RTEF Preview – Evolution Valley

(RTEF Director Dispatch: High Priority)

Today, the esteemed yet highly controversial Red Tomahawk Expeditionary Force unveiled their plans for the group’s 2011 Sierra adventure. Similar to the mob that gathers outside the Vatican prior to the selection of a new pope, so do RTEF cadets and other assorted hopefuls assemble outside the group’s San Gabriel Mountain retreat in eager anticipation of the announcement.

The RTEF has revealed that the South Lake – North Lake Loop, which traverses three epic passes and through one of the gold standards of the Sierra backcountry, shall be the featured expedition for 2011 (August 20-27).

On the Saturday morning of August 20th, the RTEF shall depart South Lake and make a straight shot for Bishop Pass (elev. 11,972). From there, we shall enter Kings Canyon National Park and descend into Dusy Basin and down towards Le Conte Canyon. We join up with the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails, conquer the diabolical Black Divide, celebrate with a swim at Helen Lake, and then muster our energy as we cross over Muir Pass (elev. 11,955).

Having crested the pass, we plunge into the heart of the trip, the exquisite beauty of Evolution Valley, known for its sensational backcountry lakes and towering mass of 13,000+ foot peaks.

This 15 mile stretch of Sierra grandeur features a slightly declining trail; we’ll experience the many lakes and peaks of Evolution Basin before reaching Evolution Lake and the valley itself. High country meadows and creeks shall be our constant companions as we reach the south fork of the San Joaquin River. We shall travel riverside for three miles before making a turn at Pavilion Dome, where we’ll head northeast and up through Piute Canyon and along the edge of Piute Creek.

This shall bring us into the homestretch of the expedition, as we arrive into Humphreys Basin, camp at the familiar Golden Trout Lakes, then stare defiantly into the face of Mt. Humphreys as we summit Piute Pass (elev. 11,423) and avenge the defeat of 2010’s Summer Solstice Expedition! A swim at Loch Leven punctuates our final few miles before reaching trip’s end at North Lake.

This is a 57 mile expedition, currently planned for a leisurely pace of 7 nights/8 days. We shall complete our sojourn on Saturday, August 27, with the option to stretch it an extra day into the 28th.

The RTEF calls upon you to join our ranks as we celebrate the majesty of the Sierra Nevada during the unquestionable peak of the season. And remember: this is a story you will tell your grandchildren….. and mightily bored they’ll be.


  1. You know this is an opportunity to cross off so MANY merit badges… High country swims, long trip mileage… And I would imagine that even in August, there will be some pretty big snowfields in those passes…. A snowcamp possibly for certain members?

    And personally I would think that people would want to sign up EARLY to make sure they get those free rentals from the storage vaults of JLB. I mean first choice of gear…. Of course people can wait to try to sign up until the last minute and rent their gear from REI…. But who really knows what happened in that sleeping bag prior to the rental.

    And I think there should be priority campsite choice based on order of signup for the trip.. And of course as Kristin only needs one summer trip for membership, this WOULD indeed qualify.

  2. Good points all around, Jonathan. These types of catch-all trips, so thoughtfully organized for the RTEF hopefuls, are opportunities that just can’t be missed.

    I, too, am especially concerned about what happens in some of that REI rental gear. Hopefully, your sage advice of early sign-ups does not fall upon deaf ears.

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