North Lake to South Lake – Part 2 (Evolution Basin, LeConte Canyon)

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Friends have told me that Evolution Basin is the most scenic area in the Sierra Nevada. Nick, Tyler, and I spent the previous day slogging for twelve hours cross-country in order to spend two days cruising through this area at a leisurely pace. We spent day three of our trip strolling through most of the basin from Evolution Lake to Wanda Lake, stopping frequently to snack or just to take it all in. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Evolution Lake

Creek

The creek that flows into Evolution Lake

Sapphire Lake

Sapphire Lake

Sapphire Lake

Sapphire Lake

Above Sapphire Lake

On the trail above Sapphire Lake

Mount Spencer

Mount Spencer above Sapphire Lake

Unnamed Lake

Unnamed lake between Sapphire Lake and Wanda Lake

Wanda Lake

Our first views of Wanda Lake

We made camp at Wanda Lake as storm clouds rolled in. It never quite rained, but that night, heavy wind and chilling air kept us from sleeping. The area was beautiful, just a huge lake resting in a granite bowl surrounded by thirteen-thousand foot peaks, and if it hadn’t been so cold and cloudy, we would have enjoyed a beautiful night sky. We woke up the next day, though, no worse for the wear, and headed toward Muir Pass, a short, shallow climb from camp.

Wanda Lake Alpenglow

Alpenglow over Wanda Lake

Nick Above Wanda

Nick on the John Muir Trail looking down toward Wanda Lake

Muir Pass

The view of Evolution Basin from Muir Pass

There’s a hut at the top of Muir Pass, and in it we took shelter from the wind for an hour or so. We chatted with a group of John Muir Trail thru-hikers we had seen the previous day. The hut began to  crowd up, and so we left, heading down toward LeConte Canyon. The upper part of the canyon was beautiful, much like Evolution Basin, with huge lakes over bare granite. As we continued down the trail, though, the terrain became much more forested, and for miles we could see Little Pete Meadow, our destination. The going was slow downhill, and mentally exhausting.

In Muir Hut

Nick, myself, and Tyler in Muir Hut

Tyler and Muir

Looking back at Tyler and Muir Pass

Helen Lake

Helen Lake

Helen Lake

Helen Lake

LeConte Canyon

The top of LeConte Canyon

LeConte Canyon

Further down LeConte Canyon

After hours of downhill hiking, we made it to the LeConte Ranger Station and set up camp nearby. Near camp was a touch of flat rock by a babbling brook, and here we sunned ourselves for a few hours before cooking dinner and going to sleep. This was our lowest, warmest camp for the trip, and here we made up for the punishment we took over the last few days.

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