Trip Report – Young Lakes/Roosevelt Lake July 2013

Total distance: 13.5 miles (loop)
Elevation changes: +2669 ft / -2728 ft
Entry Trailhead: Young Lakes via Glen Aulin
Exit Trailhead: Young Lakes via Dog Lake
Date: 7-19-2013 to 7-20-2013

It is hard to believe that we went on this trip THREE years ago and I have yet to write up a trip report for it.  Well, better late than never, considering that this was one of my most favorite trips!

We split up into two different groups going in from two different trailheads.   Here was me working on the GPS at the Glen Aulin parking lot and taking the mandatory Tough Guys Picture™ with my Hasselblad.

Hiking in was quite uneventful and we caught quite a good view of the Tuolumne Meadows.

Taking the trail towards Young Lake from the Glen Aulin trail.


As planned, we met the other group at the junction where the two trails, one from Glen Aulin and the other from Dog Lake, met.  After a brief rest to check maps, we took off for the final stretch to the Young Lakes basin.























Even though I read up on this trail before, I still made the mistake of taking a use trail by the waterfalls that connected the Young Lakes.  Had we walked more towards the north, there would have been a broader and flatter meadows that bypass the use trail (see the topo map).  By the time we arrived, it was dusk already.  The basin actually opened towards west and thus the surrounding mountains were all bathed in the warm sunset light.  The most prominent peak in the area is Ragged Peak, which looks to live up to its name.

Sunrise at the campsite.









The next day we woke up and cooked up quite a meal.  We should have tried out our recipes back at home.  As it was, we realized that cooking pancake in the wild was more challenging than thought.  Here were pictures of those that resembled pancakes.

After breakfast, we broke down our tents and cached the bulk of our gears at the campsite. We decided to trek over to Roosevelt Lake.  As there were no obvious trails, we tried to maintain the same elevation (~10000 ft) as we trekked towards the Lake.

Taking this route took us around the bottom of Mt. Confess, which in retrospect, was more rocky than necessary.












Nonetheless, we were able to reach Roosevelt Lake in good time.  This lake without a doubt was one of my most favorite lakes in Yosemite so far.  We ran into some Park rangers conducting a survey in the area and also a group of backpackers who trekked over from the 20 Lakes Basin.












On our return trip, we took a more direct route towards the campsite to save time.  It was a lot more climbing than the other route but not too bad.























This was when we spotted some clouds moving in.











Those clouds turned out to be the front of some more thundercloud and made our return trip quite exciting (the famous Sierra Nevada afternoon storm).  Some of the return route were quite exposed so we had to hike off trail to maintain coverage.  We ran into the same rangers we met earlier and they advised us to just run, which we did.

I could still remember this trip 3 years later… which goes to show you how memorable this trip was!









Pictures by Warren N. (EM5), and Kit N. (Film + Hasselblad)

Some Footnotes:

A rough track in GPX format can be downloaded here.

Topo Map:


Elevation Profile:



Trip Report – Glen Aulin June 2013

Another group went on the Glen Aulin/Waterwheel Falls backpacking trip described here.

Total distance: 18.2 miles (In and out)
Elevation changes: +/- 2000 feet (approx.)
Entry Trailhead: Glen Aulin
Exit Trailhead: Glen Aulin
Dates: 6-28-2013 to 6-29-2013

For the second time a crew from Gracepoint Davis tackled this particular trail, we went in very excited and determined to test a lot of the new equipment that we had managed to procure for our first summer with several backpacking trips planned. We also started quite late. We arrived at the trail head after 4 in the afternoon, and were quite surprised to learn that there was no camping allowed along the actual trail. This of course meant that we had to cover 5.3 miles or so before sundown. Or at least try. With this in mind, we started out from the Soda Springs parking lot at a strong pace.


Starting our hike, we went along the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows until we found our trail to Glen Aulin. This photo came from shortly after we  started our hike, and shows just how late it was when we started


We traveled through somewhat wooded  county as we went along the first part of the hike, where our late start  afforded us some spectacular views of sunset coming through the trees


The trail crosses two streams, so some dampness may be acquired along this hike. This isn’t one of the crossing points, but this stream ran parallel to the trail for a long while before the trail crossed over


We’d been warned that, while usually easy to follow, the trail seemed to disappear when it came to a small granite shelf. Here it angled north for a short bit, and you had to actually find the stone steps as it descended from the shelf toward the valley. The granite shelf presents a great view of the valley, and affords people the opportunity to take a picture with a spectacular sunset in the background.


The hidden steps


The trail also goes over a couple of bridges. This is the view from one of the bridges right at sunset. We ended up having to hike for a little while with flashlights, and fortunately the trail is pretty clear with flashlights


Our campsite the next morning. We didn’t quite make it off the Glen Aulin trail, so we ended up camping near White Cascades


Which afforded us this view in the morning


Our marmot visitor


We managed to hit the trail again a little after 10, after ditching most of our heavy gear near the campsite and hiding it in a small copse. Whereas most of the hike the day before had been up and down through rolling countryside, we now began our descent into the well named Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. One of our first sights was White Cascades, a gorgeous waterfall. If you love waterfalls high in the mountains, this is the trip for you


Our first major break to refill our water and eat some snacks was at these cascades, about an hour after we started the hike


The trail follows this river very closely. This is just after the cascades, standing on some switchbacks that lead down to the beach. The section after the switchbacks, following the river down there, is probably the most gentle part of the trail. It’s fairly flat until California falls, crossing right through a beautiful riparian ecosystem with plenty of opportunities to walk in the shade



We made it to Waterwheel falls in the early afternoon, and it proved an excellent spot for lunch and a break before ascending back out of the valley. The view is spectacular, and the Waterwheel that gives this fall its name was very impressive. So impressive that some of our hikers actually took a nap


This is another aspect of the waterfall that we all really loved. The water climbs up this outcrop and sprays outward


Some of us felt that our time could be better spent than simply napping


We managed to actually hike all the way from Waterwheel falls to the Soda Springs parking lot, setting off at 2 in the afternoon and leaving the trail head around 8 in the evening. Impressive for a crew of mostly inexperienced backpackers. The strenuous pace and fairly rough terrain required a few short rests on the way up, but we still managed to retrieve our gear around 4:30 and take a rest near our campsite until about 5. We took this shot when we got back to Tuolumne Meadows, much more tired than when we started the day before.


Our backpack trip concluded with a glorious sunset painting these clouds and many of the granite formations in the Meadows with beautiful reds and pinks.

Concluding notes:


Make sure to have plenty of water carrying containers with you. One thing that I think really hurt us was that most of the guys didn’t have very many bottles with them, and one of us only had a 16 fluid ounce Aquafina bottle with him. We were particularly fortunate to have a Katadyn Hiker Water Filter with us and a lot of places along the river to pick up water.


Carry plenty of bear canisters to hold your food and smellables in. Somehow we couldn’t fit everything in what we brought, and so had to hope that we wouldn’t get visited. Surprisingly, our only visitor was a marmot that didn’t bother to come too close to our campsite. We were particularly lucky on this one.

Photo and words by Jacob H.

Trip Report – North Dome/Yosemite Falls

A report of a group going on the North Dome/Yosemite Falls hike.

Total distance (one way): ~12.17 miles
Elevation change: +1852 ft, -6052 ft
Entry trailhead: Porcupine Creek
Exit trailhead: Yosemite Falls
Dates: 6-28-2013 to 6-29-2013

This trip marked the first backpacking trip for Gracepoint Davis this year! During the June 28th weekend, we sent out two backpacking teams: one to Tuolumne Meadows up to Waterwheel Falls and the other from Tioga Road (Highway 120) to Yosemite Falls. The Yosemite Falls team was led by Lem and accompanied by c/o 2015 brothers some of whom were veterans of last years backpacking adventures.

The trip was planned rather spontaneously as the wilderness passes were originally reserved for another group, but logistics came out smoothly. The plan was to park along Porcupine Creek trail head and then proceed to hike to North Dome by nightfall.


Porcupine Creek Trailhead, photo by J. Loomis


We camped on Indian Ridge just before North Dome. Indian ridge overlooks North Dome, has a great view of Half Dome, and is an excellent location to set up camp. There is a lovely clearing with sandy soil by the trail and plenty of firewood nearby. Unfortunately there isn’t a water source close by so be sure to have enough water for breakfast if you camp here. Great location for stargazing.


Campsite location with the guys with a great view of Half Dome in the background.


After breaking camp, we proceeded to hike toward North Dome just down the ridge. Along the trail there are amazing sights of the valley and of Half Dome.


The trail to North Dome includes a very steep and rocky descent so we stored our packs at the base of one of these trails and then proceeded on hiking for another 15 minutes to North Dome (the trail doubles back to get to Yosemite Falls, so leaving the bags to save energy is suggested).

From North Dome we had a 270 degree view of Yosemite Valley.

After North Dome we hiked through a shady, forested trail toward Yosemite Falls. The trail included several seasonal and all-year creeks. At one well-moving creek we washed up, filtered fresh mountain water for the entire team, and had a snack.

Not long after we reached Yosemite Creek which feeds the Upper Yosemite Falls. At the creek, there are plenty of locations to take a dip, with a few protected pools safely far from the falls. We did find a view crazy individuals who swam a mere yards from the edge.Image

Bridge across Yosemite Creek

We then hiked 10 minutes to Overlook Point which there is a precariously narrow trail to a small landing that overlooks the falls.


Overlook Point


Path to Overlook

From Overlook we traveled down to the Valley, but through a strenuous 3 mile path of granite switchbacks. The path took over two hours and was very hard on the knees as it was constant downhill on rocky surfaces and the occasional stone was covered in sand and slippery. Eventually we reached the base of the trail at Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley. At the nearby Yosemite Lodge we picked up Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus tickets that we had previously reserved via phone call and proceeded to taking the free Yosemite Valley Shuttle to the Backpackers Campsite behind North Pines Camp Grounds (Shuttle Stop # 18)

That night we set up camp with other backpackers, ate a delicious ramen meal and spent some time back in civilizations at a cafe in Curry Village. There we had several scoops of ice cream.

The temperature in the Valley is much higher than in the hills so some of us spent the night outside the tent just sleeping under the stars.

The next morning we quickly broke camp and took the first shuttle to Curry Village to make it to our 8:00AM pickup for the Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus. The bus itself was a cross between a shuttle and a tour bus as the driver took custom drop off locations from the passengers, but still narrated the entire trip. Because of so many people boarding and departing the bus, the ride from the Valley back to Porcupine Creek Trail Head was over 2 hours. It was a lovely way to end the trip however, in the comforts of air conditioning.


 Photos and word by Greg W.

Trip Report – Glen Aulin July 2012

Total distance: 18.2 miles (In and out)
Elevation changes: +/- 2000 feet (approx.)
Entry Trailhead: Glen Aulin
Exit Trailhead: Glen Aulin
Date: 7-13-2012 to 7-14-2012

As the inaugural backpacking trip for Gracepoint Davis, this was an exciting day! Some of 2014 brothers, Pastor Will and I took off for Yosemite in the early hours. The weather forecast wasn’t great, and from a distance we could even see ominous cloud above the planned trail (Nelson Lake). But thanks to the Park rangers, we could switch our reservation to the Glen Aulin to Waterwheel Falls trail (apparently some groups dropped out due to bad weather forecast) in exchange for us picking up trash along the way. Of course!


Group picture by the stable on the same road as the Lembert Dome parking lot.


For the first mile or so the trail is in the same direction as Soda spring and Parsons Lodge.


The trail is well-marked and follows the Tuolumne river.


Now the direction sign says Waterwheel Falls, which was our destination.

Ng_20120713_yosebackpacking_1140031The trail is well maintained as it is the major trail to the Glen Aulin Sierra High camp.  We only had one trouble spot right after this granite.  We missed the stone steps to our right immediately after this portion, but that was not too bad and we quickly found the way.


After that granite steps, we crossed a bridge above the Tuolumne River and entered the White Cascades area.  As the name suggests, it is a series of small cascades that feed into the Tuolumne Valley…


Tuolumne Valley is the one on the left in this picture.


We followed the sign that took us to the High Sierra camp at Glen Aulin and it was first of the many big waterfalls we would be seeing that day.


Glen Aulin.


Here is a look down the valley we will be hiking in.  There are multiple cascades and also a few bigger waterfalls along the way.



I think it really is possible to get waterfall fatigue along this trail.. which is a good thing!


The trail is pretty much downhill from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and the trail is well maintained.


After too may rest stops, we finally arrived at our destination Waterwheel Falls in about 7 hours.  The water was not at high level when we got there, but the “waterwheel” was nonetheless impressive.


We established our campsite on a slanted granite above Waterwheel Falls.  In retrospect there was too much of a slope to camp on and immediately to the right of this granite shelf, was a pre-established campsite.


A view from my tent.  You can see a smidge of the Waterwheel Falls.


The cooking area was about another 100 feet down the slope away from our campsites.  Here is a picture showing Lewis using the Sea to Summit foldable water bucket to carry water up from the river.


After a quick breakfast of couscous, we started the journey back… all the way uphill.  It really wasn’t too bad since we knew how far it was supposed to be, and we had all day to make it back.  We made good time and Pastor Will even had time to squeeze in some fly-fishing.  Here is a picture right around the time he caught one (that swam away).


In retrospect, we overpacked but I suppose that was excusable since we were expecting bad weather up at Nelson Lake.  This trip also taught us the valuable lesson of packing light.

Until next time!

Google cannot generate driving direction to the trailhead parking lot (the marked spot).  Click here to generate direction to the closest intersection where you need to make a right turn to the parking lot.


The GPS track can be downloaded here.

GA topo


Trip Report (Lower Cathedral Lake)

Important Stats:

3.2 miles (one way), 4.3% average grade, 1107 feet of ascent and 371 feet of descent. GPS Download


(Topo map generated from Garmin Basecamp)


(Profile of trail towards Cathedral Lake, 1-way)

Trip Report:

For our Praxis (Young adult) ministry outing in the Fall, we went on the Lower Cathedral Lake hike.  We took off from Davis Friday afternoon and reached 395S by way of Monitor Pass, arriving at Conway Summit right at dusk.


Since our gourmet chef was in charge of food, when we reached the Oh Ridge campground in June Lake loop we ate like kings before turning in for the night.  There were even a rack of rips and a can of abalone…



We didn’t encounter any traffic on the Tioga Road and got to the trailhead in good time.  We found the trailhead on the left just before the meadow adjacent to Pothole Dome.


Either because of the dinner size, or because we didn’t acclimatize properly, most got hammered by the switchbacks that climb up the first 500 ft or so.  But that really was the more difficult portion of the trail.  By the time you got to here:


the toughest climbing was already over.  The rest of the hike was quite a pleasant walk towards the lake.  For our hike, we ended up going to the Lower Cathedral Lake.  Navigation was easy, the only fork was here and we took the right one.  The left fork would have taken us to the Upper Cathedral Lake.


There was a downhill stretch going to the basin and after awhile, you would be seeing a body of water from the distance.  Here comes Lower Cathedral Lake!


The forest was where we walked out from.


And of course Cathedral Peak was the perfect backdrop for a kung-fu scene.


The return trip was uneventful and going downhill obviously was much easier for most, not to mention we got to take in the view of the Tuolumne Meadow.


It was not long till we arrived at our cars.  Before heading back to Davis, we went to the famous Tioga gas mart and had one final meal at the Whoa Nelli Deli before heading back.  As was customary I ordered the steak salad… very much worth it!


Until next time!