November 6, 2013
Total distance: 2.6 miles
Driving along the curvy county road not far from home, I realized with a shock that I had forgotten the camera! Instead of turning back to retrieve it, Andrew suggested we use his cell phone to take photos, which we did.
Traffic into Yosemite National Park was non-existent and we were making good time until I got behind two out-of-state, slow-moving vehicles. I was anxious to get to the trail; we left home an hour late, and it had been more than a month since my last hike. It took patience to remember that the sight-seers in front of us were probably visiting the area for the first time. Eventually, we made it to snow-clad Tuolumne Meadows.
Our plan was to climb Lembert Dome then hike to Dog Lake.
The trail was heavy with ice and snow. It didn’t seem safe to climb a potentially icy granite slab. We decided to forego Lembert Dome and stayed on the path to Dog Lake.
Having encountered 30 degree temperatures on summer mornings in the high country, we came dressed for cold weather. Even though snow blanketed the area, it was only in the low 50’s. The 750 foot ascent kept our hearts pumping and bodies warm.
The trail was deserted except for the two of us. Long-legged Andrew was ahead of me. At one point I heard him call down, “This is steep! I can feel my heart pounding!” I stopped to catch my breath and thought, “This from the boy who climbed Half Dome three times” (a 4,800 foot elevation gain).
By the time we reached the secluded lake we were at 9,250 feet. Dog Lake—named in 1898 when Robert Marshall of the U.S.G.S. found a dog there with a litter of puppies—was covered with a thin sheet of ice.
As we trekked to the sunny side, our feet sunk deeply in shoe-sucking mud. We continued until we found a dry, sandy beach where we stopped for lunch.
We skipped stones across the ice, then explored the area in search of flora and fauna. It became apparent that nature was shutting down for the season.
We found dried stalks on the lakeshore, remnants of summer’s wildflowers. Though we could see deeply into the crystal clear water, the fish were obscure. The area was unusually quiet. The absence of birds and critters chattering in the trees was noticeable. The only noise was when our voices bounced off the ice echoing easily around the lake.
We searched for animal prints in the unmarked snow and came across dried bear scat, mountain lion droppings, and one oddly shaped snowman perched on a log.
It was another beautiful day!
So thankful for this day at Dog Lake!