Desolation Grand Loop, June 28, 2009
Desolation Wilderness is located along the Sierra crest, SW of Lake Tahoe. My plan was to dayhike four major peaks in a large loop. I started the hike from Glen Alpine at 4:30am and made it to the top of Mt. Tallac by 7:00am. On the way I was cursing the millions of mosquitoes trying to have a meal and my stupidity to forget the repellent at home. The ridge traverse to Dicks Pass and Dicks Pk was straight forward and took about two and a half hours. After some rest I made it to Jacks Pk by 11:00am. There I took some time to evaluate the further course of action. The entire NE side of the Crystal Range was still solidly covered in snow so I ruled out the approach to Pyramid Pk via Mosquito Pass and the west side of Lake Aloha. I decided to go around the east side on the PCT and cross Desolation Valley. It didn’t look that bad on the map but in reality it turned out to be one of the more challenging cross country routes I have done so far. The problem was that I had to cross a seemingly endless number of small, and some larger, ridges and cliffs all oriented about perpendicular to my direction of travel. A lot of the valleys in between contained small lakes not shown on the map, requiring lengthy detours to find a way around. This also zapped a lot of my energy and I finally made it to the top of Pyramid Pk at 4pm. The way back across Desolation Valley was not much better than before and quite exhausted at this point I stumbled onto the trail where I had left it quite a few hours earlier. I followed the PCT towards Echo Lake and then took a trail which went down the drainage west of Angora Pk back to Lily Lake completing the hike in 16 hours almost running out of daylight. Truly a great and memorable day in an area which I hadn’t visited before.
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