Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hiking the High Sierra Nevada

Admission is by lottery to the High Sierra Camps.
The lucky campers get to stay in tent cabins equipped with a stove and firewood. Four beds with sheets and blankets, one table and chairs are provided. All food you bring is kept in iron, bear safe lockers. Food is offered family style in the lodge. Dinner and breakfast are generous in portions and delicious. Lunch packs can be ordered.
I was very lucky to be invited to be the fourth in our group by my friend who has been hiking in Yosemite for decades.
Many High Sierra Camps are at 10,000 feet of elevation. The camps are arranged so that you can hike from one camp to another.
We visited Tuolumne Meadows, the largest camp, and Glen Aulin, the smallest camp. The hike around Saddleback Lake was our first adventure.
Crystal clear lakes, framed by carpets of wildflowers, ringed by mountains that still bore last season’s snows, made us grateful to be here. A 1,000-foot waterfall rushed to the valley below.

The trail to Glen Aulin was spectacular. Actually, everything is spectacular in Yosemite! The Tuolumne River flows through wild meadows, forests, glacier polished granitic rock, cascading for a while, and then flowing through sandy glens.
Glen Aulin, without shower amenities, offered a big bonus. A roaring waterfall steps from our cabin!
Our chef who cooked the salmon should get an award! (All supplies here are brought by mule trains.)
One day we chose to explore individually. I explored the Tuolumne River below Glen Aulin Camp. I saw many enormous cascades of white water over granite.
I even saw two Ouzels dipping in the water. Every so often a roaring water fall would form a large basin, ideal to swim in. I sampled four natural pools and two deep river bends.
The walk through aspen and huge conifer forests at the bottom of the massive, granitic domes was magical. I saw deer, coyote, signs of bear, lots of birds and a weasel.
In the evening after a leisurely dinner we watched stars, enjoyed a ranger’s camp fire or read by headlamps. We plan to return next season.