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Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

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Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby backpackerlabelle » Tue May 21, 2013 10:19 am

Hey all!

I am a level 3 - level 4 backpacker (some x-country backpacking experience, lots of on trail experience). I'm looking to head to Desolation for a pretty quick weekend trip from the Bay Area in June. My dream of hitting Lake Susie was thwarted by permits, so I'm thinking of being a bit more adventurous and enjoying some of the x-country that Desolation is so well known for. I had my first real x-country backpack last summer (an AMAZING trip up to Iceland Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness...so good.)

My questions:
1. Is American Lake a worthy destination, or should I head to Channel Lakes? Given the permit, I can't head to Waca for camping. :(
2. Is the entry from Ralston or Echo trailhead superior? Since we're going to have to come up Saturday morning for an overnighter, I am anxious to keep the driving time down, but the boat taxi option is pretty tempting.
3. is the x-country decently passable for a dog? She's an athletic lab mix that can handle pretty high jumps, and even has pulled off some impressive scrambles, but she's a dog, after all. (she was with me for the Emigrant trip and had no problems, but that trek is mainly cruising on granite slab.)

Thank you! Hope everyone is gearing up for an adventurous Memorial Day weekend!



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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby Tom_H » Tue May 21, 2013 2:19 pm

It looks like you are from Sac. but will leave the Bay Area for the trip over a weekend? It's probably a 4 hour drive to Echo Lake. On a long trip, I'd say hike the PCT by Echo. For a quick trip, the water taxi's probably worth it to get into the back country faster. Some places are choked with manzanita, but there are plenty of open spaces with grass, rocks, and wild flowers where your dog could do fine. Do you need a small loop, or do you have 2 vehicles that would make different beginning and ending trailheads possible?

Tom
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby backpackerlabelle » Tue May 21, 2013 2:32 pm

Thanks for the reply. I actually relocated to SF but haven't updated my profile. :smirk: We would prefer one car to minimize shuttle time on the way out. I have done the north section of Desolation into Velma lakes with a day trip up to beautiful Fontanellis, but have wanted to make a trip up to Aloha and am constrained by permits. So I figured hiking it up to some of the lakes just below Aloha would give me a chance to day trip up to Aloha proper. I could get permits at American lake and Lake of the Woods, so I jumped at American after a friend reported out that Lake of the Woods was a bit buggy. Mistake?

I'm particularly interested in the area around American Lake, and in the Ralston versus Echo decision as well.
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby maverick » Tue May 21, 2013 3:04 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby Tom_H » Tue May 21, 2013 7:26 pm

If they let you in at Glen Alpine Spring you could actually go to Ralston then circle by Lake of the Woods, American, Aloha, Heather, Susie, and back to Glen Alpine. If you had time, you could go to Gilmore and climb Tallac. See map:

http://caltopo.com/map?id=0G7P
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby Nozmo King » Tue May 21, 2013 8:06 pm

I've been to American Lake & took a dog. Great destination & saw very few people. I went in via Horsetail Falls. That was a mistake to do with a dog & I definitely would not recommend that route with a canine.
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby Vaca Russ » Wed May 22, 2013 6:29 am

Nozmo King wrote:I've been to American Lake & took a dog. Great destination & saw very few people. I went in via Horsetail Falls. That was a mistake to do with a dog & I definitely would not recommend that route with a canine.


Nozmo,

We went up to Ropi via Horsetail Falls last May. I took my two dogs.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7676

I wouldn't recommend anybody using that route unless you are into technical rock climbing.

Thanks,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby backpackerlabelle » Wed May 22, 2013 9:37 am

Thank you all for the very useful suggestions! I had actually recommended a friend head to Lake Aloha via Horsetail Falls last year and he reported out an amazing trip, but being an experienced climber and backcountry skier (with no dog!) I figured he'd do fine.

I think we might try the Echo Lake boat taxi to Lake American trip, but then definitely head for the lake Susie loop suggested. Glad to know that American Lake can be reached with dog in tow. We're headed out in mid0June, but I'll be sure to post a report!
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Re: Planning American Lake trip in Desolation - Advice?

Postby Tom_H » Wed May 22, 2013 12:57 pm

Just to let you know, starting at Echo and doing the loop I posted may feel somewhat anticlimactic. You will arrive at Glen Alpine trailhead and meet innumerable day hikers, parked cars, etc. You will hike down a paved road for some distance and see people who are just there to look, not even hike. You will then start again on a new trailhead a few thousand feet down the road and head over the mountain toward Ralston. I have hiked all the other sections of the loop, but not this one. I have seen where this trail leaves the PCT. Perhaps someone who has been on it can give a report.

Starting and ending at Glen Alpine will feel like one trip. Starting and ending at Echo, while going through Glen Alpine, will feel like two separate trips. The "wilderness" part of "wilderness experience" will have a rude interruption in the middle. It will definitely have the feeling of two trips.
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