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Desolation Death March, August 2002

Desolation the Hard Way:

Two full days of non-stop hiking under a blistering sun.  Nearly 26 miles of ground covered, most of it off trail with a full pack.  Over 11,000 vertical feet of climbing.  Eight summits visited.  Solo.  Sound fun?  Well, sort of, but only for those with a lot of tolerance for extreme suffering.  Read on . . .

The Idea:

For quite some time I have been toying with the idea of a "horseshoe" shaped trip along the highest ridges of the Desolation Wilderness, connecting most of the major 9,000'+ peaks in the area.  I also thought it would be more interesting if done in a quick two-day marathon (literally, it is about 26 miles in total).  With a few free days in August, I decided to give it a try.

My proposed route (see topo map) would take me from the outlet of Rocky Canyon on Highway 50, up to the summit of Pyramid Peak, then northward across the more lofty half of the Crystal Range, tagging the summits along the way.  From the top of Mt. Price, I would drop down to Lake Aloha and camp.  This was to be a warmup.  The next day would be much more difficult.  Starting with a climb of Jacks Peak, I would then traverse up and over Dicks Peak en route to Mount Tallac, descending down into the valley after summiting, then hiking back up to Lake Aloha, and, finally, ending it all with a long hike up and over Ralston Peak back to my car.

The Trip:

I jumped in my car early Thursday morning for the drive up to Tahoe, intending to hit the USFS Ranger Station in Camino by 8am to pick up my permit.  After getting through the red tape, I made it up to the Ralston Peak trailhead by about 9am.  I parked the car, shouldered my pack, and ambled my way back down the hill to the highway to hitch a ride to the Rocky Canyon bridge.  After about 10 minutes, I flagged a ride to take me the 2-3 miles down (yes, down) the hill.  At about 9:45am, I started my way up the faint use trail leading up Rocky Canyon, and the gig was on.

Click on the link below to see the photos and route description.


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