On Friday evening, I packed up and headed down to Mono Lake. Saturday morning, I woke up early and drove into Yosemite National Park, where I ended up hiking up to Vogelsang Pass and back in a day. It was a wonderful although difficult hike to cap off the summer.
After doing a total of over 10 miles the weekend before, I decided that a much more difficult hike in Yosemite National Park sounded like an awesome way to cap off the summer. Of course, it recently snowed at the higher elevations already, so I wasn’t sure I was going to make it work, but nonetheless, I decided to go ahead and see if I could make it work anyway.
I pulled into the Mono Lake area rather later at night and found a campsite nearby Friday night. I won’t be adding this one to my maps, because apparently, you really shouldn’t camp exactly where I did. I guess it’s supposed to be closed to camping due to too many people trashing it. Unfortunate as it is, camping perhaps not totally legally for the night worked out, and I was able to wake up early and head into Yosemite shortly after the ranger station opened for the day Saturday.
The ranger told me that the path all of the way up Vogelsang Pass should be totally clear of snow, except perhaps some non-troublesome patches here and there. So, I bought a topo map and headed out. I was on the trail by 9am.
Starting at the ranger station, the trail begins following the Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail. It’s no secret that I would love to do one (or both) of these long distance trails at some time in the future, so it was pretty nifty to be hiking along it on a day hike. As a result, it’s also really well manicured trail, so it was pretty easy hiking overall, despite being occasionally quite steep.
With a little research, it just took following the right turns. It follows some basic trails through mixed forest at Tuolumne Meadows to Rafferty Creek, where the path begins a steep climb up to what is marked as Tuolumne Pass on my maps, where the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp is located.
Although the camp is already closed for the season, I stopped for a quick snack before moving on. It’s kinda funny looking at this camp all torn down, but it was cool to just enjoy the area in quiet solitude as well. Vogelsang is the high sierra camp located highest in elevation at 10,300ft.
Although I certainly felt some soreness and tendonitis already at this point in the hike, I began the next short leg up to Vogelsang Lake and Vogelsang Pass. This part was considerably steeper than what I had already climbed, but the views really began to become the best of the whole day.
Vogelsang Lake was a welcome sight when I did finally see it, but I didn’t stop long before beginning the climb up the pass, where the views just kept getting better. Near the top, looking back proved to be one absolutely amazing view itself. Up until just at the top of the pass, each step seemed to enhance the remarkable view.
At the top of the pass, the trail curves into a flat spot with a cool little pond, before going slightly uphill to make the drop on the other side. I walked a brief while in this direction, taking in the views on the opposite side of the pass, before turning back and having another snack at the small pond marking the pass.
Alas, it was time to head down the way I came up. I was already sore and tired; all of the strenuous hiking of the summer still is having its strong effect on my legs, especially. I really began to feel the steepness of any path. Even much of the relatively level on this trail is composed of a sort of steps that make the way down feel more difficult than it really should be.
Through it all, there were still some pretty amazing views going down, and I was able to make it to the car again by about 6pm, before sunset. Although stiff and sore as hell afterwords, I actually felt pretty good about the time I made on this one. In the end, I totaled 19.08 miles with about 3040ft of cumulative elevation gain. A pretty good hike!
Afterwords, I hopped in the car and found a campsite at Glass Creek Campground for the night. It was already dark by the time I pulled in, but I was able to find a spot easily enough and turn in for the night.
Sunday, I ended up heading further South, outside of Bishop for the night. I found a campsite at the Volcanic Tablelands, where I’ve stayed at before. Although busier than the last time I was here, it’s still a great campsite with wonderful views of the Eastern Sierras and White Mountains opposite.