Back to index Yosemite High Sierra Camp Loop Hike - Day 1

An edited version of my adventure on the High Sierra Camps Loop appeared in the second issue of  Sidewalk - A hiking and backpacking magazine
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Day 2
Trip Date:  08/21/2014

: 7.2 Miles

Vertical Gain: -900'

Group Size: 6
Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard   Strenuous
Yosemite High Sierra Camp Loop Hike Day 1
Download GPX GPX for this trip
HSC Day 1 Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 37 52.699, W 119 20.315     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 395 south from Monitor Pass toward Mono Lake.  At Lee Vining, turn on Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) and enter Yosemite Park on the east side.  About 10 miles into the park turn at the Wilderness Permit area (Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Road) and continue to the parking coordinates for backpacker vehicles.
Hazards of Note:   Wildlife, especially bears.  Some of the trails are difficult and footing can be tenuous at times.  Much of the uphill and downhill sections are made up of granite steps which are rough on the feet after time. Crowd Factor:   Mixed.  Yosemite is a very popular destination during the summer months, and this hike and option to stay in the HSC locations with served meals is available only by lottery system.  The further into the park the trails will be less crowded, but there are many places for day hikers to pick up the trail system.
General Notes:
Day one of this backpacking trip is only a little over seven miles, and for the entire way you are basically headed down the Tuolumne River gorge.  You will eventually drop almost 1000 feet from the trailhead, but never very much at once so the going is easy.  You will start off at Tuolumne Meadows, enjoying grand vistas of Cathedral Peak to the south and then will pass by Lembert Dome as you begin your descent toward the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp.  

Our group, minus myself, at the start in Tuolumne Meadows. Group at start
One more group shot with me in it this time around.
Another group shot
Very close to the trailhead is Lembert Dome, as massive granite dome that towers hundreds of feet above the trail. Lembert Dome
The only sign like this we saw.  Most of them were heavy duty metal signs with the words cut out of them (to last through the harsh winters.) On our way
One of our hiking team, Diane, at the meadows with Cathedral Peak behind her on the right.
Diane at the meadows
A little bit of protection for the natural soda springs at this location. Natural Soda Springs
A closeup of the springs themselves.  Doesn't really look all that tasty, but some have tried it and lived to tell the story! Closeup of the springs
Phil making his way to the springs for a closer look.
Phil headed to the springs
A shot of myself stopped for a moment in front of Tuolumne Meadows. Myself at Tuolumne Meadows
Crossing the Tuolumne River on a small footbridge. The Tuolumne River
Brent and Diane at Tuolumne Meadows on the first couple miles of our first day. Brent and Diane at the meadows
Following the river along the way. Following the river
There is so much granite everywhere in this part of the park, it is amazing to imagine the forces that created it in the first place. Granite everywhere
Looking down the canyon toward our eventual destination of Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. Looking toward Glen Aulin
Crossing the river is pretty easy with the bridges they had along the way. Tuolumne River
We had a great lunch spot on the rocks in the middle of the Tuolumne River, which was flowing enough to soak our feet and look for fish. Lunch Spot
After a good meal we got the packs back on and headed the last couple of miles toward Glen Aulin. Getting ready to continue
Tuolumne Falls was an unexpected sight along the way.  We came around a corner and there it was! Tuolumne Falls Tuolumne FallsTuolumne Falls
So close to our first day's destination.  These signs are the main ones we found all along the way.  Very durable in the harsh winters that they have to live through from year to year. So close...
Just about 500 feet from the camp at Glen Aulin are the Cascade Falls on the Tuolumne River.  Very nice, and a great place to cool off after the hike. Cascade Falls at Glen Aulin Cascade Falls at Glen Aulin
One last bridge to cross with the falls to the left and we were at our home for the first night.  One more bridge
Front row seats were available for the view of the falls and the people like myself crazy enough to get in and cool off for a little bit. Front row seats Front row seats
Looking from the falls down the river past the bridge and further into the Tuolumne River canyon. Down the river
The store and mess hall at Glen Aulin HSC.  Great lemonade was available as soon as you arrived at each of the camps for the hikers staying the night. Glen Aulin HSC store
Since we had the 'meals only' option for the trip, this was my accomodation for the week.  It was GREAT! My home for the week
Our group enjoying the warm campfire in the center of the HSC, while we waited for a welcome warm meal that stuffed us to the gills! Our group around the campfire Tuolumne Falls
A great sunset at Glen Aulin just capped off a fantastic first day of the backpacking adventure. Sunset at Glen Aulin  
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike