Day 6: Snow Tongue Pass

Saturday July 18, 11.7mi/18.8km

Shelf above Evolution Valley (60.7/10,870ft) to French Canyon at Merriam Jct (72.4/10,010ft) (CA)

I got an early start to get over Snow Tongue Pass before the snow got soft and mushy. It was easy xc walking for awhile.

I hiked past a lake labeled “11106” on my map.

And this other pond that had great reflections of the mountains.

The last few hundred vertical feet to the pass were on easy, stable talus. My favorite kind of talus!

The view from the top of Snow Tongue Pass was cool. And terrifyingly steep.

After a long snack break, I finished my twizzlers, and chose my line thru the steeeep talus below. I was very focused, and some of the talus was loose, so I only got one photo.

And after I finished the steep scary section, I got a photo looking up to where I had just been.

Surprisingly, there was almost no snow. I didn’t even need my microspikes or axe. I enjoyed the stroll down to Wahoo Lakes, a very fitting name to celebrate that difficult and scary pass.

These purple flowers were almost the dominant species around the lakes.

I left the lakes and met a couple in the middle of a small talus field. They were awesome to talk to, having done almost every backcountry pass and valley out here. It was also the weirdest place to chat, as we each grasped our own boulder, ha! We parted ways and I dropped into Humphreys Basin.

It was super easy walking, and with green! The passes are fun but feel desolate with all the grey rock. The valley was filled with more of those purple flowers.

And the grass grew in these amazing patterns.

I stopped for lunch under the shade of one of the few trees, and found that my M&Ms had melted and reformed. The flavor was actually really good, dark chocolate and peanut m&m mixed together.

I climbed up to the next pass, and this view of Desolation Lake surprised me. I didn’t know there was a lake over there! I think that is Mt Humphreys in the background.

The walk up to Puppet Pass was very easy and not steep at all.

The other side was steep, but it provided this expansive view at the top. The lakes are Lorraine, Paris, and Puppet.

The descent was on talus…again. But this time it was stable talus and not so steep.

When I got down to the lakes, I of course took a swim. It was cold but worth it!

After an hour, I got moving again, and I could see ahead down to lake Elba, and across the valley to Merriam Peak.

As I got closer, I could see a huge waterfall crashing thru a crevice in the granite mountainside.

Once I got into the valley, I got to walk a real trail again!

I followed it for a mile, then setup camp at a trail junction, before a steep climb up to the next pass. Hopefully tomorrow’s passes are easier!

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