After spending three days In Yosemite, we knew we weren’t ready to leave when we woke up on our last day. So instead of slowly cooking our breakfast, we quickly packed up our car and drove towards some of the first come first serve campgrounds off of Tioga Road. We were fortunate enough to snag a spot at Porcupine Flat and thrilled that we would to get to spend another two days exploring the quieter areas of the park.
We set up our new camp, transferred all of our food and kitchen gear into the bear locker, and then set out for the day. To start we decided to hike to May Lake. When we got to May Lake we stumbled upon one of the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite, these camps are awesome! The Yosemite High Sierra Loop is a 53 mile backpacking loop with five camps spaced evenly along the trail. At each camp, hikers are provided with their meals and get to stay the night in a canvas tent, and sleep on a bed! We saw quite a few families with young children hiking between the camps and it seemed like a perfect way to go backpacking as a family, or to introduce kids to backpacking.
After the short hike, we were both tired from our long hike the day before and five days on the road, so we decided to relax at Tenaya Lake. We took a picnic lunch, a blanket, some books and found a spot to lounge for the rest of the day. It was nice and warm basking in the sun, but the water was freezing cold! Ryan was braver than I was, but still only made it about waist deep. I am not one to sit still for prolonged periods of time, but sitting at the lake for a few hours admiring the stunning views was one of my favorite parts of our vacation.
While it was nice and warm when the sun was shining it was quite chilly back at our camp when we were cooking dinner and it got even colder that night! We were used to it being cooler at our previous campground, Crane Flat (6.200 feet), than it was in the Valley (4,000 feet), but it was even colder at Porcupine Flat (8,100 feet). When we woke up the next morning it was only 30 degrees! We were certainly not prepared for that kind of weather and there was no way I was about to stand outside and cook breakfast. Luckily, we were relieved to discover that the nearby Tuolumne Meadows Lodge serves huge, delicious breakfasts. We shared a table with a family from Monterey, California, that was in the middle of their annual vacation to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. The lodge is similar to the High Sierra Camps, with canvas tents, but they also provide linens and each tent has a wood burning stove. After we had warmed up and our bellies were stuffed we took our last hike to Dog Lake and Lambert Dome.
If you are planning a trip to Yosemite I definitely recommend spending some time off of Tioga Road and near Tuolumne Meadows. Yosemite Valley is iconic and incredible, but taking a few days in the less explored areas of the park helped me appreciate the park’s wilderness and rejuvenate my spirit. Even after a week of exploring and camping in Yosemite, it seems we were only able to scratch the surface of everything the park has to offer. I can’t wait to return someday soon.