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TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

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TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

Postby shan1203 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:07 pm

Today’s goal was Lamarck Col with a stretch goal of summiting Mount Lamarck. We’d seen the sign for Lamarck Lakes when heading up the Piute Pass trail to summit Mt. Emerson a few weeks prior. As it goes, one trip spurred the idea for the next, and on the way home we were googling Lamarck to see what there was to explore up there. We vaguely remembered there being a cross country pass from a conversation we had on the trail when we were doing the Evolution Basin portion of the JMT a few years back.

We snoozed for a bit in our truck at the trailhead parking lot before getting a fairly early start on the trail. It was chilly! I started out in hat, gloves and puffy and was still wishing for another layer. No worries, I knew that I’d be too warm once we’d been moving for a bit.

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Fall colors


Right off the bat, I was struck by the beauty of the fall colors surrounding us as we walked up the dirt road to the trailhead. Yellow, orange and green surrounded us. Pretty quickly, the Lamarck trail takes off to the south from the Piute Pass trail and we were now on unchartered ground (for us!). The trail immediately begins switchbacking up to Grass Lake through beautiful aspen forest. After a short time, we reached the turn off for Grass Lake and continued on to Lower Lamarck Lake.

Lower and Upper Lamarck Lakes are both gorgeous! In fact, everything in this area was – we couldn’t stop being in awe of the colors, the textures, the beauty all around. This was truly a great hike. We spent a little time at each of the Lamarck Lakes enjoying the view, taking photos and getting excited for the next leg of the hike.

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Lower Lamarck Lake


We left Upper Lamarck and took an accidental detour in the direction of Wishbone Lake around the west side of a large ridge that we were supposed to go east of. That’s what chatting, paying too little attention and simply following the next cairn can do sometimes – oops! We quickly realized that we were off track and backtracked to regain the trail and get onto the east side of the ridge as we were supposed to be.

As mentioned in many of the trip reports you’ll find, this route is not difficult to follow (despite our ‘incident’ mentioned above which was lack of attention, not difficult route finding) I would call it a full-on trail to the base of Lamarck Col. It definitely grows a bit less distinct the higher up you get, but never really stops being a trail.

Once you complete the 40 switchbacks, the grade eases off quite a bit at the higher elevations, but the elevations themselves keep the challenge going. I really enjoyed the barren landscape in this section. Winding trail, mounds of rock, great views in all directions. We were treated to a great perspective of the Piute Crags and Mt. Emerson from up here and enjoyed reminiscing about our recent summit.

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Mt. Emerson and Piute Crags


This section of the hike seems to go on for quite some time and you keep expecting to see Lamarck Col around the next bend, or maybe the next one, or *surely* the next one…keep committed, it’s up there! We finally saw the Col and the trademark glacier and could even spot the sign up on the Col from our vantage point.

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Final approach to Lamarck Col


There was a light cover of snow on the approach to the Col which appeared to be making things more interesting for the two gentlemen we spotted descending from it. We chatted with them for a bit and found that they had just come down from summiting Mount Lamarck, which we had already given up due to our detour earlier. They confirmed that the snow made the descent of the Col a little trickier than they expected although going up hadn’t been too bad. We made our way up with careful footing and were pleased to reach the sign @ 12,880 in short time. The views into Darwin Canyon set the wheels in motion for a backpacking trip over the Col, into Darwin Canyon and down into Evolution – maybe next season!

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At Lamarck Col!


We spent a considerable amount of time enjoying the views of the turquoise lakes, Evolution Traverse and all of the peaks visible from this vantage point. On our heels was another hiker, Steve, who from the sounds of it has quite an impressive Sierra resume – we encouraged both he and the group of two to check out highsierratopix.com when they returned from their hikes.
After getting our fill at the Col, we decided that indeed Mount Lamarck could wait for another day and started the descent back to our car some 3,500 feet below. This was a day well spent 

Link to our GPS tracks:
http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2804866

Happy Hiking,
Shannon



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Re: TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

Postby canukyea » Wed Oct 08, 2014 9:17 am

Ahhh, those were your footprints I saw. I spent the day fishing Darwin Canyon and when I returned, I was wondering why I saw more prints but didn't run into anyone down in the canyon. I keep meaning to hike further than that to check out a certain place, but that region is surprisingly hard for getting in the miles quickly.
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

Postby shan1203 » Wed Oct 08, 2014 5:08 pm

Canukyea,

We were surprised to see not one, but three people at the Col! We'd expected to have the place to ourselves...We really wanted to explore further into Darwin Canyon, can't wait to return to that area!

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:20 am

There is little doubt that a trip that a trip to Lamarck Col is one that promises many more. Simply seeing your photo of the Lamarck Col sign brings back some of my fondest High Sierra memories. The sign and that view on cresting out at Lamarck Col. is, to me, my very favorite "Welcome to the High Sierra" message. It is like this magic gateway to my very favorite part of the High Sierra.

Lamarck Col has left such a huge impression on so many Sierra hikers over the years. I recall meeting these three generations of backpackers (7 year old kid, father, grandfather) heading over the Col. (coming back E to W). The kid's first and middle names were "Darwin Lamarck", and fittingly, he is the strongest 7-year-old hiker I've ever seen in the mountains. It turns out that Lamarck Col was so special to his mom and dad that they decided they'd name their first kid after the place. Judy and I in fact considered a High Sierra theme (especially the Goddard-Darwin area theme) for the name of our first one (inspired by little Darwin Lamarck, as well as our own attachment to this area), but then went more conventional for his name (Lee).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

Postby shan1203 » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:30 am

giantbrookie,

Awesome story - thanks for sharing. These places have a way of weaving their way into every aspect of our lives, even naming our children! Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on perspective) our kids were born before we discovered our love of hiking and the backcountry :)

Happy Hiking,
Shannon
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Re: TR: Lamarck Col 9/5/2014

Postby hikerchick395 » Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:05 am

Ha...I provided a shuttle for a group of three hikers on Sep 4. Hiked with them to Lamarck Lakes and they spent the night at Upper and went over Lamarck Col the same day as you...Sep 5. They came out over Bishop Pass Sep 10.

(yep, nice early fall colors!)
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