Desolation Wilderness

Subject: Desolation Wilderness & Old Indian tricks Desolation Wilderness California -Loon Lake, Pleasant Lake, Lake Winfred,Buck Island Lake, Rockbound Lake, Fox Lake, Rubicon Reservoir, HorseshoeLake, Lake Zitella, 4Qs Lakes. 30 miles-3 days-Rating 9.0Hope all had a nice Labor Day weekend-Returning to work, and watching someof my stocks tumble make me wonder why I left the Wilderness.I left the insanity of the LA airport on Friday afternoon and arrived inOakland after just an hour's delay on Southwest. While waiting and watchingthe mob scene, America West announced the cancellation of the flight that Inormally take to Phoenix on Friday afternoon. This flight has now been canceled three weeks in a row. The seduction of liberal AW miles and firstclass travel continues to cloud my judgment in the selection of carriers.My good friend and hiking partner Hannu, was waiting for me at the airport.Hannu is a world class orienteer and he had a plan to avoid to glut ofLaborDay traffic on I80 to Sacramento. He had mapped out a backroad routethroughthe Sacramento River Delta. In Antioch we enjoyed a great Pizza and severalSierra Nevada's to help us find the way down the Delta. The route was quiteconfusing and difficult to follow in the dark, but the great one pulled usthrough and we arrived at James Cabanas's home in Roseville at 10:30 P.M.James has cold Coronas waiting for us to further help us dehydrate goinginto the mountains. We spent the evening at James's and then headed up 50toLoon Lake where we would access the Desolation Wilderness from the West.There are nine points of access to the Wilderness. The Eastern points ofaccess are extremely congested due to their proximity to Tahoe.I have entered the Wilderness from seven locations, but had not tried theLoon Lake trailhead. This is my personal favorite for backpacking. Over thepast 11 years I have trekked to 60 of the 100+ Alpine Lakes in thisWilderness.The weather report promised rain on Saturday, partially clearing Sunday andMonday. It was raining at the trailhead when we arrived and we talked to avery cold guy whom had just gotten out of the Wilderness. He and hisequipment were totally soaked. "You have to be crazy to go in there, it ismiserable- we woke to four inches of snow at Rubicon." "The stream andrivercrossings are treacherous; I wouldn't try it if I were you." At this point,Hannu badly wanted to go to a nearby lodge for beer and burgers to wait outthe storm. When he heard "lets go!" he let go with a long string of cursesin the Fin tongue, but eventually put on his pack and lead the way.We met a couple of groups of three on the trail, soaked and miserable;drivenout by the weather. This did not cheer Hannu up, but his need to navigateandsteer kept him moving toward our destinations. The fog and clouds were solowthat we could not see 10 ft. in front of us.The good news turned out to be that we did not see anyone for three days!This was truly amazing as the Desolation Wilderness normally would be usedtocapacity on Labor Day.About seven miles in we came to one of the crossings that we had beenwarnedabout. A 50 ft. wide thundering swollen stream blocked passage to Rubiconreservoir.It looked about two feet deep and the force and water temperature was ofconcern.We elected to take off our boots and socks rather than thoroughly soakthem.It was at this point that Hannu elected to "toss" one of his boots acrossthestream over El Lobo's objection. Hannu is a world class orienteer but neverpitched for the Yankees nor attended an outdoors survivor school. His throwwas misguided but made it across-barely. "Great Hannu, now what if we don'tmake it across" -Hannu then decided to improve upon his last pitch andthrewhis second boot into the rushing water!James and I watched in horror (and glee) as the boot barely caught anobjectclose to the bank while traveling downstream. Hannu forgot about his coldfeet and barefooted across to rescue the boot, almost falling and goingdownstream.James and El Lobo made it across stream without incident, aided by Tevasandwalking sticks.On the other side, El Lobo tried to teach Hannu an old Indian trick -to dryyour feet with a bandana, but Hannu did not want to be taught old Indiantricks. In fact, throughout the trip, Hannu refused El Lobo's wisdomregarding "Old Indian Tricks."Perhaps he had learned that some of these "Old Indian tricks" were passedonfrom Steve Yahner, or he felt that these were only TRICKS used by El Lobotoobtain Hannu's stash of candy and treats?The wet backpacker at the trailhead had told us about a great camping spotatRubicon and we easily found it in an area that offered us some protectionfrom the elements.We experienced another scare that night, when about 2:00 A.M. we heard twoblood curdling screams coming from Hannu's teepee. We wondered if Hannu hadbeen dragged off by a bear, but were too cold to check if he was stillalive.The next morning we found an alive Hannu and when we inquired about thescreams he sheepishly mumbled something about BIGFOOT?The next day we elected to go cross country to some of the natural lakes inthe higher altitude. Rubicon reservoir is part of the Sacramento watersupplysystem. Where's the Monkey Wrench Gang when you need em?Hannu took us on a great Overland route to Horseshoe Lake and Lake Zitella.He did a great job and we would not have been able to find them withouthim.The hike was a bit treacherous as streaming water was everywhere on thegranite that we had to climb. Their were beautiful waterfalls and weclimbedto the altitude where the snow had stuck.We had numerous river and stream crossings on the way back that werenegotiated without incident. Hannu kept his boots on.Cold winds would periodically chill us to the bone. They sounded like a jetsoaring through the Wilderness.The next day the weather started to clear and we were able to get gorgeousviews of the lakes on our way out.We showered at James's and wolfed down Pizza and Fosters at a localestablishment before heading back to the bay area. Hannu again took theDeltabackroads and did an excellent job getting me there in time for my plane.Ifwe would have taken I80 we wouldn't have made it.Thanks to James for his hospitality.James is a solid, skilled outdoorsman and excellent with the camera. Asusual, he did not receive any demerits on the trip. He put together thetrip,provisioned it andprovided a calming influence to the group.This turned out to be a fantastic weekend. Great company and the best ofWilderness. I rated this a 9.0. It would have received a 9.9 if the weatherwas a little warmer and all lakes remained natural.I arrived back at Marina Del Rey in time to clean up my gear and enjoy thehottub.Gerry spent a nice weekend visiting her family and taking in a game at PACBell Stadium in San Francisco. Her comments on the game and stadium. "Itwasthe best!" I like it when Gerry is happy!Next weekend in Scottsdale preparing for the Mother of all adventures-GrandCanyon Colorado River trip.

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