Desolation Wilderness: Bayview Trail to Middle Velma Lake

Hike: Bayview Trail to Middle Velma Lake
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Bayview Trailhead off of HW89 (across from Inspiration Point)
Level: Moderate
Duration: 6 hours, 38 minutes
Length: 10~ miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: 29,997
Gear: CamelBak Women’s Aventura 100oz Hydration Pack, Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite T-Shirt, Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot, Black Diamond trekking poles
Cost of Parking: Free on the side of HW 89 and at the trailhead

I’d been hearing all these things about how gorgeous Tahoe is in the summer, but somehow, after living in the Bay Area for the last 23 years of my life, I’d never been. Ended up googling this Desolation Wilderness place and drove out here with the boyfriend back in early September for a short weekend trip.

My first experience with Desolation Wilderness was phenomenal. This is my new favorite place.

The Bayview trail begins with mellow ascent beneath redwoods with Emerald Bay on your right up to Granite Lake on your left. This is just the first bit of picturesque freshwater bodies on this hike.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake reviewDesolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

After passing Granite Lake, make your way up steep granite switchbacks until you reach the top of the hill. You’ve finished the most strenuous part of the hike! Bask in the beauty of the wilderness in front of you and follow the trail down the hill to where the trail splits to Eagle Lake. Stay to the left to make your way towards the Velmas.

Traverse through open terrain until you come up to a lake on your left. This is Upper Velma Lake.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

From there, follow the trail across a stream. This stream feeds into Lower Velma Lake, but more on that in another post. Follow the trail until you reach another split. Stay to the right to make your way to Middle Velma Lake. I believe the trail loops around to Fontanillis, but I am not sure. I hear it’s gorgeous; it’s still on my to do list.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

Once the lake is near and in your sights, feel free to venture off the trail and frolick across the granite to its edge. There are some great spots to drop your pack and jump in.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

One thing though, the bottom is incredibly rocky, slippery, and muddy. If you’re planning on swimming, bring a pair of water booties. Your feet will thank you.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

Once you’re done, trace your steps back to the trail and head back home.

To sum up this hike: initial steep ascent with switchbacks, picturesque lakes, crossing a stream, granite structures everywhere, beautiful.

Here’s the EveryTrail guide I partially followed for this hike, kinda: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/backpacking-in-desolation-wilderness

Just as an FYI, these guys decided to randomly bushwhack at the top of the hill when the trail is right there! Use the trail, be happy!

Tarptent Scarp 2 in Desolation Wilderness

Tarptent Scarp 2 review Tarptent Scarp 2 review Tarptent Scarp 2 review

Am currently in the process of trying to squeeze as much fun as possible into the last bit of warm sunshine for the year, so ended up doing a brief weekend trip to Desolation Wilderness and the Velmas.

The boyfriend and I just got the Tarptent Scarp 2 for our adventures. What better place to christen it than Tahoe?

The Tarptent Scarp 2 is a roomy 2-person, 4-season tent. Forgot to take photos of the inside, but you can fit two people comfortably. And three people not as comfortably.

It’s got a nice inner compartment with two entry ways and two vestibules on opposite ends. Don’t want to wait for your slow tentmate to take his/her shoes off and get inside? No problem, because you have your own entrance. The vestibules are also roomy enough to shelter your packs from most of the elements.

Setup supposedly is under 2 minutes, but the inital tries took around 10-15 minutes to figure out all the bits and pieces and nuances of the tent. The tent has one main pole that will serve for most mild conditions (pictured above). For windy and snowy situations, optional 17 oz. cross poles are also available to stabilize the tent further.

Missing from the above photos are the cross poles. Unfortunately, we did not bring those cross poles on this trip and our tent was subject to gale force winds.

The tent does surprisingly well in cold weather, retaining some heat and keeping wind and rain at bay. I wanted to stay curled up in my sleeping bag forever as the wind howled around us.

The Scarp 2 is a fairly light shelter at 60 oz. Split between two people, it feels like nothing. It’s a on the slightly bulkier side due to size, but the weight is barely noticeable. I will sacrifice that bit of extra space for more wiggle room in the tent any day.

At $339 for the tent, it’s on the pricier end of things, but if you have the cash, the space, weight and versatility are well worth it.

Tarptents are handmade in Nevada City, CA. For full specs, please visit the Tarptent website here.

Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie

Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie ReviewTriple Aught Design Artemis hoodie at Sanborn-Skyline County Park in Saratoga, CA, paired with Outdoor Research Contour Hoodie and rock face paint.

I’ve had the Triple Aught Design Artemis hoodie since February of this year. Basically the minute I left the Hayes Valley store with it was the minute it became glued to my body (only to be alternated with the boyfriend’s Flux hoodie which he accidentally shrunk so it is now mine, and yes, review to come).

I love this hoodie. Love. It. Love it to pieces (and to pieces I did love it because now it needs to be repaired). It’s great for everything. And I mean it. Every. Single. Thing. I wear it when I’m gallivanting around the city. I wear it to and from work. I wear it while climbing. I wear it while hiking. I wear it when snowboarding. I wear it when I’m kayaking. The Artemis hoodie is basically everything you will ever need in a technical, but casual hoodie.

It’s a great form fitting mid-layer when you need to stay warm. It layers well under every shell and waterproof jacket imaginable. It has thumb holes in case your hands get cold, or if you’re weird like me and you like your sleeves covering your hands. The back is cut slightly longer in the front so people don’t see your butt crack when you bend over.

Also, did I mention it is made of merino wool? And merino wool is pretty much magical. Soaking wet while kayaking in the San Juan Islands? No problem, I’m still toasty because I’ve got my trusty Artemis hoodie on.

The only cons are…

  • The hood. This hood is the least flattering hood ever. It’s got the strangest shape when worn because it’s designed to lay flat against your back when you’re not wearing it. Plus it’s kind of small. It doesn’t fit on your head very well if you have a ponytail on, so you have to keep pulling it back on.
  • The neck, fully zipped. Before it’s “broken in”, when you fully zip up the hoodie, the neck can be very restrictive. It’s bearable, but this might be a not selling point for people who hate being uncomfortable around the jugular. It’s definitely inconvenient until it’s broken in, and even then, it rests in a slightly awkward, kind of annoying way.

Cons aside, would I buy this hoodie again? Hell freakin’ yes. It was worth the $180 (gotta love CA sales tax) I dropped on it and I would so do it all over again. Available via the Triple Aught Design website for $169 in three different colors.

On a side note, TAD, could you please make more stuff for women? Pretty please? I will gladly fork over my paychecks from now through the end of the year. Please and thank you. Love, Paulina.

Outdoor Research Contour Shorts

Outdoor Research Contour Shorts reviewOutdoor Research Contour Shorts reviewTop: Outdoor Research Contour shorts in Aster on top of Half Dome in Yosemite, right before sunrise. Bottom: Outdoor Research Countour shorts in Black at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz, CA

I’m generally not a huge fan of shorts made by outdoor brands. They’re always kind of frumpy, all the wrong length, borderline capris. I mean, come on. I’m 5′ tall. Anything cut between mid-thigh and my feet will make me look at a stump. But Paulina! You are doing things outdoors and getting dirty and not showering, why does it matter if you look like a stump or not? It just does.

So cue the Outdoor Research Contour shorts, aka outdoor shorts from the gods, so good I bought two pairs within two weeks of each other:

A Jill-of-all-trades soft shell short, the lightweight, durable Contour™ is a staple for everything from boulder-hopping scree field approaches, to battling up sun-baked granite walls, to skirting icy creeks overflowing with spring runoff. The comfortable, tightly woven fabric blocks alpine wind but still breathes well, and a gusseted crotch facilitates long, dynamic movements. A low-profile waist slides easily under a harness, a zippered thigh pocket holds essential items and the Cordura®/spandex blend fabric shrugs off the wear and tear of the trail.

These are awesome. They’re cut in an extremely flattering way; form-fitting enough to not look like you’re wearing a parachute, yet loose enough for dynamic movements. Oh, and they’re actually shorts that are kind of short, but not too short!

The Contour shorts have two slip pockets for your hands. They will fit an iPhone 4S with a bulky case on. The shorts also have two zipper pockets on both sides, good for carrying your Fitbit.

These are super lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking. They don’t really hold odors, either. I have a tendency to accidentally on purpose forget a change of clothes on weekend trips. These hold up well to multiple days of use without washing.

My only gripe? There aren’t back pockets. Not that you really need back pockets if you’ve got a backpack or a harness on, but when you’re just wandering around like a normal civilian, sometimes they’re nice to have.

The waist is cut a little high too, but not a deal breaker in my opinion. Personally, I’m kind of a fan since my shirts tend to ride up under my harness, so a little extra protection is nice.

Get these from Moosejaw for $75. You can also find these at the Outdoor Research retail store. If you’re in the Seattle area, I highly recommend stopping by. These guys are super cool and super nice and will entertain your every question and tell you cool stories and maybe even give you a tour of the place which also happens to have a bouldering wall (true story, it happened to me). Also, if you check in on Foursquare, you get 20% off. For Yelpers, it’s 15%.

Rattlesnake Mountain: Rattlesnake Ledge and East Peak

Hike: Rattlesnake Ledge to East Peak and back
Where: Rattlesnake Lake
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 3 hours and 58 minutes roundtrip
Length: 1.9 miles up to Rattlesnake Ledge, 2.4 miles from Rattlesnake Ledge to East Peak, one way.
Fitbit Steps: Approximately 27,000
Gear:
CamelBak Aventura Hydration Pack
,
REI Sahara Convertible Pants
,
Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot
,
ExOfficio BugsAway Adventure Hat
, UNIQLO Airism men’s v-neck (check out my review of this here)
Cost of Parking: Free!

Rattlesnake Ledge is a fun, short little hike with an elevation gain of 1,175 feet in a short 1.9 miles. The huffing and puffing all the way to the top is worth it though. The views of Rattlesnake Lake, Mt. Si, and the surrounding greenery is unbeatable.

The trail consists of steep switchbacks under the shady cover of tall evergreens. Even on hot days, the hike is not unbearable.

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