Backpacking to Ten Lakes in Yosemite

Details: Ten Lakes Via White Wolf, Yosemite

Trail Head At: Ten Lakes 

Length: 16 Miles 

Running Motto for the Trip: “I do love this granite” said by Brad, about a dozen times 😀

Note: This is a fairly high elevation, and we were dragging ass right from the beginning.

Ten Lakes via White Wolf Hike Itinerary:

We left work early on Friday to try and get a jump on the traffic up to Yosemite. It still took about four hours. I really think that hiking trails have been more crowded than usual due to Covid-19, because peeps are just desperate for some sort of fresh air and outdoor activity. One quick note, we spent the evening at White Wolf trailhead, and this place has the best restrooms we have come across. They were super clean, warm, and fully stocked with hand sanitizer. Well done rangers!

Grant Lake, Yosemite
Pristine Grant Lake
Golden meadow, White Wolf Yosemite
Golden meadow I’m coming for ya!

Wildflowers, White Wolf Yosemite

This was a beautiful hike. We particularly loved the sweeping views of the turquoise high sierra lakes, the wildlife, our campsite on a granite plateau overlooking the valley and the magical sunsets.

White Wolf, Yosemite! Brad and Brie
Second Yosemite Trip of the Year!
Ten Lakes Yosemite - Epic Views
Break time to take in the views of Ten Lakes!

Epic Views - White Wolf Yosemite

A Gorgeous Campsite and a  Magenta Sunset

We saw quite a few people at Ten Lakes, so we decided to branch off and find one of the smaller lakes in the hopes of finding a secluded campsite. On our way, we saw the cutest like marmoset sunning on a rock then playfully scrambing from rock to rock, following us along our hike. We also saw a stag amongst the pines, who wasn’t at all alarmed to see us, which I love. We originally set up our tent overlooking Grant Lake, but then found this beautiful plateau and had to set up camp here, knowing it would boast some unbelievable sunsets. Other bonuses of the plateau – very easy to set up your tent, and easy to walk on. Especially if you take off your shoes.

Campsite - Grant Lake Yosemite
Our beautiful campsite

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We picked a prime spot on our rock outcropping, had our coffee and Kahluas ready, breathed in the steam and took in the sunset as the colors changed from peach to magenta, to scarlet.

Sunset - Grant Lake Yosemite
Can’t beat a mountain sunset

Sunset - Grant Lake YosemiteSunset - Grant Lake Yosemite

View from our Tent - White Wolf Yosemite
View from our tent ❤

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During the hike back Brad spied this beautiful doe, nestled underneath a hedge. She wasn’t bothered by us all – just lifted her gorgeous head, stared at us with her golden orb eyes and continued lounging. Moments like this while hiking feel like such a fairy tale, they always make me feel like a Disney princess swanning about in the woods.

Doe - White Wolf Yosemite
Can you spot the doe? This beauty was lounging underneath the hedge 😀

Double Lakes - White Wolf Yosemite

What I read: What kind of books do you take on vacation? While backpacking I tend to go for fantasies shock full of action or twisty-turny mysteries. This trip I read Red Sister and The Twisted Ones. This one is a bit of a slow burn. Red Sister is a fantasy about a secret sect of warrior nuns who run a school to educate young girls about the fine arts of assassination – you guys, I know, and a fierce little girl who finds herself the school’s most promising pupil. The Twisted Ones is a genre-bender – it’s a comedy/folk horror about a gal and her dog who must clear out their crotchety/hoarder grandmother’s home after she has passed away and find some very weird sh*t along the way.

Travel ensemble: I realized I have a go to ensemble when backpacking. The first day I usually wear a pair of black exercise pants, my bright pink “Team Sloth” t shirt – it’s a sloth hiking in the mountains that says “We’ll get there when we get there,” and a baseball cap. What do you like to wear when camping?

Next up on the blog – Backpacking Rubicon in South Tahoe for Labor Day.

Into The Wild: Backpacking Young Lakes Yosemite

Highlights Of Our Yosemite Hike:

  • The Alpine Meadows!
  • Glorious, sweeping views over both lakes – lounging above the cloud line
  • Falling sleep under a sky slowing filling with stars and the glittering Milky Way
  • Deer prancing up to our tent, ground hogs playing

In July, I went on my very first back packing trip to Sunol Regional Park, and in a surprising turn of events fell completely in love with it! I went on this trip to prepare for an upcoming four day hike to Young Lakes Yosemite. I wanted to give myself a taste of what I might be taking on. 

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On Friday, we took a half day at work, and drove to Tuolumne Meadows (stopping at In-N-Out for dinner  – oooh), and camped at the Tuolumne Meadows Campground so that we could spend the first evening at elevation adjusting. We woke up early Saturday morning, picked up our permit and were at the trail head and hiking by 8:30am.

Details: Young Lakes, Yosemite National Park

Trail Head At: Tuolumne Meadow

Length: 13.2 Miles Give or Take,  6.6 Miles Each Way

Elevation Begins At: 8,584 

Top Lake Elevation: 10,218 

First things first – this hike is insanely gorgeous

Really, about every two miles or so, you are rewarded with the most stunning, take your breath away, panoramic views.

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The first half mile is a steep ascent, (keep in mind that this is a pretty high elevation, especially for a newbie, so I was absolutely dragging ass). When we came across this magnificent meadow, we knew it was the perfect break spot. Surrounded by verdant pines and snow capped mountains, a crystal clear rushing brook, violet wildflowers and a light breeze, we dropped our packs, collapsed and lounged in the grass, listening to the wind through the pines.

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The First Lake

We carried on to the bottom lake, where we perched on a rock by the water’s edge and stopped for lunch. PB + crackers for me,  salami and cheese for Brad. In and of itself, this lake is a gorgeous sight, but Brad insisted the upper most lake was even more gorgeous and so off we went.

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The Middle Lake

We forged on to the middle lake. By this time we had walked about 6 miles, most of it steep. We stopped to choose a place for a tent, when mosquitoes swarmed. It was pure carnage. We had been attacked each time we stopped for a rest along the trail – and those little assholes bit me on every inch of exposed area, including through my pants, but we had managed to continue hiking. This time, it was a total massacre. There was nothing for it – we frantically put up the tent as we were covered by grey buzzing swarms and leapt inside. I tried not to cry.

While we rested in the tent, snacking on dark peanut butter protein bars and wondering what in the hell we were going to do, a massive doe ambled up to our tent, staring curiously at us with her golden eyes. “Hello, beautiful,” we whispered.

Shortly following the deer, two hikers tore by, shouting out that mosquitoes were much better if we could manage to make it to the topmost lake. Originally, we had planned to stop at the second lake, spend the night and hike the last precipitous mile to the top lake in the morning. We chose to trust the hikers. While Brad frantically dismantled the tent shouting “go, go go!” I hurtled up the mountain, scrambling over rocks and waterfalls, pulling myself up by handholds.

The Topmost Lake

When we first glimpsed the meadow, I gasped, overwhelmed by the natural beauty. This  was some angels singing, Lord of the Rings magic, alpine beauty. 

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Alpine Meadow – first glimpse. Go on – tell me magic doesn’t exist!

As we breathed in the alpine air and basked in the beauty of this secluded lake, we quickly realized the mosquitoes were still attacking, and scrambled up another rock to the most glorious, sweeping views overlooking both the lower lakes. We found the perfect place to pitch our tent and lunged in.

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Twilight at Young Lakes Yosemite
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Exalting in the views  – we made it to the top lake!

Once inside the tent, we finally relaxed. We made dinner, and shared chocolate mint Cliff Bars (which I highly recommend) while we reveled in Yosemite’s exceptional beauty. We sipped Kahlua and hot chocolate as the sky slowly filled with stars and fell asleep under the glittering Milky Way.

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We woke up in the morning to fluffy ground hogs scampering and playing near our tent. We sipped Kahlua coffee’s (we needed to fortify ourselves you guys) and decided there was no point staying at the top lake, breathtakingly gorgeous as it was, if we couldn’t leave the tent. We put away our things and hurtled back down the mountain.

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The Descent

The hike down was tough. We were exhausted and achy from the seven mile ascent the day before. Climbing down the waterfall was trickier than going up, and stopping for breaks was nightmarish because of the mosquito swarms, but during that final descent of switchbacks before reaching the car I felt a surge of adrenaline. This is why people fall in love with hiking, this feeling of accomplishment. You just hiked a mountain. You are strong, and capable and perhaps even a little badass. At the very least you have earned the title of Outdoorsy AF. And the first sip of icy cold diet coke once we reached the car was incomparable.

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I HIKED to this gorgeous place! (Notice the outfit change. Yep. I’m wearing Brad’s pants and top. Take that mosquito f**kers.)

 

 

Final notes

I am a car camping kind of gal. We usually go about 5 + times a year. We have our favorites:  a very specific, stunning campsite at Henry Cowell in the Santa Cruz Redwoods with panoramic views, and Samuel P. Taylor under towering redwoods next to a a little running creek. We can leave work and have our campsite set up and toasting bubbles by sunset. We have our menu set, and there is something so fulfilling about watching the embers die in your campfire, while sipping vino and watching the stars populate the sky. We are also comfortable campers – we have a tent large enough to stand in, we have a blow up bed, it’s glorious. So when Brad first suggested backpacking I was very skeptical. I fancy myself outdoorsy, I love nature and wildlife, but I also like to be cozy. I want a soft bed. I want a restroom. I don’t want to do a massive amount of work. So, the idea of trudging up a mountain hauling over 20 pounds on my back sounded less then ideal. Shut that beautiful fucking mouth, was actually what I believe I said to Brad when he first floated the idea. Turns out, I was completely wrong. Yes, backpacking is tough. Yes, several times during each trip I thought – why am I doing this to myself?! But the feeling of absolute freedom gazing over a panoramic sweeping view above the cloud lines, knowing that you survived the trip is empowering as hell. 

May the adventure continue! Stay tuned for more backpacking and hiking trips! Coming up – Hiking in Lake Tahoe and Beach Backpacking in Point Reyes.