September 14 & 15, 2008 - Yosemite - Ten Lakes
There is nothing much better than taking a Fall backpacking trip. The weather is generally good and the crowds are home. About 6 years ago I took a trip to the Ten Lakes basin and I always wanted to go back. I am also thinking about leading a trip there in the next year or so so I thought it would be a good idea to go and scout it out. There are a number of lakes in the basin (10..ha ha) but I didn't really have a final destination in mind except that I wanted to try and visit something other than the 2 biggest lakes.
We headed out around 11- after a breakfast of waffles and coffee outside the park. The parking lot at the trailhead did not have many cars which was great. The weather was very nice and we packed up and headed out and up...and up and up and up. This is one thing I do remember about this trail it's pretty much uphill. I would consider it a moderate hike...about 8 miles and 2000 feet uphill. I was also trying to break in my new boots for Bhutan. Now some might think I'm a bit crazy for taking out new boots on an 8 mile hike...so some background. I hate boots in fact next year I will be switching to some trail runners and I've been wearing low tops now for at least 6 years. However....my Bhutan packing list really stressed Gore-Tex boots. So I bought some Vasque boots and boots have come a really far way so depending on what you buy there is a good chance that you don't really have to do a lot of breaking in. So we hiked up and up and didn't run into a single person..we passed by a loud group of young guys and on the way up our last uphill stretch there were some day hikers headed down. We took a break in this really pretty meadow (I forget the name) right before the last uphill strech which I believe is about 800 feet in about a half mile.
When you finish the final hill you get really incredible views all the way until you start going down into Ten Lakes basin. I got a really good view looking over to Young Lakes and Mt. Conness where I had just been about a month before. A short while after we were heading down we scoped out the basin to try and figure out what lake we were going to head to. I of course wanted to head into one of the smaller and therefore less traveled lakes a bit southeast of the trail. There was actually a good use trail (even though we got off of it) into our little lake. We found a decent campsite that had a fire pit and a bench. There were definitely no campsites for a large group. It was pretty cold when we got there so we were lazy and I think I read a little and probably watched TV. I had Curtis watch and episode of Weeds where Nancy's brother in law teaches Shane about a certain fact of life (great stuff). After napping we took a short walk around the north side of the lake and I took some pictures. We had the place to ourselves or so we thought later in the evening we saw that someone had setup camp at the other end of the lake. We cooked up some crub I believe a mixture of 3 Bean Chili and Mary Jane's Mac N'Chili (good stuff) and some T&T for a bedtime hot toddy. We were probably in bed by 9- and I was likely watching some more TV.
It was an extremely quiet night and we were up early and cooking some oatmeal and I made some coffee (for me...no sharing). The hike out was really beautiful. When we hiked out of the basin we took a bunch of pictures looking down into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. The morning kept getting warmer and warmer and it was definitely shorts and tank top weather. We kept trucking along and I think we passed a total of about 6 people that were headed in. I thought seeing that many people headed in on a Sunday was great and of course I was immediately jealous since they didn't have to go to work the next day. We got off the trail around 1:30 and actually ran into some folks that had lost their hiking partner. The good news is that if you have a decent sense of direction it would be very hard to get into a really bad situation. We wished them luck and we headed to the Diamond Back Grill in Sonora. We found this place earlier in the backpacking season thanks to Yelp and it rocks...great salads with field greens, kobe burgers and a very good local wine list...highly recommend it. Oh yeah...and I got no blisters from those new boots. That was it the end of the trip and the end of this year's backpacking season...it's always so sad and goes by so fast depending on when the snow melts. I did meet my goal of 7 backpacking trips though and am hoping to meet or beat that next year. I also think if I lead some trips next year that Ten Lakes will be on the list.
See my pictures