TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness | High Sierra Topix  

TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

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TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby FeetFirst » Sat Jun 01, 2013 12:40 pm

I already had plans for the Memorial Day 3-day weekend so I decided to play hooky on Friday to sneak in a quick overnight backpacking trip to the local mountains. I've been watching conditions feverishly for an early season trip and decided on the Lyons Creek trail starting at the Lyons Creek trail head (6,700 ft.) off of Wrights Lake Road about 20 miles west of South Lake Tahoe via Highway US 50.

The trail parallels Lyons Creek east, uphill, the first 4 miles and then crosses it to the north bank where I scrambled the last mile and 600 ft elev. up to Lyons Lake. I was on the actual trail probably less than half the time. Since the mileage was so short I chose to investigate any feature I felt worthy. When I reached Lyons Lake (8,400 ft.), I found a flat shelf with no snow on it about 100 yards west of the lake and set up my tent. I scrambled to the mild, mostly snow free, ridge to the northwest and followed it up to an unnamed peak at about 9,100 ft. The winds successfully chilled me and I hurried back down to camp, stuffed some food in my belly and threw on some warm clothes and relaxed between some boulders until the stars came out.

The trail was in great shape considering how early in the season it was. A couple of wet muddy sections, but nothing too crazy. Maybe 2-3 small blow downs that were easily negotiated. A pretty large snow bank that caused a little confusion at the creek crossing, but that was about it. Lyons Lake was still about 80% frozen and as expected, the northeast slopes still had quite a bit of snow clinging on.

The temps were in the mid-60s during the day with a light breeze building to strong winds with gusts by night fall, but subsided shortly thereafter. When I woke up at 5:30 a.m. my key chain thermometer read 22F, brrr (I'm glad I threw my gas canister and water filter in my bag with me.).

On the way in, I only saw one 4-person backpacking group heading in and 2 day hikers heading out. Totally different story heading out the next morning. I probably crossed 20 day hikers and 3 backpacking groups. I was home by 1 p.m. to get ready for a family Memorial Day camping trip on the coast!

Lyons Creek near the trail head:
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Small meadow:
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A bit farther up. In warmer weather this would be fun to splash around in:
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Heading up with Pyramid Peak in the distance:
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Lyons Creek:
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Lyons Creek:
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The final push up to Lyons Lake:
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Small peak I scrambled up:
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Lyons Lake outlet:
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Lyons Lake:
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Home for the night:
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As the sun set behind the mountains it immediately cooled down:
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I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.



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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby maverick » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:10 pm

Thanks FeetFirst for the wonderful TR and great pictures. :thumbsup:
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby cahiker » Sat Jun 01, 2013 1:29 pm

FeetFirst I enjoyed your photos and trip report. I was there last summer and it's interesting seeing it in early season. Lyon's Lake is a nice quick trip - Not too bad of a drive from the Bay Area or Sacramento, and a fairly short hike to a scenic lake with an alpine feel.
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby SSSdave » Sat Jun 01, 2013 5:31 pm

Nice reports and pics FeetFirst thanks. About as much snow as expected.

El Dorado NF web page was showing the Wrights Lake Road closed in from their May 22 yupdate but Iwas suspicious it was merely stale information. Two of us have a permit from nearby Wrights Lake to Grouse Lake next weekend as the first of two warmup backpacks this June for our main events mid summer. Will night hike the trail then wake up there for a nice full day. Am just now printing out my gear list and starting to pack things up.

David
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby FeetFirst » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:08 am

Thanks for the kind words, Mav et al.

Cahiker, You hit the nail on the head. I needed a quick trip that minimized time behind the wheel yet gave me a taste of granite wonder and this place fit the bill nicely.

SSSdave, When I was picking up my permit at the Pacific Ranger District station, I inquired about the Wrights Lake area and was told that the final gates to access the campgrounds, trailheads, etc. were still locked but I could simply park right outside the gates and hike the extra quarter mile to the trail head. So the road is definitely open all the way up, but I think they're just keeping people out of the campground area until they have it manned. Anyways, should be a good trip - have fun!
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby kpeter » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:30 am

Nice report. Lyons Creek looks like it gets interesting as you gained elevation. Another good early season hike to add to the list!
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby FeetFirst » Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:55 pm

kpeter wrote:Nice report. Lyons Creek looks like it gets interesting as you gained elevation. Another good early season hike to add to the list!


Indeed! In a couple of weeks when a bit more snow melts you can take the same route for the first 4 miles, but head towards Sylvia Lake and summit Pyramid Peak via the west ridge, which is a class I-II walk-up.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby calipidder » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:15 pm

Thanks for the pics! I was hoping to squeeze in a weekend up there soon and do the Pyramid-> Price traverse. This helps!
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jun 03, 2013 9:32 pm

FeetFirst wrote:...SSSdave, When I was picking up my permit at the Pacific Ranger District station, I inquired about the Wrights Lake area and was told that the final gates to access the campgrounds, trailheads, etc. were still locked but I could simply park right outside the gates and hike the extra quarter mile to the trail head. So the road is definitely open all the way up, but I think they're just keeping people out of the campground area until they have it manned. Anyways, should be a good trip - have fun!


Thanks FF. Unfortunately I came down with some kind of sinus head cold last night and feel so cruddy, my trip is looking unlikely.

David
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Vaca Russ » Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:51 am

FeetFirst,

Thanks for posting this report. It is very informative. I have been talking about this lake to "Sport" for a few weeks now. I keep telling her it is probably not ready yet.

Your pictures of the lake are very valuable for determining when I can plan a trip.

I like the picture titled, "The final push...". That is very representative of that last few hundred yards. Fortunately that climb is what sends 80% of hikers to stay at Sylvia. :)

Keep posting great reports!

Thanks again,

-Russ

PS: SSSdave, I hope you get well soon!
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby FeetFirst » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:05 am

Calipeder, I keep planning to do that very traverse, but somehow haven't yet. I've been to the top of Pyramid via west ridge and up near Price when I headed xcountry from Clyde to Island Lake, but never the full traverse. I'm jealous. Have fun and be safe.

SSSdave, Sorry to hear that. It may be what the doctor ordered though. When I get out of the valley, all of my allergies go away. :nod:

Vaca Russ, You're welcome. I'm glad it's helpful. I would imagine with the warm weather that the lake should be thawed out by next week. Oh yeah, if you see a devilishly cute rodent with a taste for backpack padding, tell him "thanks a lot" for me. I now have a "custom" hipbelt.
I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: TR: 5/24 - 5/25/2013 Lyons Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby madeintahoe » Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:10 pm

Beautiful pictures! Lyons Lake and the hike along the creek is one of my favorites in Desolation!
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