Reflection on Desolation Wilderness

Last weekend’s backpacking trip into the Desolation Wilderness was a boost for my soul. 

I had been looking forward to this trip set up by the Bay Area Backpacking Women’s Meetup group for over a month. It didn’t disappoint.

I met a wonderful group of women (seven different countries were represented!), and I feel like we all enjoyed each other’s company as much as we enjoyed the amazing landscapes around us.

There was also ample time for each of us to reflect and do our own thing separate from the group. I got to spend some quality alone time walking around Lake Aloha at dusk, watching the silhouettes of the mountains become more pronounced as the sun disappeared over the horizon.

It was a relatively mellow 14(ish) miles on the famous Pacific Crest Trail over the course of the 3 days. We hiked from Echo Lakes to Lake Aloha (and back) in the Desolation Wilderness (which for the record, is not very desolate on a warm summer weekend). There were a few inclines with a mild elevation gain, and with a 35 pound pack on, it was no walk in the park, but it was on the leisurely side of what might be “normal” backpacking pace. Which is exactly how I like it!

My hiking style is not based on how many miles I can accomplish in the fastest time; rather, I prefer to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way. What’s the rush? I can not fully enjoy my surroundings when I’m struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I’d much rather boost about the amazing pictures I was able to capture than the mileage covered. It’s just a number afterall; a number that doesn’t tell the true story of the journey.

My biggest fear of being in a group hike setting is being the slowest one and holding up the rest of the group. It’s happened before and I know it could happen again. There can be a delicate balance between going my own comfortable pace (while still pushing myself physically) and trying to keep up with a group to my own detriment. Fortunately, for this trip, finding that balance wasn’t a problem, and I was grateful for similarly paced companions.

I’m gonna be open and honest here – I’ve been holding onto some general frustration and anxiety for a little while now. Life has been throwing me challenges left and right, and while I’m doing my best to overcome, the little things add up.

But being out there in the wilderness, I felt my heart melt and a stupid silly grin form on my face as I walked through meadows of wildflowers, pines, and huge granite boulders. Pure happiness and gratefulness to be alive! Standing in absolute awe and appreciation of the beauty that surrounds me! A recharge for my soul.

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story:

Setting out from Echo Lake:


After climbing a bit higher, we got this view of the Echo Lakes:


Officially entering the wilderness:


We camped at Lake Tamarack the first night. We may have set up camp a little too close to the water (shhh… don’t tell the ranger!). This is the view I had from my tent the next morning:


Up we go! On the trail between Lake Tamarack and Lake Aloha:


Through the meadows of flowers, pines, and boulders:


After we set up camp at Lake Aloha, our goal was to climb Pyramid Peak. This is the high peak on the left:


Well, after about an hour of scrambling around rocks just trying to find the trail to no avail, we gave up on it. Another day! A few of us decided that we still wanted to get a bit higher for a view of the lakes  so we climbed up a nearby ridge instead. This is about halfway up:


The view on top was stunning; Lake Aloha was spread out before us in all her glory! This was a highlight of the trip for me:


More mountains and lakes from up top:


Then it was time for a swim! But the water wasn’t very deep:


My cozy campsite:


Walking around at dusk by myself:



Overlooking Lake Tamarack on the way back:


Heading back towards Echo Lakes:



  1. […] And return I did, quite triumphantly this summer! With a group of women that were much more on my level! It made all the difference in the world, and boy was it a much-needed walk in the woods at the time. I wrote more about this trip in a previous post which you can read here. […]

  2. Looks beautiful!! I take it you have read ‘Wild’? Love that book and cannot wait for the film. I’d love to do a section of this some day, I love what you wrote about your worries melting away. Nature is the best cure for stress and anxiety, as I have found many times. This makes me wanna hike!

  3. […] Such as hiking amongst the redwoods in my Bay Area backyard, or driving east a few hours and admiring the granite cliff faces, lakes, and waterfalls that characterize the Sierra Nevada […]

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