The Final Push, the Grand Finale of the Tour de Tuolumne

4 June 2014 in Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Tioga Road, Trails/Hiking, Traveling, Yosemite National Park

I can’t say I’ve ever been graced by the presence of a river more beautiful than the Tuolumne. We covered over twenty miles of it and had just seven more to go today. But we didn’t know what we had in store today until we crested one more crown of rock, the slab we had slept below the night before.

As the next stage of our hike slowly rose into view the corners of my lips rose with it. We had unknowingly camped two hundred yards from Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp – our desired destination the day before. With this we knew we had just a short hike ahead of us.

And also just ahead of us was a gorgeous waterfall, and then another above it, and then another above that. It was foreshadowing additional climbing, but it was beautiful climbing. The air was cool, the sun was just creeping into the valley to our west and all was well. We hiked up over the last falls and past a large pool. Then we passed Little Devil’s Post Pile. Smaller than it’s big brother Little Devil’s Post Pile is a rare, volcanic phenomenon it which long, Play-Doh-like strands of rock emerge from the ground and cool leaving stringy, fairly uniform columns that look manmade.

Continuing on the trail finally gave in and flattened out. We wound through forests and over spans of exposed, boulder speckled granite. Then we returned to the river and our surroundings became lush and grassy meadows with backdrops of craggy peaks on which still clung a few patches of snow. Surprisingly the end of the trail was quite stunning. I hadn’t even considered taking the easy hike in the other direction and as a day hike, but I will definitely do so in the future when the bloodthirsty plague of mosquitos die off for the season.

Before we knew it we were in Tuolumne Meadows, at the end of our long journey. And as chance would seem to have it here we ran into someone from Wisconsin. This has been the case an improbable number of times now, but once again the timing was just right for us to look over and see a Wisconsin patch on a young man’s backpack. Turns out he and his dad were just visiting the park and he actually works on a fire crew in Nevada, but they were both born and bred Wisconsinites.

After checking out the bubbling puddles at Soda Spring—a naturally carbonated spring in Tuolumne Meadows—we made our way to Tioga Road and quickly unpacked our backs and raised our thumbs. Thankfully our hitchhiking went a little better than the first time and within twenty minutes we were riding with a park employee who was on her way back from Lake Tahoe. Both times we hitchhiked it’s been park employees who have picked us up. Again what are the chances? I guess in this case a little more likely, but still a strange coincidence.

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