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Thursday, August 15, 2013


Vogelsang High Sierra Camp-Lyell Canyon Trail

Backpack trip from Tuolumne Meadows 

Participants: Sarbajit Ghosal - group leader, Prasenjit Sarkar, Musafir (Rana Sircar)

There are different choices available to backpackers. We decided on the short loop,  going up to Vogelsang using Rafferty Creek Trail and then taking the Ireland Lake Trail to return to Tuolumne Meadows trail-head via John Muir Trail (Lyell Canyon Trail)."

See link to Vogelsang High Sierra Trail.

After spending the first night in Backpackers' Camp at Tuolumne Meadows we drove to the trailhead, parked and began our trek.

Day-time temperatures were moderate during the trip, July 17-21. The nights were cold -- in the 40's.

There were warnings about bears and the need to use bear-proof containers. Use of rope to hang bags of foodstuff from branches of trees was discouraged. We were informed by rangers that it did not deter bears. We observed the rules and had no encounter with bears.

Two of us suffered from altitude problem soon after we began going up John Muir Trail.

No headache or dizziness, but extreme fatigue and thirst which required frequent stops.
Our progress was very slow.  This despite the fact that I had taken Acetazolamide to prevent altitude sickness. Later, I found out that I was prescribed 125 mg tablets, not 250 mg which I had had taken on earlier treks. Sarbajit remained unaffected by altitude. But I decided to rest the next day when my companions went to try Vogelsang Peak.

Took us more than 7 hours to reach Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. We pitched our tents 
and spent two nights there.  Very scenic. Near lakes and surrounded by rocky peaks. We met backpackers who talked about good fishing.

On the 3rd morning we broke camp and headed for Lyell Creek. Except for a steep downhill segment it was an easy hike. The altitude-related fatigue ceased to be a problem
as we descended to lower elevation.

Instead of continuing on to Tuolumne Meadows we decided on camping near the junction of Ireland Lake trail and Lyell Fork.  It was a popular spot for campers. 

Next morning we headed back to the trailhead and arrived in mid-day. After a brief stop for lunch at Tenaya Lake, we drove to the Bay area, reaching home around 8 PM.

Most of the photographs were taken by Sarbajit Ghosal with a Canon S95.

At the trailhead, I

At the trailhead, II

 Woman hiker with a good-size pack 

Group leader, SG, checking route

After we take a right at the fork on to Rafferty Creek Trail to Vogelsang, the steady climb starts and lasts for about a couple of miles.

Stopped alongside Rafferty Creek for lunch 

Before the fatigue hit us

 SG at the beginning of the uphill trail

Steps cut into granite 

Prasenjit weighed down by pack

In the eastern horizon are the reddish Mt. Dana, Mt. Gibbs and the whitish Mammoth Peak

Met a family of four with an exchange student and a guide. The mom took our group photo. This is not a route to seek solitude!

Reflection of Fletcher Peak in a pool at Tuolumne Pass (9992 ft)  in the late afternoon sun

The final mile to Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Rocky but stretches of whitebark pines and lodgepole pines

Fletcher peak and the moon in the setting sun from the backpackers' camp near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp (10,140 ft), 7.7 miles from the Tuolumne Meadows trail head

High Sierra Camp tent cabins

Vogelsang Peak at Sunset

Alpen glow off Fletcher Peak

Our tents in the foreground

During day hike to Vogelsang Peak 

Emeric Lake on the left. Towards the left of center in the horizon are Half Dome and Clouds' Rest

Clouds shaped like wings of a flying gull

Vogelsang Lake

Looking down at Vogelsang Lake from the trail to the peak

Aborted attempt to scale the peak

Here we are at an elevation of just over 11,000 ft

Sarbajit, on the way down 

Vogelsang Pass

Patches of snow at higher elevation

Wild Flowers were not plentiful

At the top of Vogelsang Pass (10,685 ft) looking down on Gallison Lake with Parson's Peak in the background

View of Cathedral Range, Bernice Lake in the distance 

Heading back to camp site 

Back at camp.  Fletcher Peak in the afternoon 

Fletcher Lake

Indian Paintbrush alongside Fletcher Lake 



Breakfast is over. Time to break camp

Starting our hike to Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River, via the Ireland Lake Trail

Beautiful Evelyn Lake 

Vast meadow between the trail and Evelyn Lake 

Leaving Evelyn Lake behind 

Stopped for lunch near Tarn 10,425 (yes, a lake with the altitude in its name!). The lake, not visible here, is at the bottom of the glaciated headwall

Rest stop before tackling the steep descent  

At the beginning of a more than 1000 ft descent

Very rocky downhill trail

We camped near the junction of Ireland Lake Trail and Lyell Fork. A thunderstorm soon started and lasted for two hours. After the rain ended we came out of our tent for dinner

Sunset through White Bark Pines 

Amelia Earhart Peak at 7:15 PM

Time to break camp 

Lyell Fork flowing strong 

Back on John Muir Trail

Lyell meadows with Kune Ridge to the right

Sarbajit alongside Lyell Creek 

Again, this is not where one comes for solitude -- two parties can be seen ahead of us.
Mostly flat trail all the way back to Tuolumne Meadows

Back at the base of the "Lollypop" Loop

Sarbajit near the end of the trail

We stopped at Tenaya Lake before the drive home to the Bay Area.  All good things come to an end. 


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Thanks for the tour, I hope to do the same trip this July 13. Enjoyed the photos and the log. Thanks! Happy trails, L
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