Rock formation crossing Phipps Pass. Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Forest trail to Lake Genevieve.
Desolation Trail Junction.
Phipps Pass
Desolation Trail Junction, heading right on TYT towards the Pacific Crest Trail
Above Meeks Bay


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The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Backpacking the Desolation Trail
to the
1st Trail Junction

Hiking to Lake Genevieve on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail in the North End of the Desolation Wilderness






Trail Skills

The trail


Camp skills

Paper Maps

Off the trail





Safety Topics


Mosquito Info

Skeeter News









40 Days to Whitney

Introduction Tahoe to Whitney

Introduction Tahoe-Yosemite



Trail Arts

Art of walking











Trail Stories






Trail Culture




Terms and Conditions of Use



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Trail Guide


Road Map Lake Tahoe TRAILHEADS






Lake Genevieve


Meeks Bay
Dicks Pass

Lake Tahoe



Meeks Bay
Echo Lake

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit





Desolation Trail Junction

End of the Dirt Road
After a short 1.2 mile hike to our Southwest from the Meeks Bay Trailhead along a slightly rising sandy dirt road we come to an interface between the forested ridge to our North (Right) and the dry meadow around Meeks Creek being invaded by lodge poles to our South (Left). Ahead we see the profusely over-signed start of formal trail veering Southwest off the dirt road to our Right up onto the flank of the ridge.


Desolation Trail Junction

6319 feet

+80' above Meeks Bay Trailhead elevation

1.2 miles South of Meeks Bay Trailhead





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 Trail Begins
As indicated by all of this signage we see ahead, Tahoe to Yosemite Trail hikers veer Right and begin to climb a bit more seriously beyond this first trail junction. This deflection off the relatively flat dirt road continues the Southwestern direction of our hike, now traversing a mild angle up the ridgeside.

Here our trail transitions from the "Easy" degree of trail difficulty to the "Intermediate" degree.

Note the extensive restrictions cited on the signs. No fires. Good thing. I never make fires. Exception: when I meet a group of folks. They generally make fires. I've always said I'd make a fire in an emergency, but so far have not yet hit that point, despite a few wild times.

Almost year-round dry conditions combined with the now over-bloated, massive population of California make prohibiting fires wise. On the other hand, this low-elevation forest is so packed with forest floor liter that any safe way to thin it out would be helpful.

Backpackers pulling out firewood would help, if someone did not start a destructive fire. The problem is that the backpacking areas have already been picked clean of firewood due to over-population/over-use, while the rest of the forest floor is deeply cluttered with litter.

The campsites along Lake Genevieve, Crag Lake, Shadow and Stony Ridge Lakes are all highly used and demands for firewood long ago stripped out burnable wood. As our forests fertilize and expand their own soils using their own dead parts and dead brethren, completely stripping out the forest floor liter is not good.

On the other hand, suppressing fires for so long that the liter has built up to a level sufficient to fuel a conflagration in the surrounding National Forests is far worse.

Ironically, our behavior/policies have brought the extremes of both too much and too little forest floor liter sitting in close proximity to each other in the forests along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe.


2015 Addition to the Hiker's Planning
Fire Awareness

Due to Epic Record Drought & Dry Year
(Drought weakened in 2016, broken in 2017)

Image of FLAMES. Fire

Weather Information
Image of FLAMES.

High Sierra backpackers should have a "rolling fire plan" that observes for indications of fire while being aware of all potential escape routes as we cross drainages.


2017 Addition to the Hiker's Planning

Spring and Summer Snow Conditions and Hazards.
Record Snowpack in Sierra.


See the
April & May Backpacker Alert of 2017



2017 Addition to the Hiker's Planning

Wet Conditions Anticipated All Summer Long


Mosquito Hazard

Mosquitoes and Mosquito Protection in the High Sierra

(Note: Always have a fire plan)



Track the Latest Sierra News



High Sierra Weather Information
Always Check


Local Temp and Snow Reporting Stations
Click the Big Red Dots.


Tahoe Basin Weather All High Sierra Weather


Lake Tahoe Basin 7-Day Weather Forecast


Nonetheless, despite all the various hazards, passing this trail junction marks the beginning of our climb. The sandy trail of the meadow-side fire road hardens up as it thins into a trail climbing to traverse up along the length of the ridge arm to the wilderness boundary. This is the same ridge who's base we traced out along the sandy road since hiking through the Meek Bay trailhead.

We are now under more of its forest cover for the gentle hike up to our entry into the Desolation Wilderness and our ford of Meeks Creek.


Video Playlist
Meeks Bay to Pacific Crest Trail


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Desolation Trail Junction
Hike right

First Trail Junction, Desolation Trail, Meeks Bay Trailhead First Trail Junction on Desolation Trail
Veer Right up the trail
at this Junction.
Sign close up

Desolation Trail Junction

of the
Desolation Wilderness.
Desolation Wilderness Regulations Posted at entrance to the Wilderness.

Desolation Trail, Desolation Wilderness, 1st Junction. Look at all those signs!

Nothing that I disagree with, though it is sad that there are so many people that you need a permit to day hike...

This level of regulation requires information.

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
ALL Desolation Wilderness Permit Information

Current Location
Desolation Trail Junction

6319 feet
+80' above Meeks Bay trail head elevation

1.2 miles South of Meeks Bay trailhead

End of the Road
Well, it is for us. The road veers Left down to a loop on a
flat next to Meeks Creek, our trail Right.

Down to our Left it looks like there is a nice picnic area, a group camp site, and possibly for backpackers a campsite location for late-night arrivals at the Meeks Trailhead.

If it's not being used by groups, I'd guess.



We have a 1120 foot climb over 3.19 miles from this trail junction to where the first campsites are located at Lake Genevieve.

That's not too bad if we are in reasonable fitness. I still suggest "taking it easy" on our first day.
It is best not to strain ourselves too much during the first stages of any backpacking trip.

From Lake Genevieve our trail climbs a gentle 400 feet of elevation over a mile and a half past series of bucolic lakes within a valley capped by a series of majestic mountains on one side, and a stony ridge capped by Rubicon Peak dividing us from Lake Tahoe on its far side.

Nice campsites surround each lake up to narrowing end of the valley, which pinches right up to the shore of Stony Ridge Lake at the top of the valley.

Above the Southernmost Shore of Stony Ridge Lake the top of the valley holds a productive marsh that's full of life.

We begin a short but steep climb up to Rubicon Lake and then Phipps Pass from the far South Shore of Stony Ridge Lake.

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Miles and Elevations

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Tahoe-Yosemite Trail
Sign Post

Tahoe Yosemite sign post

Proof that the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail


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Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Two TYT signs along the whole route

Tahoe-Yosemite trail sign post at 1st trail junction, Desolation Trail

There are only two signs naming, citing, or identifying the route of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail along the whole length of the TYT from Meeks Bay to Tuolumne Meadows. The first one is shown above at this first trail junction South of the Meeks Bay Trailhead, while the second is located just above Highway 4.

I figure this lack of signage is because the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail (TYT intro) is not an official trail. I guess this "unofficial" status means that it is not recognized by the Forest Service or the National Park Service.

This lack of recognition may be good.

There are two points of interest the informal status of the TYT brings to light. First, the route of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail was designed by Thomas Winnett and promoted in his nifty little guide. Second, a lack of attention and maintenance due to the failure of "recognition" has kept the unmaintained segments of the TYT in unmaintained status, preserving the original character, challenges and difficulty of the route.

Good Wikipedia History of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

That's why I am of the opinion that this lack of recognition is a good thing. I am also happy that the PCT route swings around the heart of the Emigrant Wilderness by detouring around Emigrant Basin.

Sometimes lack of attention is a good thing.

How you feel about this issue should play a part in your upcoming route selections. The TYT would be a wise choice if you enjoy route-finding and rough, not perfectly laid-out conditions. The PCT would be your first choice if you prefer well-maintained trails to route-finding.

The High Sierra has a trail for everyone.

One Route-Two Signs
See the other Tahoe to Yosemite Trail sign in Bee Gulch prior to arriving at Highway 4 & Lake Alpine. That's about it for Tahoe to Yosemite Trail signs. There are two between Meeks Bay and Tuolumne Meadows.


From here our climb turns up a degree of difficulty. Our meadow-side hike is now a rising traverse up a shallow descending ridge arm running behind us down to the shore Lake Tahoe, and above us feeds into the mouth of a higher valley bending Southeast from the top of this valley

The trail South from the road junction beginning formal trail brings us up 1081 feet along the side of this forested ridge over the next 3.19 miles to Lake Genevieve, the first lake suitable for camping out of Meeks Bay Trailhead, and the first of a series of lakes decorating the length of the gently-rising valley behind Lake Genevieve. It is not a difficult hike up to Lake Genevieve or the series of lakes beyond. I rate it at Intermediate-3.

Hiking up to Lake Genevieve is a fantastic place for short trips to check out our skills, fitness, and gear.

Here at this trail-Y with the road we exit the meadow and start out hiking up through hot dry forest up to a substantial dry flat wedged in along the side of the ridge. That flat will be where we officially cross into Desolation Wilderness.

Unique Terrain Creates Unique Environment
The shape of the top of the ridgeline here crinkles-up into some really intriguing, unique terrain configurations as we approach the top of the valley.

We continue on the short flat past the wilderness boundary to enter in-between converging ridge arms that creates and protects a small, narrow zone of temperate forest approaching the nifty little bridge over Meeks Creek.
At the end of the dry flat we enter a cool, shady bit of moist temperate forest decorated with ferns.

A twisting trail above the Meeks Creek Bridge rises out of this tiny temperate zone to execute a set of loops through chaotic folds in the top of the canyon bringing us through a nifty S-looping section of trail to Lake Genevieve.

Short Bit of Bliss
The temperate zone around the Meeks Creek Bridge is cool, very serene and uber relaxing. The heat from the hot climb dissipates in this cool forest. The trail loop up to the foot of Lake Genevieve is mentally and physically refreshing.

Have you checked out the local TOPO MAP yet?

Click the RED dots along the marked route for the trail guide entry
for each marked spot.

The locations cited on the miles and elevations page are also linked to their corresponding entries in the trail guide.

See the whole
Desolation Wilderness
A HUGE map

Black-Dotted Routes link to detailed maps and RED DOTS lead to trail guide entries. The big maps act as indexes to the detailed maps and trail guide pages of the areas they represent.

From the guide pages you can post up your insights and experiences, or ask and answer questions.


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Meeks Bay Trailhead
Desolation Wilderness

I figure a good way to start a trip is to take the measure of its first miles on our minds and bodies. Our experiences during the first steps of a trip sets the stage for the whole trip.

That's why it is good to plan the first days will within the capacity of the weakest hiker in our group. Below find the information for this first bit of our hike on the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail South into Desolation Wilderness.





The Tahoe Yosemite Trail
Middle Velma Lake


Distances, Difficulty, Elevations, Lakes, Campsites


Hiking Down the TYT
Distances Measured from Meeks Bay

6239 feet of elevation
Meeks Bay Trailhead.

The Start Point.

0 miles
Meeks Bay Trailhead.

0 to 4
A gentle climb traversing the side of a ridge up to and through a gap into the bottom of a second, higher gentle valley containing a series of sweet lakes.

Our Position at the Trail Junction:
1.2 miles up 80 feet of elevation from Meeks Bay Trailhead.

Campsites, but none of note. OK for late arrivals at the trailhead?

This may be your mandatory campsite location if you got to the trailhead very very late.

The "shit happens" campsite...

Meeks Creek and a tiny meadow-lake sit to our South, providing water for just such unexpected problematic starts.

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4 to 6.6
Lake Genevieve

Stony Ridge Lake

A series of very well used campsites along a series of beautiful lakes running 2.6 miles up a gentle valley starting with
Lake Genevieve

see the map

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
USGS Topo Map

First Lake
along the
TYT to Phipps Pass
Lake Genevieve
4.39 miles
7400 feet of elevation,
+1161 feet above

A series of lakes follow Lake Genevieve in quick succession.

Crag Lake
Shadow Lake
Stony Ridge Lake

We begin climbing at the South end of the last lake in the series, Stony Ridge Lake, which is 6.62 miles South of Meeks Bay Trailhead.

1.13 miles up a steep segment of trail climbing 520 feet we find the Last lake below the North Flank of Phipps Pass:

Rubicon Lake
7.75 miles
8320 feet of elevation,
+2081 feet above

Limited number of Sweet campsites
around Rubicon Lake

Climbing a little over a mile South from Rubicon Lake we traverse Phipps Pass amazing view of arms of shattered granite cliffs extending off our mountainside traverse.

Phipps Pass is the high point of our hike starting out of Meeks Bay Trailhead.

Phipps Pass
8.88 miles
8800 feet of elevation,
+2561 feet above

Sweet Granite Cliffs

PCT Trail Junction
We intersect with the PCT & TRT 3.44 miles South of Phipps Pass and 11.5 miles South of Meeks Bay Trailhead.

South Desolation Wilderness Map

Turning South we hike another .82 miles South to Middle Velma Lake and its break and campsites.

Here we find trails East to Eagle Falls and Bayview Trailheads, West to Camper Flat and the potential for loops around the Northern end of Desolation Wilderness through Rockbound Valley

Our selected direction turns us South along the combined TYT-PCT-TRT through the trail junctions around Middle Velma Lake.

Velma Lakes Campsites

12.32 miles
7920 feet of elevation
-880 feet
3.44 miles below Phipps Pass

Lots of campsites scattered around the scattering of Velma Lakes.

Trail Difficulty to Phipps Pass
The difficulty of the hike up to Lake Genevieve from Meeks Bay is Intermediate-3, the easiest of middle-difficulty trails.

Lake Genevieve up to the South end of Stony Ridge Lake is Easy.

Lake Genevieve is the first of this series of lakes nestled in along the floor of a gently rising valley who's end marks the beginning of the short but steep climb to Phipps Pass.

The difficulty of the trail from Stony Ridge Lake climbing to Phipps Pass increases to Hard-3 or Intermediate-1. Though difficult, it is very short.

Trail Difficulty Scale

Except for Rubicon Lake. Rubicon Lake is the last lake in this series of lakes, but it is not part of the series of lakes along the bottom of the valley.
We find Rubicon Lake wedged into a very attractive small forested ledge on the mountainside between sweet granite and deep dark green forest while hiking up from the end of Stony Ridge Lake up to Phipps Pass.

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
USGS Topo Map

miles and elevations

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     North to Meeks Bay: Desolation Trail to Meeks Bay       top of page             South: Lake Genevieve

Up Along the Ridge Side
  Above the Trail Junction
Traversing up along soft trail on our first Climb South out of Meeks Bay.
  The first ridge out of Meeks Bay is a gentle traverse up to Lake Genevieve.  

The sand surface and bright heat and dryness of the trail along the meadow behind us firms up into harder trail, but is still soft, and under the increased shade of thick forest as we begin traversing up the ridge arm.

Soon this dry forest will give way to a dry flat, then we will enter a small area of moist, cool temperate forest wedged in almost perpetual shade between folds in the ridge lines converging around the Meeks Creek Bridge.

Big Black Ant on the Desolation Trail.

Both of Us
Traversing the ridge towards Lake Genevieve

Trail Junction
Lake Genevieve

3.57 miles up 1081 feet of Elevation

(From the First Junction)


Maps and Mileages
Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map
Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations


Environmental Overview

Gently Rising Forested Terrain.

Passing Right through the road junction onto the trail we have climbed away from the tattered edge of semi-exposed dry meadow onto a partially shaded gently rising ridge traverse to the Southwest.
We depart the sun exposure and sandy surface along the edge of the meadow for harder trail under our feet and more forest cover over our heads. It's still warm during Summer.

These cooler conditions are offset by the extra heat we generate hiking up the steeper incline of the trail across this long traverse up the Southeast flank of this low ridge arm.

We are hiking Southwest towards my favorite part of this segment of trail where the trail runs through temperate forest before cutting a sweet climbing "S" turn through the complex terrain above the bridge.

We will pass through a twisting wrinkle of terrain in-between the converging ridge arms holding this sweet little temperate elevated vale within the strangely shaped little bowl at the top of this set of converging ridge arms.

Passing through this nifty wrinkle between the ridges we will emerge just below Lake Genevieve.

Complex Logic of the Trail
We quickly become aware of just how complex a small segment of trail along our route can be.
We instantly see that it can take a lot longer to figure out the
logic of the terrain than hike the trails through it.


Video Playlist
Meeks Bay to Pacific Crest Trail


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Tahoe Basin Forest approaching Desolation Wilderness

Traversing the ridge past the 1st Desolation Trail Junction, Sept. 15, 2009. Duration 1:25.


Desolation Trail Wood Trail Work

Trail Work. Rare along the length of the trails between Tahoe and Whitney, except for the LTBMU and parts of the El Dorado National Forest.

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Mad Squirrel

This Mad Squirrel was just mad as hell at me

This squirrel was mad as hell at me, and was giving me endless crap. He started giving me shit from 25 yards away, as I approached. He was even more unhappy when I reached his tree and stopped, pulled out my camera, and started playing "shoot the mad squirrel." It was on.

He was furious.

The Mad Squirrel would run out, scream violently at me, and then run and hide from the camera, and then do it again. Little bastard cracked me up.

Some years the squirrels seem more animated up and down the trails, other years they are more quiet. 2009 was a loud year for the squirrels.

I think changes in squirrel behavior from year to year may be related to their exposure to Bubonic Plague. During plague years the squirrels may act more aggressively.

If he was ten feet tall he would have messed me up...


See the Backpacking News section in the Forum for news reports on the increase in tourist plague in the Sierras, ascribed to drought conditions.


High Sierra Mammals
Bubonic Plague Warning
in the
High Sierra


High Sierra Bubonic Plague Information Index


High Sierra Mountain Safety

High Sierra Health and Fitness News


The fact is that plague is a constant threat in the Sierra during all years, though its incidence and spread rise and fall each year. Risks of exposure and contraction are only reduced by correct backpacker behavior. Small mammals and their fleas must be avoided.

This can be difficult during the fertility of Spring when lots of cute baby squirrels and chipmunks are sweetly begging for food. They must be rebuffed and kept at a reasonable distance. This is both for our safety and theirs. Ours being the protection from plague distance offers, and their safety is not being made dependent on, and vulnerable to humans.


Living Things Policy

Big Black Ant

Keeping a close eye on the Amazing World at our feet.
Big Black Ant.

Big Black Ants: Backpacker's Constant Trail Companions. Don't step or sit on them!

I call this species "blueberry" ants because the segments of their body are as big as, and look like pieces of blueberries with legs.

High Sierra Insects

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North TYT: Meeks Bay Trailhead                                                 South TYT: Lake Genevieve

Up to the Flat wedged into the Ridgeside
Cresting the ridge before entering Desolation Wilderness

Looking Southeast as we are just cresting the high point of our trail traversing up from the road onto the edge of this flat wedged into the side of this low ridge. The wilderness boundary is a mile South of the road junction and about a quarter-mile ahead of our position pictured above.

The wilderness boundary is about halfway down this flat.

In the distant center we can see a pointy hill making up part of our final climb out of top of this valley. Our trail wraps an S-turn around and through a complex set of hilltops behind that hill at the top of this little valley, where the ridge arm making up the South/East wall of the valley comes over to meet the top of the ridge arm our route is traversing.

The top of this valley bends us to the Southeast and funnels us into the bottom of the next valley.

The upcoming flat in the image above is a substantial shelf wedged into the South side of our ridge arm. Its far end leads us into a channel in the terrain protecting a sweet little temperate zone.

We are hiking to get over to the backside of the little peak at the center of the image above, where we will follow the trail through the nifty "S" turn through the hilltops beyond the bridge.

From our position in the image above we will begin a steady climb from the end of the upcoming flat up to a little flat around the Meeks Creek Bridge.

Beyond the bridge our angle of ascent increases for the final climb to Lake Genevieve.

Meeks Bay Trailhead



Exposed High Point on the Ridge

Meeks Bay
to the
High Point
up the
First Ridge

Traversing up towards the head of this long low valley our trail along the ridgeside traverses onto an exposed flat a half mile before we cross the boundary entering the Desolation Wilderness proper.

Entering the Open Flat


.73 mile past the trail junction


6600 feet
+361 feet from Meeks Bay trail head elevation


1.93 miles South of Meeks Bay trail head,

2.46 miles South to Lake Genevieve.

6.95 miles to Phipps Pass.


Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations



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How you Feeling?

That very well may depend on just how far we are hiking on this backpacking trip, which determines how much food we are carrying. How much food we are carrying is a big factor determining how much our pack weighs.

How much our pack weighs and how physically prepped we are to carry this weight determines just how we are feeling, my fellow Sherpa.

Cowboys laugh at me, until I tell them that only wimps need mules. I am my own mule, self-sufficient within myself.

Climbing to the top of this first ridge does not give us much of a view of the surrounding terrain. Great overviews come a bit further down the trail.
But this first climb can give us some deep internal insights about how we feel, and how we are going to feel.

Sweeping views do not give us a view of what's going on internally, how we are responding after carrying our pack up this little ridge arm.

Anything on the body tightening up? Any rubbing boot or gear issues that need to be resolved, before they rub into wounds?

Make adjustments now, before irritations compound into wounds.

We will adjust our pace to suit how we feel. Don't hurt ourselves over the first miles. Relax!

My rule is to stay within my capacities. It's good if you are feeling strong and fast, but don't spend it all the first day in a burst of natural enthusiasm.

If you are feeling ragged, then slow down, and in every instance, "Stay within Yourself."

Coolness Ahead:

Onward Temperate Warriors
We're entering a narrowing channel at the end of the flat between converging ridge arms holding a very sweet little temperate zone.


Sweet Meeks Creek
Meeks Creek Tributairy before the bridge.

We hike through some Nice Cool Moist Forest after the Hot Dry Ridge Traverse


from the
Desolation Wilderness Boundary
Lake Genevieve

A Little Temperate Zone
Hiking the mile from the wilderness boundary up to little flat elevated at the head of the valley holding Meeks Creek, we find ourselves entering into a protected area under the shadows of the surrounding ridgetops coming to convergence.

The physical layout of Meeks Creek running through a narrow channel pinched into the terrain here induces cool moist shade nourishing a dense stand of forest that appears to protect the moist environment supporting the ferns, ivy, and moss characterizing this sweet little zone as temperate.

I find the cool air refreshing after the hot climb.


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Hiking into Desolation Wilderness
Ladyfinger Fern
Desolation Wilderness Boundary, Meeks Bay Trailhead ladyfinger fern, Desolation Trail, Desolation wilderness
forest trail approaching Genevieve Lake Forest Trail, note fire hazard

Forest trail approaching Meeks Creek.

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  Cool moist location supports a little zone of temperate forest.

To, and Past the Wilderness Boundary
We have another 2.14 very interesting miles of hiking up 680 more feet from the Wilderness boundary to Lake Genevieve.

First we'll cross the South end of this open ledge wedged in the side of the ridge as we enter a narrowing channel of cool forest reaching to the top of the valley along Meeks Creek.

At the far end of the open rocky flat we enter a deeply muffled temperate forest before we come upon Meeks Creek and its convenient bridge. We recognize a natural "sweet spot," where the nifty shape of the terrain works with prevailing winds and character of the weather cycle to create this unique little self-perpetuating bubble of biological lushness.

Man, we've barely entered the Desolation Wilderness and encounter a wide range of Natural Treasures, and we have barely begun.

Sometimes these "sweet spots" are as simple as a circle of grass growing out of a gravel bed, other times they are crowns of temperate lushness concentrated and focused by terrain complexities and wedged atop an otherwise dry dry strip of forest.

Like this little zone.

The air is enriched and sweetened by cool moisture within this special zone, this little concentration of environmental energy and and the
life that follows it.

The terrain steps up in complexity on the other side of the bridge as we climb out of the temperate zone. The trail bends a set of U-turns around the hilltops through an interesting close-in section of terrain as part of an even larger S-turn around and between the hilltops wedged in the top of this valley.

This S-turn marks the junction where we climb above the tops of the ridges bracketing the valley we entered hiking through the Meeks Bay Trailhead.

The ridge arm we have been traversing up was pinching up to the unique head of this low valley, this sweet little vale, as we climbed. Now the route of the TYT is bringing us into the mouth of the next valley.


Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map



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Just past the Desolation Wilderness Boundary

Hiking the Desolation Trail, just after crossing the
Desolation wilderness boundary,
from Meeks Bay Trail Head. Duration 1:12.

Desolation Wilderness

Desolation Wilderness Boundary

6720 feet
+481 above Meeks Bay trail head elevation

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map

2.25 miles from Meeks Bay trail head

1.05 miles from the Trail Junction


2.14 miles to Lake Genevieve

6.63 miles to Phipps Pass

We are almost exactly halfway to Lake Genevieve at the Desolation Wilderness boundary.


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Last Steps to Meeks Bridge
Desolation Wilderness

A Zone of Moist, Dark, Muffled Temperate Forest

Boulder before Lake Genevieve, Desolation Wilderness   Trail through near temperate forest

Exiting the open space into thickening forest the trail winds around pleasing boulders into a zone of temperate forest below Lake Genevieve, Desolation Wilderness.

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Footbridge over Meeks Creek

Meeks Creek Tributary   Bridge just before Lake Genevieve

Tributary to, and the bridge over Meeks Creek.

Just below where the trail twists through unique formations between the converging ridge arms to reach Lake Genevieve. Enjoy this part of the Desolation Wilderness, as temperate zones are rare, and the twists of the trail through the unique terrain beyond the bridge brings my mind back to simpler times and simpler pleasures.

Most forests along the Sierra flanks are hot and dry during Summertime.



The exposed heat of hiking along the edge of the dried out meadow from the trailhead to the ridge, albeit a meadow that is being filled up with lodgepoles, swiftly transitions into a still hot, but shaded hike traversing the ridge arm up towards the head of the valley carrying Meeks Creek down to Lake Tahoe below Lake Genevieve.

At the head of this little vale the junction of its convoluted ridge arms forces the terrain to focus a temperate zone, which our trail passes through as it tracks around and through a nifty set of close-in wrinkled terrain features.

A whole lot of natural complexity and beauty, and we've hardly begun!

Approaching the head of the valley below Lake Genevieve your body will not fail to notice the transition from hot, dry forest into this small protected cool zone sheltering temperate conditions, replete with lady finger ferns and ivy, all part of a deep green layer of undergrowth, with a refreshing cool and moist feel to the air.

Then we turn up and out of the coolness for the final hot climb to Lake Genevieve.

Desolation Wilderness

Meeks Bay Trailhead
The Meeks Creek Bridge
Lake Genevieve

6960 feet
+721 above Meeks Bay trail head elevation

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map

3.21 miles South of Meeks Bay trail head

2.01 miles from the Trail Junction


1.18 miles to Lake Genevieve

5.67 miles to Phipps Pass



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The Roar of Silence
This little temperate zone is a delightful place, and the same terrain features that provide the shade and coolness also creates a muffled zone of quiet that relaxes the soul as well as it cools the body.

This quiet so near the trailhead can be profoundly loud, as the subjective absence of accustomed urban noise can register more heavily on the senses than noise itself.

The absence of noise itself can roar during our first days on the trail.

I call this profound transitional sense of silence the roar of silence. It is the echo of civilization you can't hear when inside the social bubble.

The auditory sensory-shift is just the first of what will be many examples of backpacking not just through nature, but through profound internal transitions created by departing an environment dominated by man into one run by nature. These will be internal as we adjust our goals and expectations, and external as our capacities and engagement adjust and increase.

The strains and pains of hiking with a heavy pack are immediately psychologically offset by the beauty of the terrain and deeply engaged experiences our packs allow us to access.

Balance of Factors
We should also be getting a sense of our diminishing returns, of the real physical and psychological costs of carrying a heavy weight over difficult terrain. Diminishing returns are the cost of each step, the cost of speed, and how both distance and pace will affect us for the span of our trip.

We should be getting a picture of the balance between the bookends of our experience, of our fundamental operating relationship between the pleasures and pains of backpacking.

This relationship deepens where the trail steepens.

The trail turns up , being significantly steeper than the trail from trailhead up to Lake Genevieve, once we hike past the boggy zone off the South shore of Stony Ridge Lake.

Then we climb!

1000 feet in 2.11 miles between the South shore of Stony Ridge and Phipps Pass.

A Hard-3 or Intermediate-1 little segment of trail.


Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map



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Hiking North

Desolation Trail to Meeks Bay

Hiking South

Lake Genevieve

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Tahoe to Echo Summit
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Desolation Trail

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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
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