Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beautiful, Beautiful Desolation!

We took a  week long vacation to Lake Tahoe a week ago and did some really awesome stuff, here is part one (and most extensive), our backpacking adventure!

My partner had never been camping in his 26 years alive, so we decided it was time to change that! And we didn't want to do something normal and easy like car camping we wanted to go all out and do some sort of backpacking trip!  Ok, not a big one just one night, and what better place to go then desolation wilderness?
Circled area is Desolation Wilderness (approximately)
 Desolation Wilderness is located near emerald bay (the southwest shore) of Lake Tahoe.  It is a protected area of beautiful wilderness with many alpine lakes and other great sights.  It is necessary to get a permit to spend the night there but they usually aren't very hard to come by.  I had an idea of where I wanted to go from past trips but a lot of it would have to be decided on the fly and I just hoped it would all work out!

First day, we started with a few friends who were just day hiking with us and started the long uphill trek out of emerald bay.  Pretty quickly we were told we were heading in the right direction (see pic)!

It is such a steep hike at the start but the views of Tahoe are amazing!

We then passed our first lake, Granite Lake, and after that, more steep uphill.  But more elevation means more and better views!

Granite lake is closest to us, with Emerald Bay and Tahoe in the background
Another shot without the funny looking people
After that we hiked about 3 more miles to get to the next body of water (a beautiful stream heading out of the Velmas) and say goodbye to our day hiking friends.  We took a short break before they headed back and as soon as we sat down somewhere the mosquitoes attacked, it was really bad. We frantically looked for our super strong bug spray and in the meantime only got bit like 30 times, ugh.

From there we decided to look for a campsite so we headed around Upper Velma to see what we could find.  We got to the end of the trail and heard rushing water, so we decided to go see what it was.  There were all kinds of streams and falls flowing into Upper Velma. Finally, Rob was impressed by our surroundings and decided it was pretty cool out here so, logically, he decided to sit in the flowing streams.

We decided it would be cool if we could find a nearby campsite so we could sleep to the sound of the falls.  We found one about 5 minutes later and ditched our bags, hung our food, and went out to explore!

View from our campsite
We decided to scramble up the falls to see if we could get to Fontanillis Lake. This ended up being very fun and provided us with some really great views.
One of my fav pics!
We the got up to Fontanillis, which was also beautiful, and decided to go dip our feet in since it was warm out.  The lake was straight snowmelt (see pic below) which made it so clear and so cold, obvs.

On our way back we crossed some snow, and the dp (short for domestic partner, I will use this abrev from now on) was so excited!

From there we headed back to basecamp and enjoyed some dinner, we got some good recommendations for dehydrated food from Alpenglow Sports and were very satisfied!

Then the dp decided it was bedtime.  Neither one of us slept very well, and we realized, too late that we should've just switched mats and we would've both been happier.  It also rained (we use this term loosely) on us around 4am, we frantically got out to put a tarp over the tent, but by the time we got it secured it had stopped "raining".
The next morning we had breakfast and headed out.  We decided to take a different route part of the way home that took us by fontanillis and dick's lake.  We saw some great flowers by these lakes and the lakes themselves were very pretty.

On the way out we had to climb over a small ridge before descending back to Tahoe, we decided this was the highest point we reached in our whole adventure (about 8500ft). 

On the hike back down we hit a big patch of snow that covered the trail, and for a while had no path to follow.  Even though the dp thought we'd be lost for good about 2 minutes later we found the trail and all was back to normal.
This was the large patch that had us worried for 90 seconds
It was smooth sailing from there back out.  The whole time we were at Upper Velma we didn't see anyone and it was about a mile or two back towards the trailhead that we ran into our first people.  This is a great reason to love this area. We had a good time and it all seemed to go smoothly (except for the sleeping) but hopefully it means we will be able to go on more adventures like this in the future!

And to finish up this post a few pics with me being fancy and using the self timer on my camera (yeah, I'm super high tech!)


  1. wow, this place looks so amazing!

  2. Nice job, Hon-hon. Can I just say that the water I was sitting in was flowing way faster than it appears to be in this picture?!
    (Can I also point out that the word captcha it made me spell to post this was 'domestu'?!)

  3. thank you so much for your comment on my reading list! i felt the exact same way you do about jumping into the second larsson book. i definitely thought the first one was overrated. but 'the girl who played with fire really won me over... i loved it, in fact. the same can't be said for the third... i still haven't finished it... yikes!

    giffin, on the other hand... i cannot WAIT until her new book comes out in 2012!

  4. Wow! The one that says "One of my fav pics!" is definitely mine :) So pretty! Looks like an awesome trip!

  5. Looks awesome! I will have to show my husband this post - I bet he would love to copy your exact hike. Thanks for sharing!


    p.s. love Tahoe!!