August 9, 2012
Total distance: 6 miles
John Muir, describing how best to spend one’s day in Yosemite, once said, “Go straight to Mt. Hoffman…from the summit nearly all the Yosemite park is displayed like a map.” Mt. Hoffman is the geological center of Yosemite National Park marked with a survey marker. Today Mary Elizabeth and I ventured to the top.
The first stop on our trek to the top of the mountain was May Lake. The lake is host to a High Sierra Camp and sits at the base of Mt. Hoffman (whose summit was blocked from our view for most of the hike).
Wildflowers grew along the trail. We watched as a swarm of orange butterflies flew from flower to flower drinking the sweet nectar. We stopped occasionally to look back at the ever-changing view.
Walking through a particularly lush area, we saw several grouse who seemed apathetic to our presence in their home.
Marmots and alpine chipmunks ran about freely. Looking back again, we saw the sparkling blue of May Lake.
A sunny meadow sat flanked by the forest and the adjacent granite base of Mt. Hoffman. Leaving the meadow, the trail wavered up and down through a shady forest, the last shelter from the sun before the climb. As we emerged from the woods, our workout began.
Cairns led the way over the decomposed granite. With so many rocks and boulders in our midst, it was often tricky to find a trail marker.
The panoramic view was breathtaking as we climbed up 2,000 heart pounding feet. At this point the true summit of Mt. Hoffman was visible.
We continued the trudge up hill and veered left to begin climbing the rocks. Unable to find a spot of shade to sit for lunch, we perched in the sun like marmots and rested our weary muscles. Four falcons glided through the air and swooped down to the ground in search of food. A hungry marmot moved lazily over the rocks.
After lunch, we left our packs and pulled ourselves up the sloping mass of rocks. I thought we were doing pretty well for a couple of middle-aged women.
Near the top, I peeked over the edge and saw an expansive view of Yosemite. Several unnamed lakes sat below nestled like jewels in a sea of gray granite. The wind came in gusts making us feel like we were going to be blown off the mountainside.
We made our way off the rocks and back to May Lake.
This quote from John Muir sums up our day, “If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb to the top of one of them, and run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jumping from boulder to boulder with even speed. You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of these magnificent rock piles.”
We were pleased with ourselves for having accomplished what we did. We slowly and surely climbed the mountain and found its music and poetry along the way.