Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, returning through 10 Lakes Basin
4 Days & 50 miles (approx)Loop
June 22 through June 25
Trailhead - White Wolf
Temperatures: 80-70 degrees F Day, 55-40 degrees F Night, No rain.
The trip included five BPLers: Andrew, Chris, James, Elen and myself. After meeting up at my place of residence in Modesto Thursday evening, we headed up CA120 to find a camping spot just outside the park. On Friday morning, we picked up our permit and were at the White Wolf trailhead by 10:00.
Pate Valley was destination for the first night. It was about 12 miles in distance and 3500 feet of elevation loss. There are some great views of Hetch Hetchy on the trail down into the canyon.
We made it to our destination for the day by 2:00 PM. The water was tempting and a few of us took a nice swim in Tuolumne River, which is the source of drinking water for many cities in the Valley and the Bay Area. For some reasons people are not allowed to get near the water at Hetch Hetchy but swimming upriver is just fine.
It was warm that night in Pate Valley since it is down near 4,500 feet. There were very few mosquitos but there was at least one scorpion spotted a few inches from where I was enjoying my dinner. Andrew and Elen were bold enough to cowboy camp that evening.
Our destination for day two was Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp at 8,000 feet. Fortunately the weather was mild. I can imagine the river canyon get darn hot in the summer. The hike was a climb taking us closer to the headwaters of the Tuolumne River. The climbing was mostly gentle but there were a few sections where the gain was steep enough to take my breath away and prompt me to pause momentarily. The highlight of the day and overall trip for me was all the views westward down the canyon from Waterwheel falls and all the other vantage points to near the Glen Aulin Area.
Inviting waterfall along the way.
The scale of the canyon was very impressive to me.
James and Chris tackling one of the longer climbs of the day up to Waterwheel Falls.
Chris enjoying the incredible view of the canyon looking west from Waterwheel Falls.
We made it to Glen Aulin around 7:00 PM and found a great spot that was secluded from the high camp and other backpackers. The food in the mess tent sure did smell good as I walked through the camp. I had a great dinner of pesto pasta with sardines but I would have gladly eaten at the camp if I could have. We were back on the trail the next morning and ready to make some progress towards our next destination of Ten Lakes Basin.
The team taking a look at the map before setting off for the day.
The climb out of Glen Aulin afforded us some great views of the high country to the east.
We encountered a social Pika while tanking up on water near Tuolumne Peak.
We had to descend into and climb out of the canyon where the South Fork of Cathedral Creek flows to reach our destination for the day.
We reached the most easterly of the lakes in the basin around 7:00 PM and searched for a place to camp. It was quite windy making it difficult to pitch some shelters. The wind kept a few of us most of the night. I was also bothered by a deer who kept creeping close to my bivy throughout the night. I kept having visions of the deer running off with my shoes as a salty snack.
We got up in the morning and decided to hike to the next lake to enjoy breakfast there. Forgoing breakfast to start hiking is not in my typical routine but I found it was a very nice way to spend time enjoying some new scenery.
Our breakfast spot on Monday morning.
After breakfast we hoofed over Ten Lakes Pass. There were some more great views of the high country to the east but the climb was tame after all we had already done.
We completed the ten miles back through the forest to White Wolf.
I had great time hiking with this group and I look forward to the next trip.