My wife and I spent three days in the Yosemite backcountry last week. Here’s a short trip report. (Note: the trip came before the Ferguson fire; conditions in regards to air quality have changed.)
We began day one with a three-hour drive to Tuolumne Meadows to pick up our wilderness permit, and to park our car on the dirt road next to the Lembert Dome parking lot. Then it was YARTS to the valley, followed by a short walk to the Yosemite Lodge, and a bus ride to Glacier Point. We didn’t intend to walk to the Lodge, but the shuttle buses were all so packed with people we couldn’t get on them. We didn’t stay in the valley long enough to get a sense if things have gotten better with Aramark managing instead of Delaware North, but packed shuttle buses (due to a reduced schedule) isn’t indicative of good things.
We began walking at about 3 p.m. The timing was not optimum, but we didn’t intend to do many miles on day one anyway. As is usually the case, despite the fact that the valley was crowded, as well as Glacier Point, after five minutes on the trail we felt like we were almost alone in the wilderness. Well, except for that big rattlesnake eating a squirrel!
Believe it or not, this is the first time in all my years in the Sierra Nevada that I have seen a rattlesnake. Fortunately, it was busy eating and was uninterested in either of us.
After a great night near the banks of Illilouette Creek, we were off the next morning for the top of Nevada Falls along the Panorama Trail.
That evening we camped at Sunrise Creek. Joining us at the campsite was a youth group of at least twenty kids (and two guides) ages 12 to 15. It was great to see kids of this age in the woods; I would have guessed that for many it was a first trip. It wasn’t so great hearing their enthusiasm well into the night, but I guess that’s a small price to pay for another generation who will hopefully appreciate the wilderness.
On day three we hiked from Sunrise Creek to Tuolumne Meadows. Three days, thirty-something miles, and a great trip. Here are a few more highlights:
The wildflowers were amazing. Once we mistook a field of lupine for a pond because the plants were growing so densely. At another spot a huge field of lupine, at a distance, looked like a purple fog.
The wildlife was out in force; we saw just about everything except a bear, including marmots (posing for treats), deer (up close), coyotes (playing in the meadow near Sunrise Camp), the aforementioned rattlesnake, and – by far the most exciting – a mountain lion. He or she was no more than 18 yards from me and appeared to be about 60 pounds. I’d guess the cat was an adolescent considering the size and how flawless the fur was. That is a first for me; I’ve never seen one in the wild. I should note that the mountain lion showed absolutely no interest in either my wife or me, despite the fact we were making enough noise that it must have known we were there. Sorry, but the encounter was so quick that a photo was impossible.
We put our mosquito head-nets on once, and used a little DEET once, when we finished the trail near dark on the last day. Overall, the mosquitos were not bad. We had no problem with them at either campsite in the evenings or mornings.
Water was plentiful. I would say that Sunrise Creek has at least a few weeks of water left.
I zipped up my 20 degree sleeping bag once, at about 5 a.m., on the first night at 6,000 feet. The second night it stayed open all night. We got some rainshowers the last day, which felt great.
Not all wilderness adventures need to take weeks. This was three days well spent!
Good hiking, Ray