TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10 | High Sierra Topix  

TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

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TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby druid » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:20 pm

My son and I just completed the North Lake to South Lake horseshoe by way of Lamarck Col. We started with an easy day to Upper Lamarck Lake in order to get better acclimated and to break up the 3500 foot climb into something a bit easier for us to manage. The use trail on the way up from Lamarck Lakes was in good shape and easy to follow.
DSC00060.JPG


I had been a bit concerned about the condition of the snowfield just below the Col, but the midday snow was soft and it turned out to be a complete "nothingburger" (to use the nom nom du jour).
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Even the two eastbound parties we saw that came over too far NW and had five times more snow to descend than necessary didn't appear to have much difficulty with the snowfield in the end.

The talus down to and around the Darwin Lakes presented us a bit more of a challenge, however. In fact, just as we were descending to the second lake, we were overtaken by two park service employees on their way to McClure Meadow that informed us that someone had recently set off a PLB in the area. Almost simultaneously a CHP helicopter flew up the canyon and began circling. The park service employees (not sure if they were rangers or not) quickly located the injured solo hiker and radioed the helicopter and within a few minutes it landed in just about the only relatively flat spot nearby.
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We continued on down the canyon and a short time later saw the helicopter on its way again.
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A bit later the park service employees overtook us a second time and said that they had successfully assisted the injured party, who was apparently in quite a bit of pain, down the talus and into the chopper. A thousand thanks to the pilots and park service employees and all those who provide this incredibly valuable service.

The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful, although my son did have his first experience of the effect that "monsoonal flow" can have in the mountains. For each of the next three days we had late afternoon rain or hail with gusty winds. One of the support poles of my Big Agnes tent failed, but fortunately we had what we needed to do an emergency repair that held up for the rest of the trip.

There are still tons of people on both the JMT and on the Bishop Pass trail, but the area is so beautiful that we didn't mind much. A few more pics:

A lake called Wanda
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Still lots of water (just below Starrs camp on the JMT)
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Knocked down trees a bit lower on the Middle Fork of the Kings. From an avalanche this year?
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Camp in Dusy Basin
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Long Lake
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby robo » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:05 pm

Great report and photos! Glad the hiker got some help. Every solo packer's worst nightmare.
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby rodfrogfarkler » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:38 pm

Thanks for the report. Hoping to go over Lamarck Col around the end of September...
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby stephena » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:49 pm

Druid Hi,
Tx for the update as I am walking this with my son next week..from what you write going up from the lakes to the col seemed quite ok..we are doing it from the JMT down..is the trail after the snow field or before in your case easy to follow..and roughly what was the time from North Lake to the JMT.
Tx for your time,
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:58 pm

What days were you in Dusy, some us were staying towards the eastern end of Lake 11388 (/6-9/10)? From your photo, it looks like you were west of us, near the smaller lakes, we saw 2 tents near that locations.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby druid » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:23 pm

stephena wrote:Druid Hi,
Tx for the update as I am walking this with my son next week..from what you write going up from the lakes to the col seemed quite ok..we are doing it from the JMT down..is the trail after the snow field or before in your case easy to follow..and roughly what was the time from North Lake to the JMT.
Tx for your time,


The use trail was easy for us to follow all of the way from Lamarck Lakes to the Col. I've read that people sometimes make mistakes going in the other direction, however, e.g. http://www.highsierratopix.com/community/viewtopic.php?t=16720. Finding the col on the ascent going eastbound from Darwin Canyon is reportedly a bit tricky as well. Two eastbound parties ended up at the wrong place on the ridge while we were at the snowfield.

We were in no hurry to get from North Lake to the JMT, but FWIW as I recall it took us roughly two and a half hours to get to Upper Lamarck Lakes, followed by perhaps another two and a half to get to the top the next morning. In the afternoon it took us maybe three hours to get to the last lake in Darwin Canyon, including stops to eat, take on and off rain gear and watch the helicopter. The route around the lakes is slow going in places because there is a fair amount of unavoidable talus. The following morning the final descent to the JMT took us perhaps an hour and a half.
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby druid » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:36 pm

maverick wrote:What days were you in Dusy, some us were staying towards the eastern end of Lake 11388 (/6-9/10)? From your photo, it looks like you were west of us, near the smaller lakes, we saw 2 tents near that locations.

We were in Dusy on the 9th. I saw your post before we left and was considering heading out to Lake 11388 to try to meet up but when it started to hail that afternoon we decided to hunker down instead at a tarn not far from the trail, roughly here https://mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=37.103657,-118.554669&z=15&t=t4, I believe.
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby maverick » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:45 pm

Yeah, the weather was a little wild, to say the least, though Saturday evening it opened up before sunset, we were just south of your position, taking photographs. It was windy all night (Sat), quite cold, we got an earlier start than planned, when we saw the pass area clouding up at 7:30 am, luckily it broke up a bit as we reached the pass.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby stephena » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:01 pm

Tx for the response.
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Re: TR: North Lake -> South Lake Sep 5-10

Postby DAVELA » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:36 am

Nice pics.
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