Finding Solitude in Desolation Wilderness

It’s the perfect time of year to head into Desolation Wilderness. It’s hot enough to make those high alpine lakes worth jumping in, and the summer crowds are starting to thin as schools get back in session. This Adventure of the Week comes from my own repertoire – a trip Chris and I took to Half Moon Lake last year. This year’s Desolation adventure is still in the works.

WHO: TMS web editor Lis Korb and her boyfriend, Chris

WHAT: Hike to Half Moon Lake and Jacks Peak

WHERE: Desolation Wilderness, CA

WHEN: August 2009

GEAR: 2-person tentChaco Flip EcoTread Sandals for hanging out at camp, Snow Peak GigaPower Stove and Snow Peak Trek 1400 Cookset for cooking our oatmeal and coffee for breakfast and pasta dinner


When we set off from the Glen Alpine trailhead at Fallen Leaf Lake, we weren’t even sure where we’d end up. Lake Aloha was an obvious choice, but we wanted to really feel alone so we headed for the less-beaten path to Half Moon Lake (about 5.5 miles in from the trailhead). It’s a dead-end trail, so most thru-hikers pass right on by it. There was one other solitary camper that night, but that was it. And we had a whole lake to spread ourselves out on. We picked a lakeside spot on the south end and set up camp.

The next morning, we decided to stay put at our desolate oasis and just headed up the closest mountain cross-country. It wasn’t the cleanest hike, but it sure is fun to go where not many have gone before! We summited Jacks Peak (9856 elevation) via some crazy talus and were treated to some stellar views of sprawling Lake Aloha and Heather Lake to the south and our campsite to the east.

Me on the last leg of Jacks Peak, with Lake Aloha and Heather Lake in background

Half Moon Lake and Alta Morris Lake

We hiked down between Jacks and Dick’s Peak alongside a trickling stream and then cooked up a good meal alongside our new squirrel camp friend. Can’t wait to go back soon!

Each week, Tahoe Mountain Sports takes a walk (or hike, bike, ski, surf, climb) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

I'm Tahoe Mountain Sports' web editor and a 6-year Tahoe resident. Yep, I live the life, with a lake view from my desk, lunch breaks on the beach with my dog, and morning powder runs when the snow's good. I ski, snowboard, skate ski, and cross-country ski in winter, and hike, mountain bike, backpack, and lay around on Tahoe's beaches in summer.

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