John Muir Trail: Muir Trail Ranch to Mather Pass


To view all images from this segment, and/or to purchase prints, visit my John Muir Trail: Muir Trail Ranch to Mather Pass photo gallery.

View the John Muir Trail Trip Report


Not every mile is represented in the photos for one reason or another.  Direct journal entries in italics.

I really had a hard time picking one photo for each mile in this segment (visit the link above for all of them).  We had some smoke from fires one morning and then some low pressure from the remains of a tropical storm started moving in, making the atmospherics great for photography (at least in my mind!)


Previous: Red’s Meadow to Muir Trail Ranch | Next: Mather Pass to Mt. Whitney

Mile 109: Morning at Piute Canyon Creek

piute canyon

Evening at the campsite where Piute Canyon and the Piute Creek intersect with the John Muir Trail. Mile 109.

Mile 110: The Muir Aspen

“Woke up early to start hike up to Evolution Valley.  Walk along river was awesome, especially looking back west to the domes.  Never found Muir Rock but I did find an aspen with his name and “1901” inscribed in it.  It looked old enough.  Gorgeous part of the walk.”

muir aspen

Trail lore says that John Muir signed his last name into this aspen in 1901. The signature looks old enough. Mile 110.

Mile 111: San Joaquin River

san joaquin river

The San Joaquin River cutting through rock near the trail. Mile 111.

Mile 112: Pack Team

mule pack team

A mix of horses and mules cross the South Fork of the San Joaquin River packed with supplies. Mile 112.

Mile 113: To Evolution Meadow

climb to evolution meadow

At the top of the switchbacks from the San Joaquin River to Evolution Meadow. Mile 113.

Mile 114: Evolution Creek

“Hiked up to Evolution Valley, falls of Evolution Creek very impressive.  The whole valley very pretty, many meadows, views, and cascades.”

evolution creek

After its journey from Darwin Lake and through Evolution Meadow, Evolution Creek ends in some cascades into the San Joaquin River. Mile 114.

Mile 115: Evolution Creek Crossing

evolution creek

One of the crossings of Evolution Creek just prior to Evolution Meadow. Mile 115.

Mile 118: McClure Meadow

mcclure meadow

First views of McClure Meadow in Evolution Valley. Mile 118.

Mile 121: “The Hermit”

“Camped out on some granite slabs, exposed, along the Darwin Creek cascades.  Amazing views of The Hermit, Mt. Darwin, and Mt. Mendel.  Sun is brutal up here.”

the hermit

Darwin Creek cascading through the granite under “The Hermit”. Mile 121.

Mile 122: Evolution Lake

“Woke up early to climb into Evolution Basin – wow.  Not something you’d expect to find so close to home.  Patagonia or New Zealand maybe.  Smoke from Sequoia fire was kinda ruining photo ops as the morning went on.”

evolution lake

Early morning reflections in a small pond near Evolution Lake. Mile 122.

Mile 123: Around Evolution Lake

evolution lake

Red Mountain Heather on the trail going down the east side of Evolution Lake. Smoke from a nearby fire adds some haze to the air. Mile 123.

Mile 124: Sapphire Lake

sapphire lake

Smoke and low clouds over Sapphire Lake and Mount Huxley. Mile 124.

Mile 126: Wanda Lake

“Kept climbing and passed more lakes, now above the treeline.  Sapphire and Wanda Lakes very clear.”

wanda lake

The trail along the east side of Wanda Lake, named after John Muir’s oldest daughter, approaching Muir Pass. Mile 126.

Mile 127: Up Muir Pass

up muir pass

Climbing Muir Pass. Wanda Lake and Lake McDermand below. Mile 127.

Mile 128: Muir Hut

“Climbed up the granite rocks to Muir Hut – very cool.  Took a break there then on to the backside of Muir Pass, into a contact zone between granite and volcanic?  Interesting geology.”

Muir Hut

Hikers enjoying a break in Muir Hut, on top of Muir Pass. Mile 128.

Mile 129: Helen Lake Crossing

helen lake crossing

Crossing the ford on the east side of Helen Lake. Mile 129.

Mile 130: Unnamed Lake

shooting stars

Sierra Shooting Stars growing near a small unnamed lake. Mile 130.

Mile 131: Another Unnamed Lake

unnamed small lake

Another small, unnamed lake on the trail towards Starr Camp. Mile 131.

Mile 132: Young Bucks

“Started down steep switchbacks to lake near Starr Camp, camped out right above the lake.  Next morning went to the lake to photograph the waterfall and three bucks emerged from the bushes, completely unafraid or bothered by my presence.  I photographed them in front of the falls then hiked down the Middle Fork of the Kings River – cascades on granite slabs surrounded by granite towers over 12,000′.”

three bucks

Early morning at the small lake near Starr Camp. Three young bucks feeding in front of the waterfall. Mile 132.

Mile 134: Little Pete Meadow

little pete meadow

Le Conte Canyon and Little Pete Meadow, with the Middle Fork of the Kings River. Mile 134.

Mile 135: Le Conte Canyon

“Trail led in to lush meadows with aspens and wildflowers.  Went through Le Conte Canyon, saw more deer and more waterfalls.”  

le conte canyon

Heading south in Le Conte Canyon. Mile 135.

Mile 136: Le Conte Footbridge

footbridge

An old footbridge in Le Conte Canyon near the ranger station. Mile 136.

Mile 137: Middle Fork Kings River

kings river

The Middle Fork of the Kings River in Le Conte Canyon. Mile 137.

Mile 140: Aspen Groves

aspen grove

Aspen grove along Palisade Creek. Mile 140.

Mile 141: Approaching Deer Meadow

deer meadow

Approaching Deer Meadow, along Palisade Creek. Mile 141.

Mile 142: Deer Meadow

“Then the hike up to Palisade Creek to the bottom of the Golden Staircase.  Cascades, meadows, and a large burned area with burned trees and green ferns, aspens, and wildflowers.  Quite the contrast.”

deer meadow

Sierra Shooting Stars in Deer Meadow, an area recently burned by fire. Look closely and you’ll see a marmot sunning on the log. Mile 142.

Mile 143: Start of the Golden Staircase

“Started early climbing the Golden Staircase – what views down the canyon!  And an incredible feat of trailmaking, but steep, high, neverending switchbacks.”

deer meadow

Looking west down Deer Valley at the start of the Golden Staircase. Mile 143.

Mile 144: Wildflowers

wildflowers

A variety of wildflowers growing in the crags next to the Golden Staircase. Mile 144.

Mile 145: The Golden Staircase

golden staircase

The Golden Staircase has a few “false summits”. Mile 145.

Mile 147: Palisade Lakes

palisade lakes

After the Golden Staircase, the trail follows the northern shores of Palisade Lakes before climbing again to Mather Pass. Mile 147.

Mile 148: Red Mountain Heather

red mountain heather

Wildflowers on the trail towards Mather Pass. Mile 148.

Mile 150: Switchbacks up Mather Pass

“Mather Pass was a bitch.  Mostly sunny and hot when I did it but clouds rolled in once I got to the top.  Still incredible views of the Palisades and the mountains to the south!”

switchbacks

One of the many switchbacks climbing up to 12,100′ Mather Pass. Mile 150.

Mile 151: The Palisades

palisades

The Palisades and Palisade Lakes from Mather Pass. Mile 151.

To view all images from this segment, and/or to purchase prints, visit my John Muir Trail: Muir Trail Ranch to Mather Pass photo gallery.

Previous: Red’s Meadow to Muir Trail Ranch | Next: Mather Pass to Mt. Whitney

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