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Sunrise, Moonrise

August 10, 2014

Monica, Dror and Ben are leaving today, so we thought we’d send them off with a good half-day hike under their belts and make the drive home to the Bay Area a lot more tolerable. We chose a hike to Sunrise High Sierra Camp. (Bwaaaaaa..)

The hike starts at the west end of Tenaya Lake–same place we start for Cloud’s Rest and the fun cross country we do to get to Tenaya Peak. It starts easily enough and for about a mile and half is mostly gentle and foresty. Then comes that intense set of switchbacks that take you up approximately 1000′ feet in about a mile. Relentless, gnarly, insanely steep, but definitely better going up than it is going down.

At the top, at a giant trail junction, you can go toward Cloud’s Rest (which is another 4.7 miles) or go left to the three Sunrise Lakes (and beyond that, to Sunrise High Sierra Camp). Or you can do this little detour and get a great view of Half Dome (which we did on the return trip).

Here is a shot up at the junction. Hardly looks like we just grunted up five billion switchbacks, does it?

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We went left. Here is the first, and in my opinion the prettiest, of the three lakes:

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The second one you have to look for.. and I missed it.. it’s a bit off the trail.  I saw it on the return trip.  This is the third, where we had lunch:

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(I’m just now noticing my poles in the picture; they were marking our location for the Matalon-Frames.)

We hung out for about an hour and did a little of this (talking):

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And a little of this (target practice):

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And then the Matalon-Frames took off to go back home with a tidy 8.4 miles on the day, including a super hard ascent/descent, some stunning views, and lots of sparkling conversation.

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We pressed on, because we wanted to see the Sunrise High Sierra camp, which was only another mile.

We’ve now seen four of the five backcountry High Sierra Camps–May Lake, Glen Aulin, Vogelsang, and Sunrise. We have yet to see Merced. Tuolumne Meadows tent cabins and White Wolf are considered High Sierra Camps, but not part of the famous backcountry loop.

Here is a shot of what the camp looks like. The cabins (only 9) are very spread out, though they have a lot of backpacking sites on the outskirts.

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Near the dining tent is this giant boulder, and a nice view out across Long Meadow. I hear the sun comes up over that range to the left, and is spectacular, which gives the camp its name:

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The area was new to us. Here are Jim and Peter figuring out what’s what:

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Then it was time to head back down (had 5.2 miles to go, it was getting late, and yours truly, after many days of hiking, was starting to hurt, which is a bummer, but it’s definitely going to heal, whatever it is).

I might mention here that Jim was hiking with his own little problem…a giant bruise he’d gotten a couple days earlier when–playing catch with Peter one late afternoon–a baseball sort of missed his glove and smashed into the inside of his knee. T’was quite painful, as I understand it.

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Anyway, injuries and all, we forged on. Jim went ahead to catch the last shuttle (though turns out this was not an issue); Peter and I hiked together. I’m in draggy, sloggy pursuit, but enjoying views of Mt. Hoffmann and other cool things:

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When back at the trail junction, before the very ridiculous descent, Peter and I did peel off the trail to check out Half Dome. We pee’d (behind separate boulders)… probably one of life’s best pee spots.

Here is the initial view; you can see Half Dome peeking up on the left:

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And here is the view a bit around the bend and down the hill all telephoto’d up. Cloud’s Rest (9931′) is a huge mountain just out of view on the left, and has the best view ever of Half Dome (8839′), especially the cabled ascent. You actually look way down on Half Dome from the top of Cloud’s Rest. Definitely one of my favorite hikes of all time.

While a little off topic, this is what the yosemitehikes.com website says about Cloud’s Rest:

Take in one of Yosemite’s most stunning and wide-ranging 360-degree panoramic views, stretching from Hawaii in the west to Nebraska in the east. Or thereabouts. You can definitely see a lot of stuff from here.

The top of Clouds Rest is a narrow ridge with a long, sheer dropoff on the north side (the side you can see from the Tioga Road). The dropoff to the south is less extreme, but it wouldn’t require special talent to wind up just as thoroughly and symmetrically dead by falling off that side. It’s best to visit Clouds Rest sober and during dry weather.

That said, the route over the ridge is more manageable and less dangerous than Half Dome’s cable route. If you’re slow and careful, you shouldn’t feel like you’re a freak gust of wind or a momentary lapse of concentration away from the bottom of Tenaya Canyon. And the very top of the peak opens up again to around fifty feet wide, which will feel like the Great Plains after the underpants-imperiling knife edge you’ve just crossed to get there.

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Peter and I listened to songs on his iTunes (and I tried to guess what rating he’d given to each) which took my mind off my aching achilles or more likely hip, maybe both. Made it to the trailhead (a very satisfying 10.4 mile day) and found Jim waiting.

Riding home on the shuttle (love that shuttle), I took this picture of Lembert out the window. Nice time of evening:

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We managed to make it back in time for dinner, barely. Then caught an amazing full moonrise:

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Ho hum. Another killer day in Yosemite.

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