JMT Days 8, 9, and 10 (Aug 21-23): Start of Kings Canyon National Park Section (guest post by Tracy)

I should really call this a “guessed” post because either Jim’s phone is out of power or there is no cell-phone reception, or both, actually, since he forgot to turn off his phone for a full day early in the trip, and didn’t bring his solar charger; so I’m using a combination of SPOT signals, Google Earth pictures, JMT websites, and Jim’s original trip plan to piece together a rough play-by-play.

Now that I’ve got my remote bearings (and learned how to count), it looks as though Jim restocked at Muir Trail Ranch on Wednesday afternoon when he arrived (which was Day 8 and not Day 9, by the way—so I just fixed the earlier post), and then kept going into the next section of the trail.  This section, which runs through Kings Canyon National Park for the next 75 miles, is supposed to be one of the most spectacular, but also one of the toughest, weaving among several 14,000-foot mountains, and featuring five of the eight total passes on the JMT—the last of which, as the trail crosses into Sequoia National Park, is the highest of all of of them, at 13,180 feet.

Anyway, after stocking up and leaving the Muir Trail Ranch area, Jim crossed into Kings Canyon, where Paiute Creek meets the San Joaquin River and the trail then runs parallel to the river for several miles, with lots of bridges and at least one actual creek crossing.  Jim set up camp at Aspen Creek on Wednesday night (about 5 miles into the Kings-Canyon section), and then packed out Thursday morning, which took him across the Goddard Canyon Trail, and into Evolution Valley—through a nice, relatively flat, and really beautiful section across Evolution Creek.  This is the creek crossing with no bridge, but even when the water is “high” it’s only at about knee-level; and the trail then winds through Evolution Meadow (I found a nice picture here).  SPOT did not send a signal on Thursday until 2:40 pm California time, and Jim had already made it to the eastern end of McClure Meadow, where he would be camping for the night.  According to SPOT, he did some hiking and exploring around the area, which has incredible scenery and mountain views.  Here is a link to a picture of McClure Meadow, which has a link to some other photos as well. That mountain in the distance is the Hermit, which is part of the Evolution Range.

So now I have to extrapolate, or interpolate, or speculate, but Friday’s destination was Sapphire Lake.  Jim was planning to take a rest day here and camp for two nights (and by “rest,” he means taking a day-trip on Saturday to climb one of the mountains near by—made “restful” by his not having to carry a full pack).  My guess is that he may still do that, even though he’s a day behind his original schedule, because he has enough food for the rest day and is making great progress. The trip from McClure Meadow to Sapphire Lake climbs up to Evolution Basin, which has a series of 13,000-foot mountains named, as one may surmise, after scientists such Darwin and Mendel.  The Kansas legislature is working on a bill to have the area renamed “Creation Basin.”

Once I see a SPOT reboot, I’ll post a more detailed update.

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