On the Lighter Side

August 7, 2014

With kids, ya gotta intersperse days that are less hike and more thrill or more chill. We did that with Peter in the early days and I think it paid off; he’s now a certified hiking fiend. For us this meant a few years of alternating hike days with Peter-care days.  One of us would stay behind and have a river day with Peter, while the other hiked alone or with someone else in the group (if there was anyone else around), and we’d switch roles the next day. Or sometimes we’d leave Peter behind with his cousins and the two of us would go off on a kidless adventure. I even remember a couple years when Peter was old enough to stay back in the cabin by himself and he picked and chose the hikes he’d go on. Point was, we never forced him and tried to always make his days up there fun with activities of his choosing.

So… with five boys pooped out from the day at Spillway yesterday, today was an easy day with a modest thrill-filled dome scramble, and a stop at the Tuolumne Meadows diner counter for burgers, fries and soft serve–the chill portion of the program, and a predictable hit with early teen crowd.

The trailhead for Lembert Dome (9,949′) is within walking distance of the tent cabins. Once at the trailhead, it’s about a one-mile climb through the forest to the base of the dome, and then a scramble up the granite slope of Lembert. From the cabin (8,775′) to the top of Lembert is about 1,200′. Though short, the hike definitely gets your heart going and the exposure and views keep it thumping.

Here are the boys taking a breather before the final granite ascent, Matthew, Tyler, Dean, Jeffrey, Peter (and John in back):


Here we’ve probably climbed half of the dome, and have this much remaining, the more exposed part:


This gives a clearer idea of the slope and scope:


And this, though on the way down, gives a sense of the drop off and exposure. Jim’s always doubting my assertion (panicked at times) that were one to fall, they could easily roll and roll to their death… or at least get bumped, scraped and bruised a lot before finding a spot in which to stop. He thinks you’d go nowhere. Plus, who falls when footing is so secure? Says he.

This is looking down on eastbound Tioga Road.


This is a view from the top also looking east at that other prominent no-name dome (or, maybe they call it Dog Dome, since if overlooks the trail to Dog Lake?) that one accesses near the base of Lembert Dome, off to the right when the dirt trail comes to an end.  Pretty day..


Four of five youngsters at the top:


The three of us taking what is our umteenth family summit-of-Lembert photo. Still, who could resist?


It’s amazingly fun up at the top, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore, lots of ledges on which to sit, lots of edges over which to look, lots of giant, flat-ish plateaus, lots of boulders…


Here’s Jim, and this is looking more or less south. There are even lots of trees up there, very non-viewable from the bottom.


After about an hour or two up there, we descended, and decided to go down around the backside of the dome, getting to a different trailhead and parking lot. Along the way, Peter and I took a .3 mile detour to get a look at Dog Lake.  Nobody was around and the lake was still. That’s Dana (13,061′ second highest peak in Yosemite), center.


The nice thing about this other trail is you get nice views of the backside of Lembert (or maybe its true face). You can usually see climbers, which is fun:


And once free of the forest, this is the view you get west toward the meadow.. that’s Cathedral Peak in distance:


After a stop at the diner, we returned to the cabins.

Here’s what’s fun: My childhood friend Betsy and her family also come to Yosemite every year and for the last few, we’ve overlapped our time there. They stay in the housekeeping cabins in the Valley so it’s not easy to hook up. Last year, Jim and I hiked down to the valley from Olmstead Point to meet them–great but hard on the knees, and then we took the YART bus back to Tuolumne for a very long but nice day. This year, Betsy agreed to drive up and meet us for dinner at the lodge. We had a few hours to hang out, so I took her to two favorite river spots within walking distance of the cabins. She was duly impressed, both by the jaw dropping beauty, as well as the lack of people.

First we walked up the Dana Fork a bit:


And did this:


Then went back to the Lyell Fork.

Insanely beautiful. Felt proud of our little slice of heaven.


And I took her to one of our favorite swimming and hang out spots, which was cooperatively dramatic:


She took some pics from the bridge….


… of this…


Then we went to dinner… a couple shots at the end of the day…

By this time, the Matalon-Frames had arrived, so here’s Ben, and his sidekick, a happy Peter:


and John and Maita: