A stunning view of expansive granite surrounding the pure blue waters of Lake Aloha, all under the hard spire of Pyramid Peak, come into view as we hike around the last boulder.
It is a sudden transition from hiking up a narrow chute to standing at the head of Desolation Valley's massive expanse of granite running South between Pyramid Peak and Cracked Crag.
This view, and a trail junction leading West to the Mosquito Pass entrance into the South end of Rockbound Valley meet up here with our Southbound route on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, on the far North Shore of Lake Aloha.
Note: This trail guide is traveling North and South through the Desolation Wilderness along the Pacific Crest Trail, the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, and the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Views North and South,
at the half-way point
passing by Lake Aloha
Time for Sunglasses
This section of the Tahoe to Yosemite trail hiking along the East shore of Lake Aloha is flanked to our West by the crystal blue remnants of Lake Aloha, now retreating during Fall into many crystal-blue pools. It looks like the original crystal blue Sierra lake has been shattered into a thousand blue shards.
Fall had robbed Lake Aloha of its great expanse of water. Late in the season and during dry years Lake Aloha recedes into a series of pools.
Check out the differences between these two USGS maps. The 30 minute map shows Lake Aloha during Fall, the 15 minute map shows Lake Aloha as it appears during Fall.
Behind Lake Aloha Pyramid Peak rises to our West above this massive expanse of shining granite, dominating the scene. On our side of this granite valley, rising to our Right above us, sits the massive shattered hulk of Cracked Crag, elements of who's base we are hiking along.
The shining glare off of Pyramid Peak's great granite slab is intense. The receded Fall water level on Lake Aloha has shrunk it down into lakelets, and each lakelet is sparkling as a powerful lens of reflected sunlight. The intensity of sunlight and beauty will push tears out of our eyes along this segment of the trail.
Sunglasses, sunscreen, and our hat pay their freight for their weight in these conditions. They all come in real handy here.
Caught within this cocoon of reflections off rock and water, all based on and reinforced by the Sun itself, gave me the impression that I was cooking myself up in a solar furnace.
Let's look at the Pictures!
Lake Aloha in Pictures
Jacks Peak and the Trail North to Heather Lake
View North at Jacks Peak rising above Lake Aloha, above the channel through the terrain to Heather Lake, while backpacking South along Eastern side of Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.
Mosquito Pass, North Side Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness.
That's the way over into the South end of Rockbound Valley. The route from the trail junction on the North Shore of Lake Aloha to the Camper Flat trail junction in Rockbound Valley is 6.12 miles.
Camper Flat is 1.43 miles West of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail junction near Middle Velma Lake. The Middle Velma Lake trail junction is 8.74 miles North along the Tahoe to Yosemite/Pacific Crest Trail route.
This means that the Rockbound Valley Loop from Mosquito Pass back to Mosquito Pass is 16.29 miles before you figure out how many miles it you are going to hike in and out to the loop...
We can see that the trail over Mosquito Pass into Rockbound Valley, then North up to the Velma Lakes Trail at Camper Flat opens up interesting backpacking loop possibilities around the North-Central Desolation Wilderness.
The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail follows the Eastern shoreline of Lake Aloha for almost two miles before turning down into the forest line. After sustained miles on a hard surface, entering the forest with its softer trail bed and shade is refreshing.
Consider the impact of hard granite surfaces on knees, feet, and so on. Consider it when picking boots. Consider it when planning daily miles. Consider it when packing the first aid kit.
The open granite terrain and the shattered spattering of Lake Aloha's Fall configuration of lake-lets scattered over the terrain are visible down to the point where the our Southbound trail climbs a low rise to enter the forest, visible in the far distance, for our drop down to Upper Echo Lake.
This segment of trail finishes our hike South along Lake Aloha through Desolation Valley.
As we proceed South through Desolation Valley we can see the granite terrain reach far to the Southwest, further than we can actually see. Beyond our vision Pyramid Creek and the granite terrain create some fine falls where they run together all the way down to Twin Bridges on Highway 50.
But our trail does not go so far. Our trail keeps a Southeast line to enter the forest when we first encounter the forest fringe, bending gently Southeast and downward towards the Echo Lakes.
At the South end of Lake Aloha an expansive view to the Southwest opens up, flanked to the North by Pyramid Peak and its massive granite slab. The first trail junction on the South Side of Lake Aloha, the trail to Lake of the Woods, breaks off to our right. The Echo Lake trail head is 6.13 miles straight past this junction.
From here the elevation drop puts us into forest, which means shade and softer trail surfaces,, which will accompany us all the way to Echo Lake trailhead on the trail along the Norh shores of the Echo Lakes.
Passing Echo Lakes the forests deepen approaching and into the Meiss Roadless Area through the Echo Summit trailhead.