Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck | High Sierra Topix  

Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

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Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

Postby dubik99 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 2:46 pm

Friend (redbear) and I just did a loop: Sabrina, Midnight Lake, Haeckel Col, Sapphire Lake, McGee Pass, McGee Lakes, McGee Pass, PCT, Darwin Bench, Lamarck Col, North Lake. June 27-July 1, 2016.
We drove from LA on June 27, picked up permits and then had our last meal at the Cardinal Village resort, where we discovered that I forgot the the most important ingredient: tequila. Cardinal sells only wine, so it had to be wine. Very expensive wine.
After the car shuttle we headed out to Midnight Lake. Nice simple trail, but I was dragging. Probably a couple of sleepless nights before, finishing up work etc, did me in. I would've crashed at Blue Lake, or anywhere else where there was a flat surface, but my buddy (redbear) wisely always stayed ahead of me, well outside the range of a possible discussion. Plus he had the DEET, and at around Dingleberry you definitely need something like 110% DEET.
Plenty of campsites at Midnight with nice views.
From our tent we had a good view of the ridge between between Midnight and Hungry Packer that we would need to gain the next day. We were debating how hard it would be under the current conditions and identified a backup plan: a saddle further NE (lower) on the ridge, but it turned out to be very easy. Snow was perfect and we just strolled up the next day.
20160628 McGee Lakes 007_2.JPG
Ridge between Midnight and Hungry Packer Lakes

Once on the ridge you have basically two options: stay on the ridge top or follow ledges on the Hungry Packer Side.
20160628 McGee Lakes 011_2.JPG
Hungry Packer side of the ridge

There is a pronounced green ledge fairly low that leads toward the waterfall and cliff above the West end of Hungry Packer, but you can't see how it ends. It looked very easy and inviting, so we decided not to take it: something that nice got to be a dead end!, and did some scrambling midway between it and the top. Turns out that vegetated ledge led to very nice staircase ledges and no climbing was necessary. But hey, we're not here to have it easy!
Quickly Haeckel Col came into view
20160628 McGee Lakes 015_2.JPG
First view of the Haeckel Col

It was pretty straighforward from this point on to the top of the col. I think snow had actually made it easier, except for a few places
20160628 McGee Lakes 019_2.JPG
Close up view of the col crossing and depth of snow gauge

The other side of the col (SW) was pretty nasty. Not difficult, but nasty. Loose, unusually loose rocks. Or maybe it was my lack of preparation for this trip. A few times I ended up on my back, on top of my backpack, like a ladybug with legs twitching up in the air, wondering "am I injured?". Maybe hoping that I am and can now stop. But no, no such luck. I did land on and destroy my trekking pole, though.
On our way down a thunderstorm came. We were prepared and quickly ended up under a tarp on a side of perfect rock. We figured "the usual, no big deal, it will blow out quickly..". Well... it did... and then another one came and then lightning went away, but the rain stayed. At this point we were wet, tired and trudging up and down the Evolution Creek above Sapphire Lake. At the bottom, while sitting under the tarp, and bringing to bare on the problem our tens of years of experience, we decided that if we went up it's South side, we'd find some rocks to cross it on. And just as we did that and could see McGee pass, not that far above us on the other side, we realized how stupid the plan was. It was a freaking torrent. We had to go down to where it spreads out and basically wade across it. At that point, of course, we were so wet that it didn't really matter, we could've swam across.
Eventually we did get to the top of McGee pass and in the gloomy light could see McGee lake far far down below
20160628 McGee Lakes 044_2.JPG
View into McGee Lakes basin from McGee pass

At least it was mostly downhill from there and none of the Haeckel nonsense.
McGee Lakes are beautiful and we had them to ourselves. Original plan was to climb The Hermit, but we decided to have a layover day instead.
20160629 McGee Lakes 049_1_resize.JPG
McGee Lakes with Mt. McGee

Fishing was pretty good. Not big, but we did have fried fish for dinner.
The next (fourth) day we went back up over McGee Lakes pass and dropped onto the PCT. It took some experimentation to find a way down, but there are many options. My buddy thinks we found the best way down, I think he found the most difficult one right next to a big wide gentle patch.
On PCT we met a few PCT through-hikers. These guys cruise!
Fairly quickly we peeled off PCT and went up to Darwin Bench. It's pretty obvious where to turn off: just don't go down.
Except for somebody on the other side of the lake, we again pretty much had it to ourselves.
The next day we hiked out past Darwin Lakes, up Lamarck Col and then down the East side Lamarck. Snow on the East side is no problem. No need for any equipment. It's the rest of the trail that one should worry about. It's been many many years since I went UP Lamarck from North Lake and I forgot. It is a long, steep brutal trail with tons of elevation gain/loss. Note to self: don't ever let anybody talk you into going up over it. Going down was bad enough.
20160701 McGee Lakes 098_2.jpg
West side of Lamarck

20160701 McGee Lakes 103_2.jpg
East side of Lamarck
Attachments
20160701 McGee Lakes 096_2.JPG
Darwin Lakes
20160628 McGee Lakes 030_2.JPG
West (SW really) side of Haeckel Col



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dubik99
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Re: Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:13 am

Nice trip and report--Haeckel Col is a route not often done. I went across Haeckel col once in '77 en route to climb Goddard. I messed up the route at the very top and went over crest at a spot where I needed to surmount a fairly athletic class 3 move at the top of the east side and a moderate class 3 move on west coming off (ie the top was a knife edge where I crossed) and then another moderate class 3 move dealing with a small cliff in a chute bottom further down on the west side. It probably didn't help that I was really poor condition and rehabbing my first knee injury to boot. In contrast I found Lamarck Col pretty mellow coming out from North Lake--I don't know of any elevation loss on the (East) N side coming up from near the outlet of Upper Lamarck L.--have gone that way many times. Your experience of catching a fish meal at the McGees will soon be a thing of the past. The fish in the McGees will soon be removed, so you got in there before that happened .
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: Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

Postby rlown » Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:26 am

ok.. I'm going to ask a question just based on your last pic, and as I haven't been there, I don't know if there is a right answer.

Why didn't you skirt the boulder field down where the slope wasn't covered with car-sized boulders? I'm sure there must be some reason.

Russ
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Re: Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

Postby dubik99 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:08 am

Russ, in the left were polished rock, i.e. not an option. it was possible to do a right hook, but it would've still required some talus work and made it longer. Where we went actually did not look that bad. We've done something similar many times and it didn't look that long. It's the looseness of it that made it different. Don't know why.
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Re: Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

Postby rlown » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:09 pm

nice report! thanks for sharing.
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Re: Trail Report: Sabrina, Haeckel Col, McGee Lakes, Lamarck

Postby redbear » Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:10 pm

giantbrookie wrote:Your experience of catching a fish meal at the McGees will soon be a thing of the past. The fish in the McGees will soon be removed, so you got in there before that happened .

This is sad. By the way, where do you get this info?
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