Yosemite National Park, CA – Sixty in 2013: Hiking High


October 21, 2013 by Deborah W. Trotter

It’s not what you think. Or maybe it absolutely is. I’m referring to our hike to Gaylor Lakes that started at an elevation of 9,900 feet and went up higher from there.
The parking lot and trailhead for Gaylor Lakes is just off Tioga Road (Highway 120), immediately inside the east entrance station to Yosemite Park. We were slightly concerned that our bodies wouldn’t be able to handle the elevation, but all of our venturing into the mountains to hike over the past several months, although nothing as high as this, apparently was enough.

The day we took the hike last month, white frosting from the recent snowfall still decorated the surrounding peaks and much of the terrain, a serendipitous flavoring that we had no reason to expect when we planned this excursion several months before.
In a little less than a mile, the trail climbed steadily upwards about 600 feet, switchbacking where necessary, to the top of the pass. That was just about at tree line. We had unobstructed views of Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs. We looked down on Middle Gaylor Lake in the basin below, and saw the Cathedral group of peaks in the distance beyond Tuolumne Meadows.

Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs

Mount Dana and Mount Gibbs

Middle Gaylor Lake, Cathedral and Unicorn Peaks in the distance

Middle Gaylor Lake, Cathedral and Unicorn Peaks in the distance

At that point we lost the trail, but we could see the Lake below us and the trail continuing around its shore, so we made our way down the slope, eventually coming upon the trail and following it the rest of the way.

Middle Gaylor Lake at lake level

Middle Gaylor Lake at lake level

From Middle Gaylor Lake we hiked another .9 miles to Upper Gaylor Lake, using the dark rocks of the dry outlet stream as our guide, as we couldn’t see the Lake before we got to it, and the trail was partially obscured by snow.

Upper Gaylor Lake

Upper Gaylor Lake

There are several other lakes in the basin, including upper and lower Granite Lakes and Lower Gaylor Lake, but we decided to stick to the trail and go back the way we had come. Although we were handling the elevation, we were definitely feeling it at well over 10,000 feet.

Returning to Middle Gaylor Lake

Returning to Middle Gaylor Lake

When we got back to the car, we had hiked about 4.3 miles, putting me at 57 new National Park miles toward my 60-mile goal for 2013. In early November we are going to Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park to hike. I am counting on that visit to put me over the top!

6 thoughts on “Yosemite National Park, CA – Sixty in 2013: Hiking High

  1. I’ve hiked over the 10,000 foot mark once and felt like I was going to pass out right on the trail. Kudos for handling the elevation so well, I’m envious. Can’t wait to hear how your next hike goes as you cross the finish line for 60 new miles!

    • I’m convinced the secret is hiking up at altitude as regularly as you can, even if it’s only at 6,000 or 7,000 feet. It had to have made the difference for us. Thanks for your encouragement, Justin! I truly appreciate it.

  2. Caroline Wood says:

    I appreciated hearing about how you dealt with the elevation. Good lesson – I always hope to see these places after I read your stories.

  3. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wow Deb! What an amazing location and beautiful views. So glad you are up and out getting these terrific photos and I’m sure having a wonderful experience!

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