'twas Grand! ... Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

22 Aug 1999 - by Debbie Benham

I'm so used to descending at the end of the summit climb that I had to admit I was a bit disoriented when we lost altitude and had just started our trip! From White Wolf, we left, full of a scrumptious breakfast eaten at the resort's small and cozy restaurant. While heading down the canyon, a management fire was underway with a sign strictly forbidding us to go offtrail. We saw reduced flames, smoldering ashes and clouds of smoke that hurt our eyes and muffled our breathing. This lasted for a little while, not too long, all in all. Continuing down, we glimpsed the Sawtooth Range in the distance, it's jagged teeth just visible.

Camping our first night at Pate Valley, a refreshing swim and splash greeted us before dinner. A fire kept the bugs away and kept us busy while we debated topical political events, told lewd jokes, listened to paragraphs from the New Yorker magazine, and, said what travels were next on our agendas. The following day was 14 miles to Glen Aulin. Those miles included the Muir Gorge with fantastic waterfalls carving lovely swirls in granite, bluegreen pools of water; elevation gain and loss, gain and loss; swimming to refresh and encourage for the climb up (oh dear!) ahead; with streaming Waterwheel Falls being one of the many cascades seen. Our second night, we were about a mile shy of Glen Aulin in a flat, broad, bush and birch-tree filled arena. Whew! glad to sit down. Reports had it that a bear was patroling the Glen Aulin area. At about 5:30am, our neighboring campers, just across the way, were heard yelling, pounding rocks, and, making general helter-skelter to scare the bear. Someone in their party had left some food in a backpack, and, bears being as smart as they are in Yosemite, dragged the pack, foraged for the food only, then quickly departed.

As we headed toward the cars on our third and final day, I was once again reminded of the grandeur of Yosemite with a view from Tuolumne Meadows: Unicorn Peak, the Cockscomb, Cathedral Peak, Echo Peaks, and, of course, our end point, Lembert Dome.

Thank yous to all who participated: Marci Barnett, Debbie Benham (author&leader), Rosalie Frankel, Bob Goeldner, Bill Kirkpatrick (coleader), Matt Smits, Eddie Sudol, and, Jeff West.


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