2010 Vogelsang Loop

Description: 4 day 28 mile loop up Rafferty Creek to Emeric Lake, Townsley Lake, and back along Lyell Fork

Day 1:

This loop begins at the Tuolumne Meadows Wildrness Center. The trail heads toward Lyell Fork and after taking the Rafferty Creek turnoff, climbs moderately and then levels off to a more gradual incline after about 0.5 mile. It is evident that trail crews spent countless hours paving this trail. It is also evident that this is the route mule trains take to bring supplies into Vogelsang camp. An alternate approach to the Vogelsang area is the longer route along the Lyell Fork which happens to be the exit portion of our loop. Our destination today was Emeric Lake, about 10 miles in.

Looking back along the Rafferty Creek trail


Fletcher Peak in view


Wildlife




Emeric Lake


Day 2:

Today's short hike will take us back past Vogelsang camp and then off-trail for a short distance to Townsley Lake. After setting up camp at Townsley, we climbed up the ridge to explore Hanging Basket Lake. I'd heard that this lake contains cutthroat trout so wanted to try my luck. I fished my lures for over an hour without any hits. After I gave up, starting packing up my gear, and thinking there were no fish in this lake, I heard the loudest splash! The fish were playing us. We returned to Townsley in defeat and had to settle for the small rainbows in Townsley, which were much more eager to bite.

Vogelsang camp below Fletcher Peak


Passing Fletcher Lake


Townsley Lake ahead


Hanging Basket Lake is a short climb up this hill


Brilliant turquoise waters of Hanging Basket Lake


Townsley Lake below


Striations on Fletcher Peak look like hieroglyphics from afar


Day 3:

The plan today was to continue the loop by getting back on the trail heading east through a large meadow and down into Lyell Canyon. As the trail began its descent, it also became rockier. For us, the trail seemed to disappear somewhere among all of the rocks and boulders. There were also ducks everywhere as it seems each hiker wanted to mark his own separate way. We knew the direction we had to go so we decided to stop looking for the trail, ignore all of the piles of rocks and head towards where we knew the trail would eventually end up. Once back on the trail, we continued our descent, stopping by Ireland Creek for a lunch break, before finally reaching the bottom of Lyell Canyon. Here, we crossed Lyell Fork a few times looking for the ideal campsite.

Evelyn Lake with Kuna Crest in the background


Yosemite granite to the left


More granite, more meadow


Heading east in the direction of Kuna Crest


Where is the trail?


Ireland Creek


Lyell Fork with Potter Point in the background


Day 4:
Our exit day. Not surprisingly, walking along Lyell Canyon and its river was serene and idyllic. Surprisingly, a few hours of the same peaceful scenery with no noticeable difference in elevation became somewhat monotonous. But this was a monotony that I'd have no problem returning to.

Lyell Fork


Crossing Lyell Fork near the trailhead


Farewell greetings from one of Yosemite's residents