Less Than 100 Miles To Go!
It’s Day 16 on the JMT and we have less than 100 miles to go! We’re now entering what is considered to be the best and most picturesque section of the trail as we leave the area known as the ‘John Muir Wilderness’ and step into Kings Canyon National Park.
With our backpacks at full capacity, today we head for Evolution Valley.
A bright, sunny welcome as we enter a new national park on our journey on the JMT.
Day 16 – Florence Lake Trail to Evolution Creek (9.9 miles) – Saturday 13th September 2014 – ‘On A Mission To Evolution’
With no breakfast to cook, we were up and away from camp before 8:30am today. (It’s not the record, but that’s quite an early start for us!) As there was no way we could fit 11 days worth of porridge or granola into our bear canisters (along with everything else that we needed from our re-supply at Muir Trail Ranch), we decided that a Clif Bar will provide us with enough energy to start the day and so will suffice as breakfast for our last 11 days.
A bright and early start on the trail today!
We set off for Evolution Valley with maximum loads.
We have become wary of wispy clouds. So far they have signalled that bad weather is imminent.
It was to be our first proper hiking day carrying full packs, so we planned a steady 8 miles to reach Evolution Valley, which everyone keeps telling us is one of the most beautiful areas on the JMT. (We hope so as we’ve planned on spending our ‘extra day’ around Sapphire Lake as we got a day ahead of ourselves at the beginning).
We say ‘farewell’ to the John Muir Wilderness as we step into Kings Canyon National Park.
It took us two miles and just under an hour to reach the big wooden bridge that crosses the San Joaquin River, signalling the end of the John Muir Wilderness and the start of Kings Canyon National Park. We double checked our permit as some of the ‘wilderness requirements and restrictions’ vary here, such as ‘no pets’ and ‘no wheeled vehicles’. Possession of bear spray is also prohibited. (Not that any of those affects us as we’re not hiking with a dog, bicycle or bear spray!) But at Kings Canyon, with 100 feet still being the ‘magic number’, you are in fact allowed to camp from as little as 25 feet from water if there is already a previously established campsite. So by the end of today we found a lovely pre-used campsite in close proximity to Evolution Creek.
Wayne crosses the bridge that marks the boundary between the Sierra National Forest and Kings Canyon National Park.
But before we reached there, we had enjoyed great views of a series of waterfalls cascading down the creek as we hiked up the valley, as well as having to contend with crossing the creek itself. So it was off with the trail shoes and on with the sandals as the creek was a little bit deeper than a rock hop (but thank goodness it was no way near the waist high level that the Muir Project had to wade through shown on their ‘Mile, Mile & A Half’ movie, when they hiked the JMT in 2011!)
The ‘Muir Trail’ marker we spotted by the San Joaquin River.
A long exposure shot of the San Joaquin River.
Hiking up the valley alongside the San Joaquin River.
Getting used to a full load again!
The bridge across the San Joaquin River.
Once safely across, we stopped for lunch, pleased that we had made good time and that our packs weren’t causing us too much discomfort. (We generally think our packs were just as heavy with full shopping bags on the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast hikes, so inevitably we’ve got used to carrying a few extra kilograms over time!)
Almost at the top!
Long exposure shot at Evolution Creek.
Taking a breather at Evolution Creek.
It was certainly a day for creeks and crossings!
Wayne wades through Evolution Creek that is knee deep in places.
We then continued on past Evolution Meadow looking for a good spot to camp. We found the perfect pre-used site down by Evolution Creek, about a mile before McClure Meadow. It had been a lovely sunny day with a few wispy clouds overhead, so we sat by the creek to enjoy the last bit of sunshine before it went off the valley. Wayne was trying to get another time lapse, whilst I updated my journal and typed the next section of the blog.
Not a bad place to sit and write…
We weren’t too sure about the clouds though. The last time we had seen clouds like these it had rained during the night and there were thunder storms throughout the following day. We hoped this wouldn’t be repeated. But erring on the side of caution we put everything inside the tent this time. (It’s not good clambering around a campsite in the dark trying to gather up all of your belongings before they get soaked!)
Looks can be deceptive. We wondered if we’d get some rain through the night.
Sunset is now around 7pm, so we got on with our usual tasks such as washing, filtering drinking water and cooking dinner before it got too dark. Because it gets cold so quickly after the sun goes down we are often inside the tent by 7:30pm. It seems really early to both of us ‘night owls’, so I keep busy with typing up the blog. But often Wayne gets bored and wishes we had purchased a Kindle before we came away so he’d have something to read. Obviously books are too heavy to bring along on the JMT and he already knows his ‘Trail Guide’ from cover to cover. I did suggest bringing a game such as Yahtzee, but again it’s extra grams to carry, so we didn’t bother.
Our sheltered camp spot amongst the Ponderosa pines.
So most of the time we’re asleep by 9pm and getting a good 9/10 hours sleep a night. I suppose in a way that’s a good thing as it’s giving our bodies chance to rest after any daily exertions. But that doesn’t mean we’re any better at getting up in the morning!
We had more deer visiting tonight’s campsite. So now we’ve seen a total of 27! We always seem to pick a good spot for seeing them, but don’t have the same luck with bears. We don’t actually want to see a bear in our campsite – but we would like to see one, somewhere, someday, sometime on the trail!
There’s 10 days left… So we’re still keeping our fingers crossed!