Young Lakes

Snow in July? On our drive up to Tuolumne, after we had passed Tenaya Lake, it took me a moment to realize that snow covered the sides of the road. A visitor from Texas stood in her shorts, snapping a photo of her car parked in inches of snowy slush. I regretted that we had not picked yesterday to hike in the high country—what a wonderful experience it would have been to wander in Tuolumne Meadows in July as snowflakes danced around me. The snow had been very localized—a few hundred feet down the road it had disappeared.

The meadows were entirely clear of snow, and the almost clear blue sky and warm sun made it difficult to believe that the area had experienced a storm yesterday that had dropped rain, hail, and snow. High cirrus clouds decorated a small portion of the sky; their presence can sometimes indicate that a storm system has passed.

Today we’re headed to Young Lakes and we begin our hike at the Lembert Dome parking area. Despite it being a holiday weekend, we encounter only half a dozen other hikers on the trail. The path to Young Lakes first wanders (uphill!) through forests, then opens into a meadow where we cross Delaney Creek. To the east, we have a splendid view of Mt. Dana and Gibbs. Further along, we enter a basin under the watch of Ragged Peak, and look southwest at the Cathedral Range.

We had visions of relaxing and taking a dip in one of the Young Lakes, but the thousands of mosquitoes that descended upon us when we arrived at the shore of the lower lake caused us to retreat back up the trail away from the water. We ate our lunch, sans mosquitoes, on a nearby ridge, while enjoying views of the lake and Mt. Conness.

On our return trip we met park ranger Fred Koegler who was out on patrol on his trusted steed Bart. Fred had worked with our President, Steve Medley, when Steve was a ranger in the park. We warned him about the mosquitoes, but he told us one of the benefits of mounted patrol was that the horse deflected most of the mosquitoes away from him. Bart did not appear too pleased at this strategy!