Heading to the Sierras mid-October can be touch and go. Some years you get rain and freezing temperatures, some others weather is beautiful and crisp. This year was one of these lovely October days that make a fantastic trip!

The Saturday night and morning in mid-October at Wright Lake were pretty chilly – it WAS freezing and the morning preparations were making us wonder about our sanity going up to over 8,000 feet for the night. Will we be freezing and get into hypothermia during our sleep? Will we get the metal sticks of the tent stuck to our bare fingers?

Maud Lake

Getting breakfast and hot homemade cappuccino helped us decided to push on, especially with the rising sun was starting to warm us even more. We packed quickly, knowing darkness would come early this time of the year.

At 9 am sharp (well, almost – 9.20 am!) we were hitting the trail, slowly rising in elevation. We were quickly warming up, and some of our friends that were there for the day were coming up along with us. We got separated from our backpacker weekend fellows, but we met them again on a colossal granite slap. They were off trail but decided to keep up, and we were to meet over the next hill. The granite slap was going further up, and they had to scramble on boulders and over the ridge until we could meet over Maud lake.

Rockbound Pass

It was time for lunch, and we stopped on an overlooking rock offering sweeping views of the valley. We reunited with our day trip friends and discussed whether we wanted to stop and camp at Maud or push up over Rockbound Pass to Doris Lake. It was still early in the afternoon, and we still had several hours left of daylight.

Off we went – the trail up to the pass was not as bad as anticipated. Exposed but gradual, and not as windy as we thought it would be. We made it rather quickly and savored a few minutes at the pass before heading down to Doris Lake though we did not linger long as it was windy there. We were glad we decided to do so as the lake was much bigger than Maud Lake and had a less swampy feel to it. We found a sweet spot by the lake, with yet another one million dollar view of the lake.

View from Rockbound Pass

We set up the tent quickly, and after a quick clean up, decided to enjoy the late afternoon warmth by the lake, hot chocolate with Bailey’s! Could not believe the beautiful weather we were having and had the lake by ourselves – the joy of backpacking in early fall. Dinner was quite leisurely – the temperatures stayed nice and even if we had to cover up a bit more, we did not have to retreat to the tent soon after sundown. We staid out for a while, checking out the stars and chatting up along with our friends.

Doris Lake, Desolation Wilderness

The night was uneventful, no bear encounter, no freezing temperature (though the hot water Nalgene probably helped!), just a nice rest out. We took it slow in the morning and heading out around 10 am. We made it back to the trailhead in 3 hours and given it was so early; we went for lunch by Wright Lake. Again, no one around, just a couple of enquiring ducks eyeing our food.

Need a trekking gear checklist? Check our packing list!

Fall Colors


Definitely a great weekend, taking advantage of beautiful Sierras trails.


Miles: 12 miles in & out
Elevation: start 7,000 feet, pass 8,600 feet
Time: 6 hours up (inc. lunch break) and 3 hours down
Scenery: valleys, lakes, exposed and windy pass




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