:: Desolation Wilderness Backpacking Trip - October 8 - October 10, 2004 ::

This is the record of my backpacking adventure in Desolation Wilderness.
:: Desolation Wilderness Backpacking Trip :: Troutmaster | profile | contact ::
:: Desolation Wilderness[>]
:: My Photos[>]
Timber on the trail going up.
Emerald Bay
Looking back at Lake Tahoe.
Looking southwest into Desolation Wilderness.
A small lake along the trail.
On the trail to Dick's Lake.
Dick's Lake
Looking down at Dick's Lake from Dick's Pass.
Timber and Tom at Dick's Pass.
Looking South toward Lake Aloha and Pyramid Peak.
Looking toward Lake Tahoe from the ridge.
Timber hiking uphill.
Timber on the trail toward Mount Tallac.
Timber and Tom at the top of Mount Tallac.
Tom taking a break.
Timber at Gilmore Lake.
Tom next to a strange tree.
Tom on the way back down.
A pack team on their way into Desolation Wilderness.

:: Thursday, October 7, 2004 @ 6:00 PM::

I finished work for the day and headed home to finish packing for the backpacking trip. The plan was to drive up to Doug's house in Roseville, spend the night there, and then head to Desolation Wilderness tomorrow morning.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 12:00 AM::
Timber ended up working pretty late, so we didn't get to leave the house for Roseville until Midnight. The good thing about going this late is that we don't have to worry about fighting through traffic. But the bad thing is that we won't get there until 2 AM which mean we won't get much sleep before our backpacking trip.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 2:00 AM::
We made it to Doug's place. I forget the name of his apartment complex but when we got there all the parking was taken. And I mean ALL the parking. It reminded me of my first apartment in San Jose. If you don't have a reserved spot and you get home past 6 PM you won't be able to find parking. I frequently found people parked in my reserved spot, but I don't remember what I did when that happened. Anyway... We had to drop our packs off by Doug's apartment and then go park on the street and then walk back to his apartment.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 6:30 AM::
We got up pretty early and got our stuff together and then got on the road. We had to get on Sunrise Blvd to head toward Highway 50 that would take to south Lake Tahoe. The traffic was pretty bad so the going was slow and we stopped off at Carl's Jr. for a nice healthy breakfast. Once we got to Placerville Timber and I split off from Robin, Forrest, and Doug so that we could hit the grocery store while they hit the ranger station to get permits.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 9:00 AM::
We had a hard time finding the Ranger station because the original one that we had planned on using to get our permits had been closed, so we kept driving on highway 50 and finally found the Ranger station that the other part of our group went to. It made it a little more difficult that we didn't get cell phone reception, so if anything had changed we would have had a hard time finding them. They told us that the permits cost $5 per person per night. Timber was very unhappy about that. When she last backpacked in Desolation Wilderness back in 1997 there were no fees for it. And I have to wonder what the cost is for. Don't our taxes cover that? It seems that we get taxed for these things and then we get charged for them again later. At any rate I'm glad that I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford this dumb fees but I feel bad for people that have very little money but want to go backpacking too because all of these different fees added up could make it so that some of them can't go. At any rate we had our permits and headed for the Bayview Trailhead.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 11:30 AM::
We got to the Bayview Trailhead parking area and found that it was right across the street from the Emerald Bay parking area. We walked over to check out the view of Emerald Bay and hit the restroom real quick before starting our trip. After we were done there we got all of our gear ready and the started on the trail.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 1:00 PM::
In the first mile of trail we went up roughly 1000 vertical feet. We worked our way by Granite Lake and kept going up the switchbacks. Forrest was charging ahead while everyone else was going kind of slow and trying to catch our breath.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 2:00 PM::
We finally made it to the top of Maggies Peaks and could look west into Desolation Wilderness. The view to our back was of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe. Looking into Desolation Wilderness I was struck by how much granite there is. It is all granite with some trees growing out of it. In that way it is a lot like Yosemite National Park except for the forests are not very thick in DW.

:: Friday, October 8, 2004 @ 5:00 PM::
With the hardest part of the hike behind us we followed the trail to Dick's Lake. The trail was dusty and full of dirt sometimes and all granite at other times. Timber and I lagged behing the rest of the group and we finally made it to Dick's Lake at 5 PM. By the time we got there, they had already set up their tents and were lounging around enjoying the scenery. Dick's Lake is a pretty nice place with crystal clear water and mountains all around the lake. There were large granite boulders to sit on by the water and it was easy to get water for cooking and drinking. Of course we used our water filters. After we set up our tent and got our gear ready I did some fishing. I fished for roughly an hour as the sun went down and it got colder and I didn't catch anything. I didn't even see any fish the whole time. I used a telescoping spinning rod instead of bringing my fly rod and I'm glad I did that. I used spinners and various spoons, but got no results. For dinner, Timber and I boiled some water and then added it to Mountain House Chicken Fajitas which turned out to be pretty good. They even had real chicken in them. Yum! I would definitely buy that again. After dinner we all turned in pretty early. We had decided that Dick's Lake was going to be our base camp and that we would try to climb Mount Tallac tomorrow if the weather allows.

:: Saturday, October 9, 2004 @ 1:00 AM::
I stayed up later than Timber reading a book that I had brought with me and the wind was a little gusty. I ended up turning in for the night at about 8:30 PM and when I woke up I was well rested and ready to get started on our hike to Mount Tallac. The only problem was that I woke up at 1 AM. I knew right when I looked at my watch that I was not going to sleep well for the rest of the night because I was no longer tired. To make matters worse the wind started to howl. I'm not sure about the MPH of the winds but they were so strong at times that I thought the tent poles were going to break and that the tent was going to collapse on us. There were points that I put my arm up to reinforce the tent. I continued doing that until I was too tired to do anything else and fell back asleep. I also didn't like spending such a long time in my sleeping bag. Because it was cold I had to zip it up all the way and with my arms and everything in the mummy bag it felt like I was sleeping in a straight jacket.

:: Saturday, October 9, 2004 @ 8:30 AM::
It was finally time to get up and I was tired. Forrest, Doug, and Robin were up before Timber and I. The wind storm last night was pretty lame. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed for Dick's Pass (elv. 9300 ft.). The trail getting up to the pass had a lot of switchbacks but overall it wasn't half as bad as the first mile of trail that we went on yesterday. Once we got up to the pass we could look South at Lake Aloha and Pyramid Peak. Lake Aloha is pretty cool looking. We could also look back from the direction that we came and see Dick's Lake, Fontanillis Lake, and the Velma Lakes. Our next move was to follow the ridge line northeast toward Mount Tallac. We decided to do that because if we were to follow the trail we would lose about 1000 feet in elevation to get around Gilmore Lake and then have to gain roughly 1500 feet to get to the top of Mount Tallac. It sounded much simpler to follow the ridge until we got to Mount Tallac. That was a mistake.

:: Saturday, October 9, 2004 @ 11:30 AM::
Working our way along the ridge line toward Mount Tallac was long and tedious. There were lots of loose rocks and talus which dramatically increased the chances of getting a twisted ankle. As usual, Timber and I were behind Forrest & Co. but we kep working our way along the ridge. We eventually made it out of the talus and onto the grassy lower slopes of Mount Tallac.

:: Saturday, October 9, 2004 @ 2:30 AM::
We finally made it to the top of Mount Tallac (elv. 9735 ft.). On the way up we saw a pair of Blue Grouse that were singing to each other. We caught up with Forrest, Doug, and Robin at the top. We snapped a few photos, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then headed back toward Dick's Lake. We decided to take the trail the whole way because the ridge line sucked. We were concerned that we were not going to make it back to base camp before it got dark.

:: Saturday, October 9, 2004 @ 7:00 PM::
We hiked pretty fast and eventually made it back to camp just as it was getting dark. Timber and I didn't eat much for dinner before turning in for the night fairly early. Luckily there was no wind storm but it was a little colder and I didn't sleep very well overall.

:: Sunday, October 10, 2004 @ 8:00 AM::
Forrest & Co. woke up way before us and as a results waited a little for us before departing Dick's Lake and heading for the Bayview Trailhead. It was cold in the morning but as the hike wore on we warmed up and had an enjoyable hike. Timber and I stopped frequently to get water and take breaks.

:: Sunday, October 10, 2004 @ 11:30 AM::
On our way down the trail we saw a few day hikers and a caravan of horses and mules that were no doubt going on an extended trip into Desolation Wilderness. I wanted to tell the people on the horses that they should get off their butts and earn their way into the wilderness. At any rate after we got back to my truck we headed for the Caesar's buffet in South Lake Tahoe.

:: The Aftermath ::
We parted ways after eating at the buffet. Timber and I went back to check out a nursery that we saw on the way to the buffet. They had a lot of plants and it was all outdoors, so I'm not sure what they are going to do with them when it starts to get colder. Once back in Sacramento we went to the Galleria Mall to find the pumpkin muffins that Timber loves from a place called Paradise Bakery & Cafe. When we got back I weighed my pack and it was 35 lbs. Timber's pack weighed 20 lbs. Our overall hiking distance was a little over 20 miles. And it looks like I lost 2 pounds on the trip. Try my backpacking diet! Overall it was a fun trip. I'll be back to Desolation Wilderness.