This August, Shoestring Adventures went backpacking in Upper Yosemite National Park with trip leader Graham, a three-day, 21-mile journey through the Ten Lakes Basin. Located six hours from Los Angeles, Upper Yosemite is accessible from Tioga Road and offers an escape from the crowds of Yosemite Valley. The opportunities for backcountry exploration are infinite.
Eight of us came together at the trailhead on Friday morning, many of us strangers to each other and several new to backpacking. We served cold-cut sandwiches on top of a bear locker in the parking lot, our last meal before heading into the backcountry. After lunch, we got down to business splitting up our gear and provisions. We quickly found ourselves working together, fitting our packs and adjusting the height of our trekking poles just right. Around 2pm, we finally stepped onto the trail for the 6.5-mile hike to our first campsite.
After several hours of climbing, hearts clambering and lungs straining to adjust to the altitude around 9,000-ft, we arrived in a sun-drenched meadow covered in purple, orange and yellow wildflowers. We sat for a moment, passing around a bag of sour gummy bears, to take it all in. I found myself marveling at the beautiful landscape, which only got more beautiful the deeper we hiked into the wilderness.
As the sun went down, we descended into the Ten Lakes Basin and found a campsite with a lakefront view. That night, we enjoyed black bean tacos with fresh cilantro and avocado around a warm campfire.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we set off on an all-day 11-mile hike, descending from the Ten Lakes Basin and climbing to a campsite under the nose of Tuolumne Peak with access to our very own snow-melt lake. We enjoyed Good To-Go Thai Curry for dinner and chocolate pudding for dessert around the campfire before turning in for the night.
We got an early start to hike out on Sunday morning and descended to Tenaya Lake before noon. Some of us took a dip.
On the way home, we stopped for burgers at Whoa Nellie Deli, a Mobil station with a sweeping view of Mono Lake, and milkshakes at the Frosty Chalet. Overall, the weekend felt like an accomplishment worth celebrating.
Special thanks to trip leader Graham, photographer Justin Sullivan and the Shoestring Warriors of Yosemite August 2016: Allison, Curtis, Lindsey, Tabitha & Ari!
Photos © 2016 Justin Sullivan Photography