Lyell Canyon

2005 June 26 to 27

Lyell Canyon

It was Sunday morning and Emily and I were headed out for a 2 days in the sun and water of Arroyo Seco, at least that was the plan. At the last minute we switched some gear and instead headed up to Tuolumne Meadows via Tioga Pass which had only opened the previous week due to extremely heavy snow the preceding winter.

Our hike in was quite glorious; full of warm sun, open meadows, clear water, and even northbound PCT hikers. Our first, and as would turn out our only night, was spent about 5 miles south of the Ranger Station on the PCT, just before the junction that leaves the PCT and takes you to Evelyn or Ireland Lakes. That night it dropped below freezing and we woke up cold with everything around us covered in frost.

Not wanting to spend another frigid night we walked back wearing all of the clothes to be found in our packs yet as the sun rose and melted the ice the transformation was quite amazing and soon we found ourselves back in shorts and tee shirts.

On the way back home we took the turnoff for Cherry Lake but instead of going left after crossing over the Tuolumne River we went right instead and parked at the trailhead beyond the Kirkwood Powerhouse. From there it was an easy 1/2 hour hike along the river to a large pool. The water was considerably warmer than in Lyell Canyon but still pretty cold. After getting our fair share we were back in the car stopping only in Escalon to eat at Cocina Michoacana.

Em and I stopped at this great big flat rock overlooking the river on the way in on day 1. Had it been warmer, the water that is, we would have gone swimming in the great pool below the rock (not visible in this picture).

Lyell Canyon has very nice and w i d e o p e n meadows. It was quite a treat to hike in shorts and tee shirts in the warm sun while seeing the remaining snow.

Alas, it was cold that night and the following morning. My tent fly is green, for the record.

Armed with a yellow rain-suit, mittens, and a frozen washcloth in the shape of a gun I demand that Em turn over the hot chocolate.

Later in the day, back at Twin Bridges we were once again warm and I mustered the courage the go in the water. It hurt, it hurt bad. Being curious I put my thermometer in and a few minutes later read 32oF.

Not to be deterred we left the high country and ventured into the river several thousand feet lower and below the Hetch Hetchy Dam. Here I am mid jump into the 'warm' 55oF water. Normally this is a nice area to camp while the snow is still in the Sierras but this year the water was a bit to high and fast.

One final picture of me and the Tuolumne River and me just above the location where I jumped in.