My husband Chris and I were inspired to tackle the Evolution Loop by other runners in Donner Party Mountain Runners (DPMR), our Tahoe-Truckee, CA based running club, who told stories of the rugged, beautiful terrain and pushing themselves to the limit. We fast packed the route in 3 days in Sept 2020 to recon the route and so knew it would be a challenging day.
We started our journey under a beautiful starry sky with shooting stars and departed from the trailhead at the edge of the North Lake campground at 4:07am on July 4, 2021. We ascended to Piute's Pass with headlamps for a magical sunrise. We descended through the Golden Trout Wilderness on the Piute Trail and were greeted by a juvenile bear just as we stepped on the PCT/JMT. We ran along the San Joaquin River and then hiked to ascend to Evolution Valley where and along Evolution Creek with a steep ascent opening up to Evolution Lake. We trekked along Evolution, Sapphire, and Wanda Lakes to Muir Pass (mile 35) with a short sprint next to Wanda Lake to escape the worst bugs we experienced. These lakes and the surrounding towering granite peaks are, in my opinion, the most stunning section of the "loop". We ran/hiked down from Muir Pass to LeConte Canyon stopping to get water at Helen Lake. We pushed a hard 6 mile hike on steep switch backs, through Dusy Basin and finally up to Bishop Pass. We descended Bishop's pass gingerly on tired legs for the first rugged section and then opened up to a run along Bishop, Saddlerock, and Long Lakes to enjoy a gorgeous sunset. The last 2 miles were in the dark with headlamps on. We arrived at South Lake finishing at 9:24pm and were greeted by my dad in the parking lot for high fives and hugs.
In giving thanks for their inspiration, DPMR members Pete Broomhall and Audrey Staples (another mixed gender duo) wrote a trip report in 2015 about their experience on the loop https://donnerpartymountainrunners.com/2015/07/the-evolution-loop/. Although their trip is unverified because it lacks the last 4 miles and a slightly different route through the Golden Trout Wilderness, I do suspect they were quite fast finishing somewhere around 16hrs as per their report.