Tagged: Desolation Wilderness

Backpacking the Red Peak Stock Trail, Lake Schmidell and Rockbound Pass in Desolation Wilderness

I might be too tired to be writing. Lindsey and I just got home from a loop up in Desolation Wilderness.

We left on Friday after post-work barbeques and camped by the side of the road not too far from the trailhead.

In the morning, we chatted up some Forest Service staff who were out repairing the Barrett Jeep Trail. While they were intimately familiar with the area, they didn’t know where the Red Peak Stock Trailhead was. It’s that obscure and rarely traveled. Not totally confident that we’d find our trail, we hiked up the jeep trail to find it anyways. Anyone that’s a competent navigator should be able to find and follow the Red Peak Stock Trail. Sometimes faint, sometimes only cairned, we had little problem following it and I found it to be fun and beautiful. It’s really neat to be so high on the crest that dominates over the central valley.

Wildflowers were diverse and plentiful. Probably at their peek.

Wildflowers were diverse and plentiful. Probably at their peek.

Camp at Lake Schmidell was made somewhat early and I took advantage of it by napping the day away. Beyond drooling on my pad, we swam, ate and talked science. We’d planned on going for a larger loop, but neither of us really wanted to do all of that walking.

Today’s start was late and leisurely. A welcome cloud cover made hiking all the more enjoyable past Lake Lois and Doris. At lunch (tabouli again – delicious) it started to rain. Being a multi-year drought, that’s really damn nice.

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Hiking Maggie’s Peak, Azure Lake and looping down Cascade Creek in Desolation Wilderness

This turned out to be difficult.

The trail up toward Azure Lake from Bayview Campground is steep. The vast majority of people leave the trailhead going towards Cascade Falls. On Sunday we did the climb and spent a few minutes on the summit of Maggie’s Peak. There’s still a lot of snow at the higher elevations of Desolation Wilderness.

After returning to trail from the summit, we saw the side trail to Azure Lake and we wrongly decided that it wasn’t what we were looking for. By the time we reached the Eagle Lake trail, we’d gone too far. I really don’t recommend just cutting over from there to Azure Lake. But that’s what we did and it kicked off our afternoon of difficult cross country travel.

The view from Maggie's Peak towards the west. Snow Lake and Azure Lake, peaks of Desolation Wilderness and the route we took lay below. Lake Tahoe is behind my back.

The view from Maggie’s Peak towards the west. Snow Lake and Azure Lake, peaks of Desolation Wilderness and the route we took lay below. Lake Tahoe is behind my back.

My legs are scratched, abraded and they still sting. That’s what it was like. Very steep, thick brush. Steep granite and cliffs. Steep water courses. I doubt that we took the best route at all times but that’s just sort of how these things go. You push through. When trail appeared, it disappeared quickly and was of pretty scarce quality.

All in all it was a fantastic hike. And arduous.