Alright…I know it seems like we just got back from our cross-country road trip out west, but the blog is headed out to California over the next few posts! Shortly after getting Maisie, I abandoned Jessica with the new pup to head out hiking. This time my hiking partner was my mother. Each year, my mother and I try to go on one hiking trip together. This year we went big with a trip to Yosemite.
Yosemite is perhaps the most famous park in the world. The discovery and commercialization of the Giant Sequoia in the Mariposa Grove helped to launch the conservation movement and Teddy Roosevelt’s visit led by John Muir encouraged T.R. to provide the park with federal protection 13 years before the national park system was even formed.
Besides hosting multiple Giant Sequoia groves, Yosemite has become the big wall climbing capital of the world. Recently, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgesen made news for completing the first free climb of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall. 60 Minutes profiled Alex Honnold’s free-solo (no ropes) climbs a few years ago. If that clip blows your mind, here is a quicker more dramatic one.
But enough about climbers in Yosemite. On to my much tamer and less exciting adventures. After a five hour long slog from San Francisco, my mother and I were maybe a bit too ambitious in our first day-hiking plans. We aimed to tackle a demanding hike known as Clouds Rest. However, rain (and possibly lightning) in the forecast gave us a convenient alibi for bailing on the hike. Instead, we drove up the Tioga Road to Tuolumne Meadows to explore some shorter trails.
The first trail was to the summit of Lembert Dome. Much of Yosemite (and the High Sierra) are made up of granite domes polished smooth by glaciers in the last ice age. Lembert Dome sits at the end of Tuolumne Meadows and provides commanding views of the valley. At 2.8 miles round trip and only 850 feet of elevation gain, it is hard to get more bang for your buck.
With how quick the Lembert Dome hike was, my mother and I still had time to explore another trail. This time we decided on something longer: Cathedral Lakes. We even got a taste of Cathedral Peak from Lembert Dome. Look for the sharp peak sticking up about a third of the way from the left edge of the photo. That was our next destination.The Cathedral Lakes trail is considerably more strenuous than Lembert Dome at 7 miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain. It was on this trail that we really began to feel the effects of 8,500 feet of elevation and the 6 hours crammed into a coach plane seat a day earlier. The reward, though, was unparalleled views of the High Sierra Lakes and Cathedral Peak. After returning to the trailhead we were spent and we drove back to our cabin. This is where we really started to realize how large Yosemite is. It took us over an hour and a half to get home after this hike and we were staying within the park boundaries. The Tiago Road winds its way up and around Yosemite Valley and it is easy to underestimate how long it can take to traverse it. The long drive, however, didn’t stop us from stopping for sunset photos at the Tunnel View Pullout.