Blue's Boots

Andrea's adventures on the trail…

Yosemite / Ansel Adams Wilderness – July 2013

I spent 8 incredible days in Yosemite NP solo and then 4 days in the Inyo Forest/Ansel Adams Wilderness with good friends… a perfect summertime backpacking trip πŸ™‚

Grab a cuppa tea or coffee, sit back, and relax, because there are a LOT of photos to go through…Β  Some of the best are near the end of this post at Thousand Island Lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness. It’s impossible to not include this many photos, and even then they don’t to justice to what it was like to be there in person.


I spent 3 days at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, had a great time and did some fun day hikes, but was ready to get away from the crowds and tourists after the first day. It’s a gorgeous place, nothing else like it on earth, but just too crowded.

On my first day in the Valley I hiked up to Vernal and Nevada Falls (with hundreds of other tourists). Gorgeous, but again extremely crowded, and the heat didn’t make it any better. Water was running fairly low because of the time of year, but the falls and Emerald Pools were still very impressive.

Later that evening I took the Shuttle to Yosemite Village, hit the gift shop, and hiked out to see Yosemite Falls. Again, not a lot of water flow because of the time of year, but still very beautiful to see.

On Day 2 I drove to the base of El Capitan and hiked almost to the base of it, and then watched some climbers part way up. I think I’ll keep my feet planted firmly on the ground, thanks πŸ™‚

Then I drove to Wawona and took the Shuttle to the Mariposa Grove of sequoias, spent the day hiking 6 miles with these giants πŸ™‚Β  Again, very hot this day. These trees are magnificent, HUGE, and make everything around them seem tiny. It was crowded here too, but not as bad as in Yosemite Valley.

On the way back to Curry Village that evening I drove to Glacier Point and was in awe of the views from this spot. Pictures can’t begin to describe what the Yosemite Valley looks like from here.


I grabbed my last shower for several days at Curry Village before packing up and driving to Tuolumne Meadows to begin my backpack trip. I stopped at the Wilderness Center to pick up my permit, and spent a long time getting all supplies, gear, and food sorted, packed, and/or stored in a bear locker for when I would be on the trail. I stayed at the Tuolumne backpacker campground, crowded but a lot of really nice people here.

The next day began bright and early, I was on the first shuttle to the Sunrise trailhead at Tenaya Lake. On the shuttle ride I saw 4 fawns in the meadow, born the night before, legs still wobbling. Good sign for the start of my trip!

I had originally planned to do a large loop from Tuolumne down to Half Dome, then over to Merced Lake, Vogelsang, and back to Tuolumne. I wasn’t counting on the heat and altitude making me feel like a slug in an oven, so I ended up shortening my hike by half, but still had an incredible time! On the first night I camped at an excellent spot 8 miles in, at Sunrise Creek, with a family that “adopted” me along the trail πŸ™‚Β  It was a long, hard day, hard to breathe because I wasn’t used to the elevation.

On the second day I left everything at camp at Sunrise Creek and hiked to Half Dome. I only got as far as the subdome and decided to not go up the cables to the top since I was feeling dizzy and lightheaded. The view from where I stopped was amazing, so no regrets about not going to the top. I hiked back to my tent, took a nap, splashed in Sunrise Creek, and decided that since I wasn’t feeling well, I’d pack up and hike that afternoon to Little Yosemite Valley camp, stay there overnight, and out to the Valley the next morning, instead of trying to hike back up through Merced Lake and Vogelsang with higher altitudes. I met up with my adopted family again at LYV and camped with them. About 8 miles again today.

We hiked out to the main Yosemite Valley on the third day, and I knew it was a good decision with the way I was feeling and the heat. We stayed on the John Muir Trail on the way down instead of dealing with the crowds on the Mist Trail. In the Valley I got pizza (yum!) at Curry Village, and after relaxing and chatting with other backpackers and getting an iced tea fix, I took the YARTS bus that evening back to Tuolumne Meadows where Stella (my car) was parked. Stayed in the Tuolumne backpacker campground again that night. On to Cathedral Lake tomorrow…


Sharon and Steve have a photo of Cathedral Peak on their wall at home, so I decided I’d better see it for myself. When John Muir first climbed Cathedral Peak in 1869, he said, β€œThis I may say is the first time I have been at church in California.” Now I get it….

Since I had another day left on my Yosemite wilderness permit, I shuttled out to the Cathedral Lake trailhead for one last night out. Wow!!! Not one bad thing about this place, the trail is wonderful, and the meadow, lake itself, and Cathedral Peak are stunning. I kept kinking my neck because the view out here is 360 degrees of jaw-dropping beauty. For such a beautiful place, there were only a few other people camped out here, making it even better.

After setting up camp I headed out on a small trail that circles the lake, and blew through a lot of camera battery and memory because no matter where you look, there’s something great to see. I ran into a mamma deer and a tiny fawn that were totally unafraid of me, and they actually walked the trail a while with me πŸ™‚ Made my day for sure.

Cathedral Lake is surrounded by massive amounts of granite, made for a lot of really great “sit and watch the sunset” spots. And… hardly any mosquitoes yay!!! The reflections off the still water the next morning were perfect for photos. All in all, I think John Muir got it right…. this is definitely a special place.

Back to Tuolumne Meadows and to Stella. Time to drive to Mammoth Lakes for 2 days in a hotel with a REAL shower and a REAL bed and REAL food πŸ™‚Β  Driving over Tioga Pass to the east of Yosemite is a spectacular drive. If you’re ever in Mammoth Lakes, go to Schat’s Bakery and get one of their sandwiches, it’s a little piece of heaven on earth after days on the trail πŸ™‚

I met up with Sharon, Steve, Lori, and Paul, to start my next adventure in:


Wow… words can’t describe these 4 days/3 nights in Ansel Adams Wilderness. There was a forest fire far away, but the smoke was blowing into the area so visibility on our first day wasn’t very good, not to mention trying to breathe with less oxygen at a high altitude!Β  We headed out of Agnew Meadows on the River Trail to Badger Lake for our first night. Long hike with a steady elevation gain up the San Joaquin River valley. It got more and more gorgeous the higher we went with the trees and granite slabs and boulders everywhere. Badger Lake was a small side trail that was unmarked, so we had the whole place to ourselves and an excellent camp site.

On Day 2 we hiked a short (but hard!)Β  distance from Badger Lake along the PCT to Thousand Island Lake. We could see bad weather coming in when we got closer to the lake, and ended up in a thunder/hail/rainstorm that we tried to hide out from in a clump of trees for a while. First view of Thousand Island Lake and Banner Peak overhead will stay with me for a long time, and the photos just can’t do it justice. We found a great campsite again in a meadowy area near a little beach on the lake, and managed to stay relatively dry while setting up camp. Even though we were wet, the weather just made the setting even more dramatic than it already is.

On Day 3 we woke up to calm water on the lake, making for great reflections of Banner Peak. We hiked from our campsite at Thousand Island Lake up the JMT to Island Pass, to a small and gorgeous lake along the trail, now unofficially dubbed “Lunch Lake”. From there we could easily see Donahue Pass and the trail into Yosemite… we’ll save that for another trip πŸ™‚Β  We spent quite a while at Lunch Lake enjoying the setting, rock hopping, and checking out the wildlife.

After a while we could see clouds forming up and decided to head back to camp. We got to camp just in time for Steve to get the magic Steve-Tarp set up while the thunder kicked in and then a hard rain. The JetBoil was the star of the dinner show since all 5 of us were crammed under the tarp and we didn’t have much room left over for cooking. A hot backpacking meal never tasted so good, knowing we were (kinda) warm and dry under the tarp instead of having to hide out in our tents. Sunset was wonderful…

Day 4… I decided to hike out back to Agnew Meadows and head for home, since I’d been gone for almost 3 weeks at this point. By the time I got back to the San Joaquin River valley mid-day, weather was starting to roll in, thunder was booming, and I got rained on for the last mile before getting back to Stella at the trailhead. Sharon, Steve, Lori, and Paul also decided to call it and hiked out later that day in soaking rain most of the way.

I stopped at Schat’s Bakery in Mammoth Lakes again for one of their amazing roast-turkey/avocado sandwiches and started the long drive back to Washington.Β  All in all, an amazing 3 weeks, more awe-inspiring views than I can count, lots of good “me time”, as well as a great time with good good friends. I got to meet some great people out on the trail, chat with frogs and deer and butterflies and squirrels, go through a lot of camera batteries and memory, and I wouldn’t trade these 3 weeks for anything.

Now… on to my next adventure!

One response to “Yosemite / Ansel Adams Wilderness – July 2013

  1. Lori says:

    Pictures are stunning. Looks like a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

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