just pass the Piute Creek junction – the end of Evolution Valley, adjacent to The Hermit
8,050 – 10,200 (+ 2,150) – about 10 miles
Free Maps Online – Day 15 – Map 9 and 8
I love sleeping next to running water, and last night was another water-side camp and a refreshing slumber.
Early in the day’s hike, we ran into a few hikers near the junction with Goddard Canyon. While we were stopped and chatting, more and more groups of PCT hikers came by and stopped to talk. At the height, I believe there were 13 of us sitting and talking.
— I have been debating how much and what exactly to tell you all about Joe. I had hoped to stick just to our experiences together, but I think that depriving you of any background would gloss over some of the experiences we had. Pappa Joe and his wife, Terry, are Pacific Crest Trail Angels. They live near where the PCT crosses the Mojave Desert, and maintain a water cache in the middle of nowhere to aid thirsty hikers. They also open their home to thru-hikers during hiking season. This year, Joe decided that he wanted to hike and he wanted to get to meet some of his PCT hiker pals out on the trail. The PCT hikers generally walk north from Mexico to Canada which is why he was walking Southbound (like me and Jake). So, almost every PCT hiker we met after we started walking with Joe had been to the water cache (called “the Oasis”) and many had stayed at “Casa de Luna.” This is why we ended up with many hikers in a circle excited to see Joe and hear about his hike.
A few miles after the PCT gathering, we came across a vision made flesh – the apotheosis of Female Power Trail Goddesses. We were going up a gentle grade that she was descending. Looking up, we saw her standing above us, raven hair blowing gently in a light breeze, sunlight streaming around her. Both her arms were raised, hands resting easy on the ends of two long, thick, metal bars – held across her shoulders and crossed in back. On her back was a small backpack with a hefty shovel strapped on its length. I think it is fair to say that we were all awestruck. None of us could muster the forethought to reach for a camera, and had the thought occurred to us, we might have been too stunned to attempt to ask for a photo. We did manage some small conversation and learned some about this trail crew’s mission and campsite. That meeting was all too brief, and it was not long after she went on her way that we began to realize with horror that we did not manage a picture. I wish I could draw and I may have to start learning just to be able to re-create the image that lives in my head. (Though hopefully I have not done too poorly with words…).
This was a long day of gentle climbing. We crossed the dreaded Evolution Creek! Joe found a nice place to cross just 10 feet upstream from the main trail while Jake was changing footwear. I used one of two tricks that I picked up from SilkE and got barefoot. Had the stream been deep or the current strong, I would have kept my shoes on, but fording gentle streams barefoot was actually safe and refreshing!
The mosquitoes were thick and intense around the creek. I guess they knew we were at their mercy until we reached the far side. I was so ready to get free of them that I did not bother with going upstream to the fording point Joe found and just plunged through at the trail crossing. It was deep enough to wet the bottom of my shorts in the middle, but that was the worst of it.
The rest of the day we walked through Evolution Valley. This was not my favorite valley/meadow, but there were a few nice views, and we saw several deer lounging on a small island in the middle of the creek. We stopped next to a lovely mountain, The Hermit, at the base of the last series of switchbacks that would lead us into Evolution Basin and some of the more infamous sites on the JMT.
Tomorrow: New Faces, good karma, and the place where creek/waterfall and trail become one…