Having done so many out-and-back hikes in Desolation Wilderness, I wanted to try something different this weekend. I convinced N that a 20 miler starting at Meeks Bay and hiking west-south-east to Eagle Falls would be new and exciting. He was game, as was our not-so-bright dog.
We headed south on the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail from the northeastern most trailhead in Desolation, and hit the first in a quick succession of lakes early enough that my bagel could still be considered breakfast. By the time we reached Stony Ridge Lake it was time for both me and the dog to swim, though she found more joy in gnawing on her first of many large sticks.
From there it was a switchbacked climb up about 1,200 feet to Rubicon Lake and the top of Phipps Pass, where we could see other trails and areas within Desolation from a different vantage point. We hiked along a ridge that had great views of both Upper and Middle Velma (lakes), Dicks Peak, the Crystal Range and the Rockbound Valley. As we descended on the PCT we entered shady forest, with lots of downed trees…and wildflowers.
Middle Velma is one of my favorite swimming lakes in Desolation, primarily because of the shoreline, sheer size and cool little rock islands. Lucky for us the weekend backpackers had not yet arrived to claim campsites, so we had the place virtually to ourselves. Good thing, too, since those last 5 or so miles were quite populated, especially the last quarter mile from Eagle Lake. Tourons descend – rather, ascend – here, for it’s a short hike that pays out quite well. It’s a bit like what I would imagine the road to Mecca would be like, people with canes, crutches, the blind and infirm…and the stupid.
Despite the throngs of idiots at the very end of the trail (and the disgusting trash I collected, which I won’t go into here), it was a glorious day. I don’t know if the dog feels the same way, seeing as how she ate her kibble and promptly passed out.