Alone at Desolation Lake

Looking down from Piute Pass towards Piute and Loch Leven Lakes

Getting ready for the summer backpacking season I was excited to reach higher than 11,000 ft on this trip up Piute Pass near Bishop. The plan was to pack a heavy bag to get the feel of a multi-day trip on this 16.5 mile, 3000 ft gain out-and-back trip.

The trail gave views all day. Offering tons of granite and then a huge red streak of rock about halfway up towards the pass. Water was everywhere but there were no stream crossings so we kept our socks and shoes dry.

The red streak of rock among the granite

At the pass we received views of many granite fins and a wide open plateau. I was thankfully surprised to see no snow at this 11,400 ft expanse. Forward we marched after our 3,000 ft climb, past Summit Lake and then North towards the large Desolation Lake.

Fins on Fins on Fins of granite

With water comes mosquitos and they were out in swarms. Mostly they were kept at bay during the day but in any shade they attacked without abandon. Still, Desolation Lake was beautiful, surrounded by soft, spongy, peaty moss in this alpine environment.

Peaty moss trail on way to Desolation Lake

We settled in, with the entire lake area to ourselves in this, still pretty early season backpacking trip for the alpine. At the end of the night we caught the alpine glow of Mt. Humphreys. It beaming like a clay lighthouse sticking out of a sea of rocky waves 🌊.

Mt. Humphreys sticking out of the ridge (pre-alpine glow)

The night was cold with some frost but I didn’t feel it in the heavy extended season tent and 0 degree bag I had brought for weight and comfort. I was cautious of the alpine environment after being snowed upon on our last trip into the backcountry.

As normal the morning was uneventful… except being constantly bombarded by swarms of mosquitos 🦟🦟🦟. On the way down I felt my legs giving in, they were tired. My bag was floating on my back due to the amazing engineering of Osprey, but its contents were weighing me down.

Rocky trail back towards the pass

Inevitably, I made it to the trailhead. More tired than I expected to be, which was a good judge of my fitness for the season. In all, this was the best trip of the season yet!

The lakes up here were so clean and clear