Okay so this is over 2 months overdue...what can I say it's been a very busy travel season. This was my second time into the Young Lakes area I had been there the year before on trip to Upper Young Lake. This however was going to be my first time leading a trip with Sierra Club. I thought Upper Young Lake was a perfect place to go since it gets relatively little trail traffic and it's a really spectacular area. The plan was to hike to Upper Young Lake on Day 1 and then do a x-country day hike over to Roosevelt Lake that sits right below Mount Conness. I considered the trip to be a easy-moderate hike. It's only about 7 miles to Upper Young Lake with about an 1800 foot gradual gain.
We had a great group assembled for the hike and no newbies everyone had been on a Sierra Club trip before. I drove up with Suzanne and Nancy on Thursday afternoon and we tried to get a campsite at Tuolumne Meadows but we were out of luck...not surprising for August. So we found a campsite outside of the east entrance. There are a couple of good things about this..first off the drive down into Mono Lake is really beautiful and it also meant a chance to go to Whoa Nellie Deli. Nancy and Suzanne had not been there before so we absolutely needed to make a dinner pit stop. I had ahi sashimi and then helped eat the 5 person piece of chocolate cake that Suzanne had bought...well we did need to carbo load.
We were up bright and early Friday morning and it was a bit chilly but nothing that a little Peet's coffee brewed in my french press couldn't take care of. We met a part of the group at the permit office in TM and the rest of the group had already snagged parking spaces at the trailhead for Glen Aulin. After getting all of the commisary gear split up we were ready to head out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful Sierra day. We headed out and after a couple of miles we actually ran into another Sierra Club group. Two gals were leading a National outing through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The leaders were from the bay area and their participants were from all over the country...we gave them the 411 that there were It's It's at the store at TM and beer.
The trail splits around this point in one direction you head to Glen Aulin and the other direction (slightly northeast) heads towards Young Lakes. The trail is pretty forested on the way up and we didn't see anyone headed in (yeah). Our progess was slower than planned and I took the sweep post aka back of the bus. When we finally got to Lower Young Lake it was late in the afternoon and based on a couple of different factors we changed plans and ended up setting up camp at Lower Young Lake. I was dissapointed but it was the right thing to do since it's a bit of climb into Upper Young Lake and it probably would have been a bit challenging given the time of day. There were plenty of large campsites at Lower Young Lake as well as plenty of people. I'm not use to camping with so many folks but the area is so nice you get over it pretty quickly. We ate, watched the sunset and then snuggled into our bags for a quiet night.
Everyone was ready to go the next morning and the weather was looking great again. The plan today was to first hike up to Upper Young Lake and then over to Roosevelt Lake. There is a use trail that can be followed from Lower to Middle to Upper Young Lake. This was the way that we went although my preference would have been to go off trail from Middle into Upper Young Lake. There is one not so fun bit where you have to do some scrambling through a stream. I don't mind doing it myself but I prefer to take an easier route with folks I've not hiked with before. Nevertheless the group made it through and we arrived at Upper Young Lake which was just how I remembered it...asbolutely beautiful and there is no one camping there. It's a pretty exposed area and the wind was whipping around but I'll take that in order to have the great views and less people. We spent a little time there take some pictures, checking out flowers and just hanging out.
Pete led our off trail section...some people are born trail blazers and Pete is definitely one of them. He knew exactly what he was doing and had a great sense of direction. The off trail section to get to Roosevelt was only a few miles and was pretty easy...no scrambling, no bad rocks, no scree. Also if you can identify Conness you can navigate pretty easily. We finally got to Roosevelt after a few "It must be just over this hill" :). The lake was really nice and in a beautiful setting. I was scouting out the east side of the lake, visually, there is a saddle that you can supposedly climb over and get into Hoover Wilderness and 20 Lakes Basin. It didn't look like a pass for your casual backpacker though and I suspect it took some skill. It was windy at the lake (surprise...high alpine lake in a bowl) but the sun was shining and everyone chowed down on some snacks.
We headed back to our camp via what we believed would be a more direct route. Basically down through the a valley and then back up. Anne and I had some concerns about what the foliage would be like when we got down into the valley but when we descended it was actually pretty open. Navigating was pretty easy the key was to try and find Ragged Peak every once in awhile and head's towards it. Anne also had a new GPS that she was trying out so that was helpful as well. At some point the boys forged their own path and the girls went their own way. We all got back and the trip back took about 1/2 the time of getting there definitely a note to self if I ever do that trip again.
When we got back it wasn't too late so a bunch of us walked around the lake and we ended spending some time talking to a trail crew. When we headed back to camp Suzanne was pretty sure we past a love shack for a couple of trail crew members. We started hot water fairly quickly after the evening walk and I brewed up some of my beloved T&T. Also note to self I need another stove...that fricking Dragonfly is killing me even after a few maintenance it's still not operating well and it's really bulky (sorry personal rant). We watched the sunset again and then headed off to our tents which of course meant TV iPod watching for me.
The next day we yet again had beautiful weather and I was really looking forward to this section. On your way out you get really amazing view south into Tuolumne Meadows and I was hoping we would again on this trip. Thankfully the weather was great and the views as spectacular as I remember them. Unfortunately there weren't many wildflowers because of the time of the year. When I was here before it was July so we had some good flowers. It was about noon when we got off the trail and the group voted to head to the TM grill. I passed on a burger but of course I soaked down a couple of beers. After post-backpacking food we all got in our cars and headed home. Well Nancy, Suzanne and I stopped in Groveland for some ice cream :) Another really great trip...I'm a big fan of this area and highly recommend it for someone who wants to do a short trip in Yosemite without huge crowds.