The Evolution Basin (creek, meadows, lakes) is one of the most beautiful locations in the Sierra, if not anywhere. If you can schedule your trip right, you miss the people who can start the standard loop (North Lake to/from South Lake) on the weekend. Evolution Creek flows to the San Joaquin River (South Fork), not the Kings River, but it is still included in Kings Canyon National Park. On the map, this is the narrow tail on the north end of the park, separated from the Kings drainage by Muir Pass. If you want more confusion, Goddard Canyon (South Fork San Joaquin, adjacent to Evolution Basin) is not drained by Goddard Creek (which is over the crest and part of the Kings River drainage).
|Helen Lake. (July) When clear of ice, it is a good resting place to gather ones strength for the Muir Pass climb. The climb isn't that bad, unless it is solid snow.|
|Muir Pass (11,955 ft.). July. Both sides of the pass are the gentle glacial cirques with an obvious pass. The hut in the pass is not for camping, but it does provide shelter from the wind to hikers.|
|Muir Pass (11,955 ft.). July. Different year. Very different conditions. That is a pack, not a headless hiker. Summer starts late many years.|
|Darwin Bench (11,500 ft.) (with Darwin Lake) -- above the Evolution Basin (makes sense). This is also the area where the remains of a WWII plane crash have recently been removed from one of the glaciers. People have been hiking there all this time and the plane was only recently found. The size of the glacier is not (and has never been) anyhing like those on Rainier or the Alps, but it held the remains of a airplane.|
|Sapphire Lake. Evolution Basin was described to me as the most beautiful place in the world. I will not argue. It can be crowded. It can be deserted. Since it is in the middle of a 5-7 day loop, it is most likely to be crowded in the middle of the week for the weekend departures. Schedule your trip to be there on a weekend.|
More of the Evolution Basin. (10,850 ft.)
Evolution Meadow. In high water years the crossing is safest in the meadow
where Evolution Creek is wide, clear, and slow (but deep),
not at the real trail crossing where the water is swifter, deeper,
and leads quickly to a cascade down the cliff.
|In other years, the meadow is a meadow. When hiking stay out of the meadows, the trail skirts Colby, Evolution and McClure Meadows just inside the tree line.|
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