Don’t hike alone in Desolation Wilderness in Tahoe

My friend was involved with search and rescue for this poor guy. Went bathing alone in Lake Aloha, left his shoes and glasses next to the lake…. it was reported that he couldn’t swim. Nobody reported him missing until he was already dead. . But a hiker found his empty tent upside down. His body was found at the bottom of the lake. He was spotted by the search helicopter in 30 feet of water.

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Good reminder to be safe out there. Always be prepared and cautious. Nature is beautiful but also can be deadly at the same time.

So sad. Just last week, I was hiking the Rubicon trail with my family and saw a sign for Desolation Wilderness. The water was super cold, not sure why you’d go swimming in it.

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Last year my wife found a girl who spent the night lost and alone on Mt Tallac. Started the 8hour hike at 3pm. Spent the night with nothings but shorts and a shirt. Dumb college kid. Could have died from exposure. My and friends took her to the fire station. My wife volunteers for the forest service. Due to lack of funding their are very few rangers. You are on your own in Desolation. Cell phone service is sporadic. And rescue can only be done by helicopter.


Reminded me of this young family with their daughter and dog.

We have a hiking group for old farts. Mainly in their sixties and seventies. We meet Friday at 8am at the trail heads. Hiking High Meadow tomorrow. Lots of great hikes in Tahoe. Most are not crowded. Always best to go in a group. We have experienced guides. Easy to get lost. We hike from May till September. Tallac is usually the last hike. 12 miles 3500’ of vertical. The rest are much easier.

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I’ve hiked up Pyramid Peak, then down to Lake Aloha and across, up Ralston and back down to hwy 55. Beautiful area but definitely can be dangerous.


I am too old for that hike. Boulder hoping.

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I’ve hiked to Aloha several times. Lots of good memories. As I recall there was a way to do Mt Tallac and add on a side trip to Aloha in one very long day. Also used to do Ralston Peak which has a nice view to Aloha. That trailhead is quick from the Bay Area; no need to go all the way to Tahoe. I usually hike alone but take emergency supplies and extra water, salt pills, etc. I wouldn’t go swimming if I couldn’t swim. I’ve run into one bear, one mountain lion and now lots of javalina. The javalina are usually docile but I would say the diciest as they can get riled and chase you up a tree.

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I’ve been hiking in Desolation Wilderness a handful of times in my life. Sadly, like almost all of Calfiornia, it was anything but desolate.

In college, in the mid 1970s, a girl freind and another friend of ours headed up there Memorial Day weekend to “get away from people” for a couple of days. We drove up late on Friday, after classes. And camped next to our car in rest stop or turn out or something because we got up there after dark.
The next day, Saturday, we spent all day hiking way in and arrived at a camping area at a small lake. I really needed to get away from people at the time. But the lake turned out to have brightly colored tents all around it and, as darkness fell, there were campfires all over the place and a fair amount of noise.

There were bears around. But we weren’t really worried about them. It was all those rowdy people that worried us. I’ll deal with a bear any day.

That depressed me at the time. I was living cheek to jowl in a college town and really starting to just hate people because I could never get away from crowds of them.

We hiked back out early Sunday. And never looked back.

Before that, in the late 1960s when hippiedom was running hard and communes were taking shape, my Boy Scout Troop set up a one week summer camp base near the trailhead in Desolation Wilderness. About half the troop was setting off on a one week, fifty mile hike from there.

On our last night at the base camp, we had a huge campfire gathering after dark to celebrate. While we were all off at the campfire, some wonderful types crept into our tents and stole backpacks, sleeping bags and everything else they could from a few of us. The rangers told us that many “hippies” were setting up communes in the back country and while they thought they were living off the land, they were living by stealing from campers like us.

My folks had purchased brand new equipment for me for that summer camp. And I returned home with nothing. It was all taken.

I could only hope the perps were stupid enough not to get out before snowfall and had an authentic Donner Party experience as a result.

Did I mention that I really started to hate people back then? ;-0

If you really want isolation in the wilderness, there are plenty of places, even near the concrete jungle of LA!

We hiked High Meadow in South Lake Tahoe. Friday from 8-11. No other hikers in from Cold Creek in town. A few mountain bikes. Beautiful. no people in an area that attracts 300k people per day in the summer. Popular hikes around Emerald Bay get crowded. But only at the trail heads. Parking limits the crowds ….the Sierras are still relatively uncrowded.
Look what happened to the lone ALOHA drowning victim. Nobody around at a popular camping area.

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A few places get majority of people. Most state and national parks are empty especially during “off” seasons.

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My sister owns a place near Capital Reef National park. Similar to Moab. Gets 200k per year visitors vs 4m visitors at Zion or Yosemite.

Meeks Bay trailhead to Phipps Peak. Ten miles each way and about 3500 ft of elevation gain; you go past almost a dozen beautiful lakes. You might run into 8 or 10 people the whole way, even in summer.
8am is way too late for me to start a hike like that unless it’s fall and cold. 5-6am start is mandatory. If I’m not 2/3 done before the heat of the day sets in it just wastes me.

Typical 4th weekend. Drownings, crowds and trash. Stayed within 1 mile of my house. We survived the most crowded day of the year. Summer season is so short now. Kids start going back to school August 15. From then till Christmas Tahoe gets pretty quiet.

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Thanks for the info! I think I’ll start planning a vacation trip for the fall.

Haven’t been to Tahoe in two decades and was considering it this year because our usual jaunts have petered out or become ridiculously expensive due to popularity.

I just hate crowds. No matter how nice a place is, crowds ruin it for me. So, I was thinking Tahoe in the winter.

I retired to the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. Very Tahoe-like but without the crowds and attention. Few places to stay but camp anywhere. Payson, Pine, Strawberry, and lots of little funky towns between Payson and Show Low. Do a side trip over to Sedona for some artsy funk and a different landscape. The general area is about a 12 hour drive from Vallejo.

I hiked from Vikingsholm to Bliss on Friday. One of the most beautiful hikes anywhere in the world. Talked to hikers from Austin Nebraska and Australia . A little crowded but not bad. I am not much of a hiker but the views of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe are breathtaking. Doing Winnumacca lake at the top of Carson pass next Friday. Best wildflowers and views of Kirkwood. Skiers hike and ski the couloirs even in summer.
My wife worked at Bay View trail head today. Talked to 350 hikers, going to Maggie’s peaks and Cascade falls. Still beautiful and green mid summer. She was surprised how many had no ideas where they were going.
I usally go to the ACC golf tournament at Edgewood. Probably the best golf tournament in America for non golfers. This year I watched on TV. It’s an infomercial for Tahoe. Celebrities, hot chicks in bikinis, boats, booze and five days of parties.

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