Objective: Backpacking trip to explore Tuolumne Meadows & the Young Lakes
Date: 06/06/2014 – 06/08/2014
Location: Tuolumne Meadows, CA
Team: Connor & Sara
With a lot of summer schedule chaos, it was tough to get away this weekend, but we managed to squeeze in a quick backcountry trip. Although we’ve been to a few of the classic Yosemite areas, we hadn’t yet made it up to Tuolumne, the home of many must-do routes . So, we took off late on Friday with the goal of making it to one of the campgrounds just outside Yosemite. We ended up at the Sweetwater campground off CA-120. Despite the killer mosquitoes, it had everything we needed. There were available campsites (even with our 9pm arrival), and we had enough time to set up camp, eat dinner, enjoy a quick fire, and get some rest. It also put us fairly close to the park, so in the morning we only had to drive an hour or so to get into the park, get a backcountry permit, and get to the trail head.
We took off early Saturday morning around 7am and were able to get the permit needed, although there was quite a monstrous line at the ranger station when they opened. We started from the dog Lake Trailhead and enjoyed the moderate and meandering ~6 miles of trail up to the Young Lakes. Very different from the intense elevation gain and switchback-style start that characterizes almost every hike in the Cascades. The sights were fantastic: the domes of upper Yosemite and Tuolumne, the peaks of the high Sierra, streams, meadows, forest, the (always) bright blue California sky, and then the Young Lakes.
There were only one or two parties at the lower lakes. We were joined by one other party at the upper lake, probably because there was still quite a bit of snow, but there was plenty of dry land too and fabulous campsite areas. It felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Saturday evening, we scampered up a 4th class ridge that sits to the north of the highest lake. We watched the sunset and drank in some great views (and wine). Definitely worth the sketchy scramble.
Sunday morning we broke down camp early and headed up Ragged Peak to get a bit more exercise. We made it most of the way but snow and ice prevented us from making it all the way to the summit. We still managed to get some great views of all three lakes and Mt. Conness.
We made the trip into a loop by taking the west fork of the trail back to the trailhead (via Glen Aulin trail) just to maximize variety. This trail was more heavily forested so there were fewer views, but the shade was nice. All in all a solid weekend adventure. We definitely didn’t push it too much for a change, but we took in some awesome scenery and played with the new camera. This trip definitely secured Mt. Conness’s position at the top of the climbing agenda… Stay tuned.