Some disjointed obversations after an interesting 3-day flog out of Wright's Lake, west of Tahoe.
Legalities and Logistics
-Permits seem impossible to acquire in person, at least from the Highway 50 corridor. And don't trust any signage telling you to get them at the other FS office N miles the other direction. There, the signage will tell you to try online.
-Self-serve day hike permits are not available at the trailhead.
-Bridge across Wright's Lake outlet is out.
-Rockbound parking lot and the road leading to it are closed, for no obvious reason. Perhaps for work crews cleaning up the closed campground. The overflow lots are open. They are full and cars circle hoping for somebody to leave. But this ain't Home Depot, so park along the road and ignore the no parking signs. Everybody else is. Same things at Lyons Creek.
-Trails are all open and little maintenance is evident, so downfall from winter presents obstacles. As is typical in shoulder season, the higher one goes the wetter it gets and many trails are still serving their springtime streambed function. North-facing cirques are still snowy and we decided to not cross Rockbound because intel from folks coming from there indicated the descent to Doris Lake would be more technical that we wanted and more to the point, our destination would be a swamp.
-Every brushy area contains mosquito clouds. And while all the ephemeral streams offer countless potential camps with solitude, we couldn't square that circle of flat area-water-few bugs. We ended above a creek on a ridge where they weren't SO bad but water access was really sketchy. Ten-liter raw water supply bag came in super handy.
-Cross country to a high lake (I won't name it) was going to be an either stay/go back to the car gamble. We arrived to a lovely sight: open water, snowy backdrop, strong breeze sweeping bugs away, solitude. The last didn't last and a large party arrived and were our company for the evening.
-The next day (Saturday) the floodgates opened and party after party arrived. It was a zoo and at one point a loud buzz announced a drone. Is this the new wilderness experience?
Heading out--down a very sketchy trail--we encountered many folks, including large families with very small kids and just daypacks. IDK what the heck they had in mind, luckily on the longest day the year they had plenty of daylight to burn.
-Continual stream of cars, campers, jeep thingies back at our "trailhead" roadside parking spot, in search of same. We could have auctioned our space. At least we weren't ticketed or towed. No idea if this was a typical summer weekend crowd or just folks desperate to get out of the house, but whatever they're doing in the basin right now doesn't include a formal campsite or running water.
Advice: call before hopping in the car, unless you thrive on ad hoc everything and navigating crowds of confused people. Nothing on the Eldorado Forest website has been updated to reflect this year's situation.