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TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:05 pm
by EpicSteve
WARNING: To those of you who prefer concise trip reports, I apologize for the extreme verbosity that follows. Details (both external and internal) are what make hiking so amazing to me and this was one of the most epic hikes I’ve ever done, so I felt it deserved an epic trip report.

I’ll try to add a few pics to this thread later. I took over 600 photos and I’m still chiseling them down to a “best of” and then a “best of the best” collection.

Day 1: Five hours after leaving my house, I left my car in the last available parking spot at the South Lake trailhead. Good thing I have a very small SUV or I wouldn’t have squeezed into that spot. My buddy Warren drove us to the parking lot at North Lake and left his truck in one of the last two remaining parking spots. I expected a lot of people on Labor Day weekend but had no idea it’d be so crowded by early afternoon on Saturday.

We’d planned to stay that night at North Lake Campground and begin our hike the next morning. But we hadn’t expected the campground to be so tiny and of course it was full. We’d considered this possibility while planning the trip and knew there were lots of other campgrounds nearby. But after seeing how crowded the parking lot was, we didn’t dare give up our parking spot.

Rather than sleep in Warren’s truck and have nothing much to do in the meantime, we decided to start our hike a day early and hope we didn’t run into a backcountry ranger, checking permits. (If any rangers are reading this trip report, I’m just embellishing. This never really happened.) ;)

We left the trailhead (9,320’) at 3:30pm. A short section of switchbacks brought us to a grove of quaking aspen along the edge of a moraine. The trail climbed steeply over granite outcroppings and we were treated to views of the Owens Valley and Grass Lake. Upon reaching Lower Lamarck Lake, Warren said it was one of the most beautiful alpine lakes he’d ever seen. Hard to believe that the huge peak towering above its southwestern shore doesn’t have a name! (According to the USGS 7.5 minute map, anyway.)

The trail crossed a talus slope and briefly followed Lamarck Creek up a narrow wooded gulley and crossed the creek. Above the gulley the stream widened and we reached a puzzling sign. The wooden sign nailed to a tree said “Trail” with an arrow pointing to the left, across the creek. We knew the Lamarck Col route should be in that direction but the “main” trail to Upper Lamarck Lake appeared to go straight ahead, along the right (northwest) side of the creek. Upon closer inspection, someone had scratched the surface of the sign with the words “Lake” with an arrow pointing straight ahead and “Col” with an arrow pointing left. I don’t normally condone “defacing” signs but in this case the disambiguation effort was somewhat reassuring.

We boulder hopped across the stream and immediately found a series of dirt campsites amid pine trees and granite boulders (10,680’+). It was 6:00pm and we figured this would be the last reliable water until Darwin Canyon, so we stopped for the night. Forty feet from our tent was the edge of a cliff, affording a lovely view to the east. After sunset the crescent moon rose and cast a surprisingly usable amount of light but we both went to bed early, knowing we had a big day ahead of us.

Day 2: The so-called “use trail” or “cross country route” to Lamarck Col turned out to be a very well defined trail that was easy to follow. Many parts had obviously been constructed (as opposed to boot-built) and appeared to have been maintained fairly recently. Switchbacks led up a steep talus slope and up the spine of a narrow ridge. Views of the Owens Valley broadened. Closer at hand, we finally gained a view of Upper Lamarck Lake.

The ridge leveled out and merged into a broader and steeper mountainside. The trail dropped to the other side of the ridge and traversed above several spooky drop-offs. But the scary section was very brief and the trail began ascending a series of wide bowls and ridges that became progressively more barren as we gained elevation. At one point Warren commented that the landscape was almost like being on Mars. I’m sure there are many people who wouldn’t enjoy such austere scenery, but we relished it with awe-struck enthusiasm.

Our first view of the col was somewhat intimidating, but we reminded ourselves that so many people use this route that it must be easier than it looks from a distance. Sure enough, when we reached the foot of the talus slope just to the left of the glacier, it looked much more manageable. As expected in this exceptionally dry year, the tarn at the base of the glacier was dry. Nothing but a depression with fine sand at the bottom. And of course, the glacier had no snowfield on its surface. Just a sheet of steep and dirty ice.

We carefully made our way up the very steep and loose talus slope and reached Lamarck Col (12,960’+) without incident. The view to the south was magnificent! Seeming totally out of place, a metal sign declared that we were entering Kings Canyon National Park. Despite this intrusive reminder of civilization, the scenery was the epitome of the phrase “high and wild.” Massive rugged peaks towered above rock-bound lakes whose waters were incredible shades of turquoise and aquamarine.

We descended the use trail over a long but fairly easy slope of loose rock and sand. After completing a very short third class scramble down a granite outcropping, we arrived at the northeast shore of the second highest lake in Darwin Canyon. Our knees felt like Jell-O and it was time for a snack, so we took a break on that beautiful shore. As other hikers on these forums had forewarned us, hiking along the shores of the lakes in Darwin Canyon did involve some tedious and downright exhausting navigation of a couple of boulder fields. I found some of the physical moves to be interesting and fun, but that didn’t stop me from getting a bit tired and cranky, since I was carrying one of the heaviest packs I’ve ever set out with (nine days worth of food and other consumables and enough clothing to stay comfortable in a storm at 12,000 feet).

We were surprised by how many people we saw in Darwin Canyon, plus a few in the vicinity of the col. We had hoped to find some seclusion. After descending to Darwin Bench (11,200’+), we finally did. We had the bench all to ourselves for the evening. The sweeping view in all directions was inspiring and the sunset alpenglow on the peaks just east of us created a magical end to our first full day in the wilderness.

Day 3: A short descent along the charming creek that drains Darwin Bench brought us to the John Muir Trail. We headed south on the JMT and soon we were exclaiming over the exceptional beauty of Evolution Basin. I’ve only done short sections of the JMT, but I can easily understand why so many people rave about Evolution Basin being one of the most gorgeous parts.

We took a short lunch break above Sapphire Lake and just before reaching Wanda Lake we left the trail and made an ascending traverse toward Davis Lake Pass (11,640’+). The east side of the pass was straightforward and fairly easy. The top of the pass was broad and tedious to cross, although I enjoyed the rocky little tarns and the expanding view of Davis Lake basin.

(I don’t understand why maps refer to Davis LAKE as though it’s just one lake – the so-called “land bridge” divides two distinctly separate lakes, at two different elevations. Plus there are several other smaller lakes in the basin. But I digress…)

The pass is much steeper on the west side and there were a couple of scary moments involving large boulders – particularly one that moved unexpectedly when Warren began weighting it. But we made it safely to the upper of the two main lakes and crossed the muddy estuary formed by its inlet stream. We made our way along the south shore until we were about halfway to the end of the lake (11,080’?)

We had been warned that campsites were pretty sparse in the basin, but we found a lovely patch of grass just big enough for my tent. After pitching the tent on this tiny oasis, we took a bracing dip in the extremely cold lake. Warren dried off and set about various camp chores, but I found a sun-warmed slab of rock to warm my back while I dried in the sun and the afternoon breeze.

I usually prefer the scenery of smaller alpine lakes to the big ones, but I found Davis Lake to be an exceptionally beautiful large lake. After Warren retired to his sleeping bag, I spent another half hour enjoying the silent moonlit basin.

Day 4: The surface of the lake was like a mirror, except that near the shore you could clearly see rocks at the bottom of the lake. As sunrise progressed, the morning breeze disturbed the mirror, replacing flawless reflections of the surrounding mountains with a million sunlit sparkles.

We broke camp and made our way across the land bridge to the north shore of the lakes. Late in the season of such a dry year, we didn’t need to jump across the connecting stream. We merely stepped across. We could clearly see that the eastern lake was significantly higher than the lake to the west.

Following a use trail across a short talus slope that dropped off directly into the lake, I got nervous on a section of about ten feet or so. The scree was fairly steep there and the stones were quite loose, but settled pretty well as long as we weighted our steps slowly and deliberately.

After traversing above an outcropping that formed a small cliff at lake level, we descended almost back to the shore and then followed the use trail as it ascended a low angle chute to the west. On the other side of a notch between outcroppings we found a small but deep blue lake. We had to bypass a cliffy section of the lake’s shore by climbing above it to the north and then descending talus to the southwest, nearly to the shore.

We ascended another low angle chute to the west and gained another tiny pass, almost exactly like the notch we had just come though a few minutes before. Continuing west, we descended directly to a small pond. About thirty yards later we came to a steep drop-off above a wide grassy basin. Two outlet streams seemed to converge at the lower end of the basin. The drop-off looked worse initially than it turned out to be, as we quickly located a use trail that worked its way down a steep but manageable slope of dirt and gravel.

For the next couple of hours we followed discontinuous use trails, cairns and our own instincts while roughly following the outlet stream from Davis Lake (“North Goddard Creek” to be more precise) to the floor of Goddard Canyon. There were places where we had to climb up to a ledge and work our way across the ledge while high above the stream and then climb down again. Or sometimes instead of climbing down, we would climb over a rocky ridge and then descend a wooded tributary drainage back to the outlet stream and begin the process all over again.

Eventually we intersected the Goddard Canyon Trail (9,920’?) and followed it south until it petered out. We continued cross country to the head of the Canyon and then turned southeast, ascending to Martha Lake (11,004’)

Martha Lake has beautifully contrasting shores. Rugged peaks rise from the south and east shores, but the west and north shores are wide open and grassy – affording distant views down the canyon to the north and the setting sun over the peaks that form the west side of the canyon.

After zipping ourselves into our sleeping bags we heard something I’ve never heard above 4,000 feet before: the yipping of a pack of coyotes, presumably hunting rodents. A surprising sound to hear above 11,000 feet!

Day 5: A familiar theme was repeated. The talus slope that served as the gateway to Goddard Creek Pass looked extremely intimidating (and downright ugly) from the northwest shore of Martha Lake but turned out to be quite easy, with a remarkably well defined use trail starting from the right-hand side. Views of Martha Lake became more incredible as we gained elevation, not to mention the surrounding peaks, including one very sharp fin to the south that really captivated me.

At the top of the first talus slope the use trail continued across a short talus basin and deposited us on the talus ridge at the east side of the basin. That’s where the trouble started.

We had read on these forums that at some point we should descend to our right (southeast) to the main channel of the drainage. But at this point the channel was significantly far below us and the use trail (along with its occasional cairns) just petered out. Descending from our talus ridge to the channel looked like a scary undertaking. Even if we were successful in making the descent, the channel became a lot narrower just above the point where we’d intersect it. We couldn’t see what was above the narrow section and had no reason to believe that we wouldn’t find ourselves at the base of an impassible cliff if we attempted it.

Above us to our left was an extremely steep and nasty scree gulley that looked like an accident waiting to happen. So we continued straight up the spine of the talus ridge, which wasn’t much better. It steepened and alternated between loose talus and precarious stacks of boulders. For the next hour we asked ourselves before every move: “What’s holding up this rock?” We sometimes made very awkward moves just to avoid grabbing or stepping on rocks that looked less than reliable. Occasionally one of us would step on a rock the size of a Harley and feel it move underfoot.

We moved very slowly and methodically, often with trekking poles dangling from their wrist loops to free our hands for pulling ourselves upward. The slope finally leveled out and I was mentally exhausted from the prolonged tension. We took a lunch break on a flat boulder and regained some peace of mind but that didn’t last long.

After going over, around and under some boulders the size of small bedrooms (and spotting a cairn for the first time in over an hour), we came to a place where the boulders and talus dropped off for about thirty feet into a small trough. On the other side of the trough appeared to be a couple of small passes. Hopefully at least one of them was at the head of a gulley that would provide a feasible way down into the main channel of the drainage. But first we had to find a reasonable way down to the trough.

Warren bravely forged an improbable route that involved turning around to face the steep slope (no easy task from a crouching or sitting position while wearing a big heavy pack) and hanging onto the only two reliable looking rocks embedded in the entire talus face, which was extremely loose. The face was very short, but high enough to potentially cause injury if things didn’t go well. Rocks were sliding out from under Warren’s feet and cascading down the slope but he persevered and reached the trough without incident.

Psychologically, this type of terrain is definitely not my forte. When it was my turn to make the descent I made some incredulous protests about the hazardous nature of the route and hesitated at the edge. After a minute or two of whiny balking, I overcame enough of my fear to make the moves. By the time I reached the trough my nerves were totally shattered. :eek: I was breathing hard and my legs were a bit wobbly. For a moment I was actually moaning out loud with relief. If this was Class 2, I’d hate to see Class 3! Frankly I’d rather free solo a 5.6 climbing route on the nice solid granite of Yosemite Valley, like I used to do back in the day. But we’d made it down and now it was time to see what was over the next edge.

We headed for the friendliest looking of the two passes and it panned out wonderfully. A super easy gulley led southeast to a beautiful little lake. Another relatively easy gulley led northeast from the lake shore toward Mt. Goddard. Apparently we should have descended to the main channel of the drainage the first time we thought about it, as this would presumably have led us to the little lake without having to climb over all those precarious boulders. Perhaps some day I’ll return and find out.

After leaving the lake we scrambled up a short scree slope and reached a ramp covered in lush grass and flowers. After tip toeing across this delightful island in a sea of broken rock, we followed a ledge back to the left and then straight up a low angle talus slope and voila! …We stood atop Goddard Creek Pass (12,240’+) at the edge of Ionian Basin.

Lake 12,200’+ was directly below us to the west. The south face of Mt. Goddard literally dropped directly into the lake, forming its north shore. We worked our way around the south shore and then followed the outlet stream until we emerged onto a broad talus slope with a great view of Lake 11,951’. The lake was long and surrounded by complicated topography, spurring a good deal of route finding debate and forcing a time consuming and circuitous route. A couple of short steep sections demanded a high degree of caution.

Reaching the south end of the lake, we headed east-northeast between a couple of rocky knolls and then descended just west of the outlet stream to Lake 11,818’. We were forced to camp on a patch of grass, closer to the water than we should have (another repetitive theme on this hike) because it was the only reasonably flat place we could find to sleep on.

Warren described Ionian Basin by recalling astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s famous quote about the moon: “magnificent desolation.” I think he hit the nail on the head but I was surprised by the number of patches of grass and flowers that we came across. I found Lake 11,818’ to be an especially charming place and was very happy to camp there.

Day 6: It was never our intention to blaze our way through Ionian Basin as fast as we could, but that’s basically what happened. We had been repeatedly warned that it takes longer to hike through the basin than the map makes it look like it would and we were concerned about that. We wanted to leave plenty of time to negotiate the most difficult sections. Plus, both of us prefer to be on the move, rather than just sitting around. Neither of us are fisherman and although I take loads of photos, I don’t mess around with a tripod or anything like that.

After breaking camp we quickly ascended the talus slope to the east, hiked past several small lakes on a rocky little flat, descended to Lake 11,837’ and descended further to Lake 11,592’. Descending from near the outlet stream to Chasm Lake (11,011’) was a steep and beautiful endeavor. (Note to self: don’t forget to take my camera back off the macro setting after shooting a picture of some unknown red berries, lest the next 20 photos or so be ruined by blurriness!)

We headed south-southeast down an open grassy slope with a few huge white slabs of rock. The slope steepened, so we switched back northeast and descended into the gulley of the outlet stream, clambering over large boulders. We could hear running water below us but never could see it – an intriguingly eerie feeling. As the gulley steepened and the slope on our right did the opposite, we headed out onto the slope and traversed southward until we found an easy ramp down to the lake.

Chasm Lake was gorgeous but we didn’t linger. We immediately headed up a grassy chute to the left (north) of a waterfall and then slogged across low angle talus, past a series of small lakes.

After a short lunch break we ascended what I felt was the scariest obstacle in Ionian Basin: the extremely steep talus slope just north of the outlet stream from Lake 11,828’. The ascent only took about twenty minutes and wasn’t nearly as scary as Goddard Creek Pass, but I avoided looking down most of the time nonetheless.

At first we followed a good use trail, but it quickly devolved into a steep slippery washed out trough. So I stepped just to the right and followed a line of vegetation, figuring the most settled rocks would be there. The footing turned out to be pretty decent. We reached the top of the talus slope at the foot of a small cliff and traversed to the right until we reached the point where the slope leveled off. (I was glad we were traveling through Ionian Basin from west to east. Descending that same talus slope would’ve been really scary. I definitely wouldn’t recommend attempting it when precipitation is involved.) A couple of minutes later, we stood on the western shore of Lake 11,828’.

We spotted a large grassy area just above the lake’s northern shore and we were pretty tired, so we were thinking about camping there. But we also debated the possibility of continuing over Black Giant Pass (12,200’+) and descending to Lake 11,939’ and camping there. That way, we’d have only a mile of talus slogging to reach Muir Pass the next morning.

Upon reaching the grassy northern shore, we both decided that we “had enough left in the tank” to keep on going. I was really tired and moving pretty slowly, so I was surprised and a bit relieved when Black Giant Pass turned out to be fairly trivial in terms of route finding or any significant hazards. A few people had made it sound like the orange rock section was something to be feared, but Warren and I both found it to be low angle and easy.

It didn’t take long to reach the northeast shore of Lake 11,939’, where we found a good dirt campsite and spent our coldest, windiest night of the trip.

Day 7: Although we’d be heading south on the JMT, we both wanted to make the side trip to Muir Pass (11,955’) to see the famous Muir Hut. We quickly reached the pass and were suitably impressed by the hut. We were also excited to see Wanda Lake and Davis Lake Pass below us to the north, allowing us to visually “close the circle” of our epic cross country route.

We hadn’t seen other humans since leaving the JMT four days earlier and immediately ran into several other parties of hikers. I’m a very social guy, but it was initially an unwelcome adjustment to make the effort to be polite and friendly to strangers, after such a glorious period of wild seclusion. But I quickly readapted and by the time we descended to Helen Lake, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the next party that we encountered on the JMT.

A very sweet young couple, Vivian and Antony were just bursting with enthusiasm for the mountains. They were in the middle of Roper’s Sierra High Route and had many a story to tell. Vivian’s accent sounded to me like she was from New Zealand. She got so physically involved in telling her stories that she hopped around in a cute little dance, unable to contain herself.

Antony looked and sounded Asian, but I couldn’t place his origin. (Not that it really matters – I’m just fascinated by other cultures and all the different points of view they represent. I always seem to come away from my encounters with people from overseas feeling a bit wiser than I did before.) Although more physically restrained than Vivian, he was verbally quite animated and it was obvious that their energy levels were a good match.

I’m a pretty high energy guy myself and I could easily have spent hours swapping stories of adventure with them but we all recognized the need to keep moving and reluctantly broke off our conversation after about ten minutes. They were among the most delightful hikers I’ve ever met in the mountains and a perfect example of why I try not to become too sanctimonious about preserving my own sense of solitude.

Continuing south on the JMT along the Middle Fork Kings River, we passed through some eye-popping scenery. Beautiful alpine lakes surrounded by meadows and sharp peaks. The river forming a giant water slide, descending huge granite slabs. An immense glacier-carved valley with a pine forest floor, alternating with wide meadows where the stream meandered in lazy bends.

The Kings Canyon trail crew was very busy doing maintenance on this section. Unusually light colored chips of granite littering the landscape provided evidence of recent blasting. A pair of hikers told us they’d spoken to a guy the day before whose hike had been delayed by over two hours due to the blasting. We saw NPS employees with chain saws, pick axes and shovels. Most of them seemed to be stabilizing big rock steps into fresh dirt on the trail.

We reached the turnoff (8,720’+) for Dusy Basin and Bishop Pass and without hesitation began what several other hikers had described as “the climb from hell.” The views were incredible and we enjoyed the occasional grove of aspen. Even the layout of the trail itself was rather fascinating as it wound its way around headwalls and such. But it was a hot afternoon and we’d been pounding out some tough miles. We both ran out of water in our Camelbak bladders and it was starting to feel like a death march by the time we reached Lower Dusy Basin.

The lake that’s next to the trail (10,742’) is quite charming with its rock islands and grassy shallows along the shore. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more fish jumping in a single lake before, although they were very small. The lake was extremely popular and we had to search for about fifteen minutes before finding a decent campsite. But we finally found a really deluxe site – a big flat patch of grass and gravel on top of a little knoll overlooking the lake.

We had spent one less day than expected in Ionian Basin, so we were a day ahead of schedule. We discussed the possibility of a rest and exploration day in Dusy Basin. But in the end we decided it’d be nice to have an additional recovery day before returning to work. I looked forward to seeing my wife and granddaughters the next day when I returned home. Even so, I felt my usual sense of melancholy with the realization that this would be our last night in the high Sierra. I stayed up later than usual, communing with the alpine wilderness, bathed in cold but eerily beautiful moonlight.

Day 8: Warren and I were both surprised by how quickly we reached Bishop Pass (11,972’). Shortly before the pass, we were puzzled by some long poles with solar panels and antennas until I walked over and read a metal sign at the base of one of them. It was a snow sensor, used by the California Department of Water Resources to make forecasts of our future water supply, based on water content in the snow. I’ve looked at the data from these sensors online many times, but I’d never actually seen one.

The east side of the pass featured a ridge bristling with dark and exceptionally sharp spires reminiscent of Tolkien’s Mordor. But soon we had an aerial view of a basin full of lovely lakes far below. The descent began with a stimulatingly airy series of switchbacks that had been blasted out of the face of a large dark outcropping. It was so steep that at one point I looked down and counted five switchbacks below me that I could see all at the same time.

Up to this point the weather had been perfect for the entire trip but chilly gusts had blasted us since about a mile before reaching Bishop Pass. We didn’t find shelter from the wind until shortly after passing Long Lake (10,753’), so we finally took a lunch break. I was amazed by the popularity of this trail and was finding it a bit crowded. But soon enough we saw South Lake below us and worked our way along its eastern shore to the parking lot (9,800’) above the dam. An hour later we were sitting in an air conditioned Pizza Factory in Bishop (4,150’), where I practically inhaled a combo calzone in preparation for the long drive home.

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:34 pm
by Jimr
Excellent trip report

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:57 pm
by rlown
a nice read. any pictures (ahh. i see the will come later; great!?

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:31 am
by JWreno
Thanks for this great trip report. I just did my 3rd JMT in August and went over Lamarc col back in 2008 heading out at North Lake. I have be thinking about a trip around Ionian Basin for a few years. Your route descriptions are very helpful. I think I will have to leave my wife home and just bring my son. She has less enthusiasm for leaving a well built trail. I am just grateful that she is willing to do multi-week hikes.

Do you have any good references that you used for planning this trip? I am 57 and my son is 32. We have done multiple 2-3 week trips but usually don't involve more than a day or two of off trail hiking.

I was thinking about a trip over Piute Pass into Humphreys basin over Alpine Col then doing your trip up to and through Ionian Basin and then returning through Lamarc Col. I could do it with one car and spend more time at elevation and away from the crowds of the JMT (except for Evolution to Wanda sections)

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:11 am
Wonderful read. Thank you. I'm looking forward to the photos.

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:23 pm
by Wandering Daisy
JWreno- I would go IN Lamark Col and out Alpine Col. I would rather carry the heavy pack over Lamark, which is almost a trail, than Alpine Col, which is serious boulder hopping. I have gone out Alpine Col last day of a trip, and it was OK, but sure would not have liked to go up it with 10 days of food. Alpine Col is a no-go in rain or bad weather. You still have the choice of going out Lemark.

Ionian Basin was one of the first trips I did in the Sierra. It was after a 200% snowpack year. In late August, there still was plenty of snow, a lot very steep remains of cornices. I could not have done it without an ice axe. Many routes you can do in a low snow year you cannot do in a high snowpack year. I have been back twice since. It is truly a magic place.

Seriously if I were simply going to focus on Ionian Basin, I would go in from Florence Lake. You could still loop in up Goddard Canyon and out via Evolution Basin and do a side trip to Darwin Bench.

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:56 am
by EpicSteve
JWreno: My main planning reference was right here on these HST forums, along with R.J. Secor's book and the ol' USGS topo maps. I did some searches here at HST for the names of various places I wanted to visit, plus I started a thread asking for trip advice which you may find helpful:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10763" onclick=";return false;

...I certainly found it VERY helpful! I would carefully consider anything that Wandering Daisy has to say. She's truly one of the great contributors to these forums and my experience has shown that she definitely knows what she's talking about. People on these forums are very generous with their time and knowledge and that's a great thing, because there's a wealth of knowledge here!

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:41 am
by JWreno
Next year we plan to follow the PCT from Yosemite to I80, so Ionian basin will probably wait for a couple of summers. My parents are 86 and live in Michigan so I tend to take vacation time to visit mine and my wife's parents back in Michigan each year. This means most years I don't have time for more than one couple week trip each summer. I have been thinking about taken more 3-4 day extended weekend trips into areas that have great photography opportunities. I have only done a couple of trips between south of Lake Tahoe and northern Yosemite so the close to Reno short trip opportunities are available.

I appreciate the comments. I have spent a lot of time looking at the topo maps of the area. I liked you trip report because I could follow you trip on the topi map.


Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:41 am
by richlong8
I like the detailed trip report. Very interesting, and well done. Do you write anything down as you are traveling, perhaps in the evenings, or reconstruct the trip from memory when you are back in civilization? As you know, from your own prep, any little bit of info can help when you get off trail. It's funny how things never go quite according to plan! I am looking forward to the photos.

Re: TR: Lamarck Col, Davis Lake & Ionian Basin 8/30 - 9/06

Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:57 pm
by EpicSteve
richlong8: I used to just reconstruct from memory after the trip was over, so it was really important that I write as many details down as quickly after the trip as I could. But recently, I've started to carry my iPhone on these trips (it's heavy, but I don't want it to get stolen or overheated in my car and I don't want to leave it at home, in case I have a vehicle breakdown). So lately I've really come to appreciate the "Voice Memo" feature. I record a daily report in the evenings or mornings and it helps me remember the more detailed stuff. My photos and the topo maps help jog my memory too. I still try to write a report quickly though, because I still have to fill in a lot of details from memory.

I learned the hard way (and from a buddy's suggestion): If you're going to carry a smart phone, set it to "Airplane Mode" so that it doesn't waste battery power constantly searching for a phone signal where there is none. Only turn it on long enough to record your report and then turn it off again immediately. Put a layer of insulation between the phone and the hot sun when you pack it too. Heat is the killer of small electronic devices.