Page 1 of 1

Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:07 pm
by mangomegan
We're heading out this week with our 2 kids (ages 12 and 9).

Planning to explore Lake Aloha and area, and hoping for some suggestions. We have three nights to spend.

Thinking maybe Waca Lake night 1; Clyde Lake night 2; Aloha night 3.

We enjoy granite slabs, but some shade is always appreciated. No fishing or swimming.

Curious also about Heather and Susie Lakes; trying to plan an itinerary with reasonable mileage for the kiddos (4-6-ish per day.)

Thanks in advance!

Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:18 am
by brianA
May I suggest a slightly different itinerary. The best, shaded, camp sites in the whole area are on the southeastern side of Aloha. It's also a beautiful area for sunrise/sunset pictures. I would spend all three nights there, and day hike to the other lakes with a lighter pack. Waca, Clyde, Heather, and Susie are all great day hike options from that centrally located site. Although Clyde and Susie will slightly exceed your daily mileage requirements (8 miles rt). This is a huge lake, and mileages add up quickly. The whole area is one giant granite slab, so day hiking will fulfill your every desire. My favorite slabs are on the north side of the lake. If you climb the slabs just short of where the PCT suddenly turns east, you'll get great views of Heather Lake and Mt. Tallac. If you're interested in a short climb from your campsite, at the crossroads of the little campsite trail, and the PCT, head directly east, and you'll run into Jabu Lake, one of my favs in the area. Lastly, and I can't recommend this enough, especially if you're backpacking. Take the water taxi from Echo Lakes. That little baby saved my life on two occasions, plus the kids will love a boat ride through the channel.

Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:54 am
by giantbrookie
Which way are you planning to get to Aloha by? via Echo L and the boat taxi? The Aloha base camp idea Brian suggested is a good option, certainly. If you camp in other places, I highly recommend Heather for its scenic beauty, and you have a variety of camping situations and options to choose from, including those that offer shade. Best options are on shoreline opposite the one with the trail (and those will offer you some seclusion). Speaking of which the "western options" such as Pyramid and Waca will also offer seclusion, especially since they no longer have fish in them (and won't attract fisher folks going off trail to fish plus or minus camp there), so they won't be visited as much as they were in the 1990s and before.

Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:57 pm
by paul
I like Waca the best, it's a slab wonderland plus there is some shade around. I would stay there all three nights and dayhike. Heather and Susie are nice to visit but not so many campsites. I have not been to Clyde lake, but that's not my cup of tea as far as camping, set back in that bowl as it is.

Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:40 pm
by mangomegan
Thanks for the replies--I really appreciate the input!

Yes, we plan to take the water taxi. It was the buy-in we needed with our surly tween ;)

We had considered base camping and day hiking. I think this option is sounding more and more appealing. The close proximity of all the nearby lakes seems to lend itself well to that idea. I had poo-pooed it only because it sometimes seems anti-climactic! But, hopefully, we'll get another trip in in September. Surly tween also has some knee pain lately, so day hiking with less weight might be the ticket for this trip.

Does base camping at Waca mean we will miss the classic Crystal Range views? I think it probably does. One more thing to consider. We also may have to leave it to fate, since we will be at the mercy of a walk-up permit on a Thursday morning. We had planned to leave today (Monday) but have been sidelined with a nasty summer virus...

Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:48 am
by SSSdave
mangomegan wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:40 pm
...Does base camping at Waca mean we will miss the classic Crystal Range views? I think it probably does.

Waco is too close to the Crystal Range for its full view plus the large lake is not in view. Anywhere along the east shore where the PCT routes has the classic trailside views. Take brianA's advice for siting a camp at the most centrally located zone for day hiking. However best views by far are where few bother to visit, well above the trail and lake edges along the east ridge well south of Cracked Crag. That way one sees the whole lake and the whole Crystal Range. The shadow on my image below is in fact that east ridge that keeps shore camp spots shadowed till about an hour after sunrise.


Just looked at the latest caltopo High Res that shows there is still a minor amount of snow along the Cracked Crag ridge that means small streams will still be draining down so one can camp up there and easily find a supply of clear clean water. Other advantages camping higher up on the east ridge are less mosquitoes versus at Aloha shores, no others nearby as few ever climb up above the trail, and spectacular sunrise views lighting up the Crystal Range orange. But kids will no doubt prefer to be next to the big lake so just hiking up at dawn is probably wiser. Shot the below image 3 days ago early Saturday morning. That is Susie Lake below. (mouse select to expand)


Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:36 am
by mangomegan
Awesome, SSSdave, that is great and detailed info! Much appreciated. We're planning to find the area you mentioned. Fingers crossed for a permit.

Re: Any spots to recommend near Aloha?

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:33 am
by SSSdave
Desolation Wilderness uses a zone quota system instead of simple trailhead system.


The Aloha zone is the most popular thus more difficult to secure. When all quota spots are taken, a strategy is to use a nearby less used zone. One must camp in that nearby zone the first night but then may camp in any other zones. The one I use is zone 42 Triangle because it tends to be ignored and then camp at its west end due south of Kieth's Dome. Use the caltopo map to clearly understand where that is. If one climbs up 200 feet above the PCT to the 8520 line, there are plenty of suitably flat spots to tent as well as draining snow streams towards Lake Lucille and will be less mosquitoes because it is more open timberline on better drained less wet slopes.