Tree, Poison Flat, Carson Iceberg Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Peak 8721 reflecting in Lake Genevieve
Peak 8721 behind Lake Genevieve.
Peak 8721 behind Lake Genevieve, Peak 9054 in background.
Peak 9054


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The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Backpacking or Day Hiking to
Lake Genevieve out of Meeks Bay

Desolation Wilderness






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Trail guide



Lake Genevieve


Crag Lake



Meeks Bay
Echo Lakes
Lake Tahoe
Management Unit



Lake Genevieve, Desolation Wilderness

  Lake Genevieve  

Lake Genevieve in the morning, Desolation Wilderness. Duration 2:09.

Maps, Miles and Elevations
Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map
Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations


The Value of Reflective Water
Pain, Beauty, Life

The beauty around Lake Genevieve reflecting off its still morning surface is striking.

There are sometimes unique moments of early morning stillness in the mountains.

These instants of quiet stillness happen when the cool flows of night air transforming into the warmth of day find a few seconds of atmospheric balance under the rapidly rising Sun.

Stillness Ensues.

The beauty surrounding us rapidly multiplies itself during these fleeting seconds when air and water become momentarily balanced.

Externally, this stillness and its beauty mirrored on Lake Genevieve's surface instantly doubles our viewing pleasure, while triggering an internal emotional state.

Critical Mass is attained when this external beauty
becomes internal pleasure.

Through the Looking Glass
Sometimes it appears we are looking through clear glass down into a new, undiscovered world just below the lake's surface. We are. But it is the undiscovered world within ourselves we really see.

Other times the lightest of breezes drive shimmering waves reflecting a chaotic world of sparkling lights dancing on the lake's surface, sometimes shimmering whirlwinds.
(Smedberg Lake Shimmering)          (Round Top Lake Shimmering Whirlwinds Video)

Both states are nice.

These fantastic external beauties are multiplied and grow as they pass our mind's eye to resonate with and feed the soul.

These beauties act as a trigger, tapping into deep internal reservoirs of experiences, skills, resources, and feelings that nature equipped us with, but only come out when called back to natural engagement.

"They" say that "humans only use 10% of their brains." I say that humans have lost 99% of their physical and spiritual assets, have forgotten that engagement with nature is not just the key to the meaning of life, but to a meaningful life as well.

Reflecting lakes are the sparkle in Nature's eyes, and eyes are portals to the soul.

Beautiful reflective lakes act as a spiritual/psychological key for humans. The psychological effect of this great beauty justifies the hard work required to view it.

Transformational beauty requiring both work and engagement to experience breaks down our socialized assumptions that life is series of constant easy consumer gratifications that are passively observed and "consumed."

Nature has other uses for our lost observation and engagement skills. But it first has to break them loose from their social captivity. The stillness of reflective lakes are portals linking the spirit of Nature to the souls of men.

These are the times and situations that draw out and reward our engagement.

The work required to engage nature and its beauties does not just deepen the beauty, but becomes a vital part of the beauty itself.

The Journey Begins
Thus begins our individual journey of work, pain, beauty, pleasure, recovery, and growth.
These aspects of our existence are woven together by something new within us.

This new feeling is the knowledge that the deep joy of engagement with Nature does not just open up and draw out hidden skills and potentials within ourselves that are normally locked down by the spiritual wasteland of urban life, but that natural interaction introduces alternative definitions of the nature and the meaning of life than the passive consumer gratifications popular today.

We've only just begun to scratch the surface.

Let the backpacking begin!

We're falling into the real looking glass now...

Sunrise above Lake Genevieve

Morning over Lake Genevieve on Peak 9054.

First light striking face of Peak 9054 behind Lake Genevieve.

Besides avoiding the crowds of Summer, Fall travelers experience the higher contrasts brought out by the lower angle of the Sun on the mountains.

The increase in contrast and the associated decrease in glare opens up rich fields of view obscured during the High Summer. A subtlety unseen in the brighter light of Summer emerges in Fall.

Time to Hike!

Sunrise on Granite

Detail of first light striking face of Peak 9054.

Detail of first light striking face of Peak 9054.

Peak 9054 is the Northwest pair of the two peaks capping the head of this valley.


Chain of Lakes

Lake Genevieve is the first in a series of five lakes we encounter entering the mouth of this gently rising valley. We pass these lakes while hiking within the two and a quarter mile length of this gentle rising valley. Enjoy it now.
This gentle stretch of sweet lakes precedes the steep climb out the South end of the valley up to Phipps Pass.

Genevieve, Crag, Hidden, Shadow, and Stony Ridge are the series of lakes we will encounter. Let's take a look at them on the map and miles pages:

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map
Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

These lakes give us lots of camping options along the length of this valley fitting between the fourth and sixth miles of our hike South out of Meeks Bay.

Rubicon Lake is not one of our options along this little chain of lakes. Rubicon Lake is nestled into rocky folds buried under dense forest above the head of this valley, about 400 feet higher and a mile further South past the South Shore of Stony Ridge Lake, which is the last lake in this little series of valley lakes.

Note Stony Ridge lake's position on the map. The narrow strip of flat terrain the TYT runs through between Stony Ridge Lake's NE shoreline and the rising terrain is too narrow for legal camps, though there are campsites halfway down the length of the lake. The terrain off the South Shore of Stony Ridge Lake is too marshy for good camping.

This means that the North end of Stony Ridge Lake is about our last legal and comfortable spot to camp along this chain of lakes beginning with Lake Genevieve in this little valley, before we begin climbing for Rubicon Lake.

Shadow and Hidden Lakes have nice aprons for camping around parts of their shorelines. It is nice here, in this sweet little valley.

A Doubly Protected Space
The saving grace of this sweet chain of lakes in this easily accessible valley are the quotas and restrictions on backcountry visitors by the Desolation Wilderness. Otherwise this place would be much too busy, and would suffer physical damage without these limits.

Not only is this a wilderness area that is preserved against development, but it also must be afforded higher protections against the fundamental overuse by our much too large population.

I don't like quotas, but they have only become necessary because we cannot control our growth. Thus we are forced to protect nature once, then again.

This chain of lakes in its shallow valley so close to a major trailhead is an excellent place to bring young kids on their first backpacking trips!

This is a good place for rookie backpackers of all ages!

First, the distances and elevation increase out of Meeks Bay to this chain of lakes are not too bad for parents splitting a kid's gear, nor too difficult for many growing kid hikers.
Rookie adults will appreciate this relatively easy access as well.

Second, the terrain is stunningly beautiful, and subsequent trips can be extended deeper into the Desolation Wilderness over the years as the kids grow and their capacities increase. Rookie adults will appreciate this expandability as well.

Third, this valley is full of fun things to explore at our leisure. Once we hike in and camp there are plenty of activities to keep the kids of all ages engaged in a lifetime of rewarding experiences.
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Desolation Wilderness

Meeks Bay to Lake Genevieve

Just the Facts, ma'am

Lake Genevieve

7400 feet
+1161' above Meeks Bay trail head elevation

4.39 miles
South from Meeks Bay trail head

4.49 miles
South to Phipps Pass

Camping Notes
Departing Lake Genevieve

6:42 am or so, mid-September

Temp before Sunrise
Low 40s was typical of September morings, until Oct 1,
when morning temps dropped to 19° !

Camp Status
No weather, no mosquitoes, so no tent.

Overall Weather
Clouds in morning, cleared nicely.

Time, Space, Direction, and You
"or so" note: I record the exact astronomical Sunrise/Sunset times, their compass points at rise and set, and the time and altitude of the daily transit of the Sun across North-South line, AKA when and where it crosses the celestial meridian.

I also record the key dates of the Moon Phases. This information, along with some weather notes, trip title, and dates composes the header of all my trip journals.

This handy information allows us to use the Sun as a compass and a clock. We now know both the exact time and precise compass points at sunrise, sunset, and the "city time" of when the Sun crosses the North-South line, AKA, High Noon.

FACT: It is Noon when the Sun crosses the North-South line in the sky from our position, NO MATTER WHAT your watch says. One is "city time," the other is your own personal "astronomical time."

Yes my dear, all time and space does rotate around you.
Well, at least in the sense it is all measured from the observer's perspective.

The last bit of astronomical information I am bringing is either
a current star chart or my star guide.

The backpacking links page has a wide selection of different types of nature, instructional, and trail guides, maps for use on the trail, and even a selection of free utilities and technical resources helpful for backpackers.

We Measure Time
Using this astronomical information we will literally measure time as the Sun rises off the Eastern horizon in the morning, to and across the celestial meridian during mid-day, and dropping down to the Western ridge producing local sunset in the evening.

We'll use this information to ascertain the Sun rise and set compass points and timing on the horizon without using a compass, and know the "civil" time when the Sun crosses the celestial meridian.

We will literally and accurately measure the distance of the Sun's daily travel across the sky to both estimate and precisely determine both "city" and "astronomical" time, as necessary for our situation.

Our planet spinning around our Solar System is literally our
clock and our compass.

But unlike most watches, I'd argue that ours is actually wearing us,
rather than visa-versa...

Who's in who's pocket?

Is each of us no more than a little "second hand," running around and around on the face of the master clock of life?

The "times" mentioned above, being the Sunrise and set times when I take my daily temperature measurements reflects the time of Sunrise and set during late September, which was the start day of a particular trip. This brings up two important facts.

First, the time and location of Sunrise and set are in constant motion over the course of a year, even if we retain a fixed position.
Second, the positions of Sunrise and set also change as a function of our
changing position and perspective as we hike South.

I have brought together a number of astronomical tools and information resources that describe and explain the rhythms of celestial and terrestrial motion and how this relates to navigation, and us keeping our bearings.

Astronomical Navigation
Astronomical Information

Everything is Moving
In fact, each day the Sunset and Sunrise times and compass points and timing change at a certain rate. We also hike a certain "X" number of miles each day.

Both motions affect the accuracy of our astronomical Sunrise and set bearings. The rate of Sunrise and set change is up to a minute a day for both, depending on the time of the year.
Our hiking to different positions each day also alters our relationship to the timing and exact compass points of Sunrise and set.

That's why the astronomical data we need is derived by entering a location as well as a date in the database. Exactly where and when the Sun rises and sets is dependent on our location and the date.

Short Backpacking Trips
Thus trips up to a week in duration, or those remaining near their start point don't require a correction factor to compensate for changes in location as we hike. We are not hiking far enough to significantly distort their timings or positions.
On these shorter trips we are not too concerned with factoring in the changes made by our changing position, if we are not hiking too far.

We can record the timing and positions of Sunrise and set from the beginning and ending dates and locations of our hike if we desire a higher degree of accuracy.

A Regular Rate of Change
The average daily rate of the timing and position changes in Sunrise and set should be calculated and noted in the journal header prior to departure. The correction factor would read something like, "three degrees and three minutes a day."

We can figure it out by noting the change in timing and location of Sunrise and set from a single position over the duration of our trip.

This rate of change will be a reliably consistent correction factor to reasonably correct our Sunrise and set figures.

Long Backpacking Trips
Long distance backpacking trips will require more than a correction factor as our changing position hiking down the Sierra Crest greatly distorts the compass points and timing of Sunrise and set as calculated at the beginning of our hike.

To retain accuracy hiking down the Sierra Crest we will have to take note of the Sunrise and set times, and their compass points, from at least three points along length of our trip. Our figures for the beginning, the middle, and the end of long trips will maintain the accuracy of our celestial clock and compass over the length of our trip.

The Tahoe to Whitney
I generally measure the timing and compass points of Sunrise and set from South Lake Tahoe, Tuolumne Meadows, and Trail Crest for backpacking trips from Tahoe to Whitney.

Astronomical Information

This information will not just keep us "in time," but also establishes a fundamental context structuring the terrain we cross by keeping us aware of and engaged with the physical relationships between time, space and terrain.

Time, direction, terrain and our position within it are different, changing, and related aspects of dealing with these grand mountains who's crestline we are hiking.

We're going to keep our bearings and time squared-away as we hike South.

Our ability to organize and correlate time and space information adds extra dimensions to our engagement and understanding of the logical and physical relationships holding the the High Sierra together.


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North: Lake Genevieve 1                                                                   South: Crag Lake

Morning One
Granola is Fun
and the
Zipper Dance

The temp was 43 degrees at Lake Genevieve when I woke and rose well before dawn.

Granola, powdered milk, and dried fruit were rapidly brought to life with a little heat under the roar of my old-school MSR white gas stove, and I was shortly fed, packed, and ready to saddle-up. Time to take off the insulation and freeze a bit before the pack and the trail warm me up.

I tried to unzip my REI fleece jacket, and everything went to shit. The zipper is one of those fancy "clasping" zippers, the type that lock. The fabric pull and its ring broke off the zipper, locking the clasping zipper in place. With no pull strap there was no way to unzip the fleece jacket, and claustrophobia set in, and I was soon bouncing/hopping about in circles trying to get the damn thing unzipped from high around my neck.

Finally, I used the flat end of the can-opener on my Swiss Army Knife to pry up the edge of the spring-loaded locking clasp on the back of the zipper assembly, and was finally able to unzip my fleece jacket in fits and starts. I was tempted to use the knife's blade to cut the coat off.

Relax Al, Chillaxation required... take a couple of deep breaths.

I promptly removed the locking mechanism from the zipper, (a zipper-ectomy) and everything was all cool again. The jacket still zipped-up, but I had to grasp the zipper on both sides to make it work, as the pull tab had broken off. But my gear was falling apart.

This was not unexpected. I had already put 750 long-distance backpacking miles on the gear this Spring and Summer (2009), and my gear was showing it. My boots, pants, and socks were all starting to wear thin. The harness of my pack was worn, and all grommets were distorting. I was monitoring the degradation of all key gear components. I was packing a bigger spare parts kit than normal.

I am facing a maintenance cycle with my clothing, pack, boots, and most of the gear elements that wear out. Clone me a new frk'n body too, while we are at it... I'm going to re-harness my pack frame, replace or repair my worn-out clothing, and new boots have been necessary for awhile.

Where are you in the "Gear Cycle?"

Keep tabs on how your gear is wearing, and check your harnesses, stitching, clasps, and eyelets often during your long trips, and an inspection before every trip. Inspect the stove and water filtration device, and clean each as necessary.
Keep a list of upcoming problems and repairs that will be necessary at home that is updated after each trip, and check the list before the next trip. Pack the replacement parts you may need, or replace degrading parts prior to departure.

Broken and fixed
on the trail.

Be Ready!

Check out the Gear Section

Gear Repair, Kennedy Meadows Pack Station

Backpack Strap Repair, Kennedy Meadows
Now that's an "on the trail" backpack strap repair!

A frk'n gopher ran a hole up to the surface under my backpack, which was laid flat on the ground with rocks on top to protect its salted straps from just such a varmint attack...

Sometimes we just can't win...

Wilderness gear Repair at Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, earlier in the 2009 backpacking season. Pants in hand, fleece pants deployed during the day!

I love
Kennedy Meadows Pack Station

They loaned me the needle, and gave me the thread to keep my ass in my pants, and my straps on my shoulders.

The cowboys offered me the use of their saddle shop, but I didn't need to go nuclear!


Gear Repair Forum

Topo Map North
Meeks to Lake Genevieve
Topo Map South
Lake Genevieve to Phipps Pass

Topo Map South

South Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map
Miles and Elevations

Crag Lake

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Hiking North

Lake Genevieve 1

Compass image pointing North and South on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail Guide.

Hiking South

Crag Lake

Backpacker Forums

Post it on
The Backpacker's Forum.

Welcome to Tahoe to Whitney
The link above brings us to the Front Page of the High Backpacking Trails and Topics Forums. Below we break the forums down into its basic categories:

High Sierra Trails High Sierra Topics

Anyone can post text comments in the existing forums, but only members can post up new topics, along with images, maps, and formatting.

Become a Member

As we addressed some gear issues on the page above,
these forums are pertinent:


If you have experiences, comments, questions, trip reports, trail conditions updates or pictures and/or videos of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail from Meeks Bay to Lake Genevieve, and camping around Lake Genevieve and up the valley, post up your images, experiences, notes, and advice here as an unknown hiker or as a member:

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Lake Genevieve

North: Lake Genevieve 1                                                                                             South: Crag Lake

Alex Wierbinski

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Frosted Backpack

Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

Snug tent after Snow Storm
© Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Crown Jewel of the Pacific Crest Trail