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Re: 2012 Yosemite Trip, Part 4 (days 6-8); Tuolumne Meadows, Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, Miller Lake, Matterhorn Canyon, Burro Pass

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2012 Yosemite trip; Part 1, Rockslides to Cascade Creek

Yosemite 2012 trip. Day 2: Cascade Creek to Yosemite Falls

2012 Yosemite Trip, Part 3 (days 3-5): YOsemite FAlls to Olmstead Point and May Lake

2012 Yosemite Trip, Part 4 (days 6-8); Tuolumne Meadows, Glen Aulin, Cold Canyon, Miller Lake, Matterhorn Canyon, Burro Pass

2012 Yosemite Trip, Part 5 (days 9 and 10): Slide Canyon; Mule Pass; Crown, Robinson, Peeler Lakes; Kerrick Canyon, Peeler Lake, Rogers Lake

2012 Yosemite Trip, Part 6 (days 11-13): Rogers Lake, Rogers Meadow, Pate Valley Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Waterwheel Falls, Le Conte Falls, Tuolumne Meadows

Aerial pics from plane of Northern Yosemite

Day 6: Tuolumne Meadows to Cold Canyon; Cold Canyon to Miller Lake, Miller Lake to Slide Canyon



We hit the trail in TM towards Glen Aulin with our ultimate destination for the day being a meadow in Cold Canyon near Elbow Hill. I'm not sure exactly where we stopped (haven't explored the GPS tracks yet), but it was definitely near this spot. We had never been north of Tioga Road before in the park and so this promised new and completely unexplored territory for us. Looking back across Tuolumne Meadows was itself beautiful.



We came to the bridge across the Tuolumne just before the beginning of the cascades (?) / Falls of Tuolumne Falls. I'm not sure if the entire series of Falls / cascades from here to Glen Aulin are considered Tuolumne Falls or just some particular section of them.


Upstream of the Bridge, the river is quiet.



Downstream it begins a descent out of TM on a journey towards the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne.



Additional views up and downstream from further down.





We arrive at a point just upstream from Glen Aulin which provides a great view both upstream of the falls and downstream of the final falls before Glen Aulin. The fun plunge of the river through this area made the hike very enjoyable and longer than perhaps it should have been as we stopped a lot to hang out and take it in. Of course, that is exactly what we should have been doing. As will be the case throughout the journey along the Tuolumne on this trip, I can never help but wonder what it would be like when the water level is at "normal" levels. It must be truly spectacular!





I have no idea what the little building is at the top of the final falls. It's a rather curious placement of a building. There were some kids up in that region sliding, it seemed, in the water, but I couldn't quite see from where I was standing the details of the area at the top of the falls they were "sliding" in. From where I stood, it seemed a little crazy.

The previous night in TM backpackers campground the campsite adjacent to ours was taken by a large group of boy scouts. One minute they were not there, and the next minute ( it seemed) it was tent city. They and their leaders provided entertainment for us until we departed the next day. The age of the boy scouts in this group was very wide. The dynamics of the whole thing was fascinating. The personalities of the leaders were also quite varied and observing the way they interacted with each other was also fascinating. I suppose it is required with such a group, but the level of regiment, scheduling, etc was intense. When they announced the previous evening that "blister clinic" would be at 7 AM at "that rock over there", I knew it was going to be interesting. In any case, they left TM before us heading, it turns out, in the same direction initially. So, it was funny when we arrived at this point on the Falls and saw all the people and realized, "That's our boy scouts!". They were everywhere having a great time! I can only imagine that these trips for them are life changing.

Boy scouts in blue shirts;



After resting a bit, eating, and filling up on water at Glen Aulin, we departed headed towards Cold Canyon. We asked the folks working there about the water levels in cold canyon and they really had no idea, so we filled up. It's a good thing we did. There was no water flowing in the creek at all. The only water was in isolated stagnant pools, which we decided to avoid. Our next water would be at Return Creek. The hike out of Glen Aulin was wooded for quite some time, and then it magically opened up into this great meadow. I love meadows. There is something magical and serene about them. In this case, we knew that we were close to where we would camp, and it was a good thing as light was growing dim.



That night, we thought to ourselves, "I know why they call it Cold Canyon". It was REALLY cold. The next morning when I poked my head out, I was frankly astonished: frost covered everything including my tent.




It was a beautiful morning in the Canyon:



We packed up and headed out, mindful that our next water was at Return Creek. On the descent to Return Creek, we had a strange encounter. First, we saw pack that was just dropped on the trail, but there was no person. We continued down a little more and there was another pac-like Item (can't remember exactly), also seeming dropped. Then a further along the trail we encountered a guy in his underwear who seemed somewhat incoherent and under the influence of something coming from the stream with a bottle of water. We tried to talk to him, but it was not really possible much. He was headed "out" to TM, but seemed to be lost. He said every time he headed up they trail it circled back around to where he is now. We promised him that heading UP will take him back to Glen Aulin and TM and then we departed. I"m not sure what we should have done, but the whole scenario was a bit awkward and the guy seemed unpredictable.

Here, the confluence of Return Creek and McCAbe Creek:



Originally we had planned to head over into Matterhorn Canyon for the night, but after talking to a couple other folks we passed, decided that Miller Lake would be a great stop. It was. It is a beautiful lake, with great campsites and views.







While we were setting up camp some guy came by who has been coming to Yosemite for many years, and asked us if we wanted to go with him to his "favorite spot" here which has great views. We told him we'd follow along in a few. And we did. It was a great spot! I'm not sure what I"m looking at in these pictures, but it is just east of where we were. The two photos are extensions of one another (one further north than the other).







The next morning was beautiful (as were all mornings on this trip!). I climbed up some rocks behind the campsite to get a better view.



We packed up and headed out towards Matterhorn Canyon. Soon we encountered the remnants of a fence / gate. I don't really understand how this was used in the past. I'm guessing stock was kept in this area but it wasn't clear what the boundaries were or why.



Matterhorn Canyon was STUNNING. The next two days are probably my favorites of the trip.





Somewhere along the way we passed an area where some folks appeared to have some sort of small, but longer term (longer than one night) camp. They had chairs and such. It was a cool little isolated area along the creek. It was also kinda odd to suddenly see several people when we hadn't seen any for some time. Heading up towards Burro Pass, the views are beautiful looking up and down canyon.









Finally we make it to Burro Pass and look off towards the other side. It's really beautiful up there. Just across the pass is a gorgeous Alpine Meadow (??).









We continued onwards anxious to find place that we had in mind to camp that night. Looking east, we see what I believe are the Finger Peaks.



This journey through the woods revealed some big-butted trees as well as a large area of downed trees that was difficult to get through (some were too large to go over, so had to go around, and they were TALL).





We were not sure exactly where we were going, but expected to find an open shelf with water adjacent, based on maps. Eventually, after heading back up, we came to a place that proved to be an awesome campsite. Water was available, though there was not very much in the stream and it was difficult to get to (required lowering water retrieval device on a rope and fishing for water). We could have explored further to find better access, but light was quickly leaving, the air was turning quite chilly and we needed to get camp setup. It was clear that this was a well-used camping area on this large granite shelf. Despite the altitude, there were numerous fire rings present. This picture is looking North in the last bits of light.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/09/2013 03:03PM by Frank.
Perhaps your mystery hiker was suffering from Twinkie withdrawl.
Perhaps. And sadly I did not have a Twinkie to offer. Or a zinger. I heard today that the Twinkie has been rescued, so perhaps there is hope for this "Twinkie-less in the Wilderness" suffering soul.
Good stuff.

Tanks for Sharon

All those logs were not cut when went thru there July 4th timeframe. Yummy
(actually... since don't care about the trail.. and wasn't going to Mule... no biggie)
All the gates are to keep the mules within a certain place... i.e. "they" don't tie
them up at night or really anytime... and if the mule decides it wants to go
home... it can only get so far.

Loch Tablae - boo!

Piute Mtn - the mountain immediately to the right when you are on Benson beach
is called Navaho. If you ever go back... you should climb that. Well... and
Volunteer... granite galore.

Muir Gorge - yes, one of your photos was of Muir Gorge
Now that you know... you may get a kick out of this:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,59839,59839#msg-59839

Glad you had a great time. Said this in the past... THIS is my Yosemite
Half Dome is great... but there is SOOOOOOOO much more
(and I love Half Dome)

Have fun in your future adventures
Warning: It CAN be Addicting

Regards



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2013 01:08PM by chick-on.
Thanks for the info! Yes, I remember your post about going through Muir Gorge last fall (and the swimming, and the bear, and the electronics, etc). I loved that post and thought it was fantastic that you had gone through there (including the swimming with a pack that was floating and thus probably pushing your head down towards water). It was then that I really began to wonder about the gorge, how one gets to it, is it passable to regular folks or just super Chick-ons, etc. When I was there in July, on that particular section the previous couple days had caught up with me and I was more focused on the elevation change than the gorge itself. Looking back through the pics, I thought that the one I mentioned was likely the gorge as it 1) looked like a gorge and 2) the traili was up and well away from the river, the only place that is really the case.

Is Navaho easily scramble-able and does it have any serious exposure (yeah, I know that is a subjective thing. I'm pretty sensitive to exposure of certain types).

I was definitely thinking about you every time I asked someone about Loch Tablae. I started to tell them that there is a Chick-on running around out here that would disagree with them, but...

Frank
Navaho... well... I only did it once... the other times at the lake hiked around it
or just lounged (something I'm really crappy at).
It is very steep. Something like 2600 ft. in 7/10 of a mile. The very top has
a small flat plateau. But there's great views on your way up. Had intention to
go to Piute... but it's another mile from there to it... so did that on another trip.
Here's Navaho from a bit west:

You should be able to clearly make out Sawtooths... and Matterhorn.
You can see Benson from here... but not from top of Navaho...
so here's Benson from same spot:

Some great stuff to explore. Like Hoffmann I'd bet this area was sticking above the glaciers.
You should be able to make out Volunteer... which is what I recommend you go up... that one won't feel like any exposure
really imho... even at the top... And it has stellar views of Smedberg, Rodgers, and a whole lot more.

Although I can understand the Table Lake comments... a lot is about timing... if you go early it's quite beautiful.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Great shots with super views! I think I could definitely do Volunteer (and want to). Was the photo of Benson taken by turning left or right from your position in the top photo? From the photo, the sides of Navaho look like steep loose gravel.
Turning Right. The scree is not that bad. I came up way on the east and did very little scree.
And the scree is fairly large rocks up close to the summit.
Another great very easy viewpoint is the knobbly almost due north of Murdock.
You get this view... I annotated it to show the peaks and the X is where the photos above were taken.

You almost assuredly did not go to Murdock ... but although the lake pales
in comparison to Rodgers... the views of Volunteer from there are pretty spectacular
along with this easy little peaklette.
Volunteer is a really neat peak insomuch as it is one of Yosemite's many very distinct
features. It can be seen with the naked eye from places like Cherry Road (v. close to Cherry Lake).
Actually got a cool zoom of it a few weekends ago from Smith Peak area too.
Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
Quote
Frank
(including the swimming with a pack that was floating and thus probably pushing your head down towards water)
Just thought I'd get that image outta your brain. My pack was used more like one would use a beach ball.
Hold it under your chest and flap away. I made sure it floated before I jumped into the pool myself...
If it hadn't floated I would have aborted the mission and just hiked back upstream and retrieved my gear.
(and in all likelihood not lost my video player and thermarest)
smiling smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
Thanks for clearing that up. It was worrisome imagery I created in my head. This imagery is MUCH better. And as a Chick-oni, I'm sure the "flapping' was special. Was there any squawking involved as well?
No squawking. Just some shrinkage. Planned for that too by having change of clothes in
the floating backpack. Luckily it was nice and sunny on the other side of the swim.
However... my bag o Cheetos didn't fare so well on the journey... turns out there was a
pinhole in the ziplock bag... and it filled with water. They still tasted ok... but soggy.
Just giggled... took a picture of them... and later buried them in a shallow grave.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Great reports on this trip. We did a shorter version, just Twin Lake to Benson and looped through Matterhorn Canyon a few years ago. I loved Kerrick Canyon...and I loved your description of Seavey Pass and the descent down into Benson. It does seem to go on forever!



Balzaccom

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