Return to Yosemite
Beginning Elevation = 9,250
Ending Elevation = 7,600
Elevation Range = 7,600 – 9,500
Weather:. Sunny and clear, high 65°F, low 30°F
I got going at 6:42am this morning. The sun was still hiding behind the mountains as I climbed up towards Dorothy Lake Pass.
See you Lake Harriet, it’s been real…
I was happy to find it wasn’t all that big of a climb, I’d done most of the work going up at the end of the day yesterday. There was still about a mile of gradual uphill switchbacks, but it was pretty easy going. And everything seemed so calm. No wind, no other people…there was a pond I passed that was so still it seemed to reflect the trees clearer than a mirror. The only thing stirring seemed to be just the occasional bird spooking me out of my harmonious state of consciousness.
These birds people…they’re going to give me a heart attack. I’m talking specifically about the grouse or whatever its called. The kind that might be in the same family as the partridge, quail, pheasant type that, for whatever reason, like to wait to reveal themselves until I’m nice and close and then instantly take off beating their wings like wind turbines. It’s loud and aggressive and the word startling would be an understatement. I digress…
Here’s the lovely Dorothy Lake Pass area…
Dorothy Lake Pass marks the northern boundary along the PCT of Yosemite National Park!
I was excited to be getting to see more. If anything like my trip to Yosemite Valley with Calzone and Cheer, I was in for a treat!
I didn’t have to wait long for the park to offer up some scenery. Immediately, the trail dropped down near the edge of Dorothy Lake and it was spectacular! The sun was just sneaking up and over the mountain tops too. I tried to be fancy with my photos. Crouching Tiger was out today…
Easy going would be the best description for the terrain this morning. After the initial uphill, the trail descended gently for the next 10 miles! Hallelujah! I went through some nice forest.
Then, always some of my fav., meadow…
Back into some forest, and then transitioned into more and more boulder/rock covered areas…
Nearly the whole 10ish miles down from Dorothy Lake the trail followed along with Falls Creek. I wasn’t seeing the creek the while time, but sure enough, after a while of thinking we’d gone our separate ways, it would return and I would greet it like an old friend.
Just before reaching Wilma Lake, the trail finally crossed Falls Creek. I arrived at the same time as another hiker coming from the opposite side. We checked it out and found an easy spot to cross without getting wet. Once on the same side as her, we each gave some info. about the respective sections of trail we’d just come from. I was happy to hear that it didn’t seem like river crossings were going to be problem, something I’d been worried about!
After parting ways, I soon came to see Wilma Lake. I had a brief break here taking in the site and then began the first of the three remaining uphill sections for the day, each around 1,000 elevation gain.
This first hill wasn’t too strenuous and once at the top and coming down got me feeling like I was seeing some “classic Yosemite,” with impressive looking mountains mostly ayl gray rock with only few trees scattered throughout. The rock seemed to be rounded and appeared as slabs, sheets, mounds, and domes.
See you Wilma…
I stopped for a break to eat lunch down in the valley. Down here there was a stream running through, big giant trees, and a flat shaded area where I set up. It was warm enough feeling today that I actually wanted to sit in a shaded spot. Bad decision though, after about 20 minutes I was getting quite chilled.
Afterwards, I did some log stepping over the stream and began the next climb. This one was steep and had me huffing and puffing just like when I played the Big Bad Wolf in my Kindergarten play (I was one intimidating wolf you can imagine).
One thing I noticed as I was taking my several breaks up this section of trail, was that there were a constant flow of butterflies gliding through. I’ve seen plenty of these guys along the trail, but this was different. Unlike before where they were hanging around, staying still for a bit and near/on the ground, these ones were up fluttering along, all going the same direction. A group of three or four, then I’d wait and a few more would trickle on by. Must be migrating!
The scenery became even more boulderesque over the second climb. And like before, the valley was flat with a stream and more trees than above. There were some Aspens ( I think)!
The last climb was up to Seavey Pass. I saw a few other hikers on the way up and at the top. Mostly I’ve been seeing folks going north trying to finish there last section like me. But a few who are doing smaller sections, piecing together the whole thing over years, and some who are just out for a backpacking trip.
There were some nice ponds/small lakes at/near the top of the pass and I loved the way the reflection pictures turned out. So, I’m posting a few…
The last part of the day was a big, pretty steep, downhill to my intended camp site near Benson Lake. The sky was a bit hazy looking, but I could see through to some impressive peaks…
And I hung out with this fella for a bit…
I had trouble finding the side trail to Benson Lake at first, but realized the one I was on sort of turned into it. I figured I’d be confused in the morning trying to find the PCT again, but that concern could wait. I was loosing light and wanted to find a spot and see the lake before too dark. Benson Lake was one I’d heard about before starting the trail, which is why I pulled bigger miles to reach it tonight. I’d heard it has a strange sandy shore. And sure enough, it was there and it was uniquely awesome!
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