Anyone trying to plan out the details of our trip to Evolution Valley may come up with these questions...
Are there any good campsites before you can get to The Ranger Station at Le Conte Canyon-maybe along Dusty Creek?
Are there any good campsites on the way heading into Evolution Valley?
Is there a great walk up peak to bag from Evolution Valley or Muir Pass?
Assume that you have 6 days, and you'd like to do 10ish mile days and try to sleep as low as possible so you'll have a full day off to bag a peak or do some exploring. And you are just starting to get your Wife or gf comfortable with a little off trail travel, so route finding should be as easy as possible.
Firstly go with a guy who just doing a North Lake/North Lake loop the week before Labor Day. He's only been in Evolution Valley when he was practically ran through in an afternoon on the JMT last summer and want to spend a little more time this year. He hasn't been in Dusy Basin, but seen lots of pictures on High Sierra Topix, so you might check that out.
There are great places to camp at Evolution Lake, especially near the outlet, but it gets lots of visitors. I'm not interested in camping in the stark landscapes of Sapphire, Wanda. or Helen Lakes.
When hiking over Lamarck Col. I talked with one guy who said it freaked him out while most people say it's no problem. If I was with some other climbers I'd try to summit Darwin, but I am not solo. The Black Giant looks like an easy climb from Muir Pass. I wanted to climb it last year but didn't have time for other stuff but hiking. I got a few pictures of Fiske, but Warlow didn't draw my attention.
I liked the look of the camping opportunities high in Evolution Valley outside the trail below The Hermit. Colby Meadow provided some great spots, and down the valley at Evolution Meadow found some nice quiet spots. Just get off the trail a little to get away from everybody finding campsites on their app.
Then, to start with, how are you getting to the trail? I mean, how are you walking on the ridge? Lamarck Col? Alpine Col near Goethe Lake? I hiked N-S for two times. 2012 and 2014. Started with Lamarck both times. My hiking friend has used Alpine, IIRC. Lamarck never bothered any of the people I hiked this with, neither year.
When hiking Lamarck, we used these campsites, including the one at Upper Lamarck Lake for the first night: Upper Lamarck lake, the far western end of the Darwin Canyon Lakes, Wanda Lake, Big Pete Meadow, and then Dusy Basin.
Big Pete Meadow is what you are looking for when inquiring about a place before Le Conte. Trail crew was there when I was there finally. It was entertaining to watch them play ice breaker type games in the grass, from our campsite. Imagine wheel barrow races in deep grass. Frisbee relay races. It was fun to watch.
If you are using Piute Pass, I can't help you until you actually climb that trail up to Evolution Basin. There's fishing lakes the other side behind Mt Solomons and Goddard, but it can be easy to get lost by the rest of your group over there. (We had a ranger come looking for a guy who was left behind by his hiking team. No harm to him, just lagging behind.)
As I've been over both Lamarck Col and Alpine Col. The latter was a real pain in the arse. I don't feel like scrambling for hours over car-sized boulders. Lamarck Col is a walk, with a few of more challenging stuff getting along the lakes in Darwin Canyon.
A sort of use trail follows the right side along the lakes. There are campsites in a number of places, all along these lakes and below. Trail finding into Darwin Canyon from the JMT is easy--there is a well-established use trail that leaves the JMT maybe a mile or less downside Evolution Lake. One of my loving camps was at a lake up at the edge of the Darwin Canyon area (photo is the lake, not the camp, but camps were easy to find):
If you are hiking over Paiute Pass, there is camping at some of the lakes on the east area, and by the lakes just over the pass as well.
Camps before the ranger station might exist as you come down the trail from Dusy Basin? There are of course lots of camps on the east area of Bishop Pass, and with many places to camp away from the trail in the Dusy Basin. I think there were one or possibly 2 campsites on the trail up ahead of (our perspective) the ranger station to the basin, but worth doing in one day to maximize your time in the amazing alpine basin.