Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yosemite High Country 09

What a shock to be back down to virtual sea level here in the bay area after being gratifyingly acclimated for a week in the Yosemite high country. I headed up last Tuesday on my own to camp out and hike, with my wife and members of her family making the trip after a couple of days. The soothing gentle breezes high in the trees making sighing sounds and producing pleasantly cooler temperatures is just one of the advantages of being above 8000 feet in the Sierras at this time of year. The frosty cool snowmelt meandering down streams and rivers, bubbling up in springs, and rushing over rocky courses is as inviting as it is contemplative. Daytime temperatures in the high 70s with deceptively intensive sunshine, with nighttime and early mornings in the high 20s to low 30s make for a stark contrast. Timing the prime season is tricky as annual nuances in climatic conditions can shift the balance from year to year. For me the most enjoyable time is during the really good wild flower blooms after the nights have warmed up some, but not so much that the high mountains don’t still have plenty of snowy crevasses to provide contrast to the long range views available from atop the many passes, ridges, domes, and peaks. I would say our timing this year was not perfect, but really, if you are even close, I still couldn’t imagine a better place to be than the “Range of Light" as the high meadows are just awakening for their seasonal transition into delightful green life. We had planned on meeting up with some of Sue’s family members to stay at Tuolumne and Sunrise High Sierra camps, but with the 4th of July holiday providing extra time to bridge with vacation, I decided at the last minute, with Sue’s near insistence, to head up a couple of days early on my own, and wound up in a campsite at Tuolumne instead. I did some nice hiking during this trip which I will write up in separate posts as time permits. The day I arrived, I hiked up beyond May Lake and found some great vantage points up near the pass. I spent some great quiet time after scrambling atop some un-named dome with tantalizing panoramas. I made it short to have time to set up a camp. The next day I hiked up to Young Lakes to spend the midday marveling at the snowy peaks and refreshing waters. Looping around and back down to Dog Lake, the trail passes through an amazing lush green high meadow with simply awesome views out to the high peaks, jagged and foreboding, with snow packed into intricate crevasses, and cool breezes kissing my face. When Sue and the others arrived, 4 of us went on a pilgrimage to a place called Snow Creek Cabin, with Sue, a former volunteer ranger, and her brother Leonard, both having lurid stories about past adventures. Sue spent a few summers at this place, and was bound and determined to find it again in order to reminisce on past times, and revisit some out of the way spots that don’t show up on maps and most hikers don’t even know exist. We had reservations for the next 2 nights up at Sunrise HSC, so we switched over to back packs to hike on in. With 8 people in our group, including two octogenarians, we decided to set up a car pool to hike in from Tenaya Lake trailhead, and hike out on our last day to Cathedral trailhead. While we were there we did some nice side trips including a day hike Sue and I did up to Cloud’s Rest. The time always goes by too damned fast when I’m really having a great time. As tired as I was after this whole week of activity, still I can’t help but be sad when it’s finally time to get back into the car and drive back down into the real world. While crusing along the bay area freeways again with a car full of gear, I can really relate to the song lyric “I see my mind as the closet I’m stuck inside” – “can’t see the light” – “can’t see the light” -- Dave Mathews. It reminds me that I have done this to myself. In my life I have relegated myself to a harried existence in the concrete canyons of civilization. Hike write-ups to come

Click the play button below for soothing acoustic sounds of the upper Tuolumne
(be sure to turn on your sound)

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