Trip Report
Annual Tuolumne Family Basecamp
Monday September 5, 2011 11:45pm
Credit: TMJesse

Three years in a row, my two awesome daughters and I have made an annual pilgrimage to Tuolumne Meadows for our summer campout and basecamp. I started going there in 1959 with the folks, and those early trips left permanent memories with me. I want my daughters, as I was, shown how this is the most beautiful place on Earth. One can never predict when or if the magical Tuolumne feeling will come upon you, but my goal has been to provide the opportunity for this feeling to present itself to them.

1959 in the meadows


Based on Nita’s suggestion, here we are in 2009, 2010 and 2011at Soda Springs:


2009


2010


2011

We stopped on the way in Roseburg, OR at Shady Oaks Motel, where flavorings of the Bates Motel were evident when we woke up in the morning and looked out the back window:



But, it’s the very best motel around; good people , clean, safe, quiet, and way inexpensive.

A day or so later we stopped in at the base of the Sierra near the Grotto at my friend Joe’s place, where I took another picture of the cows at sunset as we had a wonderful dinner with friends.


Then, it was on to the park, where we drove straight to the campground and quickly got a good campsite in “A” loop. As always after setting up camp we headed over to the government stables to collect firewood, getting distracted by the stock, the dust, and all of the commotion. Our “secret supply” is getting pretty picked over, but we did get enough wood for the first few days.


The next morning was a typical camp breakfast with hot coco, bacon and eggs


And a well-deserved bit of chill time in camp after our 900-mile journey


Then, we took our annual ceremonial hike out to Soda Springs for taste of the Sierra Nevada’s best drink (besides SN Brewing Co); a veritable sacrament for me.








I also told how the Sierra Club used to have the climber’s campground at Soda Springs, and this was where we would keep our food and wine:


Afterwards, instead of our usual lunch near the bridge, we hiked about a mile and a half on the PCT toward Glen Aulin and the hung a left in this fine meadow for the river


Pretty cool spot with nice swimming



After lunch, we slowly picked our way up stream and ran into (almost literally) a whole bunch of friends with horns



These bucks were numerous and in different groups. They we 75% un-afraid of us as we walked into their “living room” slowly. Except for once in late season just inside the Park near Mono Pass where a group of bucks ran from me when alerted, I have never seen this as it was. A “boys club” of sorts.


Then, upstream was this awesome boulder I’ve never noticed before.


So, with this little hike behind us, we were off to the “finger” for a dip to finish off the day (we thought)






When we arrived back at camp, a note was affixed to the camp chair bearing the name and phone number of none other than Mike Seatter (of is that cedar?), who soon arrived with his Italian girlfriend (named “Fiat”). It was really great seeing Mike and hearing about everything. As a veteran of the Ahwahnee, I now really appreciate Mike’s lifestyle and his success at “living the dream” his way


The next day I tried parking the van at Gaylor Creek along the Tioga Road and hitching a ride back to the pass so we could make the shuttle trip from the Pass to Dana Meadows hike, but every car blew past me like I was some sort of goon or something. So, we just did a round trip from Tioga Pass to Gaylor Lakes, which is always great hike (man, that 800 foot climb from the pass to the saddle bout did me in - used to be able to scramble up it in 10 minutes!)






The last of the Shooting Stars



There is always a special moment in those high meadows




The views were spectacular






Our day was not over without getting more firewood – the really good kind


Day 4 was another casual day strolling up the Lyell Fork for swimming and exploring












The Lyell Fork has to have magical blue dye in it to make such beautiful pools, yeah?


The place is a veritable rock garden masterfully tended, yet untouched


No breaks for any campers!






Like last year our own Swilliam took the girls out for a morning of climbing. He was moving carefully and patiently after “gut-bomb” buckwheat pancakes and a plate of camp bacon


A very rare shot


Stella moving on up without hesitation


Reasonable form




Magda doing just fine



Way fun



Bill, winding things up


Over at the YMS HQ/gas station, TM Herbert arrived for the weekend, DY was waiting for a friend to show up, and all the normal banter and trivia was in full hang-out mode. Pinky was in charge of the MT shop while Rick S was on days off. Swilliiam spent at least an hour fixing a toy remote helicopter using an exacto knife and a plastic pop bottle. Vehicles were parked in such a manner that one has to do a near chimney move to gain access to the back area. Later that same day, the YMS picnic table was adorned with Makers Mark, Old English, and an assortment of other fine refreshments.

What is not to love about Tuolumne?


Lunch at camp –leftover stew after doing some laundry


Casual afternoon at the river




The best chicken stew I have ever made for dinner


After a great BD party over in B loop with others of ST, and a sudden changes of plans had us on a “group hike” to 20 Lakes Basin above Saddlebag the following day – possibly the highlight of our whole vacation. That place is awesome and easy every time.
We hiked around the lake to get started


Stopped briefly at the first lake


Then pushed on to Stealhead and Shamrock lakes


What a spot






Photo by Deb Drew


The casual hike back




And our exhilarating boat taxi ride back to the resort. Mt. Dana in the background.




Day Seven – what’s a week in Tuolumne without a whole day at Tenaya!


Paddle boarding and Tenaya playtime







Sand, sun and water


Buried


On day eight we said farewell to our home for a week


Took a small side trip to WW


An then spied the wonderful flowers around Crane Flat




Treats in Columbia SHP


A special haircut


And then off to Nita and Timid TR’s place in Chico for constant swimming in 95 degree weather, $1/lb heirloom tomatoes at the Farmer’s market, and just pain fun


As always, this is the main vacation we take every year. 900 miles from home, but always worth the tedious drive. I dreamt just last night that I woke up to another day in Tuolumne; wish it were true.


  Trip Report Views: 1,618
TMJesse
About the Author
TMJesse (often called "Risk") is a former Yosemite backcountry ranger and climber's friend from Olympia, WA.

Comments
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Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
  Sep 5, 2011 - 11:51pm PT
Ah, soda spring at TM. The center of the universe.

Cute kittens on Puppy Dome.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Sep 5, 2011 - 11:56pm PT
life doesn't get much better than this... thanks for the great TR.
Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Sep 6, 2011 - 12:08am PT
Glorious!
Thanks for the Fabulous TR, man. Excellent stuff, right there.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 6, 2011 - 12:08am PT
Great stuff!

So glad you are shoving...er...sharing all that with your kids.

They will indeed have a lifetime of great memories.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
  Sep 6, 2011 - 01:02am PT
Superb!! Thanks tons!
adam d

climber
CA
  Sep 6, 2011 - 01:21am PT
Great times in the Meadows!
lightninglycett

climber
  Sep 6, 2011 - 05:38am PT
nice trip report chris! great seeing you again, can't wait till next year.
Cragman

Trad climber
June Lake, California....via the Damascus Road
  Sep 6, 2011 - 08:43am PT
Memories to last a lifetime!

TFPU.
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  Sep 6, 2011 - 09:57am PT
Great to see you on your vacation. And it's still pool-thirty!

road trip time out
road trip time out
Credit: Timid TopRope
TM skipping the Soda Springs water for our local fare
TM skipping the Soda Springs water for our local fare
Credit: Timid TopRope
Denise Umstot

climber
Princess of the El Cap Bridge!
  Sep 6, 2011 - 10:44am PT
Sweet! I always enjoy your TR's. Way to go making great memories for your girls :)
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Sep 6, 2011 - 11:00am PT
Enchanting!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Sep 6, 2011 - 11:08am PT
I wanna go next year!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Sep 6, 2011 - 11:58am PT
Wonderful thing to read in the morning with a good cup of java and a great family adventure. ST needs more of this!
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Sep 6, 2011 - 12:16pm PT
That's an awesome trip!

Your daughters are lucky gals.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Sep 6, 2011 - 01:03pm PT
It is so awesome to see you making this trip with your daughters. Those times in the Meadows will be with them the rest of their lives. Many thanks for taking the time to post.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Sep 6, 2011 - 01:10pm PT
What a lovely trip. Fabulous!!!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Sep 6, 2011 - 01:54pm PT
Enjoyed it, thanks TMJ.

Loved the picture under caption "The views were spectacular."
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
  Sep 6, 2011 - 03:39pm PT
Great report!, I've got to admit I'm feeling the empty nest pretty strong right now. But, I just got a phone call from my son that's 3,000 miles away, that cheered me up. I wish I'd done more of this with my kids.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Author's Reply  Sep 6, 2011 - 11:41pm PT
Thanks for all of the kind words. The longest lasting part of the recreation experience is the "recollection phase," which lasts forever!

Here's my hang at the river one afternoon:
nita

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
  Sep 7, 2011 - 02:00am PT
Risk, cool pictures and trip report..thanks

So good to see the family, looking forward to next years visit.
Silly kids..
Silly kids..
Credit: nita



ps..poor baby squirrels....
pss, i tried to put up the movie we made ..could not get it to work....oh well.

psss..Hey, that's my Tuolumne tent in day 4 photo...sweet!
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
  Sep 7, 2011 - 12:18am PT
So nice! Brings back great memories of my families camping trips.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 7, 2011 - 12:35am PT
Real nice
socialclimber

climber
CA
  Sep 7, 2011 - 12:51am PT
TM, they should make more parents out of the mold you came from... very inspiring to me as a father!

Charles
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