McGee Lakes Pass and then returning through McGee Canyon, or, alternately, just making a side trip up McGee Canyon and back out again. How much scrambling is involved in the trip over the pass? And what’s it like hiking through the canyon? Also, does anyone have a sense what the stream crossing at the south end of McGee Canyon (the stream draining McGee Lakes) would be like? Again, I’m mainly concerned about whether it would be tricky or dangerous for kids. Finally, if we’re heading back to Florence Lake via McGee Canyon, would we really need to cross Evolution Creek at the eastern end of the McClure Meadow, like Secor suggests, or could we just stay southwest of the creek and hike off-trail back to the Goddard Canyon junction? (3) Anything else I should know? Other side trips worth considering? Any advice will be appreciated!



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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby cgundersen » Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:12 am

Trailnerd,
My wife and I were in McGee basin (accessed via Evolution basin; it's a very easy notch) in late June and there was hardly an open patch of dirt. For how things have evolved since then, I'd guess there's still a lot of snow and huge runoff. We specifically avoided crossing Evolution Creek (we backtracked) and though you might find a way across, I would not count on it. If you're looking to get a "more-alpine" experience, I'd recommend heading up to Darwin bench. There is a very well-beaten "use" trail that cuts up the hillside below Evolution Lake and Darwin bench is beautiful. Even in late June, the southern exposure of the Glacier Divide was more snow-free than most places. It also will avoid the risks of multiple creek crossings and the uncertainty of conditions in McGee.

Otherwise, check out the trip report Silverfox filed a couple weeks ago, as it covers much of this area.
cg
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:46 am

From the PCT trip journals, it is apparently snow free up to Evolution Lakes now. They say the crossing is not difficult, but take that statement with a grain of salt. The PCT hikers this year have had incredibly difficult crossings, so "not difficult" has to be taken in context. If the kids have never waded across a stream is there any way you can find a nearby stream and have them practice? Trekking poles really help, even though teens rarely like to use them. Patience is required when walking through cobbles under water. Kids and patience are not two words usually seen in one sentence! With trekking poles, they need to keep three points of contact while moving the fourth and place the moving foot solidly before continuing. If the water gets up to thier waists, they are going to float away. If they are nearly adult height I think they will be OK. You could carry thier packs across for them. And they should know how to swim. If the crossing is not possible for your kids, you could switch to Plan B. Go back to the trail junction (bridge) and go up Goddard Canyon to Martha Lake. This is a spectacular location and there is a use-trail nearly all the way up. There are lots of neat exploration day-hikes to take from Martha Lake. Martha Lake would also have tons less people- in fact probably no others would be there.
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby wildhiker » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:04 pm

My understanding of the "alternate crossing" of Evolution Creek is that it is located up in the lower meadow where the river is slower, wider, and has a sandier bottom. According to the Park Service web site, they have posted signs to direct people to it. The regular trail crossing has a rocky bottom. I have photos of this area on my website from a normal or maybe even lower than normal snow year:
http://www.wildhiker.com/evolutiongoddard04
There are good campsites at the Goddard Canyon bridge that allow you to get an early start
up to Evolution Valley so you can cross early in the morning when the creek is lower.

I second the suggestions to either visit Darwin Bench if you get up into Evolution Valley
and want to do more exploring, or the alternative of heading up Goddard Canyon. We saw
no one in Goddard Canyon itself in 2004, although in a 1977 mid-August trip coming over Hell-for-Sure Pass there were perhaps 10 parties camped at Martha Lake and a regular crowd up on Mt. Goddard the next day. If you do go up Goddard Canyon, be aware that for the first 5 miles at least, the river is actually encased in a rocky gorge and there are only three spots where you can access it to get water - the "camps" shown on the 7.5 topo - although this year, you will probably find side streams that are running. Higher up, Goddard Canyon opens up into beautiful alpine meadows.

-Phil
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby trailnerd » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:11 pm

Thanks to all of you. This is really, really helpful. Darwin Bench sounds like a great idea, if we can get up into Evo Valley. If we can't, Goddard Canyon sounds like a terrific alternative. One question about Goddard Canyon: would hiking around the gorge be dangerous for kids? They're pretty responsible, but.... I notice on your (very helpful) trip report, Phil, that you had cross over the gorge repeatedly while hiking down the canyon. Great pictures, by the way!
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby wildhiker » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:50 am

The trail up Goddard Canyon stays on the west side of the river/gorge the entire way. The gorge that I had to cross in my Evolution Valley to Goddard Canyon trip was on the cross-country route coming down from Davis Lakes. You won't encounter that just going up Goddard Canyon.
-Phil
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby trailnerd » Sat Jul 30, 2011 3:50 pm

wildhiker wrote:The trail up Goddard Canyon stays on the west side of the river/gorge the entire way. The gorge that I had to cross in my Evolution Valley to Goddard Canyon trip was on the cross-country route coming down from Davis Lakes. You won't encounter that just going up Goddard Canyon.
-Phil


Ah, OK. Thanks for that clarification, Phil.
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby Turtleggjp » Sat Jul 30, 2011 5:17 pm

My mom and I did the South Lake to North Lake trip last year in early August. We also managed to include a dayhike up to Martha Lake. We did the alternate crossing of Evolution Creek, and it was not too hard, and very refreshing! If my mom could do it in sandals with her full backpack (she can be quite unsteady sometimes), I would think you could get a couple of 11-year olds across. You might need to carry their packs across, and/or hold their hand during the crossing, but it should work. That being said, I would give another vote for Goddard Canyon. Once you get out of the "gorge" part, the terrain opens up beautifully. If the weather permits you to camp up there, it could make for some great exploring opportunities. As others have said, it will likely be much less busy that Evolution Valley/Basin, since those areas see lots of visitors. When my mom and I hiked up to Martha Lake last year, we didn't see a single person all day long.

It's hard to go wrong with either area though. Besides the big crossing in Evolution Vally, you'll cross Evolution creek two more times before reaching Wanda Lake. Once just above Evolution Lake, where there are usually rocks to hop across, and then again just below Wanda Lake. The creek is usually a bit smaller at that point, but it may still be a little tricky. I haven't been up to McGee Lakes yet myself, so I can't help you there, though it looks like others have already given you some good advice already.

Matt
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Re: Evo Valley/Evo Basin/McGee Lakes/McGee Canyon

Postby Silverfox » Tue Aug 02, 2011 10:50 am

The Evolution Meadow crossing was running about 3 feet deep when we crossed July 11th.

Silverfox
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Evolution Meadow Crossing
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