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TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

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TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby tim » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:05 pm

Although we picked a really wet week for our trip, and spent three whole afternoons in the tent as a result, our trip through Davis Lake basin went really well, and the kids really enjoyed their first significant off trail experience, including miles of talus in the basin, and weaving through the cliffs during the descent of North Goddard Creek.

We started Saturday evening, by catching the last (4.30pm) boat across Florence Lake, and getting to Muir Trail Ranch just as it was starting to get dark. As a result, we missed out on the hot springs, but fortunately we were able to rectify that omission at the end of the trip instead. Sunday morning dawned quite bright, and we headed up the canyon.

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South Fork San Joaquin canyon

However, it rapidly clouded over and at 2pm, as we reached Franklin Meadow, and the bottom of the switchbacks to Evolution Valley, it started to hail and rain. We put the tent up quickly and huddled out of the rain for an hour. At 3pm the rain stopped and we made the decision to head up the switchbacks, lest we be too far behind schedule the next day. After we crossed Evolution Creek, it started to rain again and we stopped around 4.30pm between Evolution and McClure Meadows. It was still fairly patchy, so we were able to get out and make dinner, and see a very pretty sunset down the valley.

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Sunset over Evolution Meadow

Monday morning we had a repeat of the same weather: we pushed on up past McClure meadow and The Hermit, and up the switchbacks to Evolution Lake in time for lunch. We had hoped to get as far as Sapphire or Wanda Lake, but at 1.30pm it clouded over quickly and the rain resumed, so we set up our tent in the trees, and watched the clouds and thunder in Evolution Basin, as a steady stream of people joined us that afternoon.

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The Hermit at McClure Meadow

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On the switchbacks to Evolution Lake

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Storm brewing in Evolution Basin

Tuesday dawned bright and clear and we were off up Evolution Basin at 8am, so we could head over from Wanda Lake to Davis Lake. The views were spectacular as we headed up, and it didn't look at all like rain. Muir Pass seemed incredibly low as we looked across Wanda Lake, sitting between two 13000ft+ peaks.

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Looking back across Evolution Lake

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Up into Evolution Basin

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Mt Huxley and Sapphire Lake

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Wanda Lake and Muir Pass

At 10.30am we headed off the trail from Wanda Lake, and quickly reached the col, to be treated to an amazing sight, with the upper lake turned bright blue by the melting glaciers on the Goddard Divide.

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Davis Lakes basin



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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby tim » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:23 pm

We climbed down to the upper lake over near continuous talus and descended yet more talus to the shore of the lower lake for lunch at 12.30pm. Clouds were gradually starting to build, so we pushed on quickly, meeting another party on the peninsula in the middle of the lake around 1.30pm, who were headed up to Wanda, but had concluded they wouldn't make it before the storm, especially as we explained that they would be rock hopping as soon as they left the peninsula.

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Upper Davis Lake

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Lower Davis Lake

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On the peninsula

In contrast, once we crossed to the north side of the lake, the terrain got considerably better as we traversed the shoreline under Mt McGee, and we reached the end of the lake at 2.30pm as the storm on Goddard got really ominous.

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Storm over Mt Goddard

Just after we got over the col into the top of North Goddard Creek, the hail started and we quickly set up the tent in the first patch of trees (around 11,100ft) just before 3pm. Again we had been very lucky to avoid getting wet, but we were in for a long afternoon of hail, lightning and thunder, while we played cards in the tent and huddled in our sleeping bags to stay warm. Around 7pm the sun started to emerge down the valley to the west and we saw a spectacular double rainbow above us and a gorgeous sunset as we made dinner.

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Double rainbow

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Another beautiful sunset

Wednesday morning was still overcast with occasional showers as we left camp at 8am, but we headed down and waded to the south side of North Goddard Creek. There were now reasonable traces of a path, as we went down past the waterfalls, and along numerous cliffs to reach Goddard Canyon. I even used the rope I've carried for many years to haul the kids' packs up one particularly awkward gulley above a 50ft drop into the river. We reached the San Joaquin river and the trail at 11am and were able to hop across without getting our feet wet. Then it was down, down, down (in total over 3000ft) as we pushed on to Muir Trail Ranch (a 13.5 mile day) with the thought of resting our legs in the hot springs.

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Spectacular view from our campsite

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North Goddard Creek

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Blayney hot springs

That's where we ended up, avoiding another storm in the mountains, and allowing us the luxury of a short 1hr45min walk out on Thursday morning, to catch the 11am boat back across Florence Lake and return to the car, just as the weather turned dry once again.
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:39 pm

Beautiful report and an inspiring one as a father of two kids. I haven't ramped them up to this point yet. Someday I hope to do a trip of that quality with my kids.
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: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby austex » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:02 pm

Very nice TR. One your kids will remember. I hope it's a start of many to come. It's disconnect time in this electronically connected-distracted era. Good work!
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby kpeter » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:46 am

Wonderful!
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby maverick » Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:39 am

Very fun TR Tim, and beautiful pictures. Always enjoy reading TR's with families go
into the backcountry, especially ones like this one where you went off trail. How
old were the kids when you first introduced them to backpacking and where was their
first off trail trip to?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby tim » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:29 am

maverick wrote:Very fun TR Tim, and beautiful pictures. Always enjoy reading TR's with families go
into the backcountry, especially ones like this one where you went off trail. How
old were the kids when you first introduced them to backpacking and where was their
first off trail trip to?


Thanks. We started (with a trip to Lake Aloha in Desolation Wilderness) when the twins were 7, so this is their sixth year of backpacking (they are now 12). Its been a gradual process of building up to bigger trips (and to two or three trips each year - we tend to do one longer trip plus one or two long weekends), starting with 3 days/2 nights with a day hike in the middle, then 3 days/2 nights through hike the next year (Cathedral to Sunrise), then 5 days/4 nights (Duck Pass to Reds Meadow) and last year 6 days/5 nights (Onion Valley to Whitney).

This was their first off trail trip carrying packs, but we've always done day hikes off trail - in 2009 Lake Aloha to Waca Lake (on our second trip to the area), in 2010 up to the top of Leconte Point (Hetch Hetchy), in 2011 to Sky Blue Lake in Miter Basin (early July in the snow) and last year over to Hitchcock Lakes while staying above Guitar Lake on our Whitney trip.
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TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby crayons » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:59 pm

Sweet report I will be heading up that way mid September just wondering if Evolution creek is flowing or is it a trickle. Thanks.
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby tim » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:29 am

crayons wrote:Sweet report I will be heading up that way mid September just wondering if Evolution creek is flowing or is it a trickle. Thanks.

Its still flowing fairly well. Only a few of the smaller side streams are dry (e.g. between McClure Meadow and the Darwin Bench outflow). Here's the stepping stones above Evolution Lake.

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Stepping stones above Evolution Lake
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby FeetFirst » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:50 am

Very cool trip, Tim. Thanks for sharing. Your kids are very lucky to have such a cool pops. I've taken my toddler on one, guys only :D, backpacking trip so far and he seemed to really enjoy it, but I can imagine as the kids turn into teenagers that it's harder to keep their interest in such things. Very inspiring.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby sekihiker » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:58 am

The kids will sure remember this trip!
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin and Davis Lake, Aug 17-22

Postby BSquared » Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:35 pm

Great TR, thanks so much for posting! I have ambitions to do the Ionian Basin, basically reversing your trip but going all the way up Goddard Canyon to Martha, over into the basin, and out via Wanda Pass, Evolution Basin, and Evolution Valley. But this keeps getting put off year after year... sigh. Maybe with your inspiration :)
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