Backpacking Yosemite: Day 2 – To Young Lakes

This is day 2 of my backpacking Yosemite trip with my 17yo and two of his friends. After a night at Glen Aulin (not so much sleep though) we were ready to for a tough day of hiking, gaining over 2,000 feet over 9 miles to Young Lakes (9,800 ft) with much of the elevation gain coming in the last 4 miles. The night before we accidentally broke one of the pole segments in our tent. And this morning, life threw another curve ball at us.

Backpacking Yosemite – Glen Aulin to Young Lakes

The second morning, we all woke up got out of our tent at 6am eager to get going, only to find out that the igniter on both Jet Boils weren’t working anymore. And the lighter we bought? Well, the lighter was busted too. While we talked about bringing matches, we punted on it and now we were stumped. Sat around for a while trying this and that until we asked one of the other campers for a spare lighter. Huge thanks to one of the fellow backpackers to give us one of his extras!!! This lighter was going to be treasured and given extra love for the next couple of days for sure.

Leaving Glen Aulin

We were kinda surprised by the ascent out of Glen Aulin, but everyone was determined to get up to Young Lakes for a dip after the long hike. We were pushing up the hills and our original plan was to stop at Dingley Creek to filter water and reload before the major ascent. As luck would have it, the creek was dry. And we still had 4+ miles to go. We had a couple of more liters of extra water (outside of our camel bags) and kept pushing until we got to the Dog Lake intersection. Just 1.7 miles to go.

First sighting of Young Lakes
Made it to Young Lakes!

It was such a relief to see the lake and we all plopped down near the shores of the lake, splashing water on ourselves and just enjoying the views, thinking of the best place to camp for the night. There were very few people up there, probably 4 or 5 tents total on a fairly large lake. As remote as it gets in the wilderness. But, it was close to 2pm and just in time for the High Sierra Daily Thunderstorm Program. We frantically found a spot, pitched tent, made Ramen and went in for a nap to sit out the thunderstorm. Most of the fun that day was after we woke up!

Cooking Ramen for Dinner at Young Lakes

After jumping into the ice cold lake, the boys decided to venture up to the top of Ragged Peak where there were still a few patches of snow, probably 800ft above us. And it was a Class 3 Rock Scramble. Of course, I had to follow. It was ridiculous (and incredible) watching these three with their crocs, slides and barefoot hopping on granite and moving up with ease while I’m desperately trying to catch up! Marmot scat everywhere and OMG, the views!

Rock scrambling up towards a small snow patch on Ragged Peak at Young Lakes
Young Lakes from up above
Ice patch 800 feet above Young Lakes towards the top of Ragged Peak

By around 7pm the sun was starting to fade and we worked our way down the “easier” path. Everyone was exhausted, but content. Cooked and ate another uneventful freeze-dried dinner and tried to get some sleep. But at 10,000 feet, that was not exactly easy as our bodies weren’t used to the elevation. Caught an amazing sunset with the reflection of the Ragged Peak on the lake.

Sunset at Young Lakes

Tomorrow, we head back to Tuolumne Meadows via Dog Lake, but should be an easy day, mostly descending. Hopefully no more gear surprises! The rock scramble was definitely the highlight of the day.

This is a three part blog on Backpacking Yosemite:


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