August 1, 2019
Place: Yosemite National Park, California
Trailhead coordinates: 37.975692, -119.331303
Length: 4.3 miles
The third night of the backpacking trip in Yosemite I went on last summer with my friend was the coldest of our nights there. It was the one night that justified carrying the base layers with us throughout the entire trip. When I exited the tent at first light I had all my layers on and was still shivering. The sun rays had lit only the highest peak on the west and the rest of the valley was still dark.
|Our campsite at Roosevelt Lake|
|Dawn at the Lake|
A little waterfall was visible now. I heard it last evening and now I could see it too.
I was tempted to go up to the pass once more to explore the wildflowers scene I had to breeze through so quickly the night before. My friend said she'll wait for me but won't go up herself and I didn't expect her too.
In the end however, I didn't go up. Perhaps I should have, because I don't know when next I'll get to see the alpine bloom again.
|Snow Willow, Salix nivalis|
|Our hike from Roosevelt Lake to Young Lake|
|Alpine Pussytoes, Antennaria media|
A flock of little birds were frolicking by the water, hopping on the rocks and flying low by the grass. They didn't seem to be bothered by us too much. Of course they wouldn't let me get too close, but I did get some nice shots of them from a reasonable distance. These were rosy finches - a species that loves the High Sierra. I've seen one before at Mineral King. Pappa quail hasn't seen one yet - I hope these little cuties will be enough a lure for him to join me on a High Sierra backpacking trip sometime.
Not all that thrilled to dip our bodies on the ice-cold water of Roosevelt Lake we opted to climb the rocks. There were enough holds and I thought I could see evidence of the humans passing through that place sometime before us.
|Pink Alumroot, Heuchera rubescens|
|Western Moss Heather, Cassiope mertensiana|
|Purple Finch, Female|
|Sierra Penstemon, Penstemon heterodoxus|
|Dwarf Alpine Paintbrush, Castilleja nana|
|Alpine Ivesia, Ivesia gordonii|
|Lyall's Rockcress, Boechera lyallii|
|View north toward the Roosevelt Lake Bowl|
|Sanddune Wallflower, Erysimum perenne|
|View south along Conness Creek|
|Frosted Buckwheat, Eriogonum incanum|
|Sedge, Carex sp.|
|Silky Raillaedella, Raillardella argentea|
Eventually we did have to get down to the meadow. Up close it looked more beautiful than from above, and the mosquitoes weren't as bad as I had feared. We crossed the meadow and hopped over the narrow creeks, steering eastward.
The meadow wasn't completely green as it appeared from above - narrow bands of pink shooting star lined the creek banks.
|Shooting Star, Primula sp.|
|Tidy Lupine, Lupinus lepidus|
|Sierra Daisy, Erigeron algidus|
It was there again that my navigator watch had once again become very useful. Not wanting to get all the way down to the trail and then having to go uphill again to Young Lake, I identified the altitude line of Young Lake on the electronic top map and did my best to adhere to it.
|Mountain Pride, Penstemon newberri|
Either way, we were losing altitude quickly, and before long we were engulfed in the conifer forest we had left the day before when we made our ascend to Upper Lake McCabe.
In the forest the wildflowers scene changed again to display shade-adapted and higher moisture loving plants.
|Jewelweed, Steptanthus tortuosus|
|Leichtlin's Mariposa Lily, Calochortus leichtlinii|
|Shaggy Lupine, Lupinus covillei|
I kept counting the main creeks we've crossed. By the third one we shifted southward again, following the contour of the slope.
|A nameless forest creek|
|One-seeded Pussypaws, Calyptridium monospermum|
|California Cornlily, Veratrum californicum var, californicum|
We moved on through an alternating repetitive terrain, meaning forest interrupted routinely by small meadows, talus, and creeks over and over and over.
|Slender Buttercup, Ranunculus alismifolius var. alismellus|
Thus it happened that we came upon the last creek to cross about 200 feet below the altitude if Young Lake. Not only that, but we had to go down a pretty steep and slippery slope to get to the creek itself. This creek was coming down from Young Lake. We needed to get uphill along that creek but first we needed to cross it. I though of going up along the eastern creek bank but I didn't know how easy it would be to cross it up there. Knowing that we needed to get to the west side, I led us down to cross the creek right there. This creek crossing turned to be the most challenging we've had to d the entire trip because of the sharp slope and the fast moving water. It took us some time to find a suitable place to cross and we took our time to do it slowly and carefully.
On the west side we took our time to put our shoes back on, then we faced going up hill again with no trail, up a steep slope. It was by no means as challenging as the uphill climb we did to get to Upper Lake McCabe but we did have to walk slow.
The slow pace was fine enough for me because I could give attention to the numerous insect that were flying around us. Fortunately, the population of mosquitos had dropped to a more tolerable level.
|Common Merganser in Young Lake|
|A solar drier|
There was the bloom, of course, and much of it. I was happy to see more wildflowers that were new to me. A patchers of cottongrass by the lake shore reminded me a bit of the Lorax's traffula trees in minute version.
|Cotton Grass, Calliscirpus criniger|
|Western Labrador Tea, Rhododendron columbianum|
|Lake Young spillway|
|Great Red Paintbrush, Castilleja miniata|
|Our campsite at Young Lake|
|Dwarf Bilberry, Vaccinium cespitosum|
Of course it wasn't only the tiny critters that got my attention. There were plenty of birds about, but they were very active and I didn't have the patience to try and get any photographs. But then a single robing dropped down to the forest floor and eyed us closely. Close enough for me to snap some decent photos.
To the west the forest was already under the shadows. We paused briefly by the lakeshore to look at Rugged Peak, still illuminated by the westering sun, before getting back to our camp to cook dinner.
|Sunset by Young Lake|
|Young Lake at sunset|