Backpacking the PCT across Desolation Wilderness

I saw WILD, the movie, as part of a pre-release screening last Friday. I loved it.

Already in SF, I headed over to Dani’s house to ride with him up to Lake Tahoe. We made it before I fell asleep.

Saturday, we met Kyle and Simone at Meeks Bay, left a car and drove to Echo Lake. We’d walk the thirty some-odd miles between the two over the next day and a half.

We slept at Fontanillis Lake, up high in the rocks, after a long day of walking.

The cabins on Echo Lake really are special. Those that own them are incredibly fortunate. Lake Aloha on the other hand was at its most depressing.  Come fall, it’s always low, showing bathtub ring lines, stained rock and dirt. I’m not sure if it was especially dried up because of the drought, or if it’s sorry state was nothing unusual.

I’d only ever crossed Dicks Pass on my PCT hike. That day it was one of the scariest ice sheets of my hike. This weekend there was just a dusting of snow from a recent October storm. Still, I was surprised at how steep the north side of the pass was. I imagine that it’s always a challenge when it’s covered in snow.

Kyle holding down the map in a slight breeze with Dicks Lake and Fontanillis Lake in the foreground.

Kyle holding down the map in a slight breeze with Dicks Lake and Fontanillis Lake in the foreground.

We left the PCT just south of Middle Velma Lake. We’d thought of going all the way to Barker Pass (or crazily, to Donner Pass) but a shorter trip was still more than plenty walking. Leaving via Phipps Pass was a perfect choice. The views, especially south of Phipps Peak looking back toward where we came from, were great. It really gave me the feeling of having walked across all of Desolation even though we technically didn’t.

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