06 July 2012

Yosemite: Clouds Rest

Yosemite National Park

This is a multi-day trip. If you haven't read it, you might want to start at the beginning.

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6

After trying to ignore the bright moon light, the morning light finally came and with it a moment for breakfast and breaking down camp. The plan for today is to head up and over Clouds Rest to camp down at the intersection of the Sunrise and Muir Trails near the spur to Half Dome.

sunrise over Sunrise Lake
Sunrise at Sunrise Lakes isn't quite as good as the sunset this time of year.

Hiking up out of the lake basin, we quickly come to a junction with the trail in from Tenaya Lake. From there, there is a general gentle drop to some lakes and meadows and one marked creek on the map. I left getting water to the creek since I prefer to get water from them rather than lakes, so I stopped at the first creek to get some. It was little more than a trickle, but I found a good spot to take from. It turned out that there was a larger creek further on just as we started climbing in earnest after the two little lakes.

purple flowers with their faces to the sun in a tiny meadow
A small triangle of grass near the trail yielded all kinds of purple flowers all turning their faces to the sun.

another dome of granite
A bit of the impressive granite landscape as we made our way to Clouds Rest.

small lake by the side of the trail
Coming upon one of the lakes along the trail. The wind was very still allowing for very good reflections.

The climb after the larger creek quickly became gentle. We came to a second junction that didn't see fit to list Clouds Rest as a destination. Here we took the right had fork and continued to climb. At some point, we should have come to a bypass trail, but I only recall two intersections along the way. We did see the other side of the bypass trail, which was signed but little used in comparison with the route over the very top of the mountain. Perhaps it left around the time there was a sign for Clouds Rest Foot Trail. At that point the trail became the rock mountain top.

Mount Clark
Mount Clark has a tail!

a sea of mountains and a lake
Looking down the ridge of Clouds Rest, there is a sea of mountains and one big spot of blue, perhaps Tenaya Lake.

Clouds Rest Foot Trail
The last jaunt up to the top of Clouds Rest... except for the couple little false peaks and the long narrow section.

Getting near the top of Clouds Rest, I rediscovered my fear of heights. The trail surface, such as it is, does not narrow to any less than 4 feet wide, far more than enough to safely fall if you were to take this moment for such a rare event. There were rocks to navigate around or over, but still there was plenty of room to maneuver. The fear was clearly irrational. I kept moving along, but sometimes not entirely happily. The fear lessened as I got to the true peak, which was actually wider than the section of ridge leading up to it. We spent a good, long time enjoying the top of that mountain which has an exceptional view. Well, all but one.

reference marker #1
Reference marker number 1 on Clouds Rest, set in 1956.

crowd having lunch at the top of Clouds Rest
Day hikers and backpackers enjoying a leisurely lunch at the top of Clouds Rest.

ridge along which sits Clouds Rest
Looking the other way along the ridgeline toward Half Dome.

the Merced River watershed
A large section of the Merced River watershed.

Yosemite Valley
Looking down into Yosemite Valley from Clouds Rest, with Half Dome on the side.

the Clouds Rest ridgeline
More peaks along the ridge as it stretches out toward Half Dome.

Eventually we decided to head down to the southwest, opposite of the way we came up. There are no narrow sections on this side, but there are steps. Plenty of steps. The trail heads down steeply with quick turns and a few big steps. It then heads down steeply traveling along the mountain, only to return to more tight switchbacks. After another steep traveling section, it finally delivers the hiker to the John Muir Trail. We made camp at this intersection along with quite a number of others.

the group winding down the trail
We go, winding down.

white flowers with pink edges
Nice little alpine flowers that lived high up on Clouds Rest.

fusca trumpet flowers
Another flower to be found near the top of Clouds Rest.

a bit of the trail in dirt
The far side of the bypass for Clouds Rest.

odd features in the rock wall
A couple odd depressions in the rock wall side of the valley below.

yellow flowers on a succulent
Some very cute yellow stars shining brightly on this succulent in the cracks of the granite.

a very very dark lizard
I found a few lizards that were nearly black, the darkest I've ever seen.

a very cool tree
Looking a bit like the bristlecones from its long struggle to exist out on the granite face.

We saw day hikers, including one that seemed to be in excess of 80 years old, on this side of the mountain as well, even though there are many more miles and many more feet to gain to get to it from this side. It is over 10 miles and something like 6000 feet from the valley floor. My knees were thankful not to have to go down all of it in one go, and so were my feet. I decided to try out two socks for the final descent just to get more cushioning.

Almost everyone could be found at the new camp when I finally arrived. Our one missing character at the top of the peak had gotten bored waiting for us in camp and decided to try his luck on getting up Half Dome without the physical permit in hand. He did have a name and a number and managed to get the ranger to let him up, arriving back to camp in the late afternoon. He decided to finish a day early while the rest of us went up Half Dome on its own day.

Continue reading: day 5

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 Jul 2012

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