Thursday, September 07, 2006

Travel: A Hobbit's Tale - Venturing from the Wilshire to Vogelsang in the High Country of the Fair Lands of Yosemite, Part I

Pictures are toward the bottom if you want to skip the administrative details!

The itinerary

Tuesday 15 August - went to LAX to pick up my buddy. We then drove up to Oakhurst and stayed at the Comfort Inn. Had dinner at Mountain House which is on the 41 near Bass Lake. For information about other services in Oakhurst area, go here.

Wednesday 16 August - got up early and drove to Tuolumne Meadows to see if we can get a campground. We wound up at Yosemite Creek. It is a 5 mile windy road down from the Tioga Road so be prepared! We got our permit and took a quick hike to Dog Lake.

Thursday 17 August - got up early and set off for Vogelsang going south on the Rafferty Creek Trail! We pitched tent near Fletcher Lake.

Friday 18 August- did some light hiking in and around Fletcher Lake. We went up to Vogelsang Lake and Vogelsang Pass. We also went to Townsley Lake.

Saturday 19 August - we set out east and visit Evelyn Lake and then down to Lyell Canyon.

Sunday 20 August - we get up and hike back to civilization going north along the Lyell Canyon trail. We drive down to Oakhurst and take a Jamba Juice break and lunch at Quiznos. We then drove down to Fresno and stayed at the Quality Inn Suites. We had dinner at Stuart Anderson Steak House near Fresno State University.

Monday 21 August - drove back to LA.

The milage

Hike to Dog Lake: starting at the parking lot west of the Wilderness Permit Office, it is about 3 miles round trip starting at 8580 feet and arriving at 9170 feet.

Hike to Fletcher Lake along Rafferty Creek: starting at the Wilderness Permit Office parking lot, it is about 7 miles starting at 8600 feet and arriving at 10,157 feet.

Hikes in the Vogelsang area: from the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp to the Vogelsang Pass, it is about 1.5 miles. The HSC is about 10,130 feet. The pass is about 10,680 feet. Townsley Lake (10,353 feet) is above Fletcher Lake (10,157 feet) and it is less than a mile away. There isn't an officially marked trail but enough people have gone up there that there are several apparent routes up the rocks to get to Townsley.

Hike to Lyell Canyon: From Fletcher Lake, it is about 6.3 miles. Along the way, we passed Evelyn Lake and gained a little bit of elevation. If I'm reading my topo map right, we probably went as high as 10,600 on the route. The junction of the Ireland Lake/Evelyn Lake trail is at 10,410. From that point, it is 2.8 miles down to Lyell Canyon at 8900 feet.

Hike to Toulumne Meadows along Lyell Canyon: about 6.1 miles which is mostly level.

The travelogue with pictures

Tuesday 15 August - Since my friend's flight arrived at LAX around noon, we figured we would pull into Oakhurst in the early evening.

Wednesday 16 August - We got up early and drove to Tuolumne Meadows which is about 2 hours from Oakhurst. The campgrounds at Tuolumne Meadows and Porcupine Flats were filled so we got a site at Yosemite Creek. It is a 5 mile windy road down from the Tioga Road. We set up our stuff and then head back out to Tuolumne Meadows to got our Backcountry Permit and bear canister.

We took a quick hike to Dog Lake.

The route passes alongside the Lembert Dome!

One can't see them in this photo but there are rock climbers on that thing!

We only saw two deer on our trip. This one here ...

The other jumped in front of our car! Fortunately, we hit the brakes fast enough to avoid a collision!

Here is Dog Lake ..

To see a panoramic of the lake click here.

We had burgers for dinner. This would be our final "regular" meal for several days!

Here is the heart of downtown Toulmne Meadows!

We went back to our car camp site at Yosemite Creek.

I made a boo-boo when I ate an apple and put the core in a ziplock bag. Instead of throwing it into the bear resistant trash bin immediately, I left it on the picnic table. I walked to the bathroom and as I was walking back, I saw a bear!!

The bear wandered over to our campsite and started pawing at the ziplock bag. It also slobbered all over my friends camera bag. After much shouting and clapping and banging of pots, the bear headed into the woods.

The bear came back about 30 minutes later. Since it was dark, all we could see was the two eyes glowing in the dark as people shined flashlights at him/her! The temperatures started to go down and we were tired so we went into our tents. Suffice to say the night was periodically interrupted by shouts of BEAR, BEAR, BEAR and the banging of pots and the triggering of car alarms to scare off the bear!

Thursday 17 August - We got up early and set off for Vogelsang going south on the Rafferty Creek Trail!

Four hours into the hike, I was beat. The elevation gain and the 35+ pound backpack was taking its toll. We estimated we still had two more hours to go! An extended rest and some water and snacks and seeing so many senior citizens on the trail got me going again.

Here we are at Tuolumne Pass near the 10,000 feet mark and five hours into our epic hike.

A final rocky stretch with switch backs and we were there!

The picture is of the canvas tent cabins of the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp with Fletcher Peak in the background.

We pitched our tent near Fletcher Lake.

To see a Fletcher Lake panorama, click here.

A few words about Altitude Sickness

10,000 feet is high enough that most people will have some mild symptoms. To get scared out of your mind, be sure to check out this web page from the International Society of Mountain Medicine.

The reality is that the amount of oxygen in the air is reduced at elevation and your body will take steps to compensate. The heart rate and blood pressure goes up to move more blood to get oxygen to your cells. In an effort to raise the red blood cell concentration, your body will urinate more thus dehydration will be a problem unless you drink consistently.

As I tried to go to sleep, it was a little disconcerting initially to hear my heart beat! In addition to hearing it, I noticed its rapidity! I also had a moderate headache. My final symptom was the high altitude cough which was probably a result of dry and dusty air. It is also possible that perhaps there was something that I was mildly allergic to floating around that further irritated my bronchi.

The reason I put into our itinerary the light hike to Dog Lake was to give us nearly one full day of getting used to the higher elevation. Indeed, there are people who drive straight up and start hiking to 10,000 feet immediately. However, I felt as someone who lives life in Los Angeles, elevation 330 feet, it would be a good idea to allow for some acclimatization!

Part I
Part II
Part III
Pictures and Panoramics only - slow load multiple pictures
Panoramics only - slow load 7 large images


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