North to South

Getting up to the top of Muir Pass from Evolution Lake is not exactly simple, but it's hardly the roughest climb you'll have to tackle. The trail is long and gentle, and wends its way past a few dramatic rock-bound lakes on its way to the pass. Once you crest that pass, hang out on the front porch of the famed Muir Hut, do valiant battle with the gregarious marmots who make it their home and head down the other side, you can say bye-bye to uphill hiking for the rest of your day. By the time you reach Palisade Creek you might even be thrilled at the prospect of going back up. What's amazing is the way in which this stretch of trail drops you down from the tree-less barrens above timberline to the sweltering shade of the ponderosa pines. The trail is remarkable, especially higher up, where at times it has been hewn from solid rock.

South to North

This segment is probably the most relentless climbing you'll do all summer. Once you pass the trail junction leading down into Tehipite Valley the trail climbs without pause back up to 12,000+ feet over more than ten miles. Okay, there is a pause. Grouse Meadow is a nice, flat spot. The bridge over Dusy Branch provides some level terrain, and I think there's a ten foot stretch above Helen Lake that might give you some downhill. The remoteness of Le Conte Canyon is one of the most striking things about this stretch. Watch your step, because you're a good three days from any trailhead. The North Lake - South Lake loop is a popular trip, so once you pass the Dusy Branch and it's attendant trail to Dusy Basin and Bishop Pass, the hiker population climbs a bit. You'll have some company as you toil up to Muir Pass. Lots of work, but the view from the top is worth it.