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3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

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3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby vitaminC » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:25 am

I'm planning a 3 night trip to Desolation starting next Wed and would appreciate any thoughts/advice on my planned route, as I've never been there before. I've got my tentative route mapped below (I will be going clock-wise), though it's designed to be a bit flexible in terms of stops. First and last days (in blue) are relatively short mileage as I'm accounting for the drive from/to home.

My main concerns are:
1- will I be under a constant cloud of mosquitoes?
2- are all the water crossings reasonable? i.e., not too deep/fast

Thanks.
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:17 am

Hi VitaminC,

Welcome to HST!
Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205
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: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby TahoeJeff » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:34 am

Here is the local USFS LTBMU phone number: (530) 543-2600
Press zero a couple of time and you should get a live person that may have some info for you.
There is not a lot of snow up there melting right now, so I think the water crossings should be mild. Not a lot of freestanding water for the skeeters to breed in. They are out but probably not in clouds.
You may find some good info here as well: http://desowv.org/trail-conditions
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby vitaminC » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:49 am

maverick wrote:Hi VitaminC,

Welcome to HST!
Please read: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4205


What level of backpacking experience do you have?
I don't know the cut-off between some and numerous backpacking trips, but I'm probably in there somehwere :)

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
Since I'm going solo, I'll likely be staying near the trails, other than going a little further afield to find a nice spot to camp.

What is your main interest?
Photos and good scenery.


TahoeJeff wrote:Here is the local USFS LTBMU phone number: (530) 543-2600
Press zero a couple of time and you should get a live person that may have some info for you.
There is not a lot of snow up there melting right now, so I think the water crossings should be mild. Not a lot of freestanding water for the skeeters to breed in. They are out but probably not in clouds.
You may find some good info here as well: http://desowv.org/trail-conditions


Thanks. I've checked the desowv page, and most of the info is a few weeks old, and I suspect conditions are changing rapidly this time of year.

My main concern regarding the mosquitos is whether to bring a tent or my tarp/bivy combo. Don't want them to keep me from my beauty rest :D
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby FeetFirst » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:37 am

The worst mosquitoes I've ever experienced in my life were were at Camper Flat. I was coming from Rubicon Reservoir and camped near Middle Velma for the evening. I pretty much jogged the entire time to keep my sanity--not fun. Luckily, by the time I reached M. Velma Lake the mosquitoes weren't an issue. Water crossings were all nontrivial, feet wet only, affairs. I believe the trip was in August 2010.

Rubicon River:
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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: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:37 pm

It looks to me to be quite long in miles for the time you allotted. Plus you are doing 2000+ feet elevation gain a day. I was out there last week and the "trails" on the loop from Rockbound Pass to Lake Schmidell, to Leland Lakes, to 4Q Lakes and down to the Rubicon River and back up to Lois Lake near Rockbound Pass are really in poor condition. Still many snow patches and it is easy to loose the trails. VERY overgrown north of Leland Lakes. Had to ford many streams but none were more than calf-deep. I averaged about 1.5 miles per hour through that loop, because I was spending a lot of time simply finding the trails.

My impression last week (Wed-Thurs, June 12-13) was that the mosquitoes are just getting started. Only reason they were not bad was the wind. I actually avoided Camper Flat because of bugs and instead x-country traveled well above the river on the west side. If you do not have a wind I would predict mosquitoes. Be prepared for swarms, but hopefully the wind will save you. Both on the trip to Suzie Lake a few days earlier and the trip I did over Rockbound Pass (from Wrights Lake), I thought there was lots of standing water and bogs - with the mosquitoes that I saw probably "babies" and the worst yet to come.

It was not real clear to me from your map what is your actual trip plan. Why the different colors on the lines? I assumed you want to do the entire loop (all the lines, all colors). Have you calculated miles and elevation gain for each day of the trip?
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby vitaminC » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:51 pm

Thanks for the info!

Sorry, the map colors correspond to days. I have calculated out the miles (not elev gain), though I don't have the exact numbers with me. Approx values below.
Day1- Dark blue, 7mi, camp Clyde Lake
Day2- Yellow, 13mi, camp Velma (not sure yet which)
Day3- Green, 13mi, camp Half Moon Lake
Day4- Aqua, 6mi

Days 2 and 3 can both be shortened by taking alternate routes (Day2, bypass Doris, Lois, 4Q, etc) and possibly leaving off Mt Talloc (Day3).

Will have to think hard about the mosquitos, as that could certainly spoil the trip.
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:06 pm

Your Day 2 looks quite difficult to me, given the trail conditions. You can come down from Lake Schmidell directly to the Rubicon and save some miles. That way you would save the best of the loop and avoid some of the worst overgrown trail conditions. Day 3 is only long because you choose to climb Mt Talack. Halfmoon Lake is pretty but I had trouble finding a campsite when I was there early season- the only dry spot were on the rocky benches. Gilmore Lake has lots of great campsites, but is not as scenic and usually is more crowded.
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby Tom_H » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:23 pm

The first mile or two won't be too bad, but after that you'll hit a couple of miles of hard and rough blasted granite on a moderate climb. Make sure you have two pair of thick wool socks, monitor hot spots, keep boots tight enough to avoid feet slipping around, but not tight enough to cut off circulation in toe area.

I haven't been in this season, so can't give you a report on current snow & water level or bugs.

I agree you seem to be a bit long on miles. As you are going solo, you benefit from a loop. I have posted some other maps recently for various Desolation loops; I'll dig up links. I'd cut this down a little. I like to create routes that have alternate quasi-parallel trails that include some that are shorter/easier in case my group needs to take it a bit easier, as well as some alternates that are longer and have more to see if we are doing better than expected.

One minor adjustment I'd recommend for the beauty is to take the trail to Dick's Lake, then a use trail to and by the edge of Fontinilis. At the outlet of Fontinilis, stay just on the right side of the stream and follow it down the granite pluton (it's a little steep-but not too bad-just stay off the wet part). This is a very pretty stream cascading down the side of the rock. At the bottom, just keep following the stream cross-country through flat forest until you rejoin the trail. This is high Class I off-trail at worst and worth the very short distance that you are off-trail. In that you're going solo, however, you need to let specific other people have a detailed route plan of where you intend to go and where you might go. At your experience level, you should not deviate from that plan at all. If you go missing, others will know where to look. You need to have someone you are going to contact by a certain time, and that person needs to be ready to contact authorities if you are not back by that specified time. I will be back shortly and attach links to the other loops I have suggested.

By the way. This is an area where someone going solo can hitchhike between starting and ending points. There is an endlesss stream of cars and many stop along here, so I'll include some other possibilities as well.

O.K., back with a map. Here are a couple of 3 day possibilities.

Loop out of Glen Alpine. Start at the other trailhead that's east of Lily Lake. (Call first to inquire about trail condition. Has anyone here been on this trail recently?) Hike SSW to Tamarack or Ralston for 1st camp. Day 2: to Susie as shown. Day 3: to Gilmore, leave pack, climb Tallac, return to Gilmore for camp. Day 4: exit at Glen Alpine. Do a side trip to Half-Moon if you have time.

Hitchhike assisted route: Start at Meeks Bay and go to GIllmore. (Crag is < 1 mile more and has better camp sites.) Day 2: go to Phipps Pass and either camp just below the pass on the other side in the swale where the stream begins or XC down to N side of Phipps Lake. Day 3: to Fontinillis or Dicks Lake. Day 4: out at Eagle Falls (Emerald Bay) and hitchhike back to Meeks Bay.

Map: http://caltopo.com/map?id=0376

With a group, I like going to remote places and not seeing others. When going solo, the advantage of going where there are many people is that if you get hurt, there are people around who can help you. The east side of Desolation has more people than the west side.
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Re: 3night Desolation Trip from Glen Alpine

Postby vitaminC » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:51 pm

Tom_H wrote:O.K., back with a map. Here are a couple of 3 day possibilities.

Loop out of Glen Alpine. Start at the other trailhead that's east of Lily Lake. (Call first to inquire about trail condition. Has anyone here been on this trail recently?) Hike SSW to Tamarack or Ralston for 1st camp. Day 2: to Susie as shown. Day 3: to Gilmore, leave pack, climb Tallac, return to Gilmore for camp. Day 4: exit at Glen Alpine. Do a side trip to Half-Moon if you have time.

Hitchhike assisted route: Start at Meeks Bay and go to GIllmore. (Crag is < 1 mile more and has better camp sites.) Day 2: go to Phipps Pass and either camp just below the pass on the other side in the swale where the stream begins or XC down to N side of Phipps Lake. Day 3: to Fontinillis or Dicks Lake. Day 4: out at Eagle Falls (Emerald Bay) and hitchhike back to Meeks Bay.

Map: http://caltopo.com/map?id=0376

With a group, I like going to remote places and not seeing others. When going solo, the advantage of going where there are many people is that if you get hurt, there are people around who can help you. The east side of Desolation has more people than the west side.


Wow, thanks for the super detailed reply!

Definitely some good options to consider, though I suppose I will have to make up my mind eventually...
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