Sunday, September 11, 2005

Backpacking Desolation Wilderness

I took advantage of the long labor day weekend to go on a three day backpacking trip in the Desolation Wilderness, which is just west of Lake Tahoe. A friend from the climbing gym had gotten permits a while back, and planned the trip. It was a fun time, although the nights got a little colder than I expected; ~freezing.

Crag Lake

I needed to get a new backpack since my good one had been stolen in the burglary, but instead of replacing my full size pack, I got an ultralight technical day pack, which I also needed. My camel back doesn't quite cut it as a day pack. I'll still need to get a full size pack eventually, but for now, this was an opprotunity to practice my lightweight backpacking skills, and test my experience in packing. I settled on the Gregory Adven Pro backpack, which will also work for a great 24hr adventure race pack once I work my way up to it. This pack weighs in around 2.5 pounds, and is made with the new silcon impregnated balastic nylon, which esentially feels like tissue paper to the touch, but is plenty strong Size wise, its only a 2400 cubic inch pack, which is about half the size of what most people would have for a 3 day trip. I assumed California's mild climate would allow me to make up for the difference.

When I was backpacking in AZ, I had to carry all my water, and have enough cloths for a cold desert night. In New Zealand, I didn't have to carry water, but needed large amounts of rain gear, and dry clothing. In California, you know its not going to rain, and the nights should be warmer. I figured I could make up the extra space by taking only the cloths I knew I would wear, and the food I knew I would eat. I also only took a 55+ sleeping bag, instead of my heavier one. I did take a tent, but didn't intend on using it. I kind of thought it would be cheating if I just made for the space by not taking a tent.

Day 1
We got a later start than expected, but still hit the trail in time to make camp by dark. The trail followed along a creek, which drained from a series of lakes, each successively higher in elevation. Our camp would be at Stony Ridge Lake, the second last of the series.

(1)Starting the hike; (2)Me donning my spork(Thanks Ian) and smiling as usual(Don't waste your breath M, the smile just ain't going to happen); (3)The group

I'm not sure where the colored bandanas came in. All I know was that it started with Javier demonstrating the proper "Gay" way of wearing them, and it ended up with all of us donning them. I need to get the group picture from Tiff's camera.
Despite the fire prohibition for the wilderness, a very small fire was produced, which was apparently common practice in the area judjing by all the fire pits hidden under rocks. In general, I don't condone this practice, but the added warmth was appreciated. I suppose the law serves its purpose since the rule keeps people to having small fires only in rocky areas.

(1)You wear it likth thith!; (2)Night fire

That night a huge wind storm picked up, blowing in some colder weather, and leaving the entire next day filled with a brisk wind. I was really lucky I had the tent. I probably would have froze with out it. I ended up wearing most of my cloths inside my sleeping bag.

Day 2
Day 2 started very casually. We slept in, had breakfast, sat around, and Javier and I played around on the slack line which I had brought along. The elders of the group, Keith and Tiffany, determined that 32 yrs is way to old for this stuff, decided to spend the rest of the day sleeping in their tent while we went off day hiking and exploring.

(1)Peaceful camp; (2)Camp with people; (3) Javier on slack line

(1)Steve on a rock; (2)Scenic Lake; (3) Tiffany's ideal vacation

Me on slack line

We started by continuing up the trail to the final lake in the series, Rubicon Lake. We stopped to do a little in prompt to bouldering along the way.

(1)Hiking; (2)Bouldering; (3) Bouldering some more

Along the way, we came across one tiny little water fall, which despite being small, for some reason lead to many pictures being taken. There was a sweet flake that I tried to climb up along the waterfall, but it was impossible with out climbing shoes. Even with shoes it probably would have been a challenge, since my crack climbing is pretty nonexistent these days.

(1)Waterfall; (2)Dr. Strangelove; (3) Waterfall again

(1)Trying the flake; (2) Javier; (3) Steve and I with the lake we camped on in background

(1)Stony Ridge Lake; (2)In a hole; (3)Rubicon Lake

After hanging out at Rubicon Lake for a while, we took the trail back partially, and then went off trail, to bush bash all the way around the large lake that were camped on. This turned out to be a lot of fun, and involved a large amount of boulder scrambling. Getting back, most of us went for dip in the very cold lake. Brr. Strangely, I had problems getting my temperature back up after swimming. That caused to layer on all my camp and hiking cloths. I still woke up frozen in the morning. Very uncool.

(1)Looking at camp from across the lake; (2)man-boobs; (3)Yet another cool still shot by me

(1) Art, (2)Booster rockets

Day 3
The third day consisted of us waking up, having a casual breakfast of snacks by the lake, and packing up to hike out.

Lake Tahoe in the distance; (2) Javier proud of himself for having broke the law; (3) Javier jerking off in the parking lot


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