The snow is really starting to melt now, which means I have great access to the western side of the Utah mountains, which is my favorite side. Eastern-facing mountains in the SLC area have foliage more reminiscent of desert brush and offer less dramatic landscapes. The western sides however have dramatic peaks, rocky outcroppings, lush forests.. overall they’re much more beautiful.
My dad and I went out to check out Desolation Lake, and I’m glad we did. We hiked together for a while and eventually split up so we could hike at our own paces. He does well, but there’s a very clear division in our speed. Which is fine, we don’t have to walk at the same rate, we just have to do the same miles.
The trail was really crowded, which was a bit of a surprise because this trail is listed as lightly hiked. The first leg of the hike was spent walking for a bit then pulling off to the side to let people pass, hike some more, pull off, etc. Also dodging mountain bikers, which was always a little unnerving since they rode without inhibition. At least they were nice instead of being total jerks about having to share the trail, which I’ve run into in the past.
As I gained elevation I started going deeper into a growth of Aspen trees which was monumentally awesome as Aspens are my favorite tree hands down. Then I’d pop up onto a ridge, down into a clearing here and there, etc.
As I got near the top I ran into a guy who took an interest in my backpack, thinking it was a Hyperlite. He apparently knew the owners of Hyperlite and was around when they started the business. Small world. He asked if I was camping out for the night, which stung a little bit because I really wish I were able to, but I’d taken an extra shift at work and needed to be back home that night. That wish became all the more intense when I reached the lake.
Tucked in a bowl below a great peak and surrounded by grass and clusters of pine, Desolation Lake is probably the coolest lake I’ve been to. I looked around the rim of the lake and took note of excellent camping opportunities, wanting to come back sometime soon for an overnight trip.
I walked along the shore for a bit to get away from the crowds, stomping on snow and weaving through/over fallen trees for a bit of quiet. As I sat there I noticed some people setting up their foldable kayak and paddling around the lake. Then I heard the buzzing of a drone following said kayak around. They paddled around briefly, got some footage, returned to shore, and did it all over again. They weren’t really just kayaking around the lake for the sake of it more than it was to get some footage, which is fine but seemed a bit funny to me. I spent a while laying on the shore looking at the clouds blow overhead, but the buzzing of the drone was kinda killing the mood so I walked back to the trail and went uphill a ways to chill at a campsite with a great overlooking view of the lake.
I sat there for a bit longer then decided to walk back down to find my dad and see if he intended on making the final push up to the lake. As I hiked down some hikers informed me of where he was: He was on the very last 1.9 mile stretch up to the lake, and when I met up with him he probably only had a mile left to go and was up at 8,500+ feet of elevation. It was getting late so he didn’t make it up to the lake, but considering the elevation and the fact that the trail was nothing but uphill the whole way, I was really impressed. He’s making huge improvements and I feel confident in hiking the AT with him more and more. We’re gonna up the intensity and try for a hike every other day, it’d be good for both of us.
This hike is pretty representative of why I’m working on a route through the Utah mountain ranges. More and more I’m starting to think this is what I’m gonna do next year, but plans and situations change. We’ll see! I think it would be a great adventure.