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Yosemite Wilderness July 2014


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Yosemite National Park, Ca July 5 – 13, 2014

Every summer the BSA group I’m with takes a High Adventure trip somewhere – this past summer we went to Yosemite National Park. We planned on hiking out of the Yosemite valley via the Yosemite Falls trail and following a rough loop that would take us into the Wilderness proper, stopping at Tuolomne Meadows for a food resupply, and back down into the valley via the John Muir Trail. Our trail plan had us stopping at scenic points of interest such as May Lake, Glen Aulin, Cathedral Lake, Cloud’s Rest, and Half Dome. We were very lucky to be able to score enough Half Dome permits so that everyone in our group had the opportunity to ascend that peak. We spent a total of 9 nights at Yosemite and covered approximately 76 miles of trail.

1st day – travel day – We flew in to San Francisco, drove rental vans to Yosemite, and spent first night in one of the valley campgrounds so we could get our packs and gear ready. I’ve never seen so many campers in one space – and I’ve spent my share of nights car camping in busy state parks.

2nd day – Despite rising early, we didn’t get to the trail until well past 10 am (had to pick up permits and bear vaults which took much more time than we had hoped). We hiked out of the valley via the dry and dusty Yosemite Falls trail with full packs – a very hard proposition – then took the Yosemite Creek trail north. Even though the ascent up the Falls trail was tough there were beautiful views and I took lots of photos. Our plan was to hike to the Yosemite Creek campgrounds but we ended up camping that night off trail near the Yosemite Creek.

3rd day – We continued on the Yosemite Creek trail, and cut thru the Yosemite Creek campgrounds to a trail we had planned on taking to Tioga Road. The resident campground host told us that trail was closed due to budget cuts, so we bushwhacked our way to Tioga Road. It was tough going, but well worth it since having to take the campground access road to Tioga Road would have added an extra 4 miles to our day. We made it to Tioga Road and followed it to Porcupine Flat campground where we spent the night.

4th day – This morning was damp and overcast, and it sprinkled lightly a couple times. We continued following Tioga Road to the May Lake trail head, then took that to May Lake and past. May Lake was majestic but cold, and the highest in elevation we had been so far on this trip. There were some spectacular views to the east on that trail coming down from May Lake, and the sun came out to warm us up. Once again, we spent the night off trail somewhere between May Lake and Glen Aulin near a creek.

5th day – We continued on the May Lake trail to Glen Aulin – the views and vistas were amazing. We reached Glen Aulin in the late morning. This High Sierras hiker’s camp has tents with beds and shower facilities for paying hikers, and a dining hall. Our original thought was to set up camp in the backpacker’s section here then day hike to Waterwheel Falls, but it was decided to just stick around Glen Aulin. The scenery was beautiful, and everyone really enjoyed the rest and recreation in White Cascade, the big waterfall, and the pool just below the falls.

6th day – This morning was bright and sunny for our hike from Glen Aulin to Tuolomne Meadows. We arrived at Tuolomne Meadows in the late morning, picked up our food at the post office, and had some lunch at the Tuolomne Grill. A burger never tasted so good! After distributing the food between all of us, we headed up the John Muir Trail to Cathedral Lake. This was a beautiful lake, serene and quiet, and the spires surrounding it blazed orange from the setting sun. We spent the night there, along with some other campers we saw scattered around the lakeshore. For me, just being on the JMT was awesome – I think I might have cried…

7th day – After breaking camp on this sunny day, we continued south on the JMT. Again, beautiful views to the south and all around us. We had lunch at the Sunrise High Sierra camp, where we saw storm clouds coming towards us across the mountain range. The rain never reached us, however, and we hiked on, dry and rain-free, to Sunrise Lake where we spent the night. Sunrise Lake was nestled in a little valley, and we saw several other groups of campers around the lake.

8th day – Another sunny day, where we followed the trail to Cloud’s Rest, up and over – I did not like hiking up with my pack – it felt too unbalanced and I don’t like heights. But this was the highest point on our trip at 9,931 elevation, and the views were awe-inspiring. We spent a lot of time up on top taking pictures and having lunch, then finally descended southward towards Half Dome. It was incredibly dry, and we were tired and cranky. We spent the night wilderness camping somewhere at the base of the Dome, near a natural spring. This was a High Bear Activity area, and I did not sleep well. I imagined that every noise, every sound was a bear rampaging through our camp. I slept with my trekking pole by my side.

9th day – Half Dome! We woke to a bright, clear sky. We ate a quick breakfast, broke camp, and hid our packs so we didn’t have to take them up the Dome. We reached the cables between 8:30 – 9:00. Everyone in our party, except 2, did the cables and made it to the top. I’m so glad I did it, but it was frightening– did I mention I hate heights? I just kept looking directly in front of me, and rested at each set of posts. On top – wow, what can I say? It was beautiful! I felt so grateful to be there – a Midwestern Scout Mom on top of Half Dome – who’d have thought? It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. Surprisingly, coming down the cables was easier. After we came down from Half Dome, we hiked down to the Little Yosemite Backpackers camp and spent the night there. We had some well-deserved fun swimming and playing in the Merced River.

10th day – This day dawned sunny and dry. We hiked down the Little Yosemite Valley Trail to Happy Isles. I slipped and fell a couple of times on the loose gravel covering the trail which is more like stone stairs – thank goodness my pack absorbed the shock. The waterfalls were pretty, but I was annoyed at the number of people on the trail, some of them were quite rude. This day was super-hot in the valley – we took a shuttle to our rental vans, then we were able to use the shower facilities, and eat some non-dehydrated food at one of the Valley grills. After that, we piled into our vans and left Yosemite for 3 days of sightseeing in San Francisco before flying back to the Chicago area.

The highlights for me were Glen Aulin, Cathedral Lake, Cloud’s Rest, and Half Dome, and being able to hike, even for a short time, on the John Muir Trail. Also, grabbing a burger at the Tuolomne Meadows grill – I was amused to see the menu had calorie counts next to the items. I would love to go back and spend more time in the Yosemite wilderness – it was fun!






















Edited by HikerJen
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Very nice report, sounds like a fantastic trip!

Loved BSA with my kids.

Gary M

Olathe, Kansas

Edited by Gary M
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Very cool HikerJen! I hate heights too! But I love the mountains. I would for sure go up the cables on half dome though. As long as I can hold on to something I'm ok.

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Very cool HikerJen! I hate heights too! But I love the mountains. I would for sure go up the cables on half dome though. As long as I can hold on to something I'm ok.

Yeah, Half Dome was awesome! I just took my time, kept my vision on the few steps in front of me, and before I knew it I was at the top. I am so glad I did it. I figured I had better try at least, or I would have regretted not trying forever.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Great trip report Jen! Really impressive views and enjoyed the read...Looks like quite a climb!

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