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.

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!

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.