Week 11 MAP
Once again I find myself on this stretch of trail. Hot, dusty and crowded with people. How many times have I hiked this? How many more times will I? Too many I think as I trudge along past the bridges and on up canyon
. It's not until you pass the junction heading for Evolution Valley that you can enjoy any sort of solitude and will begin climbing back out of the heat of the lower levels of the range. I made my way back up
to the same camp below the fire line just before a small shower came and went. Retracing
my steps determined to resume what I had began I went up canyon back to Martha Lake
and on up Goddard Creek Pass. This time when I had reached the small lake
below the top of the pass I took the left option.
When I reached Lake 12,280
I saw a single location to camp. It did not look big enough for my tent and it was so mixed into the rocks I did not think I could even set it up anyway so I kept going around the Southern shore looking for a place without luck. Once I had reached the East shore I managed to find a single rock that was just big enough to lay my body on. I thought this would have to do and hopefully it wont rain but that notion lasted about 2 minutes as the rain began with large drops. I quickly took out my tent and laid it over the rock and stuffed all my gear into it to protect it. Before I knew it the rain was ripping down and lightning was sounding with ear deafening cracks over head. I was completely exposed up here so I just hunkered down as close to the ground as I could get and sat in the rain getting soaked. I had my rain shell on but my pants were not even water resistant. At one point I was just laying on my back on a flat granite rock staring into the raging abyss above me. I was cold and miserable as the storm raged around me for the next 2 hours while I helplessly lay out in it. When the madness finally stopped I checked my gear which had got quite wet from condensation inside the tent due to rocks warmed by the sun earlier. I decided to hell with this and packed up my stuff again and went back around the lake to that crappy little spot I had seen. When I got set up
there however it proved to be quite nice and I actually was able to drive almost all my stakes into the ground. If I had just set up here in the first place I would have avoided all this trouble! But then again I would have missed all that fun!
Next to this spot there was a few rocks tied together with a rope. When I looked at them closer I found a small medicine bottle under it with some paper inside. It was the first lake register I had found before.
When I tried to get water from the lake I could not get any that was clean. The water fleas were out in the millions! As far as I could see out into the water was clouds of large water fleas. Closer to the shore they were too small to see until after they were in your bottle. The Red Copeopods were also out in force. I tried everything I could to not get any in my bottle. I even tried to run water through my shirt but it would not work. I finally gave in an drank the damn fleas.
When it was getting closer to sunset I decided to hike over to a small hill looking out
on the basin. Looking South towards the Middle Fork of the Kings earlier the storm that was raging was so black it was like an abyss of destruction. "My god, who ever is over there is getting fucked up!" is all I could think as lightning bolts sprung from the darkness left and right. The sunset
came and I ended this chaotic day.
Come morning I set out to climb Mt. Goddard. The entire way around the shore and beginning up the East slope of Goddard can only be described as tedious. It's small sharp rock plenty loose but technically easy. Far off I could hear talking. It was not until I had topped the ridge
and was on my final push that I spotted a large group of people on the ridge line described by some guides as a way to climb Goddard from Wanda Pass. Ludacris is all I could think when I looked at the route from many different viewing angles. On top
was certainly all encompassing as I had heard. Unfortunately for me most of the view was washed out by the early morning light and plenty of haze. I sat on top for as long as I dared while the storm clouds steadily grew. I retreated back to camp and made it before all hell broke loose once again. Hail, lightning and plenty of rain for about 3 hours but thankfully this time I was dry.
Leaving this lake I took the route down the outlet
and on to 11,951
. I decided to go straight through a hump in the terrain which led directly to 11,818
. The only difficult part was the steep chutes here you had to take down to the lake. I was supposed to be heading to the lake below Scylla in order to climb it but the weather was turning fast once again. I knew I would not be able to climb it today as planned and the thought crossed my mind whether I would find camping or not at the lake and to my surprise this lake offered beautiful sandy places to camp. There were actually a couple trees clinging to life. Not only are they the only trees I have seen anywhere in Ionian but after four trips this clearly is the best camping in all of Ionian also so I set up camp before lunch and stayed dry.
Climbing around the shore
that evening I was fascinated by the nature of the geology. I examined every bit of the terrain and enjoyed the setting sun. I floated along in some sort of strange Dr. Seuss induced state making a rhyme story as I glided seamlessly along the harsh terrain. " Ms. Grouse
she was near, I said do not fear I am going to the view that is near over here! - She seemed upset but did not fret as I went to the left over the cliff in which she sat". And on it went as I hopped along increasing my pace as the alpine glow was going to peak soon. I reached a nice vista
looking out on the White Divide and Goddard Creek. I stared into the marvelous scene in front of me only I could hardly say I was me anymore. I was lost in the moment so completely until I snapped out of it and realized I need to return since I had no flashlight on me. Suddenly I found the terrain more difficult to travel now that I was not possessed. I stumbled back into camp at the last bit of useable light and closed another day.
I crossed the isthmus of the lake which lead to a nice easy slope up
to the lake below Scylla. I debated heavily on climbing it but the weather was turning again and I had along ways to go. I was a bit burnt at leaving the last named peak of the basin unclimbed but I would see it's summit in 2013.
After I had traversed it's harsh shores I topped out on the small saddle that connects the two lakes together which offers a beautiful view
of Scylla and the Three Sirens. Once down the tedious slopes and back at Lake 11,837 I rounded to it's outlet and begin up the slope in an effort to avoid dropping down any and doing a continuous traverse
to Wanda Pass. Other than some large class 3 rocks before the summit this plan worked out quite well.
As I dropped down
the primary chute of Wanda Pass I stepping onto a rock which gave out beneath me like I had stepped into air. I fell about 4 feet down and landed perfectly on my feet. Yikes I thought that certainly could have been much worse! I had a brief chat with a couple on their way up the pass. I would run into them again in about 4 days and run into the girl again in Leconte Canyon in 2013. Just one more of the many people I have encountered multiple times over the years.
Once off the pass I climbed up to the saddle known as Davis Lakes Pass. From here it began to rain
and thunder boomed over Mt. Darwin. Before long the slopes of Mt. Haeckel were covered in hail
. I had intended on climbing the small peak at about 12,220 but the weather once again stopped me. Instead I traversed along it's Eastern slope and down to the small unnamed lake
here. The rest of the way to McGee Lake
was easy going but by the time I had found a nice camp on the Isthmus of the lake it had started raining hard and I had to throw up my tent in a hurry and just throw everything inside. By sunset all was calm and I was treated to one of the rare sunset lake reflections
Rounding McGee Lake
it was nice to be back onto typical Sierra terrain rather than the harsh nature of Ionian. This made for easy travel as I dropped down through the dip of McGee Canyon
and back up to an unnamed Lake that offers beautiful views
of The Hermit, Mt. Darwin and Mendel. I was curious if this lake had any decent fish but I could see nothing in the water until I walked over a rock and a large fat trout went swimming off fast. After toping the next small hill I got my first look at what I now call Emerald Pass. Piece of cake I thought and made quick work getting to the top
. I stopped here and stared up at the small unnamed Peak 11,751
which is incorrectly listed as Peak 10,751 on National Geographic maps. I faced my typical laziness dilemma. I wanted to climb it but the thought of just going down hill was strong. Luckily this time the call of the peak won and I set out for the summit. Other than a couple class 3 moves and some annoying trees in the way it was a simple task getting to the top.
The peak offers a fantastic view of Evolution Valley
and Emerald Peak
but I was disappointed by the hopes of finding a register or any evidence of a previous ascent at all. Once back down at the pass I began down the West side which was far less straight forward. A tight mess of shelves, chutes and tedious loose rock. I could not identify a class 2 route. Lake 10,918
turned out to be a nice little hidden gem that I doubt large amounts of people ever climb up to see. After the easy class 1 drop down to Lake 10,554
I was not disappointed by the beauty of this lake either. But the time came to leave all the amazing lakes I had hiked by today and bail off into Evolution Valley.
Before the plunge I found some snow markers and there were a large number of felled trees in the area but I could not locate the log cabin most likely present in the area.
Although not technically difficult the drop into Evolution was very steep and taxing. By the time I got to the bottom and had to ford the river it was a welcome dunk into cold water. More than once I have come off the mountain side onto the JMT and I start getting asked questions about the trail ahead. I always enjoy saying I don't know I came from up there and point.
I ended the day in solitude at the horse camp
of Evolution Meadow.
My final day of the week ended where I began as I made my way back down to the Muir Trail Ranch and the Blayney hotsprings where I camped with some cool people and got my resupply. Ready to push further North into the range and conquer the rest of my planned route. Or so I thought...