Desolation Wilderness Shuttle Hike

It’s days like this that make me very glad that I call Lake Tahoe my home.  My friend J – hiking pal, ski touring abettor and probably the closest outdoor play friend I have – and I did a shuttle hike today in Desolation Wilderness, something totally new for us.  One car was dropped at the Bayview trailhead (near Emerald Bay) and we then drove to the Glen Alpine area of Lily Lake, behind Fallen Leaf Lake.  The plan was to hike up and over Dick’s Pass, lunch at Dick’s Lake and then head back to the car, a respectable 16 mile jaunt.

Dicks Lake

It was a sunny warm day, made milder by the strong winds (which apparently had the area on red flag alert – very high fire danger).  We saw only 2 other people in the first 9 miles, and made such great time to our lunch spot that we agreed to extend the hike by another few miles to hike past one of our favorite lakes, Fontanellis.   This is one of the less visited lakes, which is fine by us,  but it’s also a wonderful hidden azure gem, abutting  the Crystal  Range.  It was only after our  faux-fording of  a  creek by the Velmas (faux in the sense that we kept our shoes on, but I was the one who got one foot fully wet.  J’s foot was only moistened by my overly exuberant dog) that we began to see the people-trains of  weekend backpackers all heading towards  Middle Velma and Dick’s Lake for the night.  A couple of groups of what looked to be boy scouts, some college students and a family, all wearing headphones, passed us  as we headed out.  When asked where we were coming from,  most of the time we had to explain and the very few who knew where Glen Alpine were appeared impressed.

Three lakes in a row

My favorite part of the hike was the descent from Maggie’s.  Not only is it all downhill (and a mere 2 miles to the car), but it’s probably the most scenic views of the day, with 3 lakes visible as you trek down some fairly steep but smooth switchbacks.

Emerald bay views

Overall, 7 hours, 3,550 feet of climbing and 16 miles hiked in total.  And all of us are still walking (dog included)! Not bad for the second hike of the summer.

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