July 31, 2012
Lyell Canyon and Tioga Lake
Total distance: 7.06 miles
Michelle accompanied me today on a hike of two trails in the high country: the John Muir Trail through Lyell Canyon; and Tioga Lake.
The Lyell Canyon trail began across the street from the parking lot of Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.
Early into the hike we crossed a bridge over the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River, and again the twin bridges over the Lyell Fork where we sat near the water’s edge. There were many people along the banks of the river and lots of people on the trail as well.
This trail is the way to the popular Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. It is also part of the famous John Muir Trail (JMT). [The JMT, named for naturalist John Muir, is a 211 mile trail that runs from Yosemite Valley through Tuolumne Meadows. It parallels the Sierra Nevada mountain range through Yosemite ending at Mt. Whitney.] The Pacific Crest Trail also intersects here making the Lyell Canyon trail a very crowded thoroughfare.
The path heading up Lyell Canyon and through the forest was quite dusty. A footbridge spanned Rafferty Creek which was completely dry. We came to an open meadow sprinkled with mauve-colored rye grass, and heard a mountain chickadee sing his song in the tree branches above.
We spied Kuna Crest in the distance and I recalled my favorite trail. This was our turnaround point.
Back in the car, we drove to Tioga Lake, situated alongside Tioga Road. It is a small glacial lake located ¾ of a mile from the Tioga Pass park entrance station. We walked down the steep trail through the trees to the north end of the lake.
The nearby view of Mt. Dana was beautiful.
Soft white ranger buttons, vivid pink paintbrush, and lush lupine adorned the grassy meadow.
Michelle walked into the water and sunk to her ankles in the soft mud.
We sat for awhile enjoying the peaceful splendor of the lake before trekking back up the hill to the car, and eventually home. I will come back to this lake someday.