Tuolumne Meadows to the Yosemite Valley.

2:11 a.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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It’s taken me a while to put this report together and I still don’t know how to describe the experience. It truly was awesome and I say that because I was full of awe for almost the entire trip. I had planned on doing a lot of fishing on this trip but by the third day it just didn’t seem that important anymore. Partially because I was usually very tired but mostly because it was so nice to just relax and enjoy the never ending beauty of the Yosemite wilderness.

There were five of us on this adventure from Tuolumne Meadows to the Yosemite Valley. We hiked about 6.5mls the first day(Saturday). These are a couple shots along the trail on the way to our first nights camp at Booth Lake.

We set up camp at Booth and soon found out that we had the entire lake to ourselves and it remained that way until we left. The skeeters were medium bad but a breeze and the fact that our camp was on a nice saddle kept things tolerable. We caught lots and lots of little brookies while we were there.

Our campsite at Booth.

Sunday after fishing we packed up and started for our second night’s destination, Bernice Lake. This was suppose to be a easy day except that we knew it would be tuff going over Vogelsang Pass which is well over 11,000ft. By the time we got over the pass and down into the next valley we all decided that we didn’t feel like climbing the 2mls and 2,000ft it would take to reach the lake. We ended up just following the main trail towards the Merced High Sierra Camp about a mile and made camp for the night.

Vogelsang HSC

Going over the pass.

From our break area near the top of the pass.

The view going down the west side of Vogelsang Pass.

Our camp on the second night and 14mls into the journey.

Our motley crew, myself, Debbie, Marshal, Tanya, and Vince and some of Mondays scenery. I can't tell you how fortunate I feel to have a woman like Debbie that is willing to do a hike like this with me. We were headed for Washburn Lake to camp for two nights with a layover day to fish the lake. Markskor had recommended this lake because of its beauty and good fishing. We figured that we would be ready for a rest day by now for sure.

On our way to the cutoff for Washburn we got our first glimpses of Half Dome and Merced Lake in the foreground.

The Merced River along the way to Washburn was beautiful with a lot of fish to be seen.

Washburn Lake was every bit a beautiful as we had been told but the good campsites were near the inlet and outlet surrounded by marshes and filled with mosquitoes so we had to camp in an area that we were not really suppose to camp. Marshal and Vince did very well fishing a fly and bubble but it I had a hard time because of trees and brush along the bank. I managed a few small fish from the lake and a couple of nicer Bows from the Merced right below the lake.
Marshal with a little Brookie. Washburn Lake was another place that we didn't see another person the entire time we were there.

Me fishing the outlet.

Washburn Lake

Tuesday morning we decided that rather than stay another night we would hike down to the Merced HSC to camp and rest up a little. It would also mean that we would not have as far a hike on Wednesday to our campsite above Half Dome.

Campsite at the Merced HSC

The hike to our campsite before Half Dome was a killer but again very beautiful with a lot of wildlife. We had seen a lot of deer but these two were the nicest bucks of the trip.

A non-typical mule deer, check out all his spikes.

Sage Grouse

Rattle Snake at almost 8,000ft

Thursday we got up and started for Half Dome. Here is a picture of Vince on the sub-dome before we started up the cables. This is around 8am before the crowds from the valley started to arrive.

From the top of Half Dome.

Debbie and I after coming back down the cables. You can see that the valley folks are starting to show. Later that afternoon we heard that they had closed the cables to do a rescue on a woman that passed out half way up the cables. The climb up was much harder than any of us expected that is for sure. I couldn’t believe how many people hiked up there from the valley unprepared and without water, just crazy. As you can see the masses were starting to arrive about the time we came back down the cables.

Five happy hikers about to leave on there final leg down to the valley past the beautiful falls and lots and lots of people. We had seen very few others until we got to Half Dome but from here on down it would be a madhouse. Higher up all of the rangers and HSC employees kept referring to the "type of wilderness experience we had been been having" but I really didn't understand what they met until we got to Half Dome, now I do. There were so many people without what I would call an understanding of just how great this place was it made it feel more like Disneyland than the "type of wilderness experience we had been having". I didn't even feel much like taking pictures the rest of the way down.

Nevada Falls

Vernal Falls

I know this wasn’t the best TR but it was all about being there for me. How can I desribe a 45+ mile journey through heaven. It was much more than I expected and a very spiritual experience by the time it was done. I can’t wait to go back and explore some more. I think I’m helplessly hooked on the Yosemite backcountry. The people I went with, the sites we saw, and my first long distance BP trip made it all unbelievable.
Gary C.

2:17 a.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Two more from the top of Half Dome. I really like my new camera with the 12X optical zoom :D

11:27 a.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow, really nice photo album and story about the hike. Do you have map showing the route?

5:03 p.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow, really nice photo album and story about the hike. Do you have map showing the route?

Not really, I had done some maps from my NG TOPO but by the second day we were already changing the plan. The main change came when a backcountry ranger suggested not to follow the Merced river out from Washburn Lake to to the cascades above Little Yosemite Valley. We had planned to leave our gear at the LYV campground and dayhike to Half Dome. Instead we took the high trail from the Merced HSC and camped above Half Dome before doing it as a dayhike. We also managed a nother side hike or two that were unplanned.

Gary C.

5:49 p.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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10:22 p.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Sure is some open country compared to my area, just beautiful! Nice clear water as well. Thanks for posting that TR, loved the photos!

Maybe one day I can visit Yosemite, it is on my list.

Thanks Gary C. for sharing.

Glad you had a great, and safe trip!

11:06 p.m. on August 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Awesome trip report. Considering this hike sometime next month.

11:39 p.m. on September 14, 2009 (EDT)
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You can find the trail maps at Tom Harrison Maps:


Did you hike in August? What kind of a rattler is that? Did not know they were common in Yosemite.

1:03 a.m. on September 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Gary, thanks for sharing the beautiful pics and description of your hike.

I happened to be in Fresno at the end of a business trip in 1996. It was a Friday and I was at the airport preparing to fly home when I saw a poster showing El Cap and Half Dome. I asked about distance there and discovered I was only a 1 hour drive from Yosemite. I immediately changed plans, rented a car, went to a gear store and bought some hiking boots, shorts and a tee shirt and headed out to God's country. I spent 2 glorious days in Yosemite.

I have traveled many places around this Earth. Yosemite is the most beautiful place I have ever been. I am retired now and plan to go back there for the backpacking trip of my life.... hopefully next year.

Again, thanks for sharing. It brought back some wonderful memories.

8:05 a.m. on September 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Great trip report Gary! Deffinately adding Yosemite to my list of places I want to hike.

11:36 a.m. on September 17, 2009 (EDT)
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You can find the trail maps at Tom Harrison Maps:


Did you hike in August? What kind of a rattler is that? Did not know they were common in Yosemite.

We started our trip in the second week of July. I'm not sure what type of rattler it was. I've never heard much said about rattle snakes in Yosemite but they must be common at the lower levels at least. This one was the first I've seen anywhere above 7000ft.

Gary C.

12:07 p.m. on September 17, 2009 (EDT)
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It brings back a lot of good memories, thanks for all the pictures!

11:17 p.m. on September 17, 2009 (EDT)
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Gary, one guide book says:...western rattlesnakes can occur as high as 8,000', , but they are much more common at lower elevations"...(JMT by Wenk and Morey, p.36)

Great photo of the people sitting on the ledge! As for the Half Dome , I met a young couple who got engaged on the summit!

10:13 a.m. on September 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Here is another source for topo maps (National Geographic) you can print out at home. You might need a magnifine glass for some! Click on the JMT maps.


June 25, 2018
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