Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pyramid Peak

Just got back from a great day in Desolation Wilderness. Ethel and I went and met Chase and his friend Andy at the Hancock cabin at Lower Echo Lake. I hadn't met Andy before, but he is an ultrarunner built like a football player and an exceedingly cool guy.

We knew from the get-go that it'd be a long day hike, so we made quick work of the hike from Lower Echo into Lake Aloha. After a break for a dip in the lake at the dam, we left the trail and started our cross-country adventure.

We made our way across the moonscape terrain and worked up the eastern face of Pyramid Peak. Scrambling over huge glaciated granite slabs, we crossed to the southern ridgeline and made our final push for the summit.

Up top, we were treated to this magnificent view:

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Lake Aloha from Pyramid Peak

While Desolation is seemingly devoid of non-tourist life, we did see quite a few little critters.

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Weathered woodchuck

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Andy filling negative space nicely

We descended the scarier ridgeline on the north side of the summit and crossed one of the season's last snowfields before arriving at the tiny lake visible at the bottom of that first picture. We followed the outflow of that lake downhill until it disappeared over the edge into a little corner I'd seen once before.

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Little hidden waterfall

Taking the opportunity for another snack break here, we relaxed while Chase poked around in the water. He found some frogs that he thinks are endangered and appear to be the Cascades Frog. Quite a rare critter to be living above 8000'.

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Sunning him (or her) self

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The pro at work

Just a few hundred meters later, we were off the slopes of Pyramid and in the greater Aloha basin.

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Over a couple big bumps of granite, we found ourselves at American Lake, just around the corner from the dam at Aloha. The draw for another dip in cool alpine water was too much to resist, and all four of us took the plunge. Big rocks overhang deep clear water here, prime for diving.

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Chase, performing the jackspoon

The sun was getting low in the sky, so we finished enjoying our reward and made the push back up to Haypress Meadows and down towards Echo. We walked into the cabin about exactly 10 hours after we started out; a solid day of hiking!

Chase's dad had arrived in the meantime and had a feast nearly ready. After a warm night, we hopped back in the little aluminum boat this morning, crossed the lake, and headed home. A short trip but worth every minute...

Past Detritus