09 July 2012

Dog Lake and Lembert Dome

Yosemite National Park

I caught the bus from Yosemite Valley back up to my car in Tuolumne Meadows and then decided upon a hike that should take a few hours before I abandon the park for home. I found what I was looking for just up the road. Parking by Lembert Dome, I could take the trail around it and up to Dog Lake. Afterwards, I would take a different trail down going toward the Dog Lake parking where a spur trail climbs to near the top of the dome. After climbing the dome, I could go the rest of the way down that trail and either catch a shuttle back or walk along a trail paralleling the road. It seemed a little funny that the lake is closer to the dome parking and the trail up the dome is closer to the lake parking, but there it was.

Starting from the Lembert Dome parking, it wasn't too clear where the trail was. One well used trail went from the lot at a "no pets" sign and just climbed up onto the dome rock. From there, there was no indication of where to go, but it wasn't the correct trail. At the north end of the lot, nearly on the other side of a number of picnic tables, another trail went out through the trees. This was the correct trail. It also quickly hit a large, flat area of rock. On the far side of the rock, a sign was the only indication of the direction to go for the trail. The sign finally confirmed that this was the correct trail.

From the sign, the trail climbs in little switchbacks up through the forest. The dome is generally visible to my right as I go, but obscured fairly well by some trees. I came upon and passed some bird watchers. I got to the intersection leading down to the Dog Lake parking and continued outward toward Young Lakes. The spur to Dog Lake comes up fairly quickly after that with only a little more climbing. It looks like a very small percentage of the traffic here goes toward Young Lakes as that was a narrow path and the one to Dog Lake was a wide highway. I probably would have chosen to go out to Young Lakes if it were not for the 7 hour drive to finish off the day.

The spur to Dog Lake also had a tiny bit more climbing before dropping into the depression of the lake. A group were hanging around on the north side of the lake, one fishing and a couple others swimming away from the fishing. I took a trail along the south side as the map indicated there was one there. The trail I found was only a use trail. I stopped by a semi-submerged fallen tree and sketched some in watercolor. The lake was too full of pollen at the edge to take water from it, so I had to use a little of what I was carrying.

watercolor of tree partly submerged in Dog Lake
A few of the weathered branches of a fallen tree that is partly submerged in the water of Dog Lake.

More and more people came as it was getting to be lunch. The new groups also went for some swimming in the lake. Finishing, I packed up. I decided not to try to circumnavigate the lake although I expect there is plenty of use trail all the way around. I returned to the main trail the way I had come, then back to the intersection with the trail to Dog Lake parking and took it down.

The trail seemed a little greener and brighter than the first trail. Coming to a dry wash, I found the trail was suddenly a lot less traveled than previously. Tufts of green grass, cut but not destroyed by walkers, grew on the trail. The trailbed itself was quite soft and pleasant to walk on. Beside it, branches were set to outline it. Frequent bright pink markers also marked the route. Suddenly, I came upon a group of Youth CCC who were lining the trail with branches and a few other bits of work. Further on, off in the trees, an older group was also working. Perhaps the trail has been rerouted? It will not be so wonderfully soft for long, I passed many people going both directions along the trail. Eventually it started to look old again, but I didn't notice the old route if it had been rerouted.

The trail from the intersection had been fairly level with some climb here and drop there. I came to a spot that seemed like the top ridge of the dome, but the spur did not lead from it. I wasn't too certain it would be marked since, although it was on my map, it was distinctly absent from the map on the sign at the beginning of the trail.

A short drop, and a large, signed trail started up the dome to the right. I followed it, joining a few others just ahead of me. As long as there was dirt, there was trail, but then it came to the rock and stopped. This was where it stopped on my map as well. A sign stated that we should stay on the trail, but didn't mention if that meant not going up on the rock. My goal was the top, so I continued up.

I went up the biggest thing I could see, of course, and it was a false peak, of course. With a few feet drop, I continued around another bump and circled the peak to the south before finding a crack to walk up along. A family at the top were making their way down, and they seemed to have liked the same route I had chosen to climb. There was one spot where hands were useful, but otherwise it was an easy walk up. I got to the top and had a good look around, then settled into a chair of rock on the west side of the peak and sketched the meadow below in watercolor. It was made difficult by the wind that wasn't much at the start, but picked up, sometimes with a mighty gust. I was partly sheltered and it wasn't too much trouble. The day was warm, so the lighter winds were quite nice.

green trees and drying meadow from the top of Lembert Dome
Tuolumne Meadows from the top of Lembert Dome. The meadow is already showing signs of drying out in this low water year.

Once finished, I made my way down retracing my upward route. The family had selected one of the higher false peaks along the way to look out to the south from. I guess they were taking some shelter from the wind. It wasn't as bad away from the peak. Continuing along the rock, I found the end of the trail easily and made my way down it. It was another long drop down to the parking lot below. I was able to catch the shuttle back, although my too quiet shout of, "Stop, please!" was insufficient to get the driver to do so and he had to come back to let me out. The shuttles in the meadow are quite different from the ones in the valley.

Back by my car, I decided to cook my last meal to help fuel me for the drive home. I was doing well with it until suddenly, the stove felt the need to go full blast no mater how low it was set, then stop altogether. I clamped on the lid and found the fuel can was very empty. I finally used up the last of my fuel. Also, that was a little close for my planned 5 day, turned into 6 day backpacking trip. I started the drive home, having to let the rice cook in the residual heat before eating it.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 15 Jul 2012

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