In places to go, Lake Aloha is a relatively close to the road, yet wild and distant place.

Desolation Wilderness may not be teeming with foliage, but it is one of the most beautiful places to escape to, and it is right off of route 50 near Lake Tahoe.alohalakeca1

We found Desolation Wilderness on year searching for a place to elude the masses of people that come out over the July 4th weekend. Where to go that there wouldn’t be millions of people camped on top of you?

We picked out Desolation, and the wonderful Rangers at Lake Tahoe gave us a little more info. For one thing, the Pacific Crest Trail goes right through here, which is one of the busiest trails in the Sierras. The benefit of that is that most people stay on the trails. We pulled a permit to circumnavigate the lakes on the granite slabs away from the PCT and only saw one other person the whole time. (Thanks rangers!). The wind did shatter a tent pole one night (amazing!)

We were not keeping track, but we packed out for  3 nights out on a loop of about 13-15 miles. This means we had a tone of time to wander around and check things out. There is a chunk of elevation gain the way we went in, but a lot less people. I think total elevation gain was less than two thousand feet. It also means this is a great trail training run.

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Where to go in:

You have two main choices for going in. We used the Ralston Peak Trail, where half a mile form the trail head you hike up a waterfall. Definitely the most strenuous part of the hike. A lot of people go in via Echo lakes, which even has a water taxi and cuts some of the elevation gain also. If you want to have some alone time, do the work.

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Sorry my photos are a bit off color, I think the film was old, and yes, actual film.

Added benefits and day hikes:

Mt Ralston is an awesome day hike – or snowshoe with your dog if you have a dog. From the top it gives you a view into Desolation Wilderness, Echo Lakes, and Lover’s Leap. I think you can see Lake Tahoe also, but I really don’t remember that for sure. Geezer brain.

If you have the extra time, make sure you do stop in and climb at Lover’s Leap in Strawberry, CA. It is literally 5 minutes away. The granite is lovely, with quartz dikes running horizontally through the rock making even steep climbs moderate. TM Herbert set a lot of those climbs, and he is a hero to us all. Special climbs – Corrugation Corner 5.7 3-4 pitches and some amazing exposure, the Line (though expect one it is popular), Bears Reach (f only so see how Danny Osmon and Alex Honnold did it in 4 minutes)… OK I could go on. The Leap is where I learned to trad climb. Camping used to be free in the Access Fund build campground, now it is not.

Desolation Wilderness and Lake Aloha. Excellent back packing or day run experience, with some great side trip benefits!

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