The North Face Venture Jacket

The North Face Venture Jacket Review The North Face Venture Jacket Review The North Face Venture jacket is a great lightweight shell to protect from the wind and elements. Waterproof, breathable, and fully seam-taped at approximately 12 oz, it’s a good jacket to accompany you for long days on the trail.

The Venture jacket comes complete with pit zips, two hand zip pockets, Velcro wrist tabs, hem cinch cord, adjustable hood, and Velcro front closures, to help keep you safe and snug from the elements.

This runs on the roomier side to allow room for layering. An XS fits a down jacket or a thicker hoodie comfortably underneath without compromising mobility.

All in all, no complaints about this jacket. For $99, you definitely could do a lot worse. Buy through Moosejaw or Altrec.

Sierra Designs Tov Jacket

Now that winter is coming and cold weather is near, it’s time to break out my winter clothing for those brisk morning commutes. Say hello to the Sierra Designs Tov Jacket.

Sierra Designs Tov Jacket ReviewSierra Designs Tov Jacket Review Sierra Designs Tov Jacket Review

About a year ago, this jacket kinda stole my heart when I saw it at REI. Every time I stopped inside, I’d take a photo with or of it to text to the boyfriend. The sky blue with lime green accents was bright and obnoxious. It was fluffy and lightweight and warm. He surprised me with it for my 23rd birthday and I pretty much wore it for three months straight until summer came.

This jacket is constructed with 100% polyester rip-stop and 600-fill hydrophobic goose Dri-Down. The total weight of the jacket for a size Medium is 15.5 oz.

The jacket has a total of four pockets: 2 outer zipper hand pockets, 1 interior dump pocket, and 1 interior zip pocket. The cuffs are elasticized with thumbholes and the hood is fitted and adjustable.

The fit for an XS on a 5′, sub-110lb person is comfortable. It’s fitted, but not too tight. I can layer a hoodie underneath if needed.

This jacket has all the makings of a solid piece of technical clothing, but I am sad to say that it does not meet expectations.

The jacket immediately began to show wear on the trim after a few days of use. There was pilling on the trim around the wrists, thumbholes and zippers from every day activity.

The polyster ripstop shows sign of dirt and wear very easily. I’m not a particularly dirty or disgusting person, but I have stuff that I go for months without washing and it still looks mostly new. Not the Tov jacket. I am terrified of brushing up against anything out of fear of looking like I am homeless.

Lastly, I am pretty sure this thing poops feathers. Any movement means I’m waving fluffies away from my face and picking feathers out of my clothes. The feathers sneak out at the seams, and it’s pretty much impossible to squeeze and pull them back in.

Because of the above three, I haven’t legitimately taken the Tov jacket for an outdoor adventure, mostly just commuting to and from work in the city. Oh, and it makes a great pillow for camping. It just wore too quickly and seems to be too delicate for outdoor adventures. Which is kind of a bummer!

All in all, this is an okay jacket for winter and cold commutes if you can purchase it at a discount. I would attempt to recommend another jacket, but I don’t have much experience with down jackets (they’re kinda expensive!).

I think the Sierra Designs Tov Jacket has been discontinued, but you can still find it at a few places like Altrec and Sierra Designs at a discounted price.

Desolation Wilderness: Mt. Tallac

Hike: Mt. Tallac via Fallen Leaf Lake out and back
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Mt. Tallac off of HW89
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 7 hours and 9 minutes
Length: 9.7 miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: 30,249
Gear: CamelBak Women’s Aventura 100oz Hydration Pack, UNIQLO Heattech leggings, Outdoor Research Women’s Contour Short, Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite T-Shirt, Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Oasis Crew, Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot
Parking: Free!

Mt. Tallac is a classic Desolation Wilderness peak providing sweeping views of South Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. At 9,738′, this hike is a wee bit strenuous. This review covers the most direct and popular route via Fallen Leaf Lake.

Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review

This hike takes you past Fallen Leaf Lake on your left, Floating Island Lake on your right, and then Cathedral Lake on the left before rapidly gaining elevation on loose gravel. Pictured above are Floating Island Lake and Cathedral Lake respectively.

You can opt to head up all of the switchbacks, or cut to an alternate trail that’s a little shorter, a whole lot steeper, and a ton more slippery. It will save you a bit of time if you’re up for the scramble before rejoining with the main trail.

Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review

This route meets up with the Glen Alpine trail junction about .1 miles prior reaching the last bit of scramble.

Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review Mt. Tallac in Desolation Wilderness Hike Review

I super struggled with the altitude on this hike, but decided to push onward since we were only about .25 miles from the top. It was worth it.

Weather for this hike on an October weekend was not too bad. It was absolutely freezing in the morning, but brisk hiking warmed things up pretty quickly. I was worried that it would be cold at the top, but it was fairly warm around 70 degrees. I had an extra Triple Aught Design Flux hoodie and the North Face Venture jacket in my backpack, but could have done without. Also had my Outdoor Research Longhouse gloves and Arc’teryx Bird Toque beanie for the first mile or so, but they weren’t absolutely necessary.

Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves

Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves Review Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves Review Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves ReviewFrom OR, “a warm fleece glove with a thick pile backing for warmth, the Longhouse Gloves™ are made for casual, low-key adventures in brisk weather.”

The material is 100% polyester, heathered, sweater knit with silicon grip pads.

I got the Longhouse Gloves for a steal at $12 from the REI Outlet and a 20% off coupon code. I’ve only had these bad boys for about 3 weeks, but I can definitely say that these are one of the best $12 purchases I’ve ever made.

The Longhouse Glove is incredibly versatile with use as an outdoor and commuter glove. These seem to run fairly true to size. Mine are a size small and fit quite snugly with a ton of give so you can perform day-to-day activities without strangling your fingers or losing mobility. (For reference, I’m 5 feet tall and approximately 105 pounds)

The fleece knit material is lightweight and warm as a daily driver. The Longhouse Gloves also make a great cool weather hiking glove. Breathable and light, it provides adequate protection from the wind and cold. The fleece is a bit on the thicker side, so these might not work as well as a liner glove.

Cons? The wrist gauntlet is a little bulky and can be hard to tuck under my sleeve for seamless integration. These don’t seem to be super well made; the fingers seem to be pulling at the seams on the right hand and some of the silicon pads are starting to lift from the fabric. Oh, and the”OR” logo might be off putting for those who don’t want to be a giant brand billboard.

All in all, $12 wasn’t too bad of a price, so they still get an A in my book. Buy through Moosejaw ($30) or REI ($14.97).

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!