Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yosemite Trip Report

Wow! We had a great trip. Lots of climbing and lots of laughs. Our plan was to arrive at Tuolumne Meadows campground by noon to get a walk-in campsite. Well, we hit road construction on SR 120 and arrived at the campground around 12:30. Luckily the rangers told us they make a camp check to see if there are any available sites and give them away at 1:30. We returned at 1:30 and got a campsite. Not to sit around we scramble up Lembert Dome as soon as we had secured our campsite. It was a fun scramble with exposure and great views from the summit. Mark and I then drove over to Pothole Dome and did a bit of rock climbing.

We decided to bag Matterhorn Peak on Thursday. This is a majestic peak and the highest point in the Sawtooth range. It's located near the town of Bridgeport, about a hour away from our campsite.
4:30 am came early and an hour later we were driving toward Bridgeport. Finding the trailhead was the toughest navigation obstacle we had all day! Luckily, the person we asked gave us great directions. Of course members of Hiking Las Vegas will not have to depend on luck to find the trailhead. The route to the Matterhorn follows Horse Creek drainage up to a hanging valley. We then took a path to a small tarn. Now the real work begins. We had to cross a moraine to stand at the foot of the East Couloir. It was loose and wet in places, but we persisted and were soon starting up the East Couloir. I have seen worse and, in fact, it wasn't that bad. Once up, we traversed around to the south side and ascended easy class 3 rock to the summit. There was some wild exposure at the summit. Panorama from the summit.

Friday's plan started simple enough: Bag Cloud's Rest. We were at Sunrise Lakes trailhead by 7 am and started on the trail to Cloud's Rest. It's seven miles of relatively easy hiking to the summit. Shortly after summiting we were sharing the summit with two girls who hiked from Little Yosemite Valley. While talking with them we discovered there was another trail off of Cloud's Rest that went to Half Dome. Since it was only 10 am, bagging Half Dome sounded very doable. The girls also suggested to descend the Mist Trail and catch the bus back up to Tuolumne Meadows. Mark had never been to Yosemite Valley so this sounded like the perfect plan. The trail from Cloud's Rest to Half Dome took much longer than we had anticipated. We got to the base of Half Dome, but did not think we could climb Half Dome and be back in time to catch the bus in Yosemite Valley. We decided to take the sure bet and descend the Mist Trail and catch the bus.
As a side note we did see a huge shortcut from Cloud's Rest to Half Dome. It appears to cut the distance by more than 50% and does not lose much elevation. We are glad we did NOT take the shortcut, due to our lack of water. There's a creek just before making the turn onto the trail leading to Half Dome.

We caught the bus, a bargain at just $8 and rode it back to Tuolumne Meadows. We were out for 13 hours and hiked a little more than 20 miles. As we drove back to camp there was a surprise waiting for us... That and more tomorrow.