A Day at Dog Lake

November 6, 2013
Dog Lake
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.

Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows

Our plan was to climb Lembert Dome then hike to Dog Lake.

Trail sign.
Trail sign.

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.

I should have brought my snowshoes.
I should have brought snowshoes.

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.

A note in the snow from Andrew at the trail junction.
A “that way” note in the snow from Andrew at the trail junction.

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).

Hiking to Dog Lake.
Hiking to Dog Lake.

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.

Though in the sun, this is the shady side of the lake.
This is the shady side of the lake.

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.

Our lunch spot.
Our lunch spot.

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.

Glittering ice skims the top of the lake.
Glittering ice skims the top of the lake.

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.

It easier to climb a tree horizontally than vertically.
It’s easier to climb a tree horizontally than vertically.

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.

Found a mini snowman on the trail and gave him a face.
Found a mini snowman on the trail and gave him a face.

It was another beautiful day!

Happy to be here.

So thankful for this day at Dog Lake!

Lembert Dome
Looking up at Lembert Dome.  We’ll have to wait until next year to climb it.

7 thoughts on “A Day at Dog Lake

  1. Looks like it was another fantastic outing. But wasn’t Andrew COLD without his shirt? I got a kick out of his trail marker. 🙂


      1. I stopped at the base, but the rest of my party kept going up. They couldn’t get to the very tippy top because the cables were closed, but got pretty close! My legs were way too shot by the end to go up the remaining steps. I think I’ll try again at some point, once I get into better shape!


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