Tuolumne tripBelow: De Anza Outdoor Club kayakers on Tenaya Lake, with Mount Hoffman, another destination for this trip, in the background.
The book Yosemite Wildflower Trails says this about Tuolumne Meadows: "Those who know it best will tell you that here the Sierra attains its ultimate perfection of mountain grandeur. Near the source of eternal snows on the peaks, icy streams flash down the mountain slopes to linger a while in the grassy meanders or lush meadows, trailing garlands of wildflowers along their banks. Many lakes, from the smallest of rocky tarns to those filling ancient glacial valleys, lie in grass-rimmed splendor reflecting the sky, the clouds and the crags."
John Muir said this in 'The Tuolumne Camp', "Probably more free sunshine falls on this magestic range than on any other in the world I've ever seen or heard of. It has the brightest weather, brightest glacier-polished rocks, the greatest abundance of irised spray from its glorious waterfalls, the brightest forests of silver firs and silver pines, more starshine, moonshine and perhaps more crystal-shine than any other mountain chain, and its countless mirror lakes, having more light poured into them, glow and spangle most. And how glorious the shining after the short summer showers and after frosty nights when the morning sunbeams are pouring through the crystals on the grass and pine needles, and how ineffably spiritually fine is the morning-glow on the mountain tops and the alpenglow of evening. Well may the Sierra be named, not the Snowy Range, but the Range of Light."
Muir's description of a thunderstorm:
"A range of bossy cumuli took possession of the sky, huge domes and peaks rising one beyond another with deep cañons between them, bending this way and that in long curves and reaches, interrupted here and there with white upboiling masses that looked like the spray of waterfalls. Zigzag lances of lightning followed each other in quick succession, and the thunder was so gloriously loud and massive it seemed as if surely an entire mountain was being shattered at every stroke....Then came the rain in a hearty flood, covering the ground and making it shine with a continuous sheet of water that, like a transparent film or skin, fitted closely down over all the rugged anatomy of the landscape."
on a long weekend (Thursday to Sunday), August 11 to 14, 2011 (we were not able to get through on the reservations lottery in 2012) camping, hiking, (and on your own, horseback riding or a climbing lesson) at Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite.
The price was $25 club members, $35 other students for camping.
(2011 we did not do kayaking.. in other years, IF we can find a way to get the kayaks there, we will have to charge more, maybe $5 to $10 extra for gas if you want to kayak, for whoever tows the kayak trailer and there is also a kayak cleaning/loading/unloading fee. We need to clean/bleach all the kayaks between uses so we don't risk spreading zebra mussels, etc. Everyone who kayaks will pay a minimum $25 fee. If you help with these chores you will get at least a $25 credit towards a club event within one year. If you don't, your share will go for a larger credit for someone else to do the work. If you are going kayaking during this trip, reading a step by step description of loading kayaks on the De Anza trailer will make the job go easier.)
Parking at the campsites will be limited to the largest two carpools, first signed up, first served. Everyone else will park at day use. There is a free shuttle bus 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. +/- from day use parking to the campground.
Only currently enrolled De Anza students can go on this trip.
We always have a maximum number of people we can take and you must sign up in advance.
Who goes on this kind of trip?
When we can get a group campsite, for example, for the 2004 trip, our ages were: 19, 19, 19, 20, 20, 21, 21, 24, 25, 25, 25, 25, 27, 27, 28, 28, 30, 30, 30, 31, 31, 32, 34, 35, 39, 40, 40, 41, 43, 43, 53, and 56, including six people who had never been camping before.
There was a waitlist of people who tried to sign up too late.
photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
Tuolumne Meadows, how to get there and what you will find:
Some people on this trip will leave very early Thursday and sightsee or get a climbing lesson or horseback ride before checking into the campsite in the afternoon. Some will take a day off work on Friday and leave on Thursday evening. Some may not be able to take a weekday off and will leave after work on Friday. You pay the same price no matter how many nights you camp with us. Carpools are arranged among the students going on the trip, not by the club or the college. For info on how to get/give a ride go to Carpool FAQs You might also want to read How to not collide with a deer wildlife jams Road trip advice and etiquette or Safe driving in rain and fog.
Gas will get higher in price as you get into the mountains, so refill the tank regularly when you spot cheap gas. In the park, the gas stations are not open that many hours but you can buy gas with a credit card 24 hours a day if the power is on.
Some tips for the 580/205/120 route most of us will use are at:
San Jose area to Yosemite via 120
including why you don't want to shortcut through Livermore on 84, about the exit from Manteca to 99 north, why you should not try OLD Priest Grade, and more. This description takes you as far as Crane Flat, with 24 hour gas at the pumps with a credit card.
On the forty miles from Crane Flat to Tuolumne meadows you will want to make stops and sightsee.
On the left shortly after Crane Flat is a small parking area for a short hike to the Tuolumne Grove of giant Sequoias.
If you have the time, stop at road marker T11, the Clark Range view, and see if you can spot Mount Hoffman to the east (10,850 feet elevation), our potential hike destination. As you drive, also see if you can spot the roadside marker T21, the turnoff down a dirt road to the trailhead for May Lake and Mount Hoffman.
Please do the speed limit. 15 bears and countless other animals were hit by cars in Yosemite National Park in 2005 and unfortunately even more many years since then.
Once you are near Tuolumne Meadows, even if you think you are running late, watch the map and the roadside markers for road marker T24 for Olmstead Point on the right. Pull into the big parking lot for at least a short stop to look around.
Stop and get out of the car for a look at a different angle at Half Dome than you may have seen, the wide expanse of Clouds Rest and down to Tenaya Lake in the other direction. With a spotter scope or binoculars you can see people going up the Half Dome cables. Below: photos of Tenaya Lake from Olmstead Point and the view from Olmstead Point with Cloud's Rest (left) and Half Dome
a 360 degree view from up above the parking lot, with a look at Half Dome, but no look at Tenaya Lake, is at:
Wander around the area and you may see, in season, Paintbrush and Mountain Pride Penstemon up closer than you did driving along the road. This might be a place you'd like to come back to for sunset. Sit still a ways from other people and you might see animals, like this marmot family:
The sandy soil at the parking area often has Pussy Paws blooming, a circle of bright green leaves surrounded by a circle of little round fluffy hot pink flowers (okay, an umbellate cluster). Due to changes in water pressure, the stems rise during the day and lower at night. Later in the summer the pink flowers will turn brown with hundreds of tiny, black seeds for chipmunks to eat and spread, planting even more Pussy Paws.
Pussy paws pictures are at: Tuolumne trip wildflowers.
Stop just down the road at Tenaya Lake if you want to try a swim before coming to the campground. (Please don't risk swimming alone, there are no lifeguards on duty.) The parking lot, restrooms and sandy beach are at the far end as you approach Tuolumne.
Early in the spring/summer when the water level is high, there isn't much beach and a few of the picnic tables can be submerged:
From the lake it's 7 miles to Tuolumne Meadows. The road was built for wagons in 1883 and rebuilt for autos in 1961. In 1911 J Smeaton Chase described the condition of this section of road he used as a trail: "The Tioga road...is a rough track built in historic days by the owners of the once famous Tioga mine... For purposes of technical control a wagon is still driven over it once a year by an adventurous teamster."
In this section of the raised relief map at the Tuolume Visitor center you can see Tenaya Lake in the bottom left and the meadows in light green the upper right.
When you get to Tuolumne Meadows the meadow itself will be on your left.
The first dome on the left at this end of the meadow is Pothole Dome. (Some of the glacial polish on this dome is fluted instead of flat (planar) and was not made by glacial debris, but by water flowing beneath the glacier. Hence the name subglacial water polish). It's a much easier walk to the top than other hikes we have planned, with a good view, but if you go there from the road, please don't wear out yet another trail across the meadow, use the slightly longer one that runs around the edge.
Early in the spring /summer season while the meadow is still wet or even flooded, Shooting Stars (with 4 or 5 pink petals coming from a yellow base, arranged like the wings of a diving bird) will be blooming,
then as the meadow dries up a little, the crimson/magenta Penstemons bloom, and finally the tall red-orange shafts of Paintbrush.
Map below courtesy of NPS
You will be driving in from the left to right on the map above. On the right you will pass (in this order) the Visitor Center (with nature displays and restrooms), trailer dump station, a bit later ... gas station (credit card gas pumping 24 hrs at ATM), Mountaineering School with a small camping goods store and possible rentals of gear you forgot to pack... slightly after that... a big white tent that houses the Post Office (center window in the picture below), grill (right hand door ... great shakes and/or frosties depending on the year, great fries, burgers - OK breakfast - the vegie chili had six kinds of beans plus other vegies, onion, peppers and cilantro, but they sometimes run out of it late in the day)
and a small grocery/dry goods store (left hand door) with a large supply of frozen treats, boxes and boxes of cookies/crackers and a tiny supply of fresh produce- bring your own produce supply. At the store the restrooms, picnic tables, a climbers' info display and ice machine (bring quarters, but it doesn't always work) are off to the right of the picture above.
Next you'll drive past (again, on the right) the campground reservations office with payphones (a small stone building), then the entrance road to the campground. (10 mph in the campground.)
Past these the road crosses a bridge (lots of swimming holes and rock slabs to sun on just upriver) and with Lembert Dome and the side road to the stables on the left, the highway bears right slightly and starts to climb to Tioga Pass. To the right there is a side road to the backpacker's permit/ wilderness center. It has a large parking lot (with lots of metal lockers to store food / ice chests from bears) that people in small carpools or who drove by themselves can park at. (Parking at campsite(s) is limited.)
Up the side road a little more past ranger offices is a trailhead parking lot and finally the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, (guest parking only) with canvas tent cabins. There is a great cascade a short hike up river from the Lodge (the Lodge tents are on the left side of the river as you go upstream, the trail thru the forest is on the right). There are huge bushes of lupine in season. Showers are available mid-day at the Lodge for non-guests only during years they don't have water issues.
Meals are also served at the Lodge in another big windowed tent with watercolors/oils on the walls. Please verify the following before the trip if you want to partake: Breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m., dinner from 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. (reservations for dinner strongly recommended (209) 372-8413). It's a semi-family style meal. Everyone shares 6-8 person tables with whoever arrives/has reservations at the same time. We have been seated with some other interesting backpackers or with a family with noisy ill-mannered kids.
Usual breakfast items including 'breakfast potatoes of the day'. For dinner people order from a choice of vegetarian, steak, chicken, pasta, fish, side orders, many with the salad of the day. Usual beverages and a choice of freshly baked deserts. In 2009 they had a policy that if even one member of your party was missing (off to the restroom or..) they would not seat any of you when your turn came and you had to wait until a table became available. We did not encounter that policy in 2011 or 2012. The Lodge is a "smoke free environment".
All club-planned activities are optional.
The first day of the trip there are no official plans for anything, just arriving and setting up camp. Get the food/toiletries out of your vehicle right away. Air out the vehicle if you ate burgers on the drive up. In 2005 Yosemite started warning: "Bears break into cars during the day time. So even while on a day hike, store all scented items in lockers." In 2009 the reservation said: "Food and toiletries must be stored 24 hours a day in food lockers provided in all campsites. No food in vehicles."
People who can leave town early could plan to do a Thursday trail ride, climbing lesson ... if they plan and make reservations in advance.
Night sky measurements over Tuolumne Meadows have been deemed by the park service to indicate "near-pristine conditions" for stargazing.
If we bring the De Anza owned kayaks we plan to be out on Tenaya Lake for sunrise Friday morning. (No, Michael, we can't schedule sunrise for later to accommodate your late night campfire/sleep needs). Only 20 can kayak at a time, depending on how many kayaks we can transport, so kayaking on large group trips will be first-signed-up-for-the-trip, first served. Remember the "No food in vehicles" rules and if you bring snacks kayaking transport them in a small enough bag that they can go in the kayak with you.
You can also use a canoe over canoe rescue for kayaks.
We also plan to continue the lifetime quest for the perfect swimming hole.(The Dana and Lyell forks of the Tuolumne River come down from the peaks and meet near the campground, then the river winds through the meadow.) It is usually warm enough to swim in the afternoon, but we don't swim if thunderstorms are lurking. Swimmers, and a trout nibbling at one of them, are at: World's greatest swimming hole
We intend to take the day Saturday to go to the top or near the top of Mount Hoffman (10,850'), the geographical center of the park. From the drive-in up a side-road trailhead, the trail is 1.2 miles to May Lake and then more switchbacks thru tiny wildflower meadows, with view back down to the lake, and on to the summit (or less distance if you want) for a 6 mile round trip. Guidebooks list it as a strenuous day hike. Pictures are at: May Lake to Mount Hoffman (Previously there was a rule about no swimming allowed near the outlet of May Lake as that is where the High Sierra camp gets water.)
We would like to go to the top of Lembert Dome as well. It is possible to get there without using the official trail, that is to climb up the face of the rock, but we are not allowing it during the trip. One of the senior Tuolumne Rangers gave us the advice that they have not had many serious injuries by people free-climbing the face, but they have had to rescue many who 'ledge-out.' The trail route is a steep .75 miles, then a short flat part, then the top to negotiate. When we go up the trail route some people can stop at the backside 'top' of the dome where they will feel less acrophobic.
→ More pictures are at: Lembert Dome Hike
This trip is not for you if you don't have enough respect for the plant life and insist on baseball, frisbee, kite flying, soccer, biking or other trampling of the meadows.
Leave no trace
It is not the right vacation for someone who wants to sleep in and expects the group to unload a kayak for them after the people who got to the launch site on time have already unloaded enough kayaks for themselves and are ready to play.
If you want to go on a major hike you must get up in time (early) to depart with us and stay with the group (or at least a small number of people hiking at the same speed).
Any hike to the top of peaks and domes must start early so we can get to the top and back down before expected afternoon lightning storms start. If at any point thunder is heard or lightning seen, you should turn back from the top of any peak, even if you haven't gotten as far as you wanted. Don't get zapped! Don't use your cell phone or IPod. Read Thunderstorm and lightning safety.
You don't have to depend on the driver of your carpool to get around Tuolumne. The store, with a shuttle bus stop, is a short walk from anywhere in the campground. The free shuttle bus runs most of the day to stops at Tuolumne Lodge, trailhead parking near Tuolumne Lodge, Wilderness Center/parking lot, Lembert Dome parking lot (which is the closest stop to access the stables), store/grill/campground, Visitor Center, trailhead for Cathedral Lakes at the west end of the meadows, Pothole Dome, the east (beach) end of Tenaya Lake, the west end of Tenaya Lake (also the Sunrise trailhead), the May Lake trailhead and Olmstead Point. Usual schedule: service begins at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge at 7 a.m. Buses arrive at approximately 30-minute intervals between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The last shuttle bus leaves Olmstead Point at 6:00 p.m. Most years the shuttle bus also makes two morning (9 a.m. and noon) and two afternoon (3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) runs from Tuolumne Lodge to Tioga Pass with a stop at Mono Pass. All this is subject to change. Look for route maps at the shuttle stops and Visitor Center. http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tmbus.htm
Besides the hike and kayaking we have in mind ...
The Tuolumne Rangers do very good nature walks or longer hikes, campfires at the campground Dana Circle and star or full moon talks.
The climbing school is based in Tuolumne in the summer. Mountaineering School info starts at:
(Phone in advance of the trip for reservations 1(209)372-8344).
There's a stable with two-hour, half day and all day trail rides.(Phone in advance of the trip for reservations 1 (209) 372-8427. People have been disappointed who tried to get a trail ride reservation when they arrived.)
Stables info is at:
There are more hikes than we can begin to describe. The Yosemite park service trail descriptions page (with some photos) starts at:
The Parsons Memorial Lodge Summer Series of talks, films, slide presentations and the Tuolumne Meadows Poetry Festival usually runs July through August. Details can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/programs.htm
Can I ride my mountain bike?
True mountain biking is not allowed, bikes must stay on roads and paved paths only, but 30 miles away, Mammoth has a gondola to the top of the mountain and you can ride 100-plus-miles of single-track trail network 3,000 feet to the bottom. http://www.mammothmountain.com
Yosemite fishing regulations are at:
Anyone who wants to use this trip as a way to tackle the hike to the top of Half Dome , which should start at 5 a.m., should note that the drive to the valley trailhead is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Tuolumne is not a good place to locate if you want to visit Yosemite valley a lot.
In 2010 they started requiring permits for day hikes to Half Dome on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Then they needed to switch to requiring them every day. They will issue a maximum of 400 permits per day. Backpackers in the area can get a Half Dome hike permit with their backpack permit for free. You can face misdemeanor charges if you go up without a permit - up to a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
Why the permits? In summer of 2009 on Saturdays and holidays Half Dome hikers averaged 840 per day (estimated at a peak of 1100 to 1200) and people have had to wait up to an hour to go up.
Can I parachute or parasail in Yosemite?
According to the Park Service:
"No. "BASE jumping" was permitted from El Capitan on a trial basis in the 1980s. However, due to the excessive number of injuries and abuses of safety restrictions, the activity is now prohibited. Parasailing is not permitted."
Can I hang glide in Yosemite?
According to the Park Service:
"Hang gliding is permitted only for those with a Hang IV certification and only through the sponsorship of the Yosemite Hang Gliding Association at (719) 632-8300."
ACCORDING TO DE ANZA'S RISK MANAGEMENT:
NO, at least not during one of our trips. At the end of the trip, after the campsite is packed up and vacated, people are on their own. Then people can go to the valley for hang gliding, try a high altitude scuba dive in Tenaya Lake or do rock climbing without an instructor from the climbing school. During our trip none of these will be allowed.
The club will provide:
space at a group campsite (years we can get one, if not, in regular family campsites). The largest carpools (suggest over five people; first drivers signed up get on the list of parking spaces first, some years we need tow vehicles) will be allowed to park at the group campsite. Others will have to park at campground 'overflow' parking at the backpackers permit station.
To find your way to both the group campsites and extra parking there is a map at:
Tuolumne Meadows group campsites map and pictures
In 2011 we were not lucky enough to get a group campsite, so you will get a map when you sign up for the trip.
The club will also provide a faculty advisor, a first aid kit, and a water purifying pump for club led hikes/kayaking.
The club intends to provide tandem kayaks, paddles, lifejackets (which must be worn and strapped securely) and possibly dry bags, but circumstances may preclude kayaking.
The club will probably also provide a shared stove and lantern for at least one possibly dining canopy covered cooking area, but if the club does not, members can borrow such club equipment with a cleaning and/or late fee deposit in the form of a cashier's check or credit card.
Trip participants are responsible for all other gear, including food and food preparation equipment, tents, sleeping bag, insulating sleeping pad, mosquito repellant, (read some advice at: insect repellant)
waterproof outer layers in case of rain, (you can get a set of rain pants/jacket at Home Depot then Improve your inexpensive rain gear), swimsuit, and other personal gear. Members can borrow some stoves, lanterns, tents and insulated sleeping pads, but we expect a large turnout for this trip and do not have enough of such gear for everyone.
Pleeease follow the MUST HAVE guidelines at the Camping equipment checklist
You can find lists of gear to bring for winter camping that have things that apply to this trip at Snow or rain camp must-haves. If you don't have gear for or have never been rainy/cold camping we really recommend you read the lists.
For a list of gear you'll want on a long day hike/kayak read day hike gear at: Camping equipment checklist
The club owns lots of really good tents, sleeping pads, stoves and other equipment that can be used on club events with refundable cleaning and late fee deposits. Details about equipment can be found at: Outdoor Club Equipment.
Rentals of club owned equipment for each trip are one afternoon / evening only date and time to be announced in your trip receipt, at our equipment storage area under the football stadium bleachers on the soccer field side.Rentals will go much more smoothly if you have read Outdoor Club Sample Rental Agreement
This will also probably be the last chance to sign up IF there is any space left!!
Rental returns for a full refund will only be one time only, date and time to be announced in your trip receipt. If this does not work for you, don't rent from us!
Hiking Advice has hot weather hiking advice, hiking logistics and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?
At Have more fun camping you can learn how to build campfires that don't smoke too much, how to pack an ice chest, do dishes in camp and lots more.
You might also want to read GORP and hiking snacks
Can you transport some firewood? As long as Sudden Oak Death is still a problem, we must follow quarantines
of host material, including local (Santa Clara County and other infected coastal counties) firewood. We can bring cut up scrap lumber or pallets.
Campfire pictures are at:
Tuolumne photos Aug. 2002
Answers to most questions about how the club works are at: Outdoor Club Basic Info The main rules common to most of our trips, including who is eligible to go, are at: Outdoor Club trip rules.
When camping with a large group of people some complain there is not enough room in their shared bear box for all their gear. In the summer at Tuolumne, when we often get a group campsite, we have had serious problems fitting everything.
More things could fit in the campite bear-proof storage lockers if everyone brought smaller containers of food, etc.
NO!→ ← Yes!!
and if everyone brought their gear in small, deep plastic trash cans or other plastic boxes close to, but no more than, 17 inches tall. A typical bedroom waste receptacle could be 9" by 12" by 17" deep and hold quite a few cans of food, cooking items and toiletry bags.
→ Pleeeease read:
→ Using a campsite food storage locker
If we have a big group you will be limited in what you can put in the bearboxes at the site and leftovers will have to be left at the Wilderness Center or other extra bearboxes. Moving food back and forth can be a big pain.
The Yosemite rangers would like you to call them if you see a bear, no matter where it is or what it is doing, at (209) 372-0322.
There will be bears in the campground and quite possibly in our campsite, please read the trip handout carefully, as well as the material on how bears break into cars, what to do if you see a bear and more at: Bears
below a warning note a Tuolumne ranger put on a car (not one of ours) and a bear's eye view in the window:
A good way to wake up the whole campground is to set your car alarm. Then if a curious animal or clumsy person bumps the vehicle at night you've succeeded.(The alarm won't keep bears out of your vehicle).
Tent walls are thin. You can wake up everybody in the vicinity when you want to get into your car and you use the keyless (remote) door opener and the car makes the usual loud beep. People don't think to just use the key to open the door or don't know that if you look in the owner's manual you can usually find a way to disable the beep.
For a laugh, go to:
We are staying at 8,600 plus feet elevation. You will probably feel out of breath at first and may even get a headache and lose appetite. You can get more sunburned. Read At altitude for advice. It includes why your tent mate might seem to stop breathing.
For details about club events and on how to find us to pay for a membership, sign up for events or volunteer, go to:
Outdoor Club Coming Attractions
Please read all the bears info and food storage info before you come to sign up and bring proof you are a De Anza student.
Especially if you've never been to Yosemite, the Yosemite newspaper has lots of the most current safety info, a calendar of park activities including Ranger walks, and hours of operation for visitor centers, museums, stores.
photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
FAQS, nature notes, recommended reading
NOAA weather for Yosemite is at:
If we are having a heat wave at home, Tuolumne (8,000 feet elevation) or other high mountain locations are the place to get away and be cooler. Look at these predictions for one July day:
San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, etc.) Highs 104 to 114, overnight lows 70 to 80.
Yosemite at 5,000 feet elevation 93 to 99, overnight lows 57 to 67.
Yosemite at 8,000 feet elevation 84 to 89 overnight lows 48 to 58.
There is a greater chance of thunderstorms and wind at higher elevations, so wind chill can make it feel much colder, especially overnight or out on a hike on an exposed ridge.
Bring sweaters, rain jacket, fleece, non-cotton longjohns/socks even if the weather seems hot at home.
The Mountains of California by John Muir can be read at:
I recommend these chapters:
VII THE GLACIER MEADOWS
XII SIERRA THUNDER-STORMS
XIII THE WATER-OUZEL
Why are parts of the rocks around Tenaya Lake so smooth and shiny?
This is glacial polish. As the glaciers carved out much of the Yosemite landscape, (Tenaya Lake was gouged out by the Tenaya branch of the Tuoumne glacier), the fine-grained debris at the bottom of the glaciers polished some of the rock. The bigger debris gouged scratches called striations. The polished surface layer will wear away after a few centuries.
Here is John Muir's description of glacial polish
"The pavements are particularly fine around Lake Tenaya, and have suggested the Indian name Py-we-ack, the Lake of the Shining Rocks. Indians seldom trouble themselves with geological questions, but a Mono Indian once came to me and asked if I could tell him what made the rocks so smooth at Tenaya. Even dogs and horses, on their first journeys into this region, study geology to the extent of gazing wonderingly at the strange brightness of the ground, and pawing it and smelling it, as if afraid of falling or sinking...
In the production of this admirable hard finish, the glaciers in many places exerted a pressure of more than a hundred tons to the square foot, planing down granite, slate, and quartz alike, showing their structure, and making beautiful mosaics where large feldspar crystals form the greater part of the rock. On such pavements the sunshine is at times dazzling, as if the surface were of burnished silver."
Read the whole section from the book Our National Parks by John Muir at:
Why are people carrying thick 2 foot by 3 foot double-folded pads on shoulder straps?
These are crash pads, fat pads or mad pads, a place to intend to land when you fall while bouldering. They can also be used as a couch - but at $100 to $200, are expensive outdoor seating. One company describes theirs: "To create the best possible landing zone, Metolius researched the foam combinations that would absorb the most energy. The open-cell foam is a great shock absorber, but by itself, it takes a very thick piece to keep from bottoming out. So they added a layer of firmer closed-cell foam on top to cut down on bulk and spread the force outward." Some have auto floor mat type carpeting for wiping off shoes. Trampolines are not a recommended replacement.
Why are Lembert Dome and Pothole Dome lopsided?
This is also the result of the glacial erosion of Yosemite. The glaciers pushed up the slope of the east side of Lembert Dome and quarried chunks off the west side. The term for this kind of small hill is roche moutonnee. Each is smooth and gently sloping on the side of the glacier's advance (stoss side) and the lee side is steep and jagged.
Why are there trees in the bottom of Tenaya Lake?
"1,000 years ago, trees grew in then-dry Tenaya Lake. Today only their tops show: still rooted in as much as 70 feet of water."
Read the article The Great Droughts of Y1K, by Scott Stine, Ph.D,
California State University, Hayward,
Read John Muir's description of a hike to the top of Mount Hoffman and a visit to Tenaya Lake from the book My First Summer in the Sierra, (Chapter 6)
written July 26 to August 1st.
photos below by Quang-Tuan Luong/terragalleria.com, all rights reserved.
Yosemite nature and photography links
has links for wildflower, mammal, bird, geology, star guides and more
Yosemite Valley spring runoff and flooding / Yosemite snow pack
has info on when the Tioga road opens in spring, which has an effect on when the campgound, etc. at Tuolumne can open.
Maps of Yosemite are at:
The menu for the Whoa Nellie Deli at the Tioga Gas mart in Lee Vining (near Mono Lake, 13 miles from Tioga Pass, intersection of 120 and 395) is at:
The current details of ranger walks, hikes, talks / hours of operation of stores, etc. are at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm
Grill, store and Post Office in the big white tent at the edge of the campground:
Tuolumne Meadows Grill
usually 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuolumne Meadows Store (Groceries, Gifts, Books, postcards. t-shirts, etc.)
usually 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
usually Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Mountaineering School and Sport Shop (at the gas station)
usually 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Tuolumne Meadows Bookstore
usually 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Inside the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center
Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center usually 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Pay at the pump 24 hours with credit or debit card.
Yosemite webcams brought to you by the Yosemite Association, a non-profit park support group:
Tuolumne Meadows group campsites map and pictures
A note for years when we go after summer quarter: People who want to go on an event between quarters must have been enrolled in that quarter or be enrolled in the following quarter. For example, to go on a late summer trip you need to have been enrolled summer or be already enrolled in Fall quarter. Faculty are subject to various rules depending on whether they are full time, ten month, part time, on sabbatical or Article 19 and should contact the club advisor well in advance of an event they want to participate in.
Below: NPS photo of the reservations office in winter when it becomes the ski hut. Read more at Tuolumne Meadows ski hut. You'll find the answer to the question: Can you ski across Tenaya Lake in the winter?