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day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

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day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:40 pm

With the three-day weekend and still no snow in the Sierra, we made tracks for Yosemite for one last adventure before the snows come.

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So Sunday found us in Tuolumne Meadows in bright sunshine and temperatures that were just about freezing. We parked at the Pothole Dome parking lot and strapped on a day pack. The route was a cross country trek to Mariuolumne Dome and, with luck, up to the top of the dome. The silly name comes from the fact that the top of this dome lies exactly on the border between Mariposa and Tuolumne counties.

hoo boy.

The first half mile was up a cold and snowy slope to intersect the John Muir Trail to Cathedral Lakes. That worked perfectly, and the snow was so cold and dry that even though we were crunching through about six inches, our feet never got even slighty damp. Once on the JMT, we hiked for about a mile until that trail began to turn more southerly---at which point we broke off and headed due West towards that big white granite blob in front of us. Here the sun had melted those early snows away, and much of the route was on bare ground.

Mariuolumne Dome is one of a whole family of huge granite domes in this area, and after only a few minutes, we found ourselves at the southern end of the dome right at treeline. These domes are famous for rock climbing routes, but we were hoping to walk up the more gently sloping southern spine of Mariuolumne.

That spine also turned out to be windline!

Because while we were in the forest, the icy wind that had sprung up didn't seem too bad. But once we were out on the exposed granite spine of the dome, it was blowing like crazy. In fact, it was blowing so hard that we decided to call off our attempt to sneak up to the top of the dome. It was steep, and would have taken considerable concentration to climb--particulary since we didn't have any ropes.

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That's the view from the ridge, looking west at Mt. Hoffman.

Our rule is that we will climb almost anything as long as we don't need our hands to get up. That way we are pretty sure we'll also be able to get down. And that was true of Mariuolume Dome--except that the wind was blowing so hard that we didn't even try to get all the way up. We stopped part-way up the ridge, snapped a couple of photos, and carefully worked our way back down.

The dome will be there next time. And we have all of our fingers and toes. And our noses, which were positively frozen.

The trail back down was yet another adventure, as much of the trail had turned to very slick ice. First M slipped and fell, and then P did the same. By the time we left the JMT we had a total of seven pratfalls between the two of us. Luckily, no real damage to anything except our pride.

Once back at the car, we walked over to Pothole Dome and walked up onto the top of it instead. The wind was fierce here too, but the exposure was a bit easier, and we snapped more photos, llike the one below of Unicorn Peak from Pothole Dome. Done for the day, wewandered back to the car, turned on the heater full blast, and starting driving for home.

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And the good news is that it looks as if the snows will come, indeed, later this week.

We do need the water!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby rlown » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:17 pm

I hate to see her naked this time of year (nice pics though.)

Please make it snow already!!
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby justm » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:45 pm

Nice Pics!! Thanks for sharing
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby John Dittli » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:52 pm

Nice Balza!

Today was probably the last day for Tuolumne. Tioga closes tonight, probably for the season, bringing an end to the "Frozen Fall" of 2011/12

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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby Cross Country » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:47 pm

balcazzom: I envy that you can do that (especially in Jan.) O2Byoung like you are. I bet that sounds (reads) strange to you.
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:48 pm

Cross Country wrote:balcazzom: I envy that you can do that (especially in Jan.) O2Byoung like you are. I bet that sounds (reads) strange to you.



Yep. 59. Just got a nice senior discount at a store tonight!
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby gary c. » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:45 pm

Great report and pictures guys. :thumbsup: I started up Glacier Point road yesterday morning at 9am and it was 26 degrees. Only 2mls up we were in the clouds and it had dropped to 22 with frost blowing down the road. I decided it was enough like winter to not want to take the grandkids on up so we headed for home.
"On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude."
-- Lionel Terray
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby Cross Country » Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:05 pm

balzaccom, I rember being 60 and going skiing, going surfing, playing 100+ softball games and backpacking to Kid Lakes. I remember how much tougher it was than the last time I went there when I was 34. I can still play 100 softball games a year, but not do much more. Believe me I'm not complaining. 2011 was WAY WAY better than 2009. Here's to 2012!
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:13 pm

Cross Country wrote:balzaccom, I rember being 60 and going skiing, going surfing, playing 100+ softball games and backpacking to Kid Lakes. I remember how much tougher it was than the last time I went there when I was 34. I can still play 100 softball games a year, but not do much more. Believe me I'm not complaining. 2011 was WAY WAY better than 2009. Here's to 2012!


I'm sorry. Softball games? Is that where you stand around and look at other people while somebody plays catch?
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby Cross Country » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:03 pm

Also Balzaccom, something I forgot to mention. Those are some nice fotos of a really nice. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: day hiking Tuolumne Meadows in January

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:14 pm

Just back from a week on the road: Miami, NY and Chicago in four days. Nice to see you people are still here!

And thanks for the kind words about the photos!
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