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Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf

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avatar Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 16, 2011 04:12PM
Spent all of last week (Aug 6-14) hiking between and around some of the High Sierra Camps. Our reservations changed many times prior to the trip due to the uncertainty of opening dates for Vogelsang and Sunrise. In the end we stayed at Tuolumne an extra night and did not get to go to Sunrise at all (which only opened this past Saturday.) Spent three nights at Tuolumne, two at Vogelsang, two at Merced Lake, and one at White Wolf; all in the HSC tent cabins. Weather was great the whole week, but it was quite warm for August in the mountains during the day, at night our 35-degree sleeping bags were more than adequate.

From Tuolumne we took hikes to Lembert Dome, and a side trip/hike to Lukens Lake. Both were nice hikes. Had dinner at Tuolumne Lodge one night (great service, not so great food) and at Whoa Nelli Deli in Lee Vining (great food, band, outside seating.)

From Tuolumne we hiked the 6.1 miles to Vogelsang via Rafferty Creek. One highlight of that trip was coming across a small area we are told is called "Shangri-La", and is located along the creek about half-way to Vogelsang. It was a perfect swimming hole with three small waterfalls and a beach. We were told that this diversion of the creek only happens for a few weeks each year, when the water is high, and typically much earlier in the springtime. The other highlight was experiencing the mosquitoes, which we encountered about the same distance into the trip. From that point until the day we left Vogel, the mosquitoes were terrible. Massive swarms at times. Needed full clothing with covered arms and legs and headnets... and lots of Deet. We used the 30% Deet spray and that was OK but needed to be reapplied about four times each day we were there.

Had some great sunsets and it was almost a full moon while at Vogel. For a long side hike we went over past Fletcher Lake, up to Townsley Lake and Hanging Basket Lake. Still quite a bit of snow around up there. Even had ice flows that had broken off and were floating ice bergs in Townsley. LOTS of mosquitoes up there, where it was still swampy near the edge of the water. Hanging Basket was not worth the climb to see IMO, except for the views back towards Townsley. From Townsley we crossed a plateau over and down to Evelyn Lake and then took the trail back over to Vogel HSC from there. Some snow on the trail back also. Still lots of bugs too. Staff at Voegelsang were great, and the food was good also. And we met some other great folks there too. We were told the mosquitoes were diminishing by about 50% each day, so perhaps they are gone by now.

Decided to get to Merced Lake via Vogelsang Pass and the Lewis Creek Trail. This was a spectacular hike and I strongly recommend it (as did others to me here on the Message Boards before I left.) Had to hike around some snow up in the Pass, but nothing too difficult to figure out. We also took the two mile up and back detour to Bernice Lake. Again, still lots of bugs all the way from Vogel through the Pass, down to the Valley and up to Bernice. Had lunch at Bernice while trying to navigate eating a sandwich through mosquito headgear... There is a huge waterfall along this route (Florence Creek I believe) that was simply stunning, and we had to jump and traverse across some portions of that waterway and along Lewis a few times. Boots were getting wet here due to the high water. We finally lost the massive swarms of mosquitoes about half-way to ML HSC along this route.

Merced Lake is always a fun place to stay and the staff there were also great. And we had great meals here too; possibly the best meal ever at a HSC the first night (French Pork Roast and potatoes!) They have a new chef and she is amazing! We shared camp with a few ranger-guided groups of hikers and the rangers provided some great info and stories around the campfires at night. Ranger Dave was especially engaging and had some great bear stories to tell. Some mosquitoes and other bugs (biting flies) here, but nothing at all like at Vogel.

Because Sunrise was not going to open we chose to hike out from Merced along the river to Happy Isles. Bunnel Cascade was awe-inspiring and the journey pleasant, but really warm all day. Again this trail was 14 + miles and grueling, but it was also a spectacular hike (until you get to the tourists at Nevada Fall...) From Nevada we took the JMT down to Happy Isles and drove over to White Wolf. We had staged a car at the Trailhead Parking to prior to leaving Tuolumne, so it was there waiting for us.

It was Saturday night at WW so it was steak night at the HSC. We enjoyed a great dinner there and departed the next morning after breakfast.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2011 04:20PM by Paris92.
avatar Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 16, 2011 04:41PM
Thanks for the detailed trip report. Hopefully you didn't get too many mosquito bites. It's amazing how bad the mosquitos are this year so late in the summer season. Usually be now (mid-August) they are a lot more manageable up in the High Sierra.
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plawrence
Thanks for the detailed trip report. Hopefully you didn't get too many mosquito bites. It's amazing how bad the mosquitos are this year so late in the summer season. Usually be now (mid-August) they are a lot more manageable up in the High Sierra.

The main places I've been nailed are on the fingers & a couple on the back of the neck.
I've heard nothing but high opinions on the Merced Lake hikes & Bunnell Cascades. I'm not particularly a lakes person, but Merced and Cathedral (U/L) Lakes are two in the "can't miss" category. I'll have to plan out a short version of your amazing hike centered around Vogelsong/Merced.

Thx for your report, cheers!
If you ever get to the Merced Lake area a great 6 mile out and back hike to Washburn Lake from the HSC is a good one. Did that hike two years ago and had Washburn all to ourselves for an afternoon. It is definitely one of the prettiest settings/lakes I have seen.
avatar Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 16, 2011 06:37PM
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Paris92

If you ever get to the Merced Lake area a great 6 mile out and back hike to Washburn Lake from the HSC is a good one. Did that hike two years ago and had Washburn all to ourselves for an afternoon. It is definitely one of the prettiest settings/lakes I have seen.


Did you know that back in 1920, they had "rowboats for hire" at Washburn Lake?

(And also at Merced, Tenaya, and Dog Lakes.)
I was looking at a Yosemite pamphlet that mentions row boats could be rented at Merced and May Lake; and a boat launch at Tenaya Lake. Also claims one of the staff "...is an "expert" fisherman, whose function is to teach guests how to cast and catch." In 1916 Bed/Breakfast/Dinner = $3.00/day. May Lake replaced Tenaya Lake HSC according to this book.
avatar Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 16, 2011 07:30PM
Mules!



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 16, 2011 10:42PM
BTW, you'll find a photo of Shangri-La ( One highlight of that trip was coming across a small area we are told is called "Shangri-La", and is located along the creek about half-way to Vogelsang. It was a perfect swimming hole with three small waterfalls and a beach.) on our recent post about Nelson Lakes and beyond...



Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
avatar Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 17, 2011 06:42AM
BTW, you can find basilbop's photo of that fall in two of his trips this year:

http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,41154
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,44216

Just saying wink



Chick-on is looking at you!
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chick-on
BTW, you can find basilbop's photo of that fall in two of his trips this year:

http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,41154
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,44216

Just saying wink

Thanks for the links/pics. I had missed those postings. Those are the falls!
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balzaccom
BTW, you'll find a photo of Shangri-La ( One highlight of that trip was coming across a small area we are told is called "Shangri-La", and is located along the creek about half-way to Vogelsang. It was a perfect swimming hole with three small waterfalls and a beach.) on our recent post about Nelson Lakes and beyond...

Thanks for the info. Your report and pics are awesome. Looks like we covered some of the same terrain.
Thanks for the report. We did a similar trip in reverse to what you did several years ago. I agree about hanging basket...not worth the climb. Also agree about ranger Dave...engaging. Too bad about the food at TM lodge. We always enjoyed eating there. Not so much so Woah Nellie Dellie...would rather eat at Nicely's in Lee Vining.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2011 04:00AM by The Other Tom.
avatar Re: Trip Report: High Sierra Camps - Tuolumne / Vogelsang / Merced Lake / White Wolf
August 17, 2011 06:45AM
Hanging Basket:
There are nice views of Townsley from der. And if you fish... well... you prolly wanna go up there...
since there are Cutthroat Trout in that lake.
From what I recall... nowhere else in Yosemite can you find them.

smiling smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
Just back from two nights at Vogelsang.

Tuolumne Meadows was crowded and over run with visitors, but the mosquitoes were very mild. You will notice the increase as you hike up the Rafferty trail.

We got a little lucky with the weather as a nice breeze was blowing on Sunday and Monday. This held the mosquitoes to a manageable level. On Tuesday, the weather was still once again and the clouds of bloodsuckers returned. I don't see the mosquito problem going away any time too soon.

Had an incredible adventure...Thanks to the HSC staff for taking good care of us!!!!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
We camped at Bernice on Aug 8 & 9 last week and found the mosquito population to be minimal. We scrambled up along Florence Creek / Waterfall to get to Florence Lake for a day hike, and again, few mosquitos.

But Boothe Lake and Evelyn Lake .... arghh. Those pesky mozzies are amazingly persistent.

Also, we thought it was pretty chilly at night. It was definitely below freezing on the night of the 10th at Evelyn; the tiny streams were beautifully frozen over in the morning.
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