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Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

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Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby chandler325i » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:44 am

Has anyone done this route before or have any insight? I see on the HST map that there are two labelled xc passes from Nine Lakes Basin to Lion Lake. RoguePhotonic does a brief write-up on Lion Rock Pass 2: viewtopic.php?f=31&t=8437

From there, on my TH topo map, it looks like the trip down from Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake is pretty straightforward.

A friend and I are looking to do a spartan day-trip while our dads take a layover day during our 8-day trek in July. We'll be traveling light and fast since we'll be leaving our shelter, stove, sleeping systems, additional food, etc with them. The intent would be to leave from Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack > down the trail from Lone Pine Creek > then loop back east along the HST past Hamilton Lake and over Kaweah Gap to meet back up with our dads. This could be an utterly ridiculous undertaking, but our interest was piqued after hearing/reading how amazing the hike through the Valhalla area is. I'm well aware of the brutal amount of elevation changes in this loop, mostly concerned about any beta on the xc portions. Thanks!



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Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby Bluewater » Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:52 am

I haven't been through that area, but I've been researching it lately. There is a video on YouTube that might be helpful. It has good footage of the Tamarack/Lion Lakes basin (starting at about 1:50) and very good footage of the north side of Lion Pass from Triple Divide Peak.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=relmfu&v=pdqFXzYbjj8
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby SweetSierra » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:02 am

The trip down to Tamarack Lake from Lion Lake isn't straightforward at all. I've done the route both ways. It's easy on your way down to find yourself in micro-cliffs and slabs that are too steep to descend. It's not easy to see the correct route down from the top. Going up to Lion Lake from Tamarack Lake last year, the route up was obvious to us, though there may be other ways. We ascended a steep grassy gully all the way to a much easier slope that then leads up to Lion Lake.
I would suggest taking this grassy gully because, though steep and strenuous, it presented no other difficulties when we ascended it other than climbing up some medium-sized boulders and through some brush near the top.
From Lion Lake, stay left of the outlet stream and drop on an easy descent to the "lip" of the huge bowl around Tamarack Lake. Then look for the top of this grassy gully. I put up some cairns but doubt they are still there.
It might be tempting to go too far to the left when you get to the "lip" of the bowl because it looks doable. But there isn't an easy or safe way down (the aforementioned micro cliffs, etc.)
Once you make it down to the meadow above Tamarack Lake, there's a use trail down to the lake on the far right above Tamarack Lake's eastern shore and outlet.
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby Ska-T » Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:44 am

Me and my 7th grade son and another father & son went from Nine Lake Basin over Lion Rock Pass and down to Tamarack Lake over the July 4th weekend of what I recall to be a "normal" snow fall year. We didn't have any problems with route finding. Below Lion Lake we stayed above Lone Pine Creek on the left (south) until we found a relatively steep but safe way down to the meadow above Tamarack Lake. Then we walked far to the left (south) of the knob above Tamarack Lake and made our way down to TL and around the south end without difficulty.

I recall drinking from the creek in the meadow and then discovering a dead deer in the water upstream, and seeing scat evidence of mountain lion at Tamarack Lake, but those are different subjects.

-Scott
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby Mike M. » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:06 pm

On a hike long, long ago (in the late 70s), I recall coming across a gathering (a herd?) of 8 bucks in an open area below Tamarack Lake. All of them had impressively large antlers. It was an awesome sight.

Mike
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby SweetSierra » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:31 pm

Ska-T, it sounds like you found the steep grassy gully that we ascended. When we came down from Lion Lake to Tamarack, we couldn't see a safe place to drop from the top after exploring a bit. If you don't know to look just to the left of the stream and not wander too far left, it would be easy to miss the grassy gully. We dropped down in a few spots to look around but ended up looking down at terrain that didn't look safe to descend. So we kept going to the left thinking that we could get down (and spent a long time looking for a way) but encountered the micro cliffs.
We eventually found ourselves in a thunderstorm as we kept finding dead ends. Then we decided to make our way across the face of a cliff on a narrow ledge, which ended on gentler ground and after a short walk down, the meadow above Tamarack. My partner had to carry my pack across the ledge for me as I didn't think I could maintain my balance with the pack. When he did, he wavered part of the way across and had to let go of my pack (which survived--it's a Kelty Cloud, they're indestructible.) That's something I'd never want to repeat as a fall would have been fatal.
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby Ska-T » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:21 pm

SweetSierra wrote:Ska-T, it sounds like you found the steep grassy gully that we ascended.

Well, it was so long ago I don't remember a grassy gully. I do remember as we walked west toward Tamarack we were south of and above the meadow, and that we were past about half of the meadow or more before we found a way down. Your thunderstorm would definitely make things more difficult.
-Scott
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby longri » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:21 am

I agree with SweetSierra about the terrain between Tamarack and Lion lakes. It's steep and you do need to work out the routefinding. There was a big swamp in the meadow below when we were there and the final part between Tamarack Lake and this meadow is a little devious.

I haven't been over Lion Rock Pass but if it's anything like Lion Lake Pass (lots of talus) then it shouldn't be too much of a problem with light enough packs.

It's a very nice area.
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby chandler325i » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:27 am

longri -- what time of year were you there?
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby SweetSierra » Fri Jun 14, 2013 10:50 am

From Nine Lakes Basin, Lion Rock Pass was a fairly easy scramble up Class 2 talus. We climbed up beside a tiny creek initially but that wasn't the best way (slipping on wet grass). At the top of the pass, we dropped down the convoluted slope left of Lion Lake as you're descending. There's many ways to get around the little gullies and such as you then drop on a huge gently sloping slab to the outlet of Lion Lake (you drop down on a sand/scree pile at the very end.) At the top of Lion Rock pass, we looked down the very steep chute that drops to the upper lake (upper Lion?) but it looked way too steep to attempt and a pain to then hike around (lots of talus) to get to Lion.

Just to add, we did this pass and that hike down to Tamarack in early or mid August. No snow issues. Once you get to the meadow above Tamarack, you make your way around the creek in the middle. The use trail to Tamarack is through some pines all the way to the right and then you have to look for the trail, which is almost directly across from Tamarack's outlet.
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:56 pm

My experience is the same as Sweetsierra - easy rock ramps to pass from 9 Lakes Basin, but very tricky down to Tamarack Lake. Cliffy also just above Tamarack Lake (lots of mosquitoes). Probably not a problem this year, but crossing the creek can be difficult. I have not calculated the miles and elevation gains, but you definitely need to do that, estimating about 1 to 1.5 mph for the off-trail sections, perhaps 2.5 mph for the trail sections and add about half an hour for each 1,000 feet of elevation gain. You could probably exceed this rate, but this gives you some contingency for route-finding.
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Re: Possible? Nine Lakes > Lion Lake > Tamarack Lake?

Postby longri » Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:29 pm

chandler325i wrote:longri -- what time of year were you there?

September... why do you ask?
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