TR: Evolution Basin loop, via Echo & Lamarck Cols 8/14/16 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Evolution Basin loop, via Echo & Lamarck Cols 8/14/16

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TR: Evolution Basin loop, via Echo & Lamarck Cols 8/14/16

Postby tie » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:08 pm

Last year I ran North Lake - Lamarck Col - Evolution Basin - Le Conte Canyon - Dusy Basin - Bishop Pass - South Lake (trip report). I wanted to get back in there, but didn't want to do the same thing. I also didn't want to hitchhike. So I figured I'd start at Lake Sabrina, go over Echo Col, and see if I had time to climb anything.

Here's what I ended up doing (clockwise). In short, Lake Sabrina - Echo Col - Black Giant - Evolution Basin - Lamarck Col.
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(The first Lamarck Col is Echo Col. Muir Pass is Wanda Pass. The real Muir Pass is the rise to the left of that. Sorry!)

After a light breakfast, I got started from the Lake Sabrina trailhead at about 5:15am. The temperature was in in the high 40s. I used a flashlight for the first mile or two before dawn. I did a little jogging, but didn't worry about my pace; miles before sunrise don't count. The trail was easy to follow, and went by a number of pretty, small lakes and a few creek crossings.

Looking back at Lake Sabrina
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Blue Lake
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Picture Peak over Sailor Lake
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There were a lot of people camped at Sailor Lake. One man with his son hailed me. I said I was going over Echo Col. He said they'd just climbed it the day before, and warned me that there were "very slippery rocks." Had I looked up information on the col? I always appreciate getting beta, but this worried me as I continued on.

From Sailor Lake there are off-and-on use trails up to Echo Lake.

Echo Lake is just above the central rise
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S from Echo Lake
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Me, looking SW from Echo Lake toward Wallace Col
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View toward the col
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There were dozens of birds looking for bugs on this snowfield beneath the col
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Closer view; from the left end of the snowfield (center) I went up and to the right until arriving beneath the col (rightmost notch), then up
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The last bit
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Near the top, I tested the name. "Echo" indeed.

Looking N from Echo Col. Rubble.
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There was no reason to worry! The rock was completely solid, nothing slippery. Although the top part is a (very easy) class 3, the pass was much easier than some of the class 2 passes I've climbed (e.g., University Pass after a rainstorm). Not to say that the group at Sailor Lake was wrong, climbing is generally much easier without a pack.

My route over the col, from Echo Lake at the north side
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Looking S from the col

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S side of the col

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The col is to the left of the dark rock in the middle

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From the col, the descent to Lake 11428 is very easy. I followed slabs toward the left. When they looked to be turning cliffy, I jogged right. Indeed, there are cliffs, but from below it looks like there are always spaces between them so it is probably hard to get stuck.

Black Giant over Lake 11428

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Backpackers headed up to the col

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Leaving Lake 11428 at an obvious dip maybe 100 yards west of the lake's outlet, it is an easy descent to the JMT. Back to civilization!

Black Giant over the JMT
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JMT going up
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I left the trail just before it started switchbacking after Helen Lake, at 11:20am.

My route up Black Giant, then down to Muir Pass (refilling water on the way)
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Lake 11939, and looking north into Evolution Basin. Center right is Wanda Lake. Looking closely you can see the Muir Hut silhouetted on the lake, from Muir Pass. Mt Solomons is the peak on the left (west) side of the pass.
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Same, but here you can see Helen Lake at the right, and Mt Warlow above it
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Charybdis peaking out over Muir Pass, above Lake 11939
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Climbing Black Giant was harder than I had expected. The main problem was finding it! There are two obvious prominences along the ridge line. Which was the mountain? Answer: The summit is directly between them, hidden behind two horizon lines.

I didn't reach the summit until almost 1pm. The summit register had entries going back to ~2006.
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I chilled out, had lunch, took many pictures. I even tried a Google Cardboard photo. I'd never tried it before, but it works really well! It gives a 360 degree view with stereo, so it feels like you are there! The depth makes it much more immersive than a flat panorama. (On my phone in Google Cardboard the quality isn't great, but maybe it would be better with a higher-resolution screen.) They are also easier to capture. You can stand in one spot and turn, without worrying about parallax error; the parallax error is how they compute the depth.

Great views into Le Conte Canyon!

View back toward Echo Col
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View into Evolution Basin
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View into Ionian Basin
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Le Conte Canyon 1
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Le Conte Canyon 2
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Le Conte Canyon 3
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Le Conte Canyon 4 (notice Dusy Basin on the right)
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Me
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Panoramas
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Panorama into Ionian and Evolution Basins
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Muir Pass, Mt Warlow to the right
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I descended from Black Giant, and continued north over Muir Pass.

Black Giant from Muir Pass; you can see how it flattens out slightly near the peak, blocking it from view as you ascend
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Black Giant over Muir Pass, from Wanda Lake
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Reaching the end of Wanda Lake, I decided to take a quick detour to Wanda Pass (maybe .5 miles away, 200' elevation). Even though I didn't go over the pass, this at least gave me a view toward Davis Lake and Mt McGee, which I hadn't seen before.
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Wanda Pass (left), above Wanda Lake
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Panorama from Wanda Pass; the leftmost peak is Goddard, and McGee is above Lake Davis (on the right)
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Mt Huxley
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Descent to Sapphire Lake
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Mt Huxley over Sapphire Lake
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Mt Spencer
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Evolution Lake
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Mt Huxley over Evolution Lake
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Back on the JMT, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I had wanted to climb over Alpine Col (which I haven't done before), and then over Piute Pass down to Norht Lake. But reading people's descriptions of the col on my phone made me worry that I would spend too much time on talus. So I took the safer option of Lamarck Col, which I had climbed over last year, north to south. Lamarck Col is 400' higher than Alpine Col, but is also ~4 miles shorter. The problem, of course, is that it is difficult to find from the south side.

There is a very clear trail up to Darwin Bench, that leaves the JMT exactly where it makes its first switchback down to the left after Evolution Lake. Hard to miss. The trail up through Darwin Bench is easy to lose track of. I thought it climbed farther than it did, so actually overshot Darwin Lake #1
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Very pretty trail (The Hermit in the background). Drier than last year
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Darwin Lakes
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A White-lined Sphinx moth I found
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Alpine Columbine below Lamarck Col
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Darwin Lakes #1-4
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Last view of the Darwin basin (Darwin Lake #5)
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I started climbing from just between the last two lakes. While I did find some cairns, I then lost them. In retrospect, I guess they were going a little bit farther to the east (toward Darwin #5). Not knowing where the pass was slowed me down. I didn't want to climb to the wrong notch. At the end, I could go left or right. After a few steps to the left I reconsidered and went right, which seemed to be a lower notch. Good decision!

I went through the notch at far right here (viewed from the north side). The official col is in the middle, but this worked just as well, and I didn't have to cross any snow
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Descending from Lamarck as the sun sets; North Lake is at the very far right, Lower Lamarck Lake is toward the middle
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I did perhaps make one mistake going down. There is a point where the trail continues descending (to the northeast), but an old trail comes in from the left. Even though it was obviously wrong, I took the old trail past a small pot lake. This is the trail I'd taken last year going in the other direction, and I didn't feel like experimenting as the light faded. But in retrospect, looking at my GPS track on a map, the newer trail would have worked fine.
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I lost the light going down and used my flashlight.

It is 2.6 miles from the North Lake trailhead down to the Lake Sabrina trailhead. Fortunately, it is very fast. I turned my flashlight off and ran by moonlight.
Last edited by tie on Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: TR: Evolution Basin loop, via Echo & Lamarck Cols 8/14/1

Postby maverick » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:34 pm

That's it, you didn't have time to go into Ionian Basin, climb Goddard, and visit McGee Lakes. :lol:
Looks like a fun day run/hike, nice pictures, thanks for sharing.
By the way, what brand of trail runners are you using, La Sportiva's?
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin loop, via Echo & Lamarck Cols 8/14/1

Postby Cross Country » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:07 pm

Wow that was great. That's my kind of trip (cross country). Mine, however would have had fishing. In the past there was good fishing in at least 3 of those places.
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Re: TR: Evolution Basin loop, via Echo & Lamarck Cols 8/14/1

Postby tie » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:04 pm

I know, maverick, so much I want to do, but no time! I have to go again, maybe learn how to backpack.

I use some super-lightweight Saucony Kinvara trail shoes. They're perfect for clean trails like the JMT, but probably aren't the best for fast off-trail movement. I do think I'm improving my off-trail skills, especially micro-navigation, though slowly.

Thanks, CC.
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