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TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

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TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby jimmeans » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:10 am

TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Wade and Linda Christiansen and I undertook a 3-day outing to the Lamarck Creek drainage on the weekend of June 14-16, 2013. Our goals were two-fold. First was to explore the route to Lamarck Col for future expeditions to Darwin Canyon, Evolution Valley, and beyond. Second was to get Linda out on her first backpacking trip for the year. And of course a little R&R never hurts anyone!

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GPS Tracks, Red going uphill

We drove up from Ridgecrest Friday morning, so our start wasn't until early afternoon. We took our time getting to Lower Lamarck Lake, and decided to establish our base there. We found a campsite near the outlet of the lake, got unpacked, and then broke out the fishing gear. We caught many small brook trout and released all of them so that they could hopefully grow into older small brook trout.

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Hike area from hiker parking lot

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Lower Lamarck Lake from outlet

As we hiked to the lake we saw several day hikers, but at the lake it was just us and a small youth group that camped on the ledges above the north shore of the lake. There were mosquitoes around, but they seemed to be at the stage in their life-cycle where they are just a nuisance and weren't biting.

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View down Bishop Creek drainage from campsites

Saturday morning we got up and packed food, water, and the 10 essentials into our packs and hit the trail for Lamarck Col.

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Water Source

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Leaving Lower Lamarck Lake for the day

I had read several reports saying that the start of the route was sometimes difficult to find, but to me that didn't seem to be the case. The trail to Upper Lamarck Lake starts on the east side of Lamarck Creek and then crosses over to the west side for a short distance.

When the trail crosses back to the east side there is a fork in the trail. If you turn south along the creek you're continuing to Upper Lamarck Lake, but if you continue straight instead you've found the start of the Lamarck Col route. If we had been heading to Upper Lamarck Lake we probably would have missed the turn south and started on the Lamarck Col route instead. Instead of being hard to locate, the issue seemed to be when to know that we'd left the main trail and were on the Lamarck Col route.

The route wraps around the east side of the low ridge east of Upper Lamarck Lake. After about .3 mile it starts a climb up switchbacks to get above the cliffs on the east side of a higher ridge. During this climb we had our first view of Upper Lamarck Lake.

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First view of Upper Lamarck Lake

After climbing the switchbacks the trail traversed along the ridge above the cliffs on its east side. At this point I realized that this was a constructed trail and not a tough cross-country route.

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Quick break on trail above cliffs

The trail is very easy to follow and is just a steady climb for most of the way. We encountered the first big snow crossing at about 11700 ft, and the snow was soft enough for easy crossing without any post-holing. Just below this crossing the snow melt draining from the snow field was the last running water we saw.

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Approaching first snow crossing

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Last running water

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Linda crossing snow

The last big snow field before the top of the col was in the draw starting at about 12200 ft, but this snowfield was easily bypassed.

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Easter Island transplant standing guard

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Last snowfield during hike, bypassed on right side

At this point we were finally beginning to see the Sierra Crest ridge line. The remainder of the hike was through boulders and sand and was very easy to navigate across. There seemed to be use trails everywhere.

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Sierra Crest in view

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Waxing crescent rising in east

As we approached the col we saw a group coming down that had started at South Lake. They had come straight down from the col instead of traversing through the rock fields. After a short consultation we decided to go up following their path. It was an easy climb as the snow was mid-afternoon soft.

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View up to Lamarck Col from lake below

Patience to make sure that you had good footing was the key, and everybody made it up without post-holing or slipping.

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Linda and Wade at summit sign

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Mount Darwin and Darwin Glacier

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View down Darwin Canyon to Evolution Valley

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Mount Humphreys from Lamarck Col

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Bishop from Lamarck Col

After spending some time at the col summit it was time to start back. We took the same route down, and again everybody made it without any issues.

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Following Wade down, Linda already at bottom

At the lake below the col we took on water for the hike back. While there, Linda made a video panorama available at this link: http://flic.kr/p/eQjXfi

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Watering up for hike back while Wade lounges on the warm sand

We basically traced the route back with a small side excursion to view the inlet end of Upper Lamarck Lake.

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Upper and Lower Lamarck Lakes

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Getting close to camp

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Grass Lake and North Lake from switchbacks on return hike

We got back to camp, did some quick rearranging, and settled down for a nice ending to a wonderful day in the Sierras.

On Sunday morning we hiked backed to the trailhead in time to get to Bishop for lunch, and this ultimately allowed me to get all the way back to San Diego at a reasonable hour (for once!)

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Granite planter box near Lower Lamarck Lake

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Looking back at switchbacks from yesterday's hike, visible climbing through scrub

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View over ridge into Sabrina basin

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Aspens = getting close to North Lake trail head

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Last look back from hiker parking lot, our Easter Island transplant is still standing guard
Last edited by jimmeans on Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:46 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby larroyo33 » Sun Jun 23, 2013 7:23 am

Thanks for the report. Very detailed with great info on the route out to Lamarack Col. Will definitely use for future reference.
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby HikerDee » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:46 am

Thanks for this. This trip is on our list and I appreciate all your info.
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby Vaca Russ » Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:41 am

Jim,

Thank you for this very detailed report. "Sport" and I have reservations to go over Lamarck on 7/10. We really appreciate all of your very helpful information.

I know several of the posters here have been over this col. Any other advice would be appreciated. We plan on staying in Darwin Canyon. Where is the best camp site in this canyon?

PMs are welcome!

Thanks,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby cahikr » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:03 am

Excellent trip report, I will be heading to this area in late August.
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby SweetSierra » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:39 am

Vaca Russ,
One of the best places to camp, I think, is on Darwin Bench right at the lip of the bench near the place where the use trail drops to Evolution Valley.
After you descend the col and pass by the lakes below, make a left and walk until you hit the lip of the bench. I loved this spot. You have great views of the Evolution peaks and beyond.
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby Vaca Russ » Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:59 am

SweetSierra wrote:Vaca Russ,
One of the best places to camp, I think, is on Darwin Bench right at the lip of the bench near the place where the use trail drops to Evolution Valley.
After you descend the col and pass by the lakes below, make a left and walk until you hit the lip of the bench. I loved this spot. You have great views of the Evolution peaks and beyond.


Sweet Sierra, thanks for the advice. Looking at the satellite view I can clearly see the use trail along the east shore of the large lake on the bench. I suppose you mean somewhere near the outlet of this lake?

Thanks,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby SweetSierra » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:10 pm

Yes, that's it, near the outlet.
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby richlong8 » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:57 am

Great trip report! Good to know people still live in Ridgecrest. I moved from there about 30 years ago, after living there about 10 years. There was nothing to do when living in Ridgecrest,except go to the mountains. Not so bad actually.....
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby Snow Nymph » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:02 pm

:thumbsup:
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


http://snownymph.smugmug.com/
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby bbayley80 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:41 pm

great trip report jimmeans!
i will be following in your footsteps in August as i begin a six day loop over the col and through Evolution and on to Piute Pass.

good to have some recent info on col conditions.
looks like you had a blast!
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Re: TR: Lamarck 2013/06/14-16

Postby aufsess » Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:10 pm

Just exited via the Col two days ago. The snow field doesn't seem passable in my opinion. The soft snow is gone, leaving a mostly corn ice or hard snow pack. There is no set path through the snow field at this point.

It has, however, melted enough that you can ago around and avoid all the snow. If are coming up to the Col, you can climb the Blue Gray boulders (as opposed to the other looser materials that is under the snow normally) on the left side (south side) and find a route that takes you to about the same level at the upper use trail or above. There are a couple places where you can cross over to the user trail -- a lower spot in recently melted snow/mid puts you on some pretty loose materials. The middle spot is a bit tight, climbing under a boulder, with a backpack on ... might have to take it off to be absolutely safe.

The slightly higher route might be a bit more of a boulder scramble, but is probably the best. It ends at or a bit above the upper use trail. So anyway, scrambling is the way it seems unless you have crampons (or now what to do on hard snow / ice). I may be wrong, but I wouldn't expect to go anyway besides the scramble!

Alex
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