Tuolumne Peaks ◆ 4 Days ◆ 3 Peaks
2013 would prove to be a scheduling challenge and require flexibility in execution. As this was a Geo year to pick, he decided that a pack-in into the the southern part of Emigrant Wilderness to hit some peaks was in order. We set up with Aspen Meadows but had to postpone because of family reasons. Then trying to sync our two schedules with work and other vacations was a herculean task. Finally the 3rd week of Septmeber emerged but now the Rim Fire had waylaid our original plans.
So, when you need to find a location that is easy to get to and has a lot of climbing opportunities, Tuolumne Meadows fills the bill. We reserved a campsite for our basecamp and planned to attempt/ascend 4-5 peaks. All was looking well until mother nature and her fickle ways came into play with an early season snowfall in the high country. The ride up was near zero conditions as we navigated highway 120 between Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadows. A soaked and snow laden campsite did not help, along with some biting cold you usually do not expect at that time of the year!!!
After a cold night, we awoke to blue skies and a pleasantly warm autumn sun. A short drive to the May Lake trailhead and we were on our way. The High-Sierra camp was covered in a pristine dusting of snow and brought back several memories of summer visits. We continued on and started a cross-country trek to get to the base of our intended target, however, at our May Lake rest stop the keys ot the Pilot had decided to attempt an escape. No choice, I turned around and George and Bill continued on. I was able to catch up and see them make the summit from my safe watch spot. While I waited, the views were 180 degrees of the Pacific Crest, It does not get any better.
For today, a bit closer to home. Within the Tuolumne Meadows campgrounds is the trailhead for Lake Elizabeth and our path up to Johnson Peak An interesting bit of geological history in this section of the park is the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite that includes the Johnson Granite Porphyry, Cathedral Peak Granodiorite, Half Dome Granodiorite and the Kuna Crest Granodiorite magmatic pulses. Starting 93.5 million years ago (Turonian) thru 85.4 million years (Santonian), the Kona Crest represents the oldest flows and Johnson Peak sits as the youngest formation in the park. This is an easy off-trail hike that gets a bit bushy along the ridge and affords some spectacular 360 degree views. Well worth the effort.
Tioga Peak & Rim Fire
Fourth day in and the weather had cleared a touch but more was on the way. A ranger came by to tells us that there was a possibility that Tioga Pass would be closed overnight and thru the next day if the weather forecast turned into reality. Our plan was to shift over to the Saddlebag Lake campground and climb Mt Conness. However, faced with the prospect of high winds, icy/snowing conditions and some cold nights, we settled for Tioga Peak and a leisurely return home.
Our ride home was a bit somber as we travelled thru the destruction of the Rim Fire that summer. A careless hunter's fire caused 255,000 acres across the Stanislaus Forest, Yosemite Park and private lands to burn starting August 17th and lasting into the winter season . Approximately 77,254 of this burn was within Yosemite and included 26 archaeological sites (many with religious and cultural significance to American Indian tribal groups), two historic buildings, one historic developed area and five historic roads. There is a cost for carelessness, do not let it be you please.
Next year is my turn to decide. Now where will we go...
May our paths & errands meet
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