Backpacking Yosemite: Day 3 – To Tuolumne Meadows via Dog Lake

This is day 3 of my backpacking Yosemite trip with my 17yo and two of his friends. From Tuolumne Meadows we headed to Glen Aulin, then Young Lakes and on this last day worked our way back to Tuolumne Meadows via Dog Lake. This was going to be a pretty easy day with 8ish miles, mostly descending down into the meadows.

Backpacking Yosemite – Young Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows

We started the day pretty relaxed, made oatmeal, broke camp and hung out by the lake for a bit. We were in no hurry to leave as it was only 5 miles to Dog Lake and another 2 or so miles back to Tuolumne Meadows. With clear blue skies and and the crisp high country air, it was blissful just sitting around and soaking it all up.

Last day at Young Lakes

After yesterday’s long hike from Glen Aulin, everyone was still pretty sore and we felt it on the climb out of Young Lakes. But once we got up there, the high meadow with Dingley Creek (yes, the same one that had dried up on our other route to Young Lakes) was brimming with wildflowers and just spectacular views all around us.

High Meadows on the way to Dog Lake
Wildflowers on the way to Dog Lake

When we got to Dog Lake, got the water filter going to make lunch while the boys ventured into the water. Pretty quickly everyone got out because the lake was filled with leeches! We were so looking forward to diving into the lake, but that plan went out the window! It was cool to see a bear hanging out on the other side of the lake. I was a little surprised because it was early afternoon and there were a few day hikers around the lake.

Stopping for lunch at Dog Lake

After an hour or so, packed up and made the last leg of our journey back to the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker’s campsite. Had our last dinner together (Pad Thai!), spent a couple of hours at Tenaya Lake the next morning and then headed home. Just for a brief few days, it was awesome to get away into the wilderness and have life boil down to just a few basic things – shelter, food, water and warmth.

Last dinner at Tuolumne Meadows

Tips for the next trip

Every backpacking trip, you pick up a few pieces of wisdom that carries over next time. And this was no different. Here are a few things we discussed:

  • Oatmeal and Ramen rock at high elevation and cook consistently in just a matter of minutes. The freeze dried food just takes too long at 10,000 feet
  • Pack matches and extra lighters!
  • The 1 gallon Sawyer Gravity filter requires babysitting and took up too much time. And 1 gallon wasn’t enough to fill all the camel bags and to cook for four people. I have the older model that has a clean reservoir that can be filled without any attention.
  • Next time maybe we’ll pick a remote place, hike and camp for a few days while taking shorter day trips. Saves a lot of overhead in setting up and tearing down camp every day.

This is a three part blog on Backpacking Yosemite: