I spent two weeks at home letting my foot heal and then hit the road again last Saturday. I headed north on US 395 and spent the night at Rock Creek Lakes Resort where my friend Glenn works. You probably remember him from the Florida trip last year. Sunday morning I headed for Tuolumne Meadows campground in Yosemite National Park.
I passed two lakes on the way there. The first photo is Crowley Lake, the second one is Mono Lake.
I arrived at the eastern entrance to the park at 11:30am. Me and thousands of other visitors.
I finally reached Tuolumne Meadows and set up camp.
Glenn showed up around 5:00pm to stay with me for two nights. We had a Taco Feast followed by a campfire and then bed.
Monday we walked the campground. It was clearing out as Tuesday is the last night it will be open this year. Here is the scoop about the campsites.
Half are reservable but are not site specific. The Ranger will assign you a spot. If you know what spots you like best you can ask to see which ones are available. Loop A is the best as the sites are right near the river. Actually sites 43 and up. I also chose what I think are the best of the other six loops and that info will be posted on our website soon. If you don't have a reservation, plan on getting here very early. Campers start lining up at the reservation building before dawn.
Tuesday we explored the river and the meadow. A few steps from my campsite is the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River.
That is Lembert Dome in the background but more on that later. In the center of the photo you can barely see a big rock standing upright on the granite. Here is a closer view.
Which of course attracted Glenn...
Here are a few more photos from that area.
The water is from snow melt so it is still very cold but there were people enjoying a dip. With the water level receding there were several holes in the granite that held water. I tried to get Glenn to swim in this one.
He ran away and it took me a while to track him down.
After lunch we explored the amenities in the area and hiked in the meadow. Near the campground is a small store, the Wilderness Center where you can pick up backcountry permits, and the Visitor Center.
We hiked out to Soda Springs and the Parsons Memorial Lodge in the meadow. Below is another view of Lembert Dome and Tuolumne Meadows. A very popular hike is to climb to the top of the dome. It's almost 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of only 900 feet. No, you don't go up the cliff, you approach from the back.
We arrived first at Soda Springs, a naturally carbonated spring. We didn't taste it but others have. It doesn't look too appealing but it made interesting sounds.
Next up was the lodge and several outbuildings. These use to be owned by the Sierra Club and were donated to the park.
The hike back took us along the bank of the Tuolumne River. At over 9,000 feet in elevation, the air is crystal clear!
Here is a nice spot for a picnic.
Another view of Lembert Dome on the way back.
The water is so clear that you can see the small native trout.
We got back to camp and Glenn left to go to Rock Creek. I was heading out the next morning so I walked down to the river near my campsite for a few more photos as the sun started sinking.
Wednesday was busy as there were five campgrounds I wanted to visit on my way to Bridgeport, about 45 miles away. The first four are located just outside the east entrance to the park. They can be very useful if you arrive in the evening to find that Tuolumne is full. Heading east, the first one is Tioga Lake.
All the sites are nice here and are a very short walk to the lake.
Junction is next.
There is little creek that flows through it.
Two miles up Saddlebag Lake Road finds you at Saddlebag Lake campground, the highest drive-to lake and campground in California at 10,087 feet.
The views are great, especially from site 18.
On the lakeshore is a café and boat rentals. This place has pretty much everything you need. Hikers can access Yosemite from here as well.
On the way back down the views are beautiful.
The leaves were starting to change colors as well.
Next up is Ellery Lake.
Not quite sure what is going on with the wording there.
This is a sweet little campground that also has a creek flowing through it.
At this point I am going to stop this post. I have been on the computer for seven hours and my eyes hurt. Plus it's long enough already. You will have to wait and find out what the “Bear Necessities” are next time. I am heading to Yosemite Valley on Sunday for five nights. Should be fun.
Regards, Park Ranger