Backpacking California: Mountain, Foothill, Coastal, & Desert Adventures in the Golden State
Much of the Northern Sierra lacks the polished-granite glory of the Southern Sierra. Here in the north the peaks are lower, the vegetation generally denser, the views consequently fewer and shorter, and much of the terrain has been altered by volcanism. However, this little trip recaptures the Southern Sierra’s splendor in a granite basin of Desolation Wilderness. And it is a basin chock-full of lakes and ponds, offering far-ranging views over lovely Lake Tahoe and its beautiful satellites, Emerald Bay, Cascade Lake, and Fallen Leaf Lake. A layover day at one of the lakes mentioned for campsites would let you explore along the Pacific Crest or Velma Lakes trails, or just ramble through this basin as the fancy strikes you. Because the Southern Sierra is my idea of what paradise should look like, I remember my first visit to this area well. I’d been working on Hot Showers, Soft Beds, and Dayhikes in the Sierra in the Northern Sierra for some time and, lovely though it is, was starting to long for the great, lake-filled spaces and sharp granite peaks far to the south. As I suddenly came upon this lightly wooded, lake-rich, granitic countryside, my heart leapt at the sight, and I felt as if I were truly in the High Sierra once more!