Thursday, August 14, 2014

Desolation: Lake of the Woods

    The warm weather turned hot for climbing a few weeks back. After a series of frustrating attempts to get through it I decided to stop for a bit. Instead of sweating off of holds I know I can climb through, I started to train. With my upcoming first trip to Europe, I figured I wanted to feel in somewhat shape. So I've been training. But motivation is hard to come by after long hours at work. I do what I can. When I'm psyched to do it then it's better.
    Since I don't train on the weekends, I became interested in hiking back into my favorite place to spend time in Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness. The season for backpack bouldering is on. My dilemma was where to start. Years ago I heard rumors of a group in Strawberry that was going backpack bouldering to Lake of the Woods. Supposedly there were boulders there. A year later I hiked out with a friend but was not used to long approaches. Even though I hiked there that day with no weight I was so exhausted by the time I got there that I had no strength to explore. Even then I recall seeing a few random nice boulders here and there. This first trip this season I decided to start there.
      I was working all week and then getting off at 530 and training til 8. Somehow in there I managed to pack on Thursday, work all day Friday to scramble my stuff and got to the trailhead at Echo Lakes. I randomly took the boat taxi to the other side, eliminating about an hour and ten minutes of hiking. At a hefty price too. The boat ride one way was $17. It was extra with all my gear. Yikes. When it drops you off at the other end, the trail climbs gradually for about an hour through rocky, uneven terrain. I could barely make it years ago. This time I cruised it with about 50 lbs of gear. After the climb you wind through a series of wooded areas and meadows through flat, easy trail. Eventually you end up above the destination at about the hour and half mark( if you take the boat ride).  From above, you drop down to the lake where right away you see brilliant gray rock. The stone is so clean there. Slippery with good, solid features. I looked for a campsite right away. I was on the north and east side of the lake. On that side it is regulation that you stay in a marked campsite. As I past a few marked ones they were all taken. Then I saw this one next to an awesome cube shaped boulder with orange rock. It was all mine. As I wondered where the other boulders might be it became obvious that there was a lot just around my camp. So lucky. Total solo. Beautiful forest. Camped in the boulders. They weren't too tall, and that suited me fine since I was so far out alone. The problems were sick. I could tell a lot of them were either done or yanked on years ago. There was a few bunchy ones that I may have got the FA on but all lines were sick. It was supposed to be a normally hot weekend. But thunder showers brought clouds and light rain to keep things cool, while the alpine wind dried the rocks instantly. It was quite surreal. Sunday I woke up at 5:30 am to catch a sunrise over Lake of the Woods. It was a very brilliant moment I was lucky to catch on camera. Pyramid Peak reflected off the lake so hard it looked like there was sky and mountains above and below. I did a bit of climbing after the camera batteries died. I repeated all the lines I had done the day before to keep them fresh in my mind. With thunder crashing overhead,  I decided to hike out since the skies began to look dark gray. The moment I started to walk the rain began. It was actually a nice touch for the decent to the parking. It kept me cooled off really nice. Since I skipped the boat taxi on the way back it was 2 and half hours to the truck. By the time I drove back to the house it was a torrential down pour. I hiked out just in time. My legs were killing me, I got a steak, a beer, and some ice cream. It was one of the coolest trips of the summer for me. Desolation is a really special place. Amazing scenery, exaggerated features through a landscape that is literally just rock and water. I love it out there. This first trip got me fired up. I foresee more of these  in the near future. Bouldering hits home closer for me when it is in this setting. You live out there for a bit, walk around and when you see a rock you like you, climb it. It feels real.


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