June 11-13, 2018
|Beautiful waterfall flowing into Tamarack Lake
My 6-year-old son T and I recently backpacked with our friend Albert to Lake Aloha in the Desolation
Wilderness area near Lake Tahoe. My very first Forest Service position was at Lake Tahoe and I had
dayhiked into the wilderness, but never backpacked, and always wanted to return and do so! Lake Aloha
in particular called to me because it is huge and in that high elevation granite alpine area that I so so
love. Now that we live in Northern California the trip was easy to plan and came together in the matter
of a few days. But it had a rough start... The morning of the trip I awoke to very swollen cheeks
(salivary and/or lymph glands) and visited an urgent care in South Lake Tahoe. There the doc was
stumped and the only thing he could think to do was do a blood test to rule out mumps. It came back
negative and I didn't have any other symptoms so we decided to do the trip. It was going to be a
relatively easy one anyway, since we were bringing T. Although I carried the bulk of the gear, of course!
T has a small Deuter pack but I only had him carry his jacket, a few snacks, a water bottle, a space
blanket, and a whistle.
On the first day we took the Echo Lake Boat Shuttle to Upper Echo Lake. This cuts off 2.5 miles of trail
and so the trip was made even easier. And the boat ride is very fun. From the boat dock the trail
steadily climbs up south-facing granite hillsides that were ablaze with wildflowers in every color of the
rainbow! Soon we were afforded with great views of Echo Lakes and soon, Tamarack Lake. We were
thinking about camping at Tamarack Lake, but feeling well we decided to push on to Haypress Meadow,
which was still within our wilderness permit area. We found a great private campsite to the right of the
meadow up on the sunnier slopes of Keith's Dome. This put us within easy striking distance of Lake Aloha
the next day.
T learned a lot of things on this trip... how to filter water. How to operate a backpacking stove and make
a dehydrated dinner. Where to stow a bear can. How and why people make cairns. (I told him some
people call them ducks and then T started patting them on their heads saying he was petting ducks, lol)
And how to safely hike across snow! For there was still quite a bit of snow on the next leg of the trip to
Lake Aloha. I'm glad we left our camp on Keith's Dome because being lighter helped us cross the snow
safer. But the area immediately around the lake was clear and so beautiful. We spent the whole second
day hiking to and from the lake and admiring its many beautiful spots along the shoreline. T also saw his
first marmot! The third day we hiked out and caught the boat shuttle back.
In all it was a very enjoyable trip. We hiked 7.4 miles total and T carried his pack the whole way! This
was also the first trip he didn't asked to be picked up or carried at all - which is bittersweet. My baby
is growing up! I am so thankful for Albert, who has been with us on a lot of trips since T was a baby. His
kindness and patience and sense of humor mean a lot to us!
|Lower and Upper Echo Lake are destinations in themselves and are
right along the PCT! There are a bunch of Forest Service
recreation residence cabins on the lakes. If anyone wins the
lottery, will they buy me one?
|T loved playing in all the little streams we crossed along the way
Writing in our trail journal
|His first dehydrated meal - Mac and Cheese of course!
|trying to fix the PCT sign
|T saw a girl across the lake doing the floss, so he
started doing it, and they had a "dance off" lol