We finally had three corresponding days off from work. Perfect for some adventure. We threw some gear together, convinced our friends Casey and Jen to join us, and headed six hours north to our favorite part of California: Yosemite National Park. Yes, the valley may get congested with tour buses and families eating ice-cream, but it is also a backpackers paradise. We employed our usual last minute strategy for getting a good trail head permit i.e. spent the night sleeping outside the doors of the permit station with a number of other hopefuls. We've been lucky before but this time our plan to land a spot on the Lyell Canyon trail head came up short. We didn't recognize any of the other trail heads and so we were more than happy to take the ranger's recommendation to take the Young Lake trail head. And thus our adventure started.
At only 6.0 miles from trailhead to lake shore it made for an easy half day which we were grateful for due to the steady upward incline. Our sorrow at not getting Lyell Canyon was quikcly swept away with spectacular vistas and lush meadows. At one point we came onto a huge plateau from which we nearly a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. And the lake itself? I think only the photographs can do it justice so I'll leave it at that. And we only had to share this piece of paradise with three or four other small groups!
With alluringly clear water and sandy shores we felt compelled to take a dip even though we knew it would feel like swimming in an ice bucket. Which it did, but we convinced ourselves it was worth it. Well, three of us had to convince ourselves it was worth it. Jen loved it and kept yelling, "This is amazing! It feels so good! Come out and swim with me!" And really it was amazing, because how often do you get a pristine mountain lake to yourself? And when you're going to be sharing close quarters in a tent it's always nice to get some of that hiking sweat washed off.
As evening approached we made our classic backpacking dinner (instant mashed potatoes. We haven't gotten very gourmet!) and sat on the lake shore while we ate. The next morning Justin climbed the slope behind our camp to get some shots of the sun rising over the lake. Then we had to break camp and head back. So short but so good.