Desolation Wilderness Trip Report. Oct 2014

Another short backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness, this time in Autumn.

Originally I wanted to have a birthday trip – just a short trip as gift to myself. Then for some reason I decided to lead it and then it suddenly became very complicated. I could barely find permits for the area I wanted to go to. Then there was the King fire on the West side of Desolation. Due to the prevailing winds it covered Lake Tahoe with enough smoke to be a health hazard. As a result the trip had to be postponed a week moving it into October. The good thing about the postponement was that by that time the camping quota was lifted.

Then the group presented a bit of a challenge. The trip was re-posted on the Indian Adventures MeetUP group. As a result out of 12 people in my group 9 were Indian men not all of them with experience. At least we had two women to dilute the gender ratio a bit.

Friday, October 3

Regular weekend trip start – just drive to Tahoe in the evening after work. I was carpooling with Parul and Kaori. Fallen Leaf Campground was not busy this time of the year. Though I’ve managed to miss it a couple of times it in the dark.

Saturday, October 4

The morning was sunny if crisp. Good weather. Tahoe had a couple of inches of wet snow a week or so before. But it was all gone. All of my gang have made it. Now we had to get some food, check the gear, and perhaps pick up some lost items. Right there I noticed that my group wasn’t exactly thrilled about sleeping outside. There was no rain coming so I just put my pad and slept on the ground. But some of the guys were visibly uncomfortable this cold morning.

As it became a tradition I found an interesting coffee place to have breakfast – Keys Cafe. I’ve gotten some huge insanely sweet Belgian waffle from there. Barely digesting all that sugar I ran through the gear list. Everyone seemed to have taken all the necessary gear. This is where I’ve made the same mistake – just because something is called a “sleeping bag”, it doesn’t mean it is the right sleeping bag. One dude brought the same proverbial WalMart  sleeping bag attached to a school backpack. Why did I post this trip again?


Lake Aloha

The Fallen Leaf trailhead was actually busy. We barely managed to find space. It was a popular place for some day hikes, plus we were also starting a bit late.

Beautiful day. Crisp, clear, dry. A bit too dry for this time of the year. It was hard to see on Tahoe itself, but it was visible on the smaller lakes that the water level was low. We did quite an uphill the first half of the day. The group was struggling. Someone brought a bug of cuties. Tasty, but heavy.

We lumbered to our destination – Clyde Lake – by nightfall. There was a small group there already, but they occupied a flat area a bit away from the lake. We just took over the main flat rocky area right on the shore. This place was already improved. There were a couple of rock walls to shield from wind and some old fire pits. Clyde lake is actually rather small. I suspect that our large inexperienced group severely damaged the environment there, mostly with the human “results”. Processing of those “results” is a bit slow in our dry climate. I tried to teach the crew how to “do it” in the woods properly, but I’m not sure how many actually followed.


Starry Sky

After dinner, which was sometimes interesting, we had this glorious starry sky. People were kind of separated into groups. Too bad we didn’t have a fire, but they were enjoying themselves. I didn’t really feel in place. I tried doing some night photography, but without timer and tripod my options were rather limited.

Sunday, October 4

Get up and go back. Crispy autumn morning caused a bit of a slow moving. There wasn’t much rush to get back, at least from my standpoint since the mileage wasn’t that high. This, however, proved detrimental. First the green group was slow. Second – people just get lost a couple of times. Seriously? Some of them just failed to follow the well traveled trail. Then they didn’t find anything better to do than yell “help”. Perhaps even this very easy trip was too much as an introductory.


Lake Tahoe from Mt Tallac

We did, however, went up to Mt Tallac for the gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe. The approach from the West to Tallc summit was much easier than from Tahoe basin. We were probably also well acclimatized already. It was just a simple persistent climb, not much work without the backpack.

We made it to now deserted parking lot after dark. Some people were really happy for this trip to be over. But they did pay for the expenses. With all that mountain climbing and fairly warm October weather I was severely dehydrated. Luckily Kaori found a good ramen place somewhere in Davis so that we could replenish the lost salts and water.



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