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TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

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TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

Postby bandguy5686 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:58 pm


After a HARD year's work and much fibrillating/dithering, I finally committed to a trip over Lamarck Col to see this beautiful part of the Sierras and I was NOT disappointed. I find our activity so challenging and SO rewarding-all in the same breath. and breath...and breath! So here's a trip report of a super memorable trip. Thanks to all of you who advised me when I was planning this.

7/3: arrived at North Lake


after an emergency trip to Bishop-my Big Agnes Air Core mattress developed the worlds slowest (yet most reliable) leak-could NOT find the offending pinhole to repair. This is an obvious problem with an otherwise super comfy, lightweight sleep option. Back to foam for me! Anyway, dropped the car and hit the trail after the obligatory mile-long walk from a VERY FULL parking lot. Yeah, I know: Who's plan was it to leave on the Saturday of July 4 weekend? Oh yeah, that was me! :lol:

Once on the trail and beginning a planned acclimatization short day to Upper Lamarck Lake, I indeed found that I need to go slow and easy while climbing. But that's cool, right? It's not a contest. After a few hours of slow hiking I arrived at Lower Lamarck Lake-very pretty place to stop for lunch:

ImageLower Lamarck

Another few miles led me to a nice campsite at Upper Lamarck lake.

ImageUpper Lamarck

The sign for the use trail was right where you folks told me it would be. I got to have my first taste of the piss-quitos :snipe: . :snipe: I may have lost a few pints on this trip. So nice though to fall asleep next to a singing stream though. I fell asleep a bit nervous about tomorrow and hauling my 60-year-old body over Lamarck Col.

7/4: INDEPENDENCE DAY! A problem developed as I began this day that would continue the whole trip. Even setting an alarm and awaking at 6 I STILL didn't get going until almost 10! I love my morning coffee and oatmeal, so after all camp chores are done...well you get the picture. Lazy man! Anyway, once leaving Upper Lamarck heavy breathing worthy of...well, I'll leave that to the imagination...began. Views aplenty!
ImageUpper Lamarck from the Col trail

But as long as I took it slow and practiced the rest step at least I made it up the side of the hill and to the base of the col. Humbling moment-I'm at the top of the ridge and a bunch of Japanese day-hikers passed me on their way to climb Mt. Lamarck...I'm moving dead slow-but at least I'm moving! Lots of humbling took place on this trip!

Beautiful blue skies (never had a cloud the entire trip after the first day!) Here's a set of views of the snowfield below the col and from the top:

ImageLamarck Col snowfield

ImagePanorama of Darwin Basin

The hike down to Darwin Lakes was steep and tough on hips and knees and took longer than I planned-rudimentary route-finding skills at best led to some adventures in steepness, but the talus was very stable and I only experienced a few of the "adrenaline-tilts!" Worked my way around the 2nd highest Darwin lake and arrived in camp in the early evening. Had a lovely evening-cool, lots of stars, and NOT ANOTHER LIVING SOUL around. You gotta pay in sweat, but it's SO worth every step! What a wonderful way to celebrate our amazing natural country and the remarkable foresight that preserved the Sierra Nevada for all time.

ImageDarwin Lake Camp

July 5: Up early but I saw trout! So another early start scotched, but this time for the best of reasons (love the reflection pics):



Left camp and worked my way around the rest of the lakes in the Darwin Basin. Gorgeous all. I hope to be back later (post-skeets) to explore this area, Darwin Bench, and the other lakes...It's too beautiful to see only once.

ImagePanorama of Darwin Bench

I plan to use this little video to keep me company this December/January:

ImageWater everywhere!

And the look down into Evolution Valley...just a lovely day with incredible views all day long!


Again made my way down the hill with some discomfort and ended the day at Colby Meadow next to Evolution Creek.

ImageColby Meadow

Despite the continued assault on my bloodstream by the tiny vampires, I had a nice swim and bask on the rocks. Again, enjoyed the sound of falling water near my sleeping-place. Awesome!

ImageEvolution Creek flowing
Last edited by bandguy5686 on Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/10 PART 1

Postby bbayley80 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:03 pm

thanks for posting! did this same loop a few years back and your report makes me want to do it all over again!
i'll look forward to the finish.

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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9 PART deux!

Postby bandguy5686 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:51 am

TR Continued....
7/6: Awoke and again got the slow start. I promised myself to put in some miles now that I was on-trail and the travel through Evolution Valley was easy. Hiked and photo'd my way through McClure and Evolution meadows-aren't the meadows beautiful? SO many flowers make the trip a true pleasure just like I knew it would be!

ImageMcClure Meadow

As the hike progressed the stream picked up tributaries and grew from a creek to a bona-fide river. There was an amazing waterfall coming from the lakes below Emerald peak. I think that would be worth some exploration-anybody on the board been up there?

ImageWaterfall from Emerald

Check out the color of the water on Evolution Creek...

ImageCreek color

and love this video of the falls headed down the face from Evolution Valley into the San Joaquin drainage:

ImageEvolution goes down to SJ

Made my way down to the San Joaquin, crossed the bridge and started north down the river. Do any of you like as much as I do reaching a junction? I always want to turn the OTHER way and see what's up there!!! Goddard canyon and environs will have to wait for another day!

ImageJunction Sign

The trail crew for Kings Canyon deserves kudos! I find the backcountry bridges remarkable. Lucky to have them with the water going hard like it was...a wading crossing would have been quite challenging.

ImageJMT Bridge

Continued down the river and it was BOOMING!

ImageBig River!

Interesting to me: on this major route there were very few usable campsites. Quite a gorge. Still not seeing very many people at all. This was a big surprise on July 4 week. Happy to have it happen though! Finally found a site and caught two browns for dinner. YUM. Warm down here and the sleeping next to the river was (as always) great!
Last edited by bandguy5686 on Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16 Part the Third!

Postby bandguy5686 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:47 pm

TR Continued:

7/7: Post-coffee and oats (!) I continued the next morning down to the junction between the JMT and Piute Pass trails.

ImageNever get tired of this sign!

I knew I had a stiff climb ahead so hey, let's get going! Piute was big through here too as I headed up.

ImageBig ol Piute Creek

Just ground my way up the trail, but the view rewards made the huffing and puffing worth it all. There were a gazillion flowers all along the trail (anyone out there know the name of this one?):


And the lower parts of Piute Canyon had some for-sure analogues in Yosemite (this is the ridge below Turret Peak I believe-this whole part of the canyon was granite and sparse trees...a bit warm in places but so gorgeous:


Stopped grinding up this trail for lunch and shot this little video of the spot. I bet this creek, when it's lower, fishes pretty well too!

ImageLunch stop on Piute creek

Continued on up the trail:

ImagePiute looking down canyon

Really cool to see erosion at work-the photo shows what appears to be a wall-to-wall rock-slide with a channel eroded through it by the creek.

ImageRockslide cut by Piute creek

ending this day in Hutchinson Meadow. I was pretty much ready to put the pack down by this time-a sort of cumulative fatigue was starting to hit. Skeets were particularly bad here too. Ran out of deet and I was just swarmed while trying to fish. lesson learned. Pretty spot though.

ImageHutchinson meadow


Got up and got away from the skeeters. As I headed up trail the Glacier Divide started to show (hey, I was on the OTHER side of that just a few days ago!!) =D> I'm moving slow but I'm working my way up.

ImagePanorama of Glacier Divide

There are a number of lakes I want to explore over there-Honeymoon, Packsaddle, Paine. I see them on the map but simply cannot will myself to grind up the elevation on this trip. I hope I have the go-power to come back and scope this all out. If for nothing else, I bet there's some great fishing out there.

Continued towards Humphreys Basin and Mt. Humphreys. What a different kind of scene. Wide open plateau county above treeline...just windswept and open. I loved it.

ImageHumphreys Panorama

ImageMore Humphreys Basin

Worked my way up, eventually taking the good use-trail over to Lower Desolation lake and my camp. I'd hoped to make Upper Desolation but ran out of steam here. It was just fine with a nice view of Mt. Humphreys (what an interesting peak!)

ImageMt. Humphreys at Sunset

ImageMoon base alpha

Folks-I had a new moon-the stars were simply beyond belief up here. You owe it to yourselves to go up to this place in such conditions. SO wide open that the whole sky was just alight with stars. Wish I could've captured it on my phone camera for this report.
Last edited by bandguy5686 on Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16 Final

Postby bandguy5686 » Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:32 pm

Awoke at 5:30 a.m. and saw this out my tent door:
ImageHumphreys Sunrise 1

This overcame my natural inclination to lay there and I had to get out to get more photos of an incredible morning sky!

ImageLower Desolation sunrise

ImageHumphreys Basin Sunrise panorama

Nice and cool up here in Humphreys Basin. Headed out, but before I did I opted to stash my pack and go see Upper Desolation Lake...looks big on the map and I want to see it. Heck, I was ALMOST there so why not go the rest of the way? I was rewarded too, what an amazing scene! The lake is SO BIG and it looks deep too. The wind was really howling this day, so no fishing (since I only carry Tenkara these days and it's a hard cast WITHOUT wind). But I'm glad I went to see it and I'll (again) try to return with the right tackle.

ImageUpper (Main) Desolation Lake

Enjoyed this so much I nearly took the extra day just to see if the wind would've given the fishing a chance. Alas, the home front would've worried, so no...I headed out.

Over Piute pass:

ImagePiute Pass Panorama

Past some more of the incredible flora:


ImageFlower Field east of Piute Pass

ImageHealthy Lodgepole

ImageClassic Snag

Passed by Piute Lake and stopped for lunch on my way out. If you were to ignore the cold wind and conifers, the water could have been in Tahiti! Great color.

ImagePiute Lake

And finally, on my way out, the incredible contrast of the Piute Pinnacles and the trees near the trail in the perfect afternoon sun:

ImagePiute Pinnacles

Finally got back to North lake around 6:30 p.m., sore of knee and hip (and tired as hell) but overjoyed at such a great great trip. Headed down to Bishop for a yummy burger and a nice hot shower ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Couldn't stand to be cooped up in a hotel room after all of this, so I car-camped on Bishop Creek and headed back to the West side and home on the 10th.

I'm glad I've found my way back to the backcountry. The trip built a bit more confidence in me and renewed my health after a difficult round of surgery and recovery last fall. Thank God there are places like this that we love so much that can heal us and nudge our minds back to a healthy place. Looking forward to one more good hike before work sets in...and even then maybe I can steal away for some weekend flings this fall! Hope you enjoyed my TR and I encourage anyone to make this hike. It's pretty damned awesome!
Last edited by bandguy5686 on Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

Postby jawcar » Mon Jul 18, 2016 5:21 am

Outstanding trip report. Thank you very much for posting this.

We are still considering this route in 2 weeks. But we aren't 100% on Lamarck Col, so we've probably decided in favor of a Piute/French Canyon out-and-back from North Lake. But some day we will be back for the full Evolution Valley hike.

Thanks again for the great description and pictures!
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:26 pm

Thanks for the great TR. I was in this area 2 years ago and plan on returning one day. Humphrys Basin is incredible.
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

Postby tlsharb » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:42 pm

Absolutely great TR. 95% of my adventures in the Sierra have come from the west side (that's what growing up near Fresno will do for you). But if I was to do an eastside trip, this would be it.
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

Postby maverick » Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:02 pm

Cool TR and pictures, one of the best wildflower displays I have ever seen was at Hutchinson Meadow back in the 90's, have not seen like that since.
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Re: TR Lamarck-Evolution-Piute 7/3-7/9/16

Postby Etchilds » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:05 pm

Great sharing, thank you! I love Humphrey's basin even though it's claimed a camera yet to be rediscovered :)
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