North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

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newossab
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North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by newossab » Thu Jul 02, 2020 6:12 pm

Hello All,

Background

I secured a permit for Sept 11th out of Lake Lamarck TH. I believe I have a solid plan from searching this forum and reading Secor's book on the Evolution area. I just wanted a sanity check of my plans from to community to make sure I am not missing anything or haven't though of something. I will be hiking alone.

Itinerary

Day 0: Plan on staying at the North Lake Campground in order to get up early and start the loop.

Day 1: Hike up the Lake Lamarck Trail and up the Lamarck Col into Darwin Canyon/Bench meeting up with the PCT around Evolution Lake. I'll follow the PCT down into Evolution Valley and around camp somewhere between McClure Meadow and Evolution Meadow. Roughly 10-13 miles

Stretch goal is to shoot over to the Mt. Lamarck peak before dropping down into Darwin Canyon. Depending on how I feel.

Day 2: Follow the PCT until Puite Canyon, turn north and follow the Puite Creek to Hutchinson Meadows area. Camping in the Hutchinson Meadows area. Roughly 10 miles.

Stretch goal is to summit Emerald Peak via the North Chute first thing in morning on day 2. This could add about 5 miles (and elevation) and significant time to day 2. Back up plan instead of exiting via Puite Pass would be to back track along Evolution Valley and camp at Evolution Lake area or Lake 11092.

Day 3: If all goes to plan, follow the trail from Hutchinson Meadows up and over Puite Pass and down to the North Lake TH.

Alternate is to hike out over Lamarck Col the way I came, depending on day 2 and Emerald Peak.

Quesitons

Weather/gear: I plan on using a 30 degree Western Mountaineering bag. Does anyone think this is a concern?

Is attempting to summit Emerald Peak worth the risk of not completing the loop and missing out on seeing Puite Canyon/Humphrey's Basin area? I know this is a matter of opinion but any insight would be great.

Inyo NF website states that the North Lake Campground closes in Sept. Is this weather dependent?

Other Information

What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 3- Numerous backpacking trips, some x-country travel

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 1 terrain/trail hiking
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country
- River crossings


What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Forests
- Big Mountain scenery
- Climbing

How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead?
Looking to do 3 days, 2 nights. Plan on spending one night at North Lake campground prior to starting the loop.

How many miles did you want to do a day, any layovers?
10-15 miles

Have you hiked at elevation before? Yes
Any prior issues with Altitude Sickness? No


Have you hiked in the Sierra Nevada before, if yes, where?
Last year I completed an Onion Valley to Whitney Portal in 4 days/3 nights.

Thanks for reading!!








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wildhiker
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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by wildhiker » Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:32 pm

Is your goal just to hike as many miles as you can, or to see spectacular wild mountain country? Evolution Basin is a pretty spectacular part of the Sierra, and your plan just bypasses it. Then you plan to spend many miles down in deep canyons in the middle section. Also, you have an ambitious first day, climbing nearly 4000 feet elevation gain and topping out at 13,000 foot Lamarck Col with possible altitude adjustment problems, and then planning to continue for many miles before camping.

There is really nice camping with impressive views at the lake of approximately 11,200 feet elevation on Darwin Bench (right under the words "Darwin Bench" on the 7.5 minute topo map). Also, it is not on the PCT/JMT and thus not crowded. If I were doing this trip, I would want to maximize my time in the highest country with the best scenery. I would base camp at that lake for two nights and explore everywhere around on day hikes. On day 1, if I were not exhausted yet after setting up camp, I would check out the big lakes to the north of Darwin Bench right under the Glacier Divide. On day 2, I would make a full-day hike without backpack south on the JMT through the entire Evolution Basin to Muir Pass and back. On day 3, if I were feeling strong and didn't need to get out quickly, I would first explore northwest along Darwin Bench to lake 11092 and back before packing up and returning over Lamarck Col.

-Phil

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newossab
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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by newossab » Fri Jul 03, 2020 4:33 am

wildhiker wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:32 pm
Is your goal just to hike as many miles as you can, or to see spectacular wild mountain country?
No, I wouldn't say to hike as many miles as possible. However, I don't like to be static. I prefer to roll into camp with an hour or so of daylight. I get up with the sun and pack up camp, don't really enjoy hanging around camp. I want to maximize the exploring/scenery in the 3 days that I have.

I do like the base camping plan. I am going to dig into that some.

Thanks for the advice.

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by thegib » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:02 am

Agree w wildhiker, skip those long canyon miles. Emerald peak is a spectacular unvisited black/green mass of loose rock, it ain't super easy. Lake 11092 is lovely. I just did over Piute pass to Packsaddle lake day one, over packsaddle pass to lake 11092 day two, over to D's bench and over Lamarck col day 3, bag Lamarck and fool around and out day four. Sounds like you do longer days than me, but I had way more light than you will.

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:33 am

Making miles to avoid being "static" is like window shopping; you only see a small part of the landscape. If you really want to experience the Sierra you need to "walk into the store and touch the merchandise". You do not have to sit and camp and be "static". Tons of exploring you can do once in camp, without a pack on and simply to satisfy curiosity of what is around the next bend. I could easily spend an entire day, moving and exploring Darwin Bench. Same with Mc Gee Lakes. Same with all the lakes south of the main trail between Hutchinson Meadows and Piute Pass. Same with a side trip south past Evolution Lake.

The long day trips are fine for your fist review of the area, particularly if you have limited time and want to just do an initial survey of things . If you stick to this plan, be sure to come back on future trips and do more exploring.

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by newossab » Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:19 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:33 am
Making miles to avoid being "static" is like window shopping; you only see a small part of the landscape. If you really want to experience the Sierra you need to "walk into the store and touch the merchandise". You do not have to sit and camp and be "static". Tons of exploring you can do once in camp, without a pack on and simply to satisfy curiosity of what is around the next bend.
That is really good advice.

Generally, I have done trips were getting from point A to B was the goal and sticking to a mileage plan was apart of making the logistics work out. However, that is not my goal here. Looks like I just need to figure out general areas I want to explore and go from there.
thegib wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:02 am
Agree w wildhiker, skip those long canyon miles.

No doubt, looking like I am going to revise the original plan.Dropping the canyon miles. Thanks for the advice.

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by cgundersen » Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:26 pm

Just to join the chorus, what Phil suggested is spot on. I've run into folk on top of Lamarck col who sit there for an hour enjoying the scenery. It's spectacular. Ditto for Darwin canyon. Ditto for Evolution basin. Save Humphrey basin for a separate trip. By 11 Sept the days will be much shorter and while the temps could range widely, do not be surprised if you get snow. I'd take a bag rated to at least 20 F. CG

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by Ska-T » Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:46 am

I agree with the suggestions you've gotten. Here is an outline of my suggested routes based on a 3 day trip and my perception of your capability from what you've written. Take a nice lightweight day pack.

Day 1. North Lake to Lake on Darwin Bench via Lamarck Col.

Day 2a. Day hike (full day) to Evolution Basin perhaps as far as Muir Pass and back to Darwin Bench.
Day 3a. Return to North Lake over Lamarck Col.

Day 2b. Day hike (full day) to Evolution Basin, go over McGee Lakes Pass, down McGee Lakes Basin and back to Darwin Pass. Or do this in the counterclockwise direction.
Day 3b. Return to North Lake over Lamarck Col.

Day 2c. Day hike (half day) to Evolution Basin and back to Darwin Bench. Go over Alpine Col and camp at Goethe Lake.
Day 3c. Return to North Lake via Piute Pass.

Day 2d. Day hike (half day) to Evolution Basin and back to Darwin Bench. Go over Lamarck Col and camp at the Wonder Lakes.
Day 3d. Explore the Wonder Lakes area before returning to North Lake.

Day 2e. Day hike (half day) to Evolution Basin and back to Darwin Bench. Follow the Sierra High Route northwest to Lake 11,092.
Day 3e. Go over Snow-Tongue Pass and Piute Pass and back to North Lake.

Since this is only a 3 day trip you should be able to get a fairly accurate weather report right before you leave. This will give you a good idea if a 30 degree bag will suffice. It usually will in early Sept, but not always.

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by newossab » Sun Jul 05, 2020 6:20 am

Ska-T wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:46 am

Day 1. North Lake to Lake on Darwin Bench via Lamarck Col.

Day 2c. Day hike (half day) to Evolution Basin and back to Darwin Bench. Go over Alpine Col and camp at Goethe Lake.
Day 3c. Return to North Lake via Piute Pass.

Day 2d. Day hike (half day) to Evolution Basin and back to Darwin Bench. Go over Lamarck Col and camp at the Wonder Lakes.
Day 3d. Explore the Wonder Lakes area before returning to North Lake.

Day 2e. Day hike (half day) to Evolution Basin and back to Darwin Bench. Follow the Sierra High Route northwest to Lake 11,092.
Day 3e. Go over Snow-Tongue Pass and Piute Pass and back to North Lake.
Thanks for the options. I'm really liking these variations.

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Re: North Lake Loop via Lamarck Col-Puite Pass

Post by rodfrogfarkler » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:36 pm

Hi. I did the opposite of this a couple of years ago....heading up Paiute towards Humphries, then down around into Evolution valley, then up onto Darwin bench then up and over Lamarck Col and back to North Lake. I DEFINITELY would NOT recommend this trip again. You're down in deep canyons for much of the time and the prime high country spots are only in passing. In fact, I'm not planning a trip for next week. Up Lamarck to Darwin Col (which is super beautiful). Then towards Evolution Basin where I'll explore the lakes and higher country away from the JMT. I'll return via Lamarck Col. I was not thrilled by the long/low slogs of the previous hike. Can't wait to get back up into the higher territory. Best of luck to you!

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