September 15, 2022
May Lake to just below Mt. Hoffmann
Total distance walked: 4 miles
It was the tail end of summer, a pleasant morning as I recall. Vivian joined me on this last summer adventure in Yosemite. We were hiking to May Lake which is nestled just below Mt. Hoffmann. We discussed going up to Mt. Hoffmann too.
The short uphill jaunt to May Lake is filled with amazing sights in all directions.
Through the trees you can see Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Cathedral Peak, Mt. Hoffmann and more. The views of these granite monoliths add to the beauty of the hike.
We walked through the forest on a soft dirt path. Besides the awesome views, we passed a tree hugger—a barkless tree appearing to hug a boulder.
Soon we reached the south shore of May Lake and its High Sierra Camp. A tiny ripple spread across the water’s surface disturbing its glass-like stillness.
We agreed to continue up to Mt. Hoffmann—a 2,000-foot climb—hiking as high as we felt comfortable doing. From the lake, the trail gained elevation quickly.
The only trail signs pointing the way to Mt. Hoffmann were the countless cairns strategically placed along the route.
“We don’t stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking,” said mountaineer Finis Mitchell. I hiked to the top of Mt. Hoffmann in August 2012. I’m still hiking, but much has changed in ten years, not only in me, but the trail too.
After a rough section of climbing uphill, I was looking forward to the ease of walking through the meadow. However, the trail through the meadow had been diverted in order to restore the damage done there. According to the National Park Service, “High-elevation meadow vegetation can be very slow to recover from trampling disturbance.”
Instead, we followed another rocky and steep course up the mountain. We had to find our way through the rocks using rocks to guide us.
Every so often we’d stop for a breather and look back at the ever-changing view of May Lake.
Slowly, we negotiated our way above the tree line watching for our granite guides.
Tenaya Lake, three miles away, came into view.
It appeared that we were just below the false summit of Mt. Hoffmann, but we weren’t. The telephoto lens made it seem closer than it was.
Around noon we stopped for lunch and a much-needed rest.
Vivian finished lunch and climbed higher to see how close we were to the summit while I sat. Sitting for so long might not have been a good idea. My legs became stiff. I was worn out from using both hands and legs to climb and decided that I couldn’t continue. Vivian probably would have reached the top but agreed that we did enough.
Carefully we followed the cairns down the rugged slope of loose rock. They were much easier to recognize going downhill.
Upon approaching the lake, we knew our adventure would soon to be over.
A mile later, we were back at the car. For a couple of hikers who—in their minds—feel much younger than their age, we were pleased with the trip. I returned to Yosemite just once more in the year 2022.
I’m hopeful that 2023 will be another great year of hiking, exploring, and adventuring with family and friends in God’s beautiful country, Yosemite National Park.