Thursday, October 16, 2014

return to desolation lake

Hard to believe it had been snowing the day before

Weather moved in on Sunday, bringing clouds to the valley, rain to the foothills and snow to the higher elevations - not ideal for hiking.  We did take a walk in Dimple Dell, went out for beers at the Beer Bar and had dinner at the Red Iguana.  It wasn't exactly what we had planned but it was a fair enough last day with my folks before they headed back to Maine.

Moose family, enjoying the day

H and I had Monday off and after we dropped my parents off at the airport, and after it had warmed up a bit, we decided to knock off the hike we had meant to do with my folks the day before: Desolation Lake.  I had done it by myself last year, and it had been since 2012 that H had been up there.  There were a fair number of cars at the trailhead but we didn't see too many people on the trail itself.  We did get to see three moose, a momma and her twins.  They were standing next to the creek, about .3 of a mile from the Dog Lake/Desolation Lake intersection, and we had to wait while they sauntered across the trail and up the hillside.  Although they watched us pretty carefully, they didn't seem at all concerned that we were there.  They were beautiful.


We continued up the trail, turning right towards Desolation Lake at the intersection.  Almost immediately I noticed something was different: instead of the trail getting steep and going straight up the drainage, there were wide, soft switchbacks.  Someone had re-routed the trail, making it longer but easier, and much more MTB-friendly (which is important because quite a few MTBers descend this trail from the Great Western Trail up on the ridge).  It was really nice to walk on - thank you to whoever did all the work!

Look at that gorgeous new trail!

There were a few other people sitting around the lake when we got up there, so it was not entirely desolate.  It was, however, a little cold and breezy - there was a fair bit of snow in a shady spot just above the lake - and we didn't linger long, not wanting to get chilled.  Our descent was pretty fast, due to the gentler slope and good footing of the new trail.  We didn't see the moose on our way down but we did see (a) a nearly all-white snowshoe hare and (b) three college-age kids heading up to camp out at Dog Lake, carrying a huge cooler.  The rabbit was moving quickly; the cooler-carrying kids were not - but they were probably going to have fun later on.

Snowy section

Hike stats:  7.67 miles; 2 hrs. 15 minutes moving, with 30 minutes of stoppage time; 1,947 feet of elevation.

Desolation Lake itself

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