Thursday, July 14, 2016

Day Hike To Lamarck Lakes

Dale Matson

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Map Route
Hike Data: If you are camping in the area near the trailhead the trail itself is about 5.5 miles round trip. It you start from the parking area it is about 7 miles overall including the distance from the parking area to the trailhead. The elevation gain overall is about 1,900’. I arrived at Upper Lamarck Lake in about 3 hours and it was about 3 hours return. My moving time was about 5 hours. There is plenty of access to water along the trail with stream crossings also. I couldn’t avoid wet feet where the trail to Upper Lamarck Lake crossed the outlet of Lower Lamarck Lake.

I got an early start to the hike (6am and was home through Yosemite to Fresno by 6pm). I was somewhat familiar with the area since my wife and I had already hiked over Piute Pass, which shares the same trailhead.

The road to North Lake, Lake Sabrina and South Lake is initially highway 168 out of Bishop (It is called Line Street in Bishop). The road to North Lake branches off first and continues climbing on a road that is sometimes asphalt and sometimes gravel. If you don’t have a campground reservation, you will need to turn at the sign, which says “Bishop Pack Outfitters”, there is a large parking area for day hikers and backpackers just a bit further. There are potties at the trailhead. Although this hike is in the John Muir Wilderness and there are some restrictions, dogs are allowed and I saw a few folks with their dogs.

There is a sign at the trailhead. The trail begins and soon there is a divide with the Lamarck Lakes trail heading to the left. With so much elevation gain in such a short distance outbound it should be obvious that the trail is steep and had quite a few switchbacks. The mosquitos were evident during the entire hike and abundant by the lakes. I used quite a bit of “industrial grade” ‘Deet’ which proved effective.

There are some nice established campsites at Lower Lamarck Lake (10,662’). It is a beautiful lake and well worth the hike if you chose to turn around there. However, it is not much more climbing to Upper Lamarck Lake 10,945’ and a little over a half mile additional hiking. I believe Upper Lamarck Lake is more beautiful. You will have to cross the outlet to find a place to sit and or take photographs. You can see Lamarck Col and Mt. Lamarck (13,423’) above the lake. There is a use trail that bypasses the lake and heads toward Lamarck Col. From there you can see into Darwin Canyon in Kings Canyon National Park. The hike down was slow and deliberate for me there are sections of trail where the footing is not good.

Some views are better on the return leg with the sun more westerly, where you can see North Lake and the Owens Valley quite clearly from the trail. I also noticed Mt. Emerson (13,210’) and the Piute Crags. I have seen them from the Piute Pass trail to the north and the Sabrina Basin hike to Blue Lake to the south.Of course, this hike fulfills my prime directive to hike to a view or water or both. Most photographs were taken with my Sony RXIR. The approach shots were with my A7R2 and Zeiss 85mm 1.8. The Lake shots were taken with the Zeiss 18mm 2.8

 Blue Water Looks Green From Above
 Lower Lamarck Lake From Above

 Mt. Lamarck And Lamarck Col To The Left

 Mt. Emerson And Piute Crags
 Deer Not Able To Heed Instructions On Sign

 Lower Lamarck Lake

 Upper Lamarck Lake

 Owens Valley To The East
 North Lake From Trail
 Waterfall That Can Be Seen And Heard From Parking Area
Turn Right Here For Parking (I'm Not Kidding!)

There were a few folks on the trail and this is fine with me. I stop to chat these days and ask the usual questions. For example, “Where you folks from?” They ask the usual questions of me. “How those knees holding up?” I reply, “So far, so good.” I gave a ride to two ex marines who were headed to Bishop. One was doing the PCT and an extra high route stuff. They were two good men.
A slide show with video clips is available here.

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