Desolation Wilderness

A weekend backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness / A tale of supreme hydration


At the end of the summer, some friends of mine planned a quick, 1-night backpacking trip to Desolation Wilderness in the South Lake Tahoe area, and I got to tag along! This was my first trip with my new Deuter 75 liter backpack that I had just picked up at an awesome REI sale! I also grabbed a camelback water bladder which fit perfectly into my pack and was super nice to have during the trip. After grabbing some Philz coffee, we started the drive early on a Saturday morning…

Day 1

We started out at the Eagle Falls trailhead, overlooking Emerald Bay. We took in the beautiful view, stocked up on water, and began the tough trek up the mountain. Quickly, we arrived at Eagle Lake:


It was a rough ~6 miles more up the mountain, interspersed with breaks to rest our backs. (I was carrying 5 liters of water on this trip because I’d run out of water on this trail before!) We were very thankful when we reached Middle Velma Lake, and were able to enjoy it in solitude.


Some of us even jumped into the chilly lake and swam to a small island. It was a bit shocking to jump in the cold water, but it was very refreshing and just what I needed after backpacking. That night we set up camp near the lake, gathered around some headlamps turned into a makeshift campfire, and feasted on lentils, mac & cheese, and grapes. Oh, and we gawked at plenty of shooting stars.

Day 2

We packed up camp and took a peak at a few of the lakes nearby. We followed a loop that took us to Upper Velma, Fontanillis Lake, and Dick’s Lake. Fontanillis was my favorite (pictured at the top of this post) and we took a long break there, eating lunch and jumping off rocks into the water. There were also a few of these tiny frogs:


There was also an amazing viewpoint from this lake:


From there, it was just an exercise of not twisting ankles. We had to carefully trek our way back down the steep trail we climbed the day before, simultaneously drinking through our water supply. It was a rather uneventful trip down, and we completed the trip back at Emerald Bay. It was a fun weekend adventure and great way to test out my new pack!


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