Friday, June 21, 2019

Around Lambert Dome with A Dog Lake Bonus at Yosemite

Date: August 18, 2018
Place: Yosemite National Park, California
Coordinates: 37.877938, -119.353312
Length: about 3 miles including Dog Lake and excluding the dome's summit
Level: moderate

All of my visits to Yosemite in the last few years have been with people of have never been there before. That is, for me it was going back again and again to the same 'must see' places for the first timers. Not that I mind that; any place in Yosemite I'd be happy so visit again and again. I was therefore very happy when the first time visitors whom I was showing around in Yosemite last August asked to go hiking on a less beaten trail.
Tenaya Lake, 4 miles east of Tuolumne Meadows
That day of our trip we had scheduled the sightseeing drive along hwy 120, across Tioga Pass, all the way through the park and down to Mono Lake. This route involves much driving with many stops a and short walks. When we got to Tuolumne Meadows the visitors (and me too) were all in desire of a more serious walk, so I suggested hiking around Lambert Dome.
Lambert Dome
Tuolumne Meadows is a long and fairly wide flat area where the Tuolumne River flower slowly and splits into a number of channels, and where melting snow floods and irrigates the soil each year to support a large variety of grasses and other meadow vegetation. Crowning Tuolumne Meadows are huge granite domes, some of which are forested and others remain mostly bald. Lambert Dome is located on the northeastern edge of Tuolumne Meadows and is accessible to day hikers by a nice, well maintained trail.
Tuolumne Meadows
When hiking in Yosemite the first challenge is always finding parking. After a few minutes of ambush   at the little lot by the trailhead we got lucky and one of the spots was vacated. We stashed all food items in the bear box and headed out on the trail, going clockwise.
Lambert Dome/Dog Lake Trail
Mid-August, especially in a fairly dry year, isn't the season to go looking for wildflowers. I did see a few, however.
Western Aster, Symphyotrichum ascendens

All through the hike I could see squirrels running around on the rocks. Most of them were too busy or too far for me to get a decent photo but this cutie was kind enough to pose for me.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
The trail begun flat but soon started leading up in a steady, medium-grade slope with hardly any switchbacks. It was a hot day but thankfully, most of the trail was in the forest and shaded.

My company were walking fast and we made excellent time, stopping only briefly here and there to sip some water or to look at an animal or a plant of interest. The cute chipmunks were a fine attraction to look at!
Alpine Chipmunk
I was surprised to see mushrooms so late in season. But these were the only mushrooms I saw the entire hike.

After about three quarters of an hour we arrived at the trail fork to Dog Lake. I didn't plan going there but t wasn't far away and my company expressed a desire to see the lake so we continued on straight.

It was a good decision to go there - Dog Lake was full to the brim and very beautiful!
Dog Lake
Dog Lake was the perfect place for my visitors to sit and rest, and imbibe in Yosemite's majestic air. It was a moment of blessed pause outside of the tourists' busy must-see-it-all schedule. As tired as we were when we got there, this was a rejuvenating moment.
Mount Dana
But time didn't stand still and eventually we did have to get going again, back to the trail and continue around Lambert Dome.
Lambert Dome Trail
It was already late in the afternoon and the shadows were getting long. Since we had planned to continue that day all the way to Mono Lake we were now in a hurry. Rushing down the trail meant I didn't stop for as many photoshoots as I otherwise would have. Sill, some sights were impossible to let slide by.
Pine wood
One of the few still blooming plant species was the little tidy lupine that is common all around the High Sierra, decorating the brown soil with mats of gray foliage and heavenly blue-white flowers.
Tidy Lupine, Lupinus lepidus
We reached the trail fork leading up to Lambert Dome's summit and I raised the option before my visitors. The trail wasn't long but going to the summit would have meant missing Mono Lake. After already two intense hiking days my visitors were also pretty tired. So we skipped going up the dome and continued downhill back to route 120.

Down below Lambert Dome as we crossed route 120 I took a moment of no traffic and looked at the double Tuolumne Peak that's looming over Tenaya Lake to the west, now hazy in the long afternoon sun rays.
Tuolumne Peak

The way back to the trailhead goes parallel to route 120. We walked westward through the lengthening tree shadows cast upon a low, drying High Sierra prairie.

Across the road, high over the tree tops gleamed the bald rock of Lambert Dome, to which we did not make it this time.
Lambert Dome
Back at the trailhead we checked the time: we had done this lovely hike in just about 2 hours and there was still plenty of daylight left. We got into the car and after a brief stop at the Tuolumne Meadows shop for a well deserved cold drink and ice cream we headed eastward past Tioga Pass and down to Mono Lake.
Lambert Dome


  1. Replies
    1. It was a very nice hike! I'm glad my visitors chose to do that one :-)