Backpacking Desolation Wilderness – Middle Velma Lake

Details: Middle Velma Lake – Desolation Wilderness

Trail Head At: Bayview Trailhead Campground, South Lake Tahoe

Length:  10 Miles

Elevation Gain: 2100 Feet

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This was our first time backpacking Desolation Wilderness in South Tahoe and we absolutely loved it! We took a long weekend, hiked to Middle Velma Lake, and were blown away by the alpine lake dotted with fir tree covered islands, sparkling crystal clear waters, our own private swimming cove, and violet sunsets.

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We made our first stop at the bright green Granite lake for some water and a little break. We drove up right after work, spent the evening sleeping in our car and woke up bright and early to hit the trail head, because we wanted to make sure and beat any possible crowds. Truthfully, we were pretty exhausted. We didn’t get to the campground until around 9:30pm (partly to blame was the half hour it took in the drive through at InNOut,) so we had enough time to change into our jams and then crashed out. Oddly, BayView Campground doesn’t have any potable water, so we had to fill at Granite Lake.

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How are these magenta wild flowers? ❤
Purple Wildflowers at Middle Velma Lakes Trail
Are these mountain bluebells dotting the paths? Welp, that’s my guess!

Our Campsite and own Personal Swimming Cove

We found a gorgeous campsite right on the water’s edge, and had the most wonderful time swimming in the crisp take-your-breath-away refreshing waters, swimming to the little islands, lounging on our rock in the sunshine and reading. We even had a mama duck and her babies share the cove with us, paddling around and leaping out of the water in ridiculous little cute flop movements, propelling themselves out of the water.

Our swimming cove - Middle Velma Lake
Check out our perfect lounge spot!

I don’t know about you, but I have to ease myself into cold waters. For me, this means standing in the water to my waist for about twenty minutes just shaking my head before going in. This trip, we decided to go for a morning swim, and as Brad was bout to dive in I just went for it and jumped. I think the latter is a much better way to go about things. Gives your body less time to acknowledge the frigidity and just feels more adventurous!

Islands at Middle Velma Lake
I love a good lake swim!
Perfect Camping Spot
Perfect Camping Spot

Mosquitoes were a little intense at night, so we just avoided them entirely by getting into our tent for dinner around 7:30pm. We lounged in our tent reading, taking in the woodsy lake view, and munched on veggie korma with salty ramen, and later creamy hot chocolates with trail mix Cliff Bars (my new fav).

I knew the sunsets were going to be spectacular. South Tahoe boasts amazing sunsets and I was really looking forward to this one at our mountain campsite. We were fairly worried about mosquitoes, especially as the sun went down after our massacre at Young Lakes, Yosemite but this was just fine, particularly near the water’s edge where the breeze kept them at bay. We slapped on some Deet and found a perfect spot on a flat rock outcropping to settle. We sipped our steaming coffee and Kahluas, as the sun set deep purple over the undulating lake.

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What I read: I read two great books this camping trip! The Guest List –  twisty turny mystery thriller in the vein of Agatha Christie, set during a glamourous wedding on a stormy island off the coast of Ireland. I also read Darkdawn, the third and final book in the Nevernight series, a rip roaring revenge fantasy, about an elite school of assassins and a woman on an epic quest of vengeance.

New purchase: We also absolutely loved our new sleeping pads, the NeoAir XTherm courtesy of my Aunt Bea, as an early anniversary gift. These pads are excellent – they kept us very warm (which, for me, is always a very pressing concern), they were comfy and well padded, and they weigh less then a pound! Great purchase.

Next up on the Hiking Blog – Kennedy Lake, Stanislaus National Forest!

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