Sapphire Lake to Humphreys Basin
Distance: 18km Elevation Gain: 800m

Left Sapphire Lake at 7:30am, I was tired from the 30km trek the previous day. Hiked on trail for a little over an hour then off trail the rest of the day. Spent 3 hours navigating through 3 miles of forest, went up and over the feared Snow-Tongue Pass and spent another 3 hours traversing Humphreys Basin .
Morning photo taken between Sapphire Lake and Evolution Lake
The sun was just coming up, quite a cold morning in the shade
Glassy still water on Evolution Lake
A little beyond this lake the John Muir Trail drops down from the Evolution Basin into the Evolution Valley and keeps descending, from around the 11,000 foot level to 8,000 feet. The Sierra High Route will instead leave the JMT staying at 11,000 feet while traversing through a forest and then ascend over Snow-Tongue Pass at 12,172 feet.
Still in the shade but I’m plenty warm enough from hiking
Part of the forest traverse. Occasionally the forest was much thicker but it was mostly somewhat sparse with plenty of rock and cliff banks to avoid
Took a break from mountain pics to shoot some flowers.
Drying out the tent, shoes & socks, hiking gloves and hat. I will not forget to pack the tent, I will not forget to pack the tent, I will not………….
There’s Snow-Tongue Pass!
Half way up towards the pass the clouds darkened (of course they did) and in my rain suit I was pelted with hail and hard rain. Lightning flashed around the peaks as I waited for a couple of hours for nature’s temper tantrum to abate. Then, from miles away I could see the clouds start to separate and almost like a zipper they continued to part until there were clear skies above both me and the pass. I went up in a hurry.
It’s hard to see it but the bottom of Snow-Tongue Pass is about 300 feet down. It’s probably the sketchiest pass on the whole route and many people choose to go over an alternate and safer pass (Alpine Col). To me it looked like a big stack of rocks and sand just waiting fall over. There was nobody around for miles as I climbed down very slowly and very deliberately, it had my full attention. This pass is not for the faint hearted.
View from the top of Snow-Tongue Pass on a more sunny day
Making it to the bottom of the the pass I found talus that went on and on forever but I didn’t care. Getting down from the pass safely gave me a strong sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, or maybe it was just relief. Whatever, I felt great and I got to work clambering from boulder to boulder for the next 2 hours until I reached Humphreys Basin.
Mt Humphreys
Another nice view of the mountains from the basin
Stopped for the night at 7pm., tired but happy once again. I was awed by the vastness of this valley and very grateful to be here experiencing all this. Such an amazing and beautiful place.

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