(Written by Bill)
It was my turn this year (2013) to pick our Father’s Day backpacking location. There are so many places to hike in Northern California it has always been easy to pick one but for whatever reason, I had much difficulty in selecting our destination this time around. I wanted to go someplace we hadn’t gone and one that would give us lasting memories. After much deliberation I decided on Young Lakes in Yosemite. Although, we had talked about hiking here starting back in 2005, we never selected it because there is typically so much snow at this higher elevation in June we never really looked at it as a possibility.
We traditionally take three days for these Fathers Day backpacking trips and this year was no different, with one exception, we had to go the weekend before Fathers Day. This change was required so that we, Motion Photography, would be available to photograph a dear friends daughters wedding (we will post some images from the wedding in a later blog). Anyway, back to Young Lakes.
Young Lakes are made up of three separate lakes, lower (9,883′), middle, and upper (10,218′) and are located in Yosemite National Park north of Tuolumne Meadows and just off of Tioga Road (hwy 120). To reach our trail-head we turned off at the stables road just before the Tuolomne Meadows Visitor Center.
We began at an elevation of about 8,600′ and took the Dog Lake (9,170′) trail on our trek up, which is about 7 miles to the lower of the three lakes. The trail actually ends at the lower lake so there is some bushwhacking to reach the middle and upper lakes. Our plan was to set up camp at the upper lake which we figured would be more secluded (and it was).
The lower lake is beautifully forested, the middle is the smallest of the three and has some trees along it’s western and northern sides but is mostly swamp like (with all the snow run-off) on the southern side. The upper lake is more alpine looking, nearly treeless and surrounded by high peaks all around.
The hike is all up hill, but not too strenuous. I would give it a medium (maybe a high-low) difficulty rating. What is amazing about our hiking up to these lakes is the time of year. Tioga Road (hwy 120) is closed, due to snow, during the winter and typically does not open until sometime in July (Fathers Day falls in mid-June). This year was a mild winter and the road was opened on May 10th (abnormally early). Even with this early opening we still expected some snow fields during our hike , however, much to our surprise the trial was mostly clear of snow with the exception of the last mile from lower to upper Young Lakes.
On day two the boys decided to summit Mount Conness (12,590′) which was about 3-4 miles away from our campsite. Mt Conness happens to be the eighth highest peak in Yosemite, (the highest peak is Mount Lyell at 13,114′). The views from the top were absolutely stunning! You can take a look at the photos and see just how beautiful it was.
As we came to our last day we decided to take the Glen Aulin trail back down which would give us a different view of these beautifully majestic mountains. It was a good choice and the trail was great. As we had hoped, this trip will be etched in our memories for a lifetime.
Hope you enjoy…