Solo Trek To May Lake

13 August 2013 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling, Yosemite National Park

May LakeOur last journey to May Lake was another, in a string of unrewarding, disastrous hikes. We put in three miles through rain and over snow only to get to the lake and find it shrouded in fog. Today I approached the trailhead on a nice, warm, sunny day.

As I made my way up the first two miles—which in a few weeks would be a road open for driving and probably flooded with cars—the snow we had encountered on our first attempt had melted and the last remnants were trickling down in thin sheets of water towards lower ground. Before I connected with the hiking trail I passed a couple of small marshy meadows, spongy, damp and lush with green growth.

Turning off of the road in the parking lot I zigged and zagged up through yet another meadow laden with massive boulders that were probably deposited thousands of years ago during the last glacier. Up and out of the blossoming meadow I crossed a long expanse of rock then entered a narrow section of forest. Exiting the forest I climbed up a handful of switchbacks and then rounded the last corner up onto the shelf of land that holds May Lake. Before exploring the lake I was lured off trail by a short scramble that I thought would provide a worthwhile view.

The reward of this brief side trip was more than worth the small effort. I’m a little surprised there’s not a more well worn path up atop this long stretch of granite because once you’re upon it the view is simple exquisite. To my right I could see all the way to the valley—Half Dome serving as a beacon of unmistakeable recognition. Panning left I could see Cloud’s Rest and then a range of snowy peaks I’m unfortunately still unable to name, and finally Tenaya Lake. This vista point deserved some time and so it was there I sat for a good, long while.

My thoughts drifted and wandered, as did my eyes as I sat there alone, a gentle breeze brushing by and cooling me just enough in the bright light of an unrestricted sun. I was at peace, the subtlest smile upon my dumbstruck face. In these simple moments all is right with the world, problems are forgotten and I am thankful for there’s nothing else to be.

But soon, fearing the effects of the hot sun upon my pale, French Germanic skin I began to ponder moving on. As I did so I suddenly spotted a creature just twenty feet away. It popped up its head and at first—quite embarrassingly—I thought it was a wolverine. It was a good reminder of how uneducated and unfamiliar I am with this terrain and its inhabitants. After my heart returned back to it’s normal rhythm and position within my chest I realized my naive mistake and that this furry little guy was just a marmot.

He didn’t seem to know what I was for he froze profiled with one eye facing me, too afraid or confused to move. We both sat still. He would occasionally turn slightly or itch his face with his tiny paw, but he never let me out of his sight. I didn’t move a muscle. I wanted to see him tend to whatever business he had poked out of his hole for, but I must have been too frightening still. Eventually he just ducked back in and I left.

I wandered down off my private vista and to the shore of May Lake. Tall pines blocked the warm sun and a breeze cut across the lake cooling itself with the cold of the water and sending shivers threw me when it arrived. I was also back in the presence of people. A couple of loud fisherman to be exact. They were fifty yards down the shore from me, but their discussion was clear as day. Why they felt the need to shout at each other while they stood together was puzzling and took me out of my zen state. This paired with the cool air sent me back down the trail a lot sooner than I had planned.

Hiking back I was once again attracted to what might await me at the top of a cluster of rock just off trail. Scrambling up on loose and crumbling stones I wound my way around the front of the mass and stumbled upon a wonderful campsite. Now I’m not sure if you’re allowed to camp here, but someone had. There was a large, flat area with a back wall to break the wind and an amazing view everywhere else. In the middle was a small fire ring of rocks. What more could you ask for? I might have to check in with the Wilderness Office and see if you’re allowed to camp there. It would be the perfect place to spend an evening.

After finding a more pack friendly route—in case I come back with a full pack—I made my way back down to the parking lot. Along the way I crossed paths with a band of shirtless, hairless bros accompanied by their husky, shirted friend. I only mention this because when I arrived at the parking lot I wandered over to another trailhead and along the way I noticed a pile of backpacking packs along with a hardshell acoustic guitar case and a mangled and duct tapped 12 pack of PBR. I instantly knew who had left it and was a little enraged by the fact that they had left all of their stuff, especially the beer, sitting out next to the bear box and a sign that clearly instructed you to store all food and beverages in the bear boxes.

A little perturbed and angry I didn’t know what to do. There was a middled aged woman wandering around the parking lot with a camera, aiming it up into the trees. I assumed she was a day hiking birder and was not associated with the packs or beer, but I wasn’t sure. Anxiously I decided to walk away, but my inner thoughts eventually turned me around and sent me back up the hill. As I was opening the bear box and about to begin putting their stuff in the woman—who I hadn’t seen after walking back up—shouted from across the lot that I didn’t have to worry about it she was watching their stuff. A little flush in the face—but happy I had attempted to do the right thing—I walked back to the truck.

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