Friday July 11, I drove straight from work to Tone's house. We had a tasty
dinner of egg burritos and started driving north on the 101 at around 5:20.
Pretty soon we encountered some very slow traffic, which lasted until we
finally passed an accident a little north of the tunnel. We arrived at
Millerton recreational area a little before 11pm. Tone had called earlier that
week and been told that getting a camp site wouldn't be a problem. When we got
there the place was completely full and the ranger suggested we try another
campsite about an hour west. Instead we headed north, getting closer to
Yosemite and camped out at Chilkoot campground by Bass Lake. I'd stayed there
before and guessed it might have space left because it doesn't have any
services besides pit toilets. There were several spaces left when we got there
at around midnight.
We got up and left before anybody came to collect money, and entered the park
at around 8:30am. A short while later I got my first view of El Capitan, and
was very impressed. It is one large piece of rock. We didn't go to the Valley
though, and drove on to Tuolomne Meadows, stopping to buy some of the most
expensive gas I've ever bought. At the ranger station we signed in for our
chosen itinerary. Luckily the quota for the trails we'd selected hadn't been
reached yet. After the customary repacking and last minute fiddling with our
packs, we started walking around noon.
The first leg of our trip would take us south along the John Muir Trail and
then turning off for Vogelsang campground. While walking we decided to go to
Ireland Lake instead because we thought there might be fewer people there.
Until the turn off the trail followed a wide valley and there was very little
up. At all times we were within a hundred yards of water. A little bit before
the turn off we reached an area where the water was spread thinly over a large
rock formation. We took a break there to soak our feet, filter some water, and
eat food. We also saw a small group of fish swimming, in the middle of the
"waterfall" in maybe 3 inches of water. It was quite impressive. When Tone
went up close to take a picture they swam off.
At the turn off we were half way, except that we hadn't gained any elevation
yet. The climb up to Ireland Lake was quite taxing, especially given that
neither of us were acclimated to the altitude yet. I was feeling slightly
miserable, while Tone did a lot better but was still affected. On the way up,
the mosquitoes were getting progressively worse. Going up through the forest
there weren't too many, but once we got to somewhat more open areas they
swarmed around us in large numbers. At the turn off to Ireland Lake I wanted
to take a break, but was quickly forced to keep walking just to keep the
mosquitoes away. The last 3 miles were very beautiful as we went up a green
meadow with many little creeks running down it. Ahead, and on either side of
us there were mountains. We also encountered the first snow here. It was just
a small patch and we didn't have to walk through it, but there it was.
Despite the beauty of the place, when we got to Ireland Lake we almost
immediately put up the tent. Between a minor headache, fatigue and the
mosquitoes I really didn't feel like stopping to admire the scenery. Once
pitched we retreated into our tent to hide from the mosquitoes. I dozed for
quite a while, occasionally trying to eat something but my stomach didn't want
to. When the sun went down Tone went outside to enjoy the scenery and filter
water. Shortly after that the full moon rose over the mountains, reflecting
off the lake. It provided enough light that you didn't need a flash light to
get around. It was gorgeous. At around 2am I woke up and felt a lot better. I
got out of the tent to walk around a little, and also felt good enough to eat
The next morning we made hot chocolate for breakfast, and quickly broke camp
before the mosquitoes had completely woken up. We hiked back through the
beautiful meadow, and then over to Vogelsang campground. We met some people at
Evelyn Lake who had stayed there the previous night, and said the mosquitoes
were miserable. Vogelsang was just as bad. After a short break there we
decided to head down, since on Saturday there hadn't been any mosquitoes at
A little bit after noon we found a place along Rafferty Creek that looked
promising. Again we were in a valley meadow, alongside a creek. We lounged
about for the afternoon. At one point Tone spotted a deer. I tried to get
close enough for a good shot, but didn't get closer than 30 yards. I need a
longer lens. When it went off grazing it was pretty tame though and would let
me get much closer. Later in the afternoon I decided to climb one side of the
valley, hoping to use Tone's cell phone to call Danielle. The hike up wasn't
too bad, but once I got to the top the cell phone would only work one way. I
could hear Danielle, but she couldn't hear me. Still, the view from up there
was pretty good.
As it started to cool down, mosquitoes came to visit us. We sat in the tent
for a while until the sun set, and then stubbornly decided to cook dinner.
While I was cooking my mac 'n cheese 'n broccoli I killed about 25 mosquitoes.
(Not that it made any difference.) After dinner we went to bed. We slept
better that night because it wasn't as cold as at Ireland Lake (we didn't
bring the rain fly). We got up early and made our hot chocolate before the
mosquitoes came. We quickly packed up, but not quite quick enough. While Tone
was doing the last of his packing the mosquitoes were out in full force.
We started walking, and made it to the parking lot at around 10am. Since it
was still early we decided to visit Tuolomne Grove. Seeing the massive trees
was nice, but walking 1.5 miles/1000 ft one way didn't seem worth it. This is
also where I discovered that I'd lost 2 of my compact flash cards. I remember
exactly where it happened, too. I noticed them fall out, then decided to get
my shirt wet, and completely forgot to pick them up. After searching the car,
we drove back to Tuolomne Meadows and checked with the ranger stations there.
I filled out a lost and found report, and then we hiked back to the spot I
remember dropping the cards, about 2.5 miles in. We met somebody who said he'd
seen the cards there early in the morning but when we got to the spot they
were definitely gone.
We finally made it out of the park after 5pm. We stopped briefly in Fresno for
dinner, but other than that drove home in a hurry. I made it home just before
midnight, which was better than I'd been hoping for.
I packed way too much food. Hard boiled eggs last forever and are a tasty
snack. Vons Deluxe Mac and Cheese is good, but when you only use half the
macaroni, only use half the cheese sauce. Adding broccoli to that worked very
well. Mosquito nets for your head are cheap, light, and really useful.