Exploring Granite Lakes

August 24, 2013
Granite Lakes
Roundtrip distance: 4 miles

When too much time has passed since my last hike, and my heart yearns to be up high in the mountains…I think of John Muir’s quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  Heeding the call, I packed a lunch and headed to the far east section of Yosemite National Park.

Mt. Dana

Mt. Dana, the second highest mountain in Yosemite.

At the Gaylor Lakes trailhead (elevation 9,950 feet) northwest of Mt. Dana, I began the half-mile 600 foot climb up Gaylor Ridge and down to Middle Gaylor Lake.  It was a chilly morning, 46 degrees, but the sun shone brightly and the quick uphill jaunt warmed me.

Descending to Middle Gaylor Lake.  Cathedral Range in the background.

Descending to Middle Gaylor Lake. Cathedral Range in the background.

While walking by Middle Gaylor Lake, I recalled the day (51 weeks ago exactly) spent here with my dear friend Mary Elizabeth.   You can read about our fun adventure here.  I also remembered the time at the lake with my son Andrew.  We spotted our first marmot in the rocks near this lake.

Looking down at the path around Gaylor Lake.

Looking down at the path around Gaylor Lake.

Upper Gaylor Lake with Andrew.  July 2010.

Upper Gaylor Lake with Andrew. July 2010.

Beyond Gaylor Lake is the basin: a wide, flat meadow to cross on the way to Granite Lakes.  I laid on the dry grass for a while, enjoying the fact that I could just lie there totally alone in that big open space, my soul singing, joy filling my heart.

Lying on the grass in Gaylor Lakes Basin surrounded by the boulder-strewn meadow.

Lying on the grass in Gaylor Lakes Basin surrounded by the boulder-strewn meadow.

Upon arriving at Lower Granite Lake, I explored the area then walked along the narrow path skirting the east shore reaching the lake’s inlet.

Approaching Lower Granite Lake.

Approaching Lower Granite Lake.

Looking south from the inlet.

Looking south from the inlet.

I climbed up the rocks and around a bend to Upper Granite Lake where I sat and listened to the birds while humming, “How Great Thou Art” :

“O Lord my God!  When I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed;”

Upper Granite Lake.  Happy to be here.

Upper Granite Lake. Happy to be here, not a soul in sight!

While having lunch, the crunching sound of eating potato chips interfered with the peaceful paradise, so I put them away preferring to gaze in silence at the lake and surrounding granite mountains.

“When through the woods and forest glades I wander, and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;”

My lunch spot.

My lunch spot.

View during lunch of Upper Granite Lake.

View during lunch of Upper Granite Lake.

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; how great thou art, how great thou art!”

My day felt just like the song.

Like a kid in a candy shop I explored anything and everything from admiring the intricate designs in the rocks, to reaching a small patch of snow still clinging to the mountainside.  I climbed up and over boulders trying to snap a photo of a hearty-sized Clark’s Nutcracker who refused to alight.

A striped rock.

A striped rock.

Copper-colored rock.

Copper-colored granite.

The wind howled around the glacial cirque and the scent of pine filled the air.

Black pine cones.

Black pine cones.

Pine berries?

Pine berries?

Red berries.

Mountain red elderberry, which is usually seen a bit lower, but is known to occur at some of the highest elevations as well.

Wildflowers sprouted next to a babbling creek.  They swayed back and forth in rhythm with the wind adding a bit of difficulty to photographing them.

Wild onions.

Wild onions.

Grass of Parnassus

Grass of Parnassus

My heart brimmed with nature as I walked up and over the ridge back to the car.  How blessed I am to visit Yosemite on a whim and have several lakes and the mountains completely to myself.

I wrote a note to my husband in the sand, Love U Chris.

I wrote a note to my husband in the sand.

On the way down from the high country, firefighters were staged along the road with Yosemite Rangers.  From a distance, we watched the Rim Fire that’s been burning for a week now.  The Ranger said the fire was five miles from where we stood.  God bless the firefighters who are doing all they can to control this wildfire.

Watching the Rim Fire from Highway 120/Tioga Road.

Watching the Rim Fire from Highway 120/Tioga Road.

Click here to watch Carrie Underwood singing, “How Great Thou Art”

15 thoughts on “Exploring Granite Lakes

  1. Dad

    Great to have you back on the trail again. And I loved your application of the hymn “How Great Thou Art” to the scenery. I’m sure poet Carl Gustav Boberg and missionary Stuart K. Hine would be very pleased. I know I was. I could feel your happy solitude. Also, nice touch…your note to Chris.

    Dad

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    1. Janet Post author

      Thank you for reading. You’ll love Yosemite. I hope you visit during the time you can reach the high country. It’s beautiful there.

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  2. linhartb

    Beautiful pictures! You are blessed to be able to visit Yosemite on a whim! I feel the same way about living in the Colorado Rockies – I can always be hiking up to some lake or peak in a short amount of time from home. We truly are blessed!

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    1. Janet Post author

      My friend called me from Colorado the other day, she’s visiting the area and has fallen in love with Rocky Mountains. She says that we need to go visit there. I agree.

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  3. Kathy

    I was wondering if anyone was still able to hike in Yosemite. Thank goodness for the fire fighters helping control the blaze. Sometimes the song *How Great Thou Art* just bursts forth from my soul. Life is a precious gift.

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