Sierra High Route: Mammoth to Yosemite Valley

A friend and I completed a five-day backpacking trip from Agnew Meadows in the Mammoth Lakes area to Yosemite Valley. For two of our five days we follow a section of the pathless course of the Sierra High Route (SHR) across the upper reaches of the San Joaquin watershed. We go over two high passes, North Glacier Pass and Blue Lake Pass, both around 11,200 feet. We pass through one of the most wild and remote areas of the Sierra Mountains. The hike is both challenging and beautiful.

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Camp 1
Banner Peak looms over us at sunset. To the right of Banner Peak is North Glacier Pass. We start the next day climbing 2000 feet to the pass and then continue beyond.

Yosemite National Park

I visited Yosemite National Park in mid-July.  We spent most of our time in the high country, staying overnight at Tuolumne Meadows Campground.  On our second day we visited a small lake and hike up near Medlicott Dome and Cathedral Lake.  To the east a thunder storm was brewing.  To the west there were blue skies. We were between two dramatic weather systems. Eventually the approaching storm prompted us to shorten our hike/climb and head down to safety.  Interesting, by the end of the day I spotted the beginnings of the Ferguson fire.

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Tenaya Lake & Half DomeA6500899.jpg
Half Dome and Tenaya Lake

On day 3, we headed to a beautiful new discovery, Spillway Lake.  This trail was filled with wonderful wildflowers and ended at a chilly lake that we all swam in. On our way back the smoke from the fire filled the air and obscured the nearby mountains.

On day 4 we hiked along the rapid of the Tuolumne River behind Pothole Dome. This was another new place for me, very beautiful.

On day 5, we headed off trail along the outlet from Tenaya Lake.  Each afternoon the smoke from the fire blew in.  We decided to pack up and head out after the hike to get away from the bad air.  We spend our last day at one of my old favorites, Little Lake Valley, before driving home.