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Young Lakes from Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite NP – August, 2005

Thursday, January 26th, 2006 by

This is about 900 years overdue. I went to Yosemite National Park, namely the Tuolumne Meadows area from August 5-7 2005.


I hiked a 3 mile, 1000′ elevation gain hike, then a 15.1 mi RT hike over the following two days with 1200-1400′ of gain, and it was every second of it glorious.

Joe and Erin and I went up to the Bay Area on a Thursday night and caused people to come over to nim’s. Friday morning, we picked up eli, and headed on out to Yosemite, hitting up Route 120. You get to olmstead point, and can look south into Yosemite Valley, which is just hot.

looking south

We got to Tuolomne Meadows campground then, and dumped our stuff, and the 4 of us decided to go on a little bit of a training hike, and we started on up towards Cathedral Lake.



elite squad of hikers!

Cathedral Peak, as seen from the trail

We headed about 1.5 miles up the trail, doing about 1000′ of elevation gain (starting at 8600′ or so). The rock stuff up there is just fabulous. But we were all (by which I mean mostly me) a little tired at 1.5 miles (which is where you hit the junction to actually go to Cathedral Lake), and it was looking a bit grey in the sky, so we turned around and went back down.

We chilled at the campground, and had dinner. At around 11 PM jen and nim showed up, and everyone pretty much went to bed. (That campground is huge. So many people! But not horribly laid out for all of that)

The next morning we all got up and dithered about a bit.

jen is cheery in the mornings

We basically got ready, then moved the cars across the road to the trailhead, and left extraneous things in the bear boxes at the trailhead, and then started on our fun hike.

Starting out across Tuolumne Meadows, with Lembert Dome in the background

We then turned at Soda Springs, and started more uphill through the woods. We passed a horse pack group, and just watched them go, then wended our way further upwards. Suddenly, though, you come through the woods and you are on this huge granite slope looking southwest wards, with the most amazing view of the Cathedral Range, or whatever those mountains are called. It was very New England-esque, with all the rock , really.

Have some panorama action!

We sat there for a bit, and then headed off. And promptly lost the trail. But after blundering in this field for a while, we managed to see some other people on the trail, and made our way over to it, and began a more upwards part.

Up and up and on and on. As Nim put it, “there is definitely less oxygen up here”, although those of us who had been hiking a bit the day before were having a little less trouble, so, that kind of advice is definitely useful.

Then it started to rain/drizzle.


But we persevered! And the rain, it slacked, and we continued on. We made it to this place where suddenly the trees stopped, as Joe put it “they forgot to put the trees in there!” which we later figured was the remnants of where the 4th Young Lake had been, back in the day, way way long ago. And then, suddenly, we were at the first lake!
We have arrived!

We walked along the lake until we found a reasonable campsite, and then just sat and decompressed a while.

the hat in the middle is standing in for me

We then decided to explore further up the chain of lakes. There are three in a row, each higher up than the last, along the one side of the mountains. The trail starts out pretty well, goes past the second lake, then as you approach the third lake, the trail just sort of peters out, and you are just trying to scramble uphill as best you can, finally just pulling yourself up over onto some grass, then walking across these hillocks and almost sort of marshy areas, when suddenly you see, flat in front of you, the third lake. It was so freaking amazing. One one side is the bowl of the mountain, but on the north side the world just seems to fall away under everything, and you feel remarkably on top of the world (well over 10k’ at that point). To the northeast is Mt Conness.

there were several of these “butt trees” around.


these photos just cannot do it justice


alpenglow on Mt Conness. Oh my.

The light was disgustingly amazing. I barely wanted to leave, but the mosquitoes did eventually convince me.

We made too much couscous for dinner, and just sat and talked, and then all went to bed. In the morning, we slowly packed up, and took a few photos before heading out.
this is possibly my favorite photo of the bunch, that is ragged peak, and the reflection in Young Lake.


Our intrepid explorers!

The trail down was actually different from the trial up, in that it is a semi-loop trail. So we got to see some new shiny stuff on the way down. Sadly, my camera battery gave up the ghost around this time. But, we went through this one meadow on the way down, and I am going to steal one picture from the trip from someone else to share with you (there are a bunch of other good photos there, too)

just doesn’t do it justice

Of course, then we made a wrong turning on the way down and turned behind Lembert Dome and ended up like 1.5 miles from the car. And I was grumpy, but Jen and Joe were better people than I, and went and got the cars, and we all packed up and went home (with Joe sadly having had some stuff stolen).

On the way down, through the east side of the park, through Inyo (I think) National Forest, we also had the joy of the most amazing thunderstorm on the way down, though brief. Wow.

All in all, an awesome trip.

3 Responses to “Young Lakes from Tuolomne Meadows, Yosemite NP – August, 2005”

  1. Beautiful! I was going to ask what camera you used, but then checked the EXIF data (PowerShot S200). Those little Canons have gotten amazingly good.

    I need to get out in the wild outdoors more.

  2. kilroi says:

    Yeah, the S200 is a surprisingly good (and durable) little camera. I have had some sadness trying to get nice low light photos and all that, the usual complaints with the ones like that. But my new 5 MP elph is arriving tomorrow. I’m psyched.

    We’re thinking Death Valley first weekend in March…

  3. Cool. Death Valley was great when Molly and I did the 2-hour version of it driving across the country. It deserved more time, though.

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