John Muir Trail Day 20: the Range of Light

Evolution Lake glows a deep blue in early morning
Daily Neet Beat
We left camp at an elevation of 10,000 feet and started up immediately toward Evolution Lake.  Zig-zag, up the switchbacks we go. A lot of people on the trail have said that Evolution Lake and basin is one of the prettiest areas on the trail. We started early hoping to get a sunrise glow and reflection on the lake which is less than a mile from where we camped (but about 900 feet up..).  Unfortunately, it is windy when we get there but the lake is beautiful like everything else we have seen. The lighting is glorious in the morning and the lake seems to glow a deep, dark blue with light bursting on the mountains behind it. I can see now why John Muir called the Sierras “the Range of light”.
I think I am falling in love with the high Sierras. Someone said they were hiking the John Muir Trail because it is known as the prettiest trail in the world and when they heard that they just had to hike it. I think this is true. We hike past Sapphire and Wanda Lakes (Wanda was John Muir’s daughter) and up toward one of the big passes, Muir Pass at 11,975 feet. There is a historic stone building on the pass and I can see it as we start climbing towards the pass. This gives me focus as I drive towards the pass. We reach the pass in short order and check out the stone hut. The stone hut was built in 1930 for people that may get stranded on the pass in bad weather back when the trail was being built. Today, it is for emergency use only. The  roof is really cool as the stones were spiraled to make a roof. The outside shape of th building really looks like the surrounding mountains. Bad weather up here?? It is hard to imagine as it is sunny and warm with no clouds. We have been out for 20 days now and although we had a small sprinkle the night we stayed at Emily Lake, it has been sunny with little to no clouds most days.
After reaching Muir Pass, we head down the other side and into the Le Conte Canyon through which runs the middle fork of the Kings river (in Sequioa Kings Canyon National Parks). We drop down from 11,975 feet to 8,883 feet and camp at Little Pete Meadow. Little Pete Meadow is lush with vegetation and we see several deer grazing in the meadow. Time to call it a day.

Just the Facts

From Darwin Canyon Drainage to Little Pete Meadow (Le Conte Canyon)
Miles: 14.9
Total miles: 207.7 
Camp elevation: 8883 ft

Photos of the Day

Another picture of Evolution Lake


The Muir Hut built in 1930 for stranded hikers has the same shape as the mountains behind it.


The beautiful stone spiral roof of the Muir Hut


The U-shaped and glacially carved Le Conte Canyon
Company at our camp at Little Pete Meadow


  1. I was salivating for a look at the shelter by the end of your blog . GREAT PHOTOS. Thank you!

Leave a Reply