I woke up and got a decent start this morning. It wasn’t quite as cold. While moving around camp I looked up to see a deer watching me from about 20 yards away.
The trail follows the valley up under patchy snow for a mile or so, and then becomes completely snow covered. For the rest of the morning, I trudged up the valley making my own trail. Jewel Thief and I reach the top of Muir Pass about 11am. The place looked like a ski resort with all the snow. After a quick snack we literally raced down the far side. The sun was beating down on us and the snow was getting soft. It also felt like the snow went on forever. We finally hit the end of the solid snow below Evolution Lake – approximately 10 miles of snow total.
The afternoon was spent wandering down the peaceful Evolution Valley. Thanks to a tip from some 2003 hikers we met way back in Anza, we crossed Evolution Creek ½ mile higher than the trail crossing where it was only knee deep.
At the end of Evolution Valley the trail literally plummets down to the San Joaquin River next to spectacular waterfalls. We then followed the San Joaquin down. We came across another avalanche field that had actually created a massive snow bridge across the San Joaquin. Very tired, we made camp at the base of the climb out of the valley.