The team: Bob, Jonathan, and Jonathan's classmate Chris_2
We took the classic South Lake to North Lake semiloop. We had contemplated going over the Glacier Divide by one of the three cross-country routes (The Keyhole, Alpine Col, or the dreaded Snow-Tongue Pass), but a merited concern about exceptional snow on the shady north side of the divide made us go the long way around, by the Muir trail and the Piute Creek trail.
Day 1: Early departure from South Lake, easy ascent of Bishop Pass, down the Dusy branch of the Middle Fork of the Kings River to camp above Le Conte Canyon.
Day2: Up Le Conte Canyon to camp below Helen Lake. We quit early because of rain, which did not last long.
Day 3: Over Muir Pass, down Evolution Basin, to a beautiful camp at the far end of Evolution Lake. Climbed a nearby knob for a breathtaking view down Evolution Valley after making camp. Had some rain in the afternoon on the trail.
Day 4: Down Evolution Canyon to camp at the confluence of the South Fork of the San Joaquin River and Piute Creek, a crowded location more like a campground than backpacking.
Day 5: Up Piute Creek to a splended camp above the point where the Piute Pass trail crosses the outlet creek from Cony Lake. This camp is worth searching out--it's not visible from the trail. It's at about 11,200 feet and seriously cold in September--water bottles left outside tents froze totally solid.
Day 6. Chris_2 left early, raced out to the North Lake trailhead, picked up the bicycle we had cached there, rode down to the South Lake road, tried pedaling up some of the 2000 vertical feet, thought better, and got a ride from some friendly fishermen. He drove the truck back to the North Lake trailhead and was waiting with cold drinks as Bob and Jonathan emerged around noon. Drove straight to much appreciated fast food and then home in time for dinner.
Notes and photos from places around the world that have villages, ruins, and good food. And $35 hotels... Also, wilderness 4x4 camping and backpacking.