From evolution lake to a creek, before Selden Pass
Our morning matches our evening – leisurely. Once we start back up, our mini lake vacation is over. Well, sort of. We make it from one side of Evolution Lake to the other, then stop again. J needs to go swimming, and I need to re-braid my hair. It’s hard to believe we’ve finished all the major passes of the High Sierra. It’s a little sad.
Before starting this thru-hike, the places and things I was worried about were all a big anxiety stew. One place at a time, they’ve sorted themselves into places, days. The muddle gets strung like beads into a timeline I can’t reverse.
From Evolution Lake it’s a long ways down. We drop down fast, crashing down switchbacks and past JMT hikers as we try to make up time. First we follow evolution creek, then we ford it – the first time we’ve had to get our feet wet. “You know the drill, right?” asks J. “Three points of contact. Keep your hipbelt unbuckled. If you start getting swept off your feet, face upstream.”
“Yup. Let’s do it.” Trail runners get swapped for camp shoes and in we go. Easy-peasy. The hardest part is not flailing at the mosquitoes, which somehow know that I’m totally vulnerable and descend in hordes.
Tasty, Storybook, and Crawfish are on the other side, eating lunch. We pass them by and follow Evolution Creek the rest of the way down. It cascades over a cliff, we switchback down. The San Joaquin River takes us down some more. We’re a long way out of high country already now, in tall pines, forested slopes.
We’re pounding out the miles today, but we pause at the trail head to Piute Canyon. “This is where I did field work on college,” J tells me, pointing up canyon. “Almost ten years ago now… that’s bizarre.” A couple hiking the JMT stops to chat, and tells us to be sure to check out the hot springs up ahead.
Hot springs! Don’t need to tell me twice!
Getting to Blayney hot springs involves a stream crossing a little bit more stressful than the first. Then a trek across a warm, squishy bog, lots more mosquitoes, and some wandering about. The hot spring is a turbid and murky pool with naked people in it. There’s an attractive couple from Santa Cruz, a John Muir lookalike, and -horrors- the annoying man from Muir Pass.
We take off our clothes and join them (when in California…), and proceed to have the exact same annoying conversation with the annoying man as the day before. It’s even worse the second time round. The couple from Santa Cruz leaves – I think it’s time we did as well. I was worried that the hot springs would blow up the rest of our day. Instead, I can’t wait to get out of here.
The mosquitoes chase us the rest of the way back to the trail, and fueled by annoyance and mosquito rage (I’ve got the rage!) I take us up the mountain. The vertical grade is completely unnecessary. Who planned this thing?
Nice thing about a stiff uphill – if you hike up long enough you will run out of energy to waste on things like being annoyed. I’m exhausted, but finally calm. We set up our tarp in the dark. Selden Pass tomorrow.