DLeikam wrote:For the first time ever, I looked at a map of Desolation and started planning the route in to lakes around Aloha, that seems doable and looks beautiful. Unfortunately, I miscalculated and did so badly: since school has started, we aren't able to leave Thursday night, we're stuck with a Friday evening departure and Sunday morning return. That's hardly time to do anything unless you hike in Friday night in the dark which probably won't fly. Regarding Waca or lakes around that, what trail would you take in this time of the year with the water taxi not running at Echo? Looks like a good initial climb but would it be the trail head out of Twin Bridges (Ralston?).
Just as a heads up most of the lakes out of Echo are fishless, as a result of cessation of air dropping or gill netting. Although this isn't a bad spot to hike around, I know one of your priorities is fishing, so I don't think this would be a good choice. Avoid the Twin Bridges entry, by the way, for it is an off trail route that can actually get you into class 3 if you take the wrong ledge or use trail. In early season, when some of the slabs are wet and slippery, there have actually been slip and fall deaths on this route.
With a Friday eve. departure I'm guessing you'll car camp somewhere up there. Fallen Leaf campground might work, if you go in out of Glen Alpine, Eagle Falls, or Meeks Bay. Since this is essentially an overnighter, one option would be to go Glen Alpine to Susie Lake, the go with your daypack to there to your choice of Heather, Half Moon, and Gilmore. Susie and Half Moon will have the best rate of return, whereas the other two may be off and on but hold the promise of some nicer fish. On Sunday, if you inspect the topo map, you may see that the terrain between Heather and Grass Lake is pretty mellow and you can make a little loop with a mellow off trail route to Grass Lake and then go out to the trailhead.
For the Eagle Falls trailhead options, I'd suggest beelining it for Lower Velma, which is a pretty destination with quality fishing opportunities (brookies, rainbows, and browns, of decent size). Middle Velma can be interesting (but is more of a hit or miss), and Upper Velma has the quantity brookies to bail you out if you're pulling a skunk on the more premium lakes. The hike to Lower Velma is a bit shorter than going to Susie (I think it's about 4.5-5 mi and Susie is about 5.5, but I could be wrong); they're pretty comparable in terms of degree of hiking difficulty.
The scenery at both Susie/Heather/etc. and the Velmas is nice. Lower Velma is dominated by massive granite slabs, whereas Susie/Heather/Half Moon/Gilmore is reds and grays of metamorphic rock that are reminiscent of East L. but not quite as rugged.
There are Desolation west flank options out of Wrights Lake, too, but, although easy hikes, many of the lakes there are smallish to medium sized brookies and there are fewer lakes with big fish there.
Have a great trip.