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Re: Tuolumne Peak

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Tuolumne Peak
August 20, 2014 07:52PM
We were able to get away for the weekend to re-visit a favorite place--and test out our new boat.

We started from the Snow Flat/May Lake trailhead, but were soon enough past the High Sierra Camp crowds. In fact, I think we saw five people total from when we left May Lake until we returned--impressive given that we could see the majority of Yosemite from our campsite.

May Lake Photosynth

The southern half of the Mystery Trail is still in remarkably good shape, undoubtedly due to use from the High Sierra Camp and people bagging Tuolumne Peak. The small creek crossed after the initial downhill was still flowing, and there was a trickle in the smaller stream that the trail follows to the saddle.



Once at the saddle we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the views. The sky was crystal clear, but we could see a fire burning just north of Cathedral Creek.

Mystery Saddle Panorama

The northern segment of the Mystery Trail gets much less use; there are a few overgrown sections just past the saddle, and several major deadfalls towards the bottom. These obstacles made following the trail tedious. Without them it would be a wonderful trail to hike up or down; as with the southern segment, the trail is well-engineered with long, gradual switchbacks.



Still we managed mostly to stay on or near the trail, and rejoined the Ten Lakes trail right where the redundant trail signs are; the junction would have been between them. Since we know where the trail starts and ends, the only real mystery about the Mystery Trail is: why was such a well-constructed trail abandoned?*



We made slow and steady progress to the Tuolumne Peak tarns; JKW was recovering from a recent illness and I was feeling the effects of having given blood earlier in the week. We eventually reached the "pass" where the trail crests.



We opted for the more private upper tarn to take a swim and test out the boat.



We had decided to camp up higher to have better views of the Cathedral and Clark Ranges, so we packed up the boat and hauled water to our camp. The views were worth it.



There was a surprising amount of smoke in the South Fork/Ten Lakes area.



The smoke resulted in an odd sunset as parts of the Cathedral Range were lit with light filtered through the smoke, while others weren't.







Even to the north the haze from the smoke was visible.



Fortunately, the nighttime sky was crystal clear--it seems we saw more stars that night than we did on any night of the JMT.



After a lazy (no 5:00am wakeup call!) start the next morning, we decided to return via Tuolumne Peak.



We took it easy--there was no need to rush--and eventually reached the summit.



The views from Tuolumne Peak are at least as good as those from Hoffman, especially since the view to the north isn't blocked. We could see most of Yosemite, but also could not see anyone else; only in a few places around Tuolumne Meadows could we see hints of civilization: a few sections of the Tioga Road, the roof of the store/grill, the septic ponds.

Tuolumne Peak Panorama



After a snack and just taking time to enjoy the scenery, we headed back down to the Mystery Saddle. After dropping a bit from the summit, the travel was mostly straightforward.



Judging by the number of footprints in this area, it's clear that Tuolumne Peak is a popular peak-bagging destination; fortunately, the only signs of this popularity were footprints in sand.



We chose not to stop again at the saddle--we wanted to take a final swim in Tenaya Lake, so we were soon descending the nice switchbacks of the southern segment of the Mystery Trail.



We saw our first hikers of the day at May Lake; there would be a steady stream of camp guests and day hikers all the way back to the car. Once there, we packed up and headed to Tenaya Lake, where we were fortunate to find a parking spot near the lake. The water was cool and refreshing--the perfect, relaxing end to a relaxing trip.

More Pictures



* Current hypothesis: the trail was constructed when the Tenaya Lake HSC was relocated to May Lake to provide a direct route between these lakes, but this route proved to be less-than-optimal due to snow north of the Mystery Saddle resulting in it being impassable to stock even after Glen Aulin and May Lake were open. With much more dynamite, the current Raisin Lake trail was created--it stays lower and is generally snow-free much earlier than May Lake itself--except for the short segment between the Murphy Creek and Ten Lakes trail junctions.
Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 20, 2014 08:47PM
I have been seriously bummed since the JMT. I was tired the first week after getting back - to be expected. Weird how you feel fine on the trail day after day, but you get home, and it hits you the day after... I have read about this weird phenomenon from PCT hikers who take some time off trail. What I didn't count on (but wasn't surprised with) was getting hit with a stupid cold that initially seemed innocuous. And I stupidly thought I would be fine backpacking the weekend 5 days after coming down with symptoms, which had seemed to disappear after 3 days... I realized I was still tired... but didn't give all the signs enough respect and well, left Chick-on and Old Dood hanging in Sequoia on what was supposed to be a joint trip to Moose. I finally cried uncle (and was almost crying) when I realized the congestion had returned with vigor and I was bone-tired and unable to even lift my backpack at the trailhead! Ugh. Talk about epic fail. Basilbop had driven all the way out the night previously, and had to drive me all the way home, and I slept that day, the next and the one after that too! Basically took it REALLY easy the remainder of the second week of cold, third week after JMT! Ugh! All the gains from daily hiking, gone, gone, gone...

So, we decided on an "easy" trip for me to get me back on my feet. I kinda wondered when Tuolumne Tarns turned into an "easy" or "recovery" hike. But, well, going slowly enough... I did make it! Felt like it was easily the hardest darned trip all year, the most work, the most downright difficult. I felt my heart pitter-patting like no other trip. So I just had to go slow enough to make it work. And it did, thankfully.

One rant: The tarns are over 9600'. There should be NO fire rings. And old fire rings had NEW charcoal in them, and I swear there was a new ring I didn't recall from a previous trip. I'm getting seriously tired of this fire ring garbage. Seriously? Why can't people follow the very simple backcountry rules? And don't tell me it's because they didn't know the elevation. What are you doing hiking out there without a map? Grumble. Okay, back to rambling...

Yes, you may laugh -- or giggle as one pink bird did when he found out the TARN was our "maiden" voyage, but you gotta start somewhere! And given how tuckered I was, I didn't want to take any risks and I think it was the perfect place to get to know how to deal with the little boat.

Anyway, I learned how to get in from shore fully dressed and not get wet. I learned how to get the clothes off and get into the lake (of course I had to swim) without swamping the boat. And I learned it's a lot of fun to just float about. The hand paddles worked well and the boat was incredibly easy to maneuver. Obviously we had still water which made things much easier. But I built up my confidence and I'm looking forward to taking it up a notch next trip... which was SUPPOSED to be this upcoming weekend (since I came home feeling much better than before I'd left), but I tweaked my back (again) yesterday and I'm probably out for a couple of weeks, at minimum. WHICH IS A TOTAL DRAG!

On the 5 people, two of them hardly counted as we only heard their voices in the distance and saw them briefly on our way over the saddle on day 1. They were coming down from a day trip up Tuolumne Peak, I guess. I was so sure we were going to have company on the trail or at the tarns, but we had it all to ourselves. And the weather was so nice... It was so quiet and peaceful that night... too nice. Hard to sleep. I kept staring at the stars, watching shooters, satellites, etc. Light breeze, no dew, warm. Quiet. Jeez.

I had thought about taking the "easy" way out, but that was only going to save me a thousand feet of climbing (which I figured was good exercise) and save me only 300 feet of descent, which I figured was mostly just abuse, so up and over the peak we went on the way out, and I'm ever so glad we did. So scenic. And, oddly, no one til May Lake. I'm very okay with that.

Tenaya was lovely. I think it's becoming a mandatory part of any trip that ends anywhere within a half hour drive of it. Gotta build time into the schedule to cool off and soak there! Though the water was noticeably lower than earlier visits this year, it still seemed refreshingly cool!

Anyway, I was jazzed after the trip.. and then yesterday. Sigh... but walking is my main therapy for my back, so I'll be out there again, hopefully soon...
Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 28, 2014 11:27AM
I hope health returns to you soon.
Re: Tuolumne Peak
September 02, 2014 06:20PM
Thank you! This was a new injury to me. I stupidly hefted a heavy item the wrong way. I know better. And something new happened. Okay, reminder to always stay focused. And now I have new exercises to put things back to rights without needing any assistance! Yay! Got through a nice camping trip this past long weekend and am hoping a short overnight will go well this wekeend. Oh yah, can't get enough of sleeping in the mountains.. even though the fog seems to be coming in nicely tonight, thankfully! smiling smiley
avatar Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 21, 2014 09:02AM
Another nice trip and report! It's amazing how much time you guys spend out and about, I'd say I'm jealous, but really I just need to make it more of a priority. Thanks for the photos and report and JKW I hope your back feels better.
Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 21, 2014 09:41AM
I know my back will get better again. I originally injured it in my 20s, and in learning how to fix it and help it, I learned how to hike and realized how much I love hiking....

And yes, for us it was prioritization... We don't go to shows, movies or other events. We stream stuff during the week when we can, so we aren't totally out of touch with pop culture... And we keep up on the news... But we gave up the track and our active roles with the car and astronomy clubs and other distractions. We have decided our favorite form of entertainment is hiking and backpacking and camping. Our friends have changed somewhat over time as well to fit. And I don't regret it a whit. I crave being out there for many reasons... It's taken a while for us to get this far, but it's definitely been a steady progression. The mountains have been one constant in both of our lives since birth. We didn't realize how important they were to us until we grew up some.. Any weekend at home is generally mellow and about resting and maintaining our gear or rummaging about for new toys. Finding others similarly "obsessed" has made it seem normal. Our happy normal.
avatar Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 22, 2014 06:36AM
Quote
JustKeepWalking
I know my back will get better again. I originally injured it in my 20s, and in learning how to fix it and help it, I learned how to hike and realized how much I love hiking....

And yes, for us it was prioritization... We don't go to shows, movies or other events. We stream stuff during the week when we can, so we aren't totally out of touch with pop culture... And we keep up on the news... But we gave up the track and our active roles with the car and astronomy clubs and other distractions. We have decided our favorite form of entertainment is hiking and backpacking and camping. Our friends have changed somewhat over time as well to fit. And I don't regret it a whit. I crave being out there for many reasons... It's taken a while for us to get this far, but it's definitely been a steady progression. The mountains have been one constant in both of our lives since birth. We didn't realize how important they were to us until we grew up some.. Any weekend at home is generally mellow and about resting and maintaining our gear or rummaging about for new toys. Finding others similarly "obsessed" has made it seem normal. Our happy normal.

Ah, astronomy is not a distraction. It is my nighttime mistress thumbs up
Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 22, 2014 09:10AM
It has cost me a good bit of sleep, of late! When I should be sleeping, recovering from a good day's hike, I'm wide-eyed and soaking it all in... Grumble... We may not be active in the club, but yes, still in love...
Re: Tuolumne Peak
August 22, 2014 04:05PM
Great report and photos! Thanks.

That is one of my favorite neighborhoods....
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