Date: November 12, 2018
Place: Desolation Wilderness, South Lake Tahoe, California
Coordinates: 38.952080, -120.112037
Length: about 7 miles
The second weekend of last November we traveled to South Lake Tahoe where in Saturday we hiked at the Emerald Bay State Park and had a wonderful time discovering life at the lake's shoreline. By that night I still didn't know where we'd go hiking on Sunday. Long after Pappa Quail and the chikas were sleeping I kept poring over the maps, looking for a trail that would be just the right length and difficulty level for us, and circular. By the time I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore I had settled on the Eagle Falls trail leading into the Desolation Wilderness, although I was not completely sure how far we should go on it. I was too tired to work out the details.
It was really cold that Sunday morning. We got to Eagle Lake trailhead, got out of the car and quickly bundled up. It was mid-morning already but the freezing air burned its way through our respiratory tracts each inhalation.
|Our hike as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
The birds, however, seemed more adept than we were. It wasn't long before Pappa Quail and the elder chika started photographing.
As we climbed so did the sun. More and more we were walking in sunlight and slowly we warmed up and some layers were removed.
|Eagle Lake Trail|
We had a good, long break on the shore of Eagle Lake. It was sunny there and, while not quite warm, wasn't cold either. I gazed at the lake and enjoyed the near-perfect reflections. I was mesmerized by the shimmering reflections of a small island off to the right.
The elder chika said she heard mallards. Lated we saw them - a few ducks (mallards and ducks of another species) floating near the little island, gliding so smoothly on the water surface that they hardly disturbed the reflections.
We reached a large rocky ledge and sat down to snack and rest. The view east was grand - were were very high above the lake and the air was crisp and clear. there was no sign of smoke anywhere. It was hard to believe that not too far from where we were the air was hazardous to breathe.
|View east from|
We passed big slabs of granite where very few trees were growing and those who did were stunted. At the top of one of these slabs I saw a large rock balanced on the brink. Apparently Sisyphus was on a coffee break.
We made it to the pass and the intersection with the Bayview Trail and sat down for another break. It was early afternoon and but the days were short. A group of hikers came up Bayview and stood for a while at the intersection debating among themselves whether to go down immediately or to continue to Velma Lake which was about three miles north of us. I offered to take a group photo of them and they gladly accepted my offer. Then they decided to go to Velma Lake and disappeared from our view.
|View west from the pass|
A sharp turn to the right and we found ourselves on a very steep downhill trail. To the east it was a very long drop. The younger chika squeezed herself to the mountain side of the trail but I looked admiringly at the view below. I could see Rte 89 winding way down there, and behind it the vast, blue Lake Tahoe. Lakeview Trail was named correctly.
Most of our descend was through a thick conifer forest. Every now and then, however, the trees opened up to slow us a good view of Lake Tahoe below. We stopped for a short breather at a wide vista point to admire the view. below us we could see not only Lake Tahoe but also Emerald Bay where we hiked the day before.
|Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay|
It was a good day - we had a long and beautiful hike as a place we never really explored before. As we were leaving town I was talking about wanting to go backpacking at the Desolation Wilderness. Pappa Quail was silent and the chikas asked when and where we would stop for dinner.
Not much later we cruised past Placerville and almost immediately were engulfed in the dirty, smoky air. It took nearly two more weeks before the rains finally came, the fires were quenched and the air was breathable once more. By then it was already Thanksgiving time and we were well on our Thanksgiving vacation down in Southern California.