Fall Hiking in Yosemite

posted Oct 19, 2010, 10:00 AM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Oct 22, 2010, 7:40 PM ]
Just back from a wonderful three days in Yosemite, where we had a lovely time taking hikes that we would normally avoid. Yes, these were trails that had been worn down over the summer by hordes of tourists, but in October we saw only four people a day on these trails.  How nice is that? 
Our first hike was to Elizabeth Lake, which is just over two miles from the Tuolumne Meadows campground.  You might expect that this trail would very popular, and it is in the summer.  But on this trip we saw only two people, and had the lake to ourselves.  (This is also a fall-back route to get into the back country via Nelson Lake, for those of you who may wonder about last minute wilderness permits.) Lovely hike--a nice climb for the first mile, then an easy stroll up the valley to the lake, which sits underneath the imposing Unicorn Peak.  And yes, there were some nice brook trout in the lake.
Since we had time, we also climbed up to the top of Lembert Dome...and saw a total of four people on that hike.  We shared the stunning views of Tuolumne Meadows and the surrounding peaks of the Yosemite high country with a young German couple...and nobody else!
The view from Dewey Point
The next day we hiked part of the Pohono Trail, from the trailhead at Glacier Point Road down to Dewey Point and back.  We saw a total of six people on this amazing eleven mile hike until we got back to Taft point in the afternoon, where we finally saw about twenty people who were marveling at the fissures and Taft Point.  But Dewey Point has some of the best views in Yosemite, and we ate lunch there in splendid solitude. It was a magical day. 
On the way back we really enjoyed the various fungi that came out after the recent rains...a real show!
Finally, on our last day. we drove up to White Wolf (closed for the season) and took the short hike to Lukens Lake.  Again, this is a trail that attracts a ton of people in the summer, but on this day we met only one other couple--they were on their way in as we were hiking out.  And yes, there were fish here too.
The only downside to the trip was our lodging in Curry Village.  We agreed to try this as an experiment, and would have to rate it a full-blown failure.  Too many people, too close together.  The tent sites in the campground have far more privacy...and when a drunken guest kept us up most of the night with her wretching and heaving, we knew it was not our kind of crowd...
Next year, we'll just go camping.