Crystal Range Loop, Desolation Wilderness
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Dylan Taylor
(nevadas) - F

Locale: California Coast
Crystal Range Loop, Desolation Wilderness on 11/07/2007 20:47:30 MST Print View

this was a nice loop that i completed last weekend. i entered desolation w. through horsetail fall-- an ingress/ egress point that starts as a well established trail but quickly turns into a cross country climbers trail as it crosses a few rock fields and travels, trailless, thru a hanging valley above the falls.

heres my wanna-be ryan j. shot-- baseweight 7 lbs.

Entering the Crystal Range, Desolation Wilderness

with the route finding and class 2 hiking i only made it in a few miles on day 1. i slept the first night on the final saddle, at lake at the woods. it was in the teens that night and i was definitely cold in my 35 deg wm highlite bag. thoughts of bailing out on the 35 mile loop ran thru my mind all night as i tossed and turned to stay warm!

but the next morning was bright and beautiful. i knew i had to go on. the nice view of pyramid peak--the dominating peak of the crystal range-- urged me on. here it is as i was heading out next morning.

pyramid and agassiz peak

i think this was my lightest trip up to date. i am, as we all are, refining my ul kit, and took some new pieces like the ion as a pack, the bpl 500 and brasslite as my cookset, and the gatewood cape as my raingear/ shelter. because of the temp range i had to carry some extra pieces, like montbell ul inner which, btw, is tremendous.

i ended up doing about 24 miles that second day. i headed around lake aloha, headed north and eventually joining the PCT for a few miles before starting to loop back around.

heres a shot of lake aloha. it was the lowest i have ever seen it.

lake aloha

that night i slept at clyde lake. the next morning the shallows of the lake had frozen over. despite that, i found an established site where rocks had been built up as a wind shelter and i was much warmer than the first nite. heres a shot i took as i was filtering my water before heading out for the third day.

sunrise clyde lake


anyway, i ended up doing the 35 miles in 48 hours, with the class 2 action for a couple miles of it. it was a sweet trip. i am still a bit sore as a write this a few days later.

although this wilderness is one of the most used in sierras, on this last weekend, i saw only 6 people over the course of the weekend. they, like me, were all loving the weather and environs for this time of year.

i have to say too, carrying the 7 lbs baseweight, it was like a dream. ive been so stoked on the trip all week that i was inspired to write this.

salud!

lake of the oods

Edited by nevadas on 11/07/2007 20:58:59 MST.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Crystal Range Loop, Desolation Wilderness on 11/08/2007 06:28:32 MST Print View

Dylan -

Thanks so much for sharing with us the photos and words. The excitement in your writing really shows through. And although you're in a very stoic pose in the look-at-my-light-pack photo us fellow ultralighters can see the glee that a seven pound pack brings just a'shinin' in your aura.

- Sam

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Crystal Range Loop, Desolation Wilderness on 11/08/2007 19:56:43 MST Print View

Dylan, looks like a great trip - pics are stellar aswell. One of the most used areas in the Sierras? I've never even heard of it!!!
Ahhh, Canadians.

Edited by Steve_Evans on 11/08/2007 19:57:54 MST.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Crystal Range Loop, Desolation Wilderness on 11/08/2007 21:04:56 MST Print View

Thanks very much for putting the experience of your UL trip to words and photos, Dylan. A new location to add to my long list of places I've got to go explore someday.

Am I correct that this wilderness is located about half way between Yosemite NP to the southwest and Lake Tahoe to the northeast? And is the altitude in the area where you made your trek high enough to make any further trips this year a snow-filled journey?

JRS

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Crystal Range Loop, Desolation Wilderness on 11/09/2007 10:45:47 MST Print View

Super trip, Dylan, and a fine trip report. Desolation is a great place to go high-'n-light.

Richard, Desolation (reputed to be America's most heavily used wilderness) is due west of Lake Tahoe, stretching between highways 50 and 80 (which should help locate it on a map). It's one of a string of wilderness areas north of Yosemite (including Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg and others I can't remember offhand).

Despite the summertime crowds, one positive to Desolation is a lack of the commercial packers who run amok in most other Sierra wildernesses. It's possible to find solitude there, with a little creativity, even on the Fourth of July.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
tahoe rim trail on 11/09/2007 13:52:16 MST Print View

If you want a great trip, do the Tahoe Rim Trail in UL style. 165 miles + perhaps 10 extra on side jaunts. 7 days would be no problem. The trail is well-maintained and well-graded. You get a trip through Desolation Wilderness, plus all the way around the lake with endless lake views, plus views over the Carson Valley far below on the Nevada side. Easy resupplies in Tahoe City, near Heavenly, and/or Echo Lake. I did it in late September a few years ago and saw few people and no mosquitoes. Almost got run over by two mountain bikers in closed areas, but that's another story. A great trail.

Or do this High Route around the peaks of Desolation. I didn't get a chance this late summer, but once the snow melts out in spring, I might give it a shot.

Edited by DaveT on 11/09/2007 13:59:21 MST.