I had the pleasure of guiding eight recent THS WildLink Club alumni on a crazy hike to Young Lakes out of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite June 8-10, 2015. This was by far the largest of the three gradpacking trips we've ever done and I learned very quickly that big groups don't always move as fast as planned - especially above 9000' of elevation.
We left Turlock (elevation 108') at 6am, ate a huge breakfast at Happy Burger in Mariposa, picked-up the student's gear from the great folks at NatureBridge in El Portal and made our way to the Dog Lake trailhead near Lembert Dome. We packed-out and hit the trail by 1pm. Looming over our hike was knowledge that the remnants of Tropical Storm Blanca was making a bee-line for the Sierras and expected to forcefully impact days two and three of our adventure.
The hike itself felt somewhat burdened by the knowledge that all of our efforts were only going to produce fleeting rewards. The gradient of the trail was moderate for most of the trail but seemed steeper than most trails I frequent in Yosemite's high country due to the fact that the trail was hemmed-in by view-obscuring trees for most of the trip. Meadows with a view were a rare and welcomed sight. We lingered for a good twenty minutes at Delaney Creek meadow looking at Mt Dana, Mt Gibbs and the Kuna Crest.
The trail soon entered another stretch of obscured, forested views that would not relent until reaching Dingley Creek. But when the trees finally relented - WOW! Epic views were had in all directions with the cumulus clouds adding a great deal of character to the scene.
From Dingley Creek it was another 1.5 miles to camp at Lower Young Lake... through more trees. We got to camp just in time to catch a few brookies for dinner and for me to take a few shots on my new D750.
The morning brought with it an epic blue-bird sky that quickly deteriorated into foreboding clouds. We lounged and fished until 8:30am and then hurriedly packed our gear and headed back down the Glen Aulin Trail. I was able to get a few nice morning reflections on the lake before I left, though.
We ended up beating the rain and finding a dry car-camp in Lee Vining Canyon where we enjoyed a nice campfire and many funny stories. The rain eventually found us at 6am the day we were leaving. After skipping breakfast and staying as dry as possible in driving rain we headed for Happy Burger and the best brunch a hungry hiker could hope for.
Ryan J Hollister - Geoscience & EnviroSci Educator, Avid hiker, Landscape photographer, WildLink Club Advisor, Central Valley Advocate.