Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Desolation Wilderness Backpacking Trip Day 1: Echo Lakes to Tamarack Lake 7/15/16

Desolation Wilderness Backpacking Trip Day 1: Echo Lakes to Tamarack Lake
It's been a little over two weeks since our backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness and I am finally getting to our trip report. This trip was our big backpacking trip of the summer that Hubby had started planning a couple of months beforehand. It was a great trip with some pretty amazing scenery. We visited some awesome alpine lakes including the breathtaking Lake Aloha (my favorite lake of the trip). I'll be recapping each day. The first day starts off at Echo Chalet at Lower Echo Lake.

The drive from Davis to Echo Chalet is about an 1 hour and 51 minutes. Parking can be pretty bad. You are not even allowed to park in the lower lot if you are staying overnight. Hubby had to drop us off along with our packs to park. There is a nice drop off area where you can park the car for a limited time. There are upper lots and he could not even get a spot there so he parked on the side of the road.

Echo Chalet has a general store, post office, deli, and ice cream at the shop. It is a nice resting spot for Pacific Crest Trail or PCT thru hikers. We saw many sitting at the picnic tables hanging out and resting. There are restrooms nearby as well. They also provide the water taxi that takes you from lower lake to upper lake and saves 2.5 miles of hiking. We opted on the water taxi because we figured it would save us lots of time and that the kiddos would probably enjoy the boat ride. Cost is $14 per person one way so it is a pricey ride but definitely worth it with the backpacks we had. However, the water taxi does not run during high winds, so be prepared to hike the 2.5 miles if the taxi isn't running. We learned that on on our last day.
Here is the view of Lower Echo lake from Echo Chalet. It's already so beautiful.
Lower Echo Lake Water Taxi view
Getting on the boat.
Lower Echo Lake getting on water taxi
The boat ride was fun. It was probably about a 10-15 minute ride and we were going pretty fast, at least I thought we were and I had to hold on to my hat because I was afraid it would blow away.
Echo Lakes water taxi view
When we finally docked at Upper Echo Lake we got our packs on and headed out. We came across this kiosk. Permits are required in Desolation Wilderness. Hubby had reserved ours a couple of months in advance in fear of them being unavailable. Cost for one night permit is $5 and $10 for 2-14 nights. Kids 12 and under are free, so we ended up paying $30 total for the whole fam.
Desolation Wilderness sign at Upper Echo Lake
The trail is well marked and easy to follow. It was pretty flat with a gradual incline.
Hiking in Desolation Wilderness
According to my Garmin, we gained about 460 feet of elevation to Tamarack Lake.
Tamarack Lake
Hubby found a great spot and set up camp.
Camp site at Tamarack Lake
While he set up camp, the kiddos took a dip in the lake. It was freezing cold!
Tamarack Lake
After we ate our Mountain House meals for dinner, we explored around the lake.
We hiked up to a neat high point with a nice view of Ralston Peak.
Hiking to a high point
Here's one of my favorite shots with the kiddos and Echo lakes in the background.
We did hike down to Ralston Lake where the kiddos enjoyed throwing rocks into the water.
Ralston Lake
When we got back to our campsite, the mosquitoes were out and pretty bad. Hubby and one of the kiddos were getting bitten while I was actually ok since I had my Haeleum Insect Repellent shirt on. We ended up retiring into the tent early and called it a night. Our first day was great and I couldn't wait to see what the next day brought. Look out for day 2 of our backpacking trip to Lake Aloha coming soon!

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