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Tuolumne Meadows, July 2-5 2010
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Dylan Snodgrass

Locale: San Francisco, CA
Tuolumne Meadows, July 2-5 2010 on 07/08/2010 23:55:52 MDT Print View

My wife and I did a short hike near Tuolumne Meadows during the July 4th weekend.

Trip description:
-3 day point to point hike plus a drive day.
-Total mileage:~14.5 miles
-Temperature range: ~35F-70F
- Map Used: Tom Harrison, Yosemite High
Country Trail Map.

Day 1:
Drive to Tuolumne Meadows and day hike to top of Lembert Dome.
Mileage: ~4

Day 2:
Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin.
Mileage: ~6

Day 3:
Glen Aulin to Poly Dome Lakes.
Mileage: ~5

Day 4:
Poly Dome Lakes to Tenaya Lake.
Mileage: ~3.5

We were inspired from the excellent trip report and pictures from a recent BPL group hike in the same area.

Day One tips:
We left San Francisco at 3:30 am to arrive at the Wilderness Permit station at 7:30 am. They open at 7:30 during July and August. If you arrive before they open you will be among the first in line and are almost assured a permit for the next day. Lembert Dome is a short hike and the views from the top are spectacular. The coffee is pretty good at the cafe right next to the post office in Tuolumne Meadows and it is great to chat with all the PCT hikers. They resupply at the post office and are busy repacking gear, food, etc. You can see much of the gear discussed here in the forums in real world application. Lot's of ULA packs and alcohol stoves.

Day Two tips:
The waterfalls on the way to Glen Aulin are booming right now. At Glen Aulin make sure to camp in the upper camping areas. They are much nicer. The bugs are intolerable down low near the High Sierra Camp.

Day Three tips:
An extremely short and easy off trail section will get you to the largest of the Poly Dome Lakes. This lake has many good campsites and is great for swimming. We enjoyed camping on the top of a hill just west of the lake, see the picture below. Amazing views of Tuolumne Peak, Mount Hoffman, and even Half Dome off in the distance.

Day Four tips:
We exited at the Murphy Creek trailhead and walked to the east side of Tenaya Lake to catch the free shuttle back to Tuolumne Meadows. The shuttle runs on the hour and half hour between Olmsted Point and Tuolumne Meadows. No showers in Tuolumne Meadows (that we could find) so we left the solar shower on top of the car, it worked great!

My wife and I on the top of Lembert Dome.
Lembert Dome

White Cascade Falls with a high CFS.
White Cascade Falls

Tent view looking down towards Poly Dome Lake and the backside of Poly Dome.
Poly Dome Lake

Our current kitchen set up.
Kitchen Kit

Our current repair kit.
Repair kit

Gear issues, worked/did not work.
My wife was using her new pack for this trip, an Osprey Exos 58. She is raving about this pack and we are really happy with it.
The hiking mileage and terrain on this hike are mild and we brought to much food.
I just used an old pair of running shoes and had some traction issues in a few places. Trail runners with a more aggressive tread would have been better.
My wife is a coffee nut! We tried the Starbucks Via instant coffee and it worked. For backpacking...
We are transitioning to much lighter packs and equipment. The kitchen and repair kit pictures are so that BPL people can give us some help. Any suggestions on how to lighten up would be much appreciated. I have a tendency towards redundancy and a "what if" mind set so getting lighter has been a struggle but we sure love it when we shoulder the packs!

Kitchen Kit:
1. Evernew pot 1.9L.
2. Two FBC cozy's.
3. Two REI titanium long handle spoons.
4. Bic lighter.
5. MSR pocket rocket.
6. Two REI insulated mugs (coffee!).
7. BPL mini dropper, hot sauce.
8. White sugar.
9. Olive Oil.
10. MSR fuel can, did not use all the fuel but like to have a little extra just in case.

Repair kit:
1. Storage container, an old plastic soap box.
2. Sleeping pad patch.
3. Small seam grip.
4. Duct tape and small pencil.
5. Two sewing needles.
6. Thread, both regular cotton and dental floss.
7. Ten feet of thin stainless steel wire.
8. Two safety pins.
9. Small Bic lighter.
10. Small knife, with tweezers.
11. Fire starting tinder tabs.
12. Flint and steel.

Thanks so much for reading my post and if you have any questions about the hike or tips for our kit becoming lighter please post a comment.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Tuolumne Meadows, July 2-5 2010 on 07/09/2010 19:34:13 MDT Print View

Dylan, Dylan, Dylan...
When I read that you did 14.5 miles in 3 days I just chuckled to myself wondering what sort of trip report this was going to be.

Then I thought about the fact that you were hiking in Tuolumne Meadows while I live in east PA. Then I looked at your photos and...well, I'm jealous! That is a great place to roam around. Most of the trip reports here are about big miles, but it would be great to just explore an area. I missed hiking to the top of Lembert Dome due to a minor traffic accident when I was out there with my family.

Could you talk more about your camping sites in the area? That seems like a busy spot.

Dylan Snodgrass

Locale: San Francisco, CA
Tuolumne Meadows, July 2-5 2010 on 07/09/2010 20:24:15 MDT Print View

Yes this trip was different than most of ours as well. We thought it would be fun to putt around and explore near our campsite rather than arrive exhausted in the evening, eat, and go to sleep. Tuolumne Meadows was full but not crowded, at least not what we are used to. We found it to be a refreshing change of pace. We usually leave from the valley which would make just about anyone insane from the crowds/cars/noise.
Glen Aulin had some people but was not crowed by any means and this was the 4th of July. Just make sure to walk the extra bit and check out the upper backpacking campsites. WAY BETTER, it feels a little more isolated and it's much prettier. You have to walk down to get water but it's not much and the trade off is in your favor. I did an afternoon hike (after a nap!) up Cold Canyon for a little while and then west to an unnamed dome top with a little lake on the other side. Epic views and your typical Sierra granite extravaganza.
On the way to Polly Dome Lakes we got side tracked and explored up Cathedral Creek going west/northwest about .5 miles after McGee Lake. Again beautiful terrain and fun to scramble up an unnamed face of granite (class 2-3) to enjoy the views.
At Polly Dome lake the swimming is excellent. The water is COLD but the lake is relativity shallow so I would imagine that it warms up later in the summer. Plus there are a few diving rocks mid lake on the east side. Our campsite was excellent and I recommend it. It's easy to walk down to the lake and get water and up on top of the hill there are no bugs! We chose to leave Poly Dome Lakes the next day by dropping down to the Murphy Creek trail via a steep tree covered draw between Polly Dome Lake and Polly Dome. This was an excellent choice because there are some really big trees to check out plus a few good snags with woodpeckers making all sorts of noise.
Not UL by any means but we brought a few mini dice and some Yahtzee scorecards. My wife just annihilated me! As you can see we had a casual time and it was really fun. The camera battery died and I forgot the second battery so I don't have any pictures...

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Tuolumne Meadows, July 2-5 2010 on 07/09/2010 21:00:20 MDT Print View

I knew you were holding out some details from me. Shame that you didn't get more'll have to go back.