Trip Report
August 2010 Tuolumne Family Basecamp

by Risk
Sunday September 12, 2010 5:28pm
Credit: TMJesse

Another summer and another fantastic 7-night family camp out in Tuolumne Meadows, with all the accouterments (including A. Crowley, Swilliam, Lynne, and others).

We packed up the family wagon and headed out on Friday from Olympia, arriving in Chico on Saturday, where the hot summer had us in the concrete pool within minutes at Nita and Timid Top Rope’s place:

Morning came and so did a few good tunes by Andy

Then, off to Joe’s place on Shell road near the Grotto, where the evening sound of field crickets along with that sweet summer smell of grass browning beneath the foothill oaks had the local cows (and me) real happy to be right there for the night.

Our layover day in Tuolumne County included a hotter-than-hell hike down to Natural Bridges and a trip to the Columbia Candy Kitchen.

Discriminating shoppers. . . .

Enough of this lowland touristy stuff, time to head to Tuolumne! A brief stop at the May Lake Road to get acclimated a bit to our favorite environs.

With possible showers in the forecast, we drove directly to the campground where we got a flat, great site on the upper edge of A loop near the river and next to backpackers - the best place to be as far as I am concerned

As always, we headed over to the government barn where we scavenged firewood and said hello to the help

With camp nearly set up, up rolls A. Crowley himself

Needless to say, our recycling area became pretty full by night’s end, and I was relieved there were no recycling patrols after hours!

After breakfast was our annual pilgrimage to Soda Springs (the center of the universe)

We had our traditional lunch across the river, complete with the requisite kipper snacks and cheese

And of course the exploring. We also watched squirrels swim across the river here.

Afterwards, we strolled up the Lyell Fork for some splashing around. A handsome long tailed weasel briefly spied us

Crowley and his brother Buck held down camp after they got back from fly-fishing on the east side. Pitch logs burned throughout the night, and Crowley and I had it out over Middle East politics

The next day we headed straight to TPR for breakfast and a brief meet-up with our own Lynnie

And of course the County Park at Mono Lake (we wanted to go to Bodie, but heard there were swarms of biting flies)

On the way back, we stopped off at my old homestead in Bug Camp, where the old canvas tent is gone and replaced with plywood.

The afternoon finished up with a great hike up Gaylor Creek in search of the illusive Tower Delphinium (Delphinium glaucum).

Somewhere in here, I think. . . .

Lo and behold, we found what we went looking for, spending an hour or so in it’s royal blue presence, listening to the poetry of the creek’s gurgling.

We took the scenic (trail-less) route back, finding new friends, like this old timer

The stroll in the meadows near the old horse camp is especially serene in the late afternoon

Buckwheat pancakes and locally pastured grass-fed bacon make a fine camp breakfast, we thought

With that distinctive smell of sizzling bacon in the TM Campground air, in wanders you-know-who- - - -

And her new sidekick, Boo Boo

We were treated to an hour-long spectacular show of ranger and bear antics with chasing, napping, climbing, yelling, etc. This had to be the best bear show I’ve ever seen.

With more than half the day gone, a storm brewing, we decided to head out to Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge

The Yosemite Association was hosting the annual poetry and music festival at Parsons Lodge, and we caught about 30 minutes of it (painful enough for two squirming kids, but possibly the highlight of the trip or me)

Later on, we chose to just do some down time in camp.

The next day, we met up my old comrade Bill R. who works at YMS. With beverages in tow, we headed out for my daughters’ first rock climbing experience. They rate this as the highlight of the trip.

Proper form, I say

Its amazing seeing kids climb for the first time, and how they just scramble on up faster than you can pull the yo-yo

Wow, that looks steep!

What a great introduction. Thanks William!

Afterwards, we settled in behind the gas station and ended up spending the whole evening there telling stories and playing cards with Hope, Gabe, Bill and friends. Just like the old days.

The next day, we opted from a long breakfast, chores and laundry

Hauling water, again?

Hand washing clothes? This is supposed to be vacation!

Then a most glorious hike up to Bennettville with 1980’s YNP Helitack Jimbo D. and his wife Dianne

This has got to be one of the very best bang-for-your-buck hikes in the entire Sierra Nevada. Postcard views constantly in every direction, gentle slope, creeks, wildflowers, history, and lakes (and only one rogue mosquito). We didn’t see hardly anyone on this unforgettable 4+ hour excursion.

I love that wood grain

Ranger Buttons

Great Sierra mine entrance

That evening, we were personally invited to the campfire by TM Ranger B-Rad Benter for his exemplary “Climb the Mountains and get Their Good Tidings” climbing history program. I recollected to him my encounter at the present site of their visitor center (CCC building) and how it was occupied in 1970 by YMS, and how I sat around one stormy day with the crew on hand, namely a forlorn Warren Harding draped in a blanket, feet in a pale of hot water, following the infamous accent with Galen off the South face of Half Dome.

That anecdote didn’t make its way to the program, but Batso was mentioned several times

Our last day was a Tenaya Lake Beach day. Sunscreen is a must, and worked very well. Water temperature as perfect for swimming, playing, splashing, soaking, and logrolling. Perfect Sierra day

Picnics at Tenaya have to include fruit, cheese, candy and sardines or kippers.

Exploring the inlet to Tenaya Lake has to be one of my favorite childhood memories, and my girls seemed to play it out. What a perfect place to play all day.

The next day we were headed out, and a friend was nearby to say goodbye

How fast 7 nights pass in Tuolumne Meadows.

Our trip, while now over from Yosemite, continued on with a feast at the Mobile station of cheeseburgers and steak sandwich (no doggie bags for this family)

Then, after a rest bit in Twain Harte, we were on to Chico, with the Chico grand tour from Timid Top Rope and Nita, including a stop over at the candy store

And finally, a morning wrestle and tickle-fest with Nita

We pushed onward Saturday and Sunday, arriving home to a glorious display of sunflowers and blooms at home, Our dog Dannan and two cats Lilly and Sazzy were fine, despite a flea infestation

The ultimate outdoor playground, Tuolumne Meadows.

Schools starts here on Wednesday Sept 8, and we’ll again carry the proud Tuolumne Meadows banner for the best place anywhere for a family camp out and vacation.

Summer 2011, we’re already planning!

  Trip Report Views: 3,565
About the Author
TMJesse (often called "Risk") is a former Yosemite backcountry ranger and climber's friend from Olympia, WA.

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Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Sep 7, 2010 - 02:18pm PT
Outstanding! These are great times.

Some excellent shots too.

Social climber
  Sep 7, 2010 - 02:50am PT
hey there say, TMJesse.... oh my! ....what a wonderful trip.... well, oh no, as to the bear-note....

say, it all really, though, did sound wonderful.... (can't see all the pics, but will by faith believe that they are all just as fantastic as they seem to be)....

thanks for the great share, and, wow---sure is neat to run into folks that you know, too.... (as to crowley)....

happy yosemite memories, and god bless to you and your family...

wow, it makes one feel like one was there, as well...
can near smell the trees....

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 7, 2010 - 02:58am PT
solid TR


Social climber
  Sep 7, 2010 - 03:06am PT
Those are two young bergsteigers, teach them well!

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
  Sep 7, 2010 - 03:16am PT
Another enjoyable trip report!

  Sep 7, 2010 - 07:27am PT
looks like fabulous family fun! great way to end summer.

ps girls rock! our two are 9 and 12, and would also be squirming through the poetry gathering.
J. Werlin

Social climber
Cedaredge, CO
  Sep 7, 2010 - 10:41am PT
most excellent -- you did it all exactly right. What great company to have for your trip (the girls).

  Sep 7, 2010 - 10:56am PT
Most excellent!

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Sep 7, 2010 - 11:28am PT
Good Stuff!!
You've got everyone smiling with this one.
Beautiful trip.

  Sep 7, 2010 - 11:37am PT
RAD. . . I was right there with ya. . . down to the kippered snacks!


Thanks for postin' up!


Trad climber
Washington DC
  Sep 7, 2010 - 11:37am PT
Loved it!

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
  Sep 7, 2010 - 05:43pm PT
Risk, It was very fun having you guys visit. We enjoy having kids around..easy fun with a cement pond, amazing candy store, bike trails, and a exceptional park across the street.
......Come visit again...maybe.. next time we can join you in T.M...

edit: My Toy Story pals loved having someone playing with them, except.. Woody was not too happy with his parachute flight out the second story window...he got scared.

eKat, have you had Trader Jose kippers in the green oval tin?... i love those stinky fishies.

Fatty, you posted on the evil number 13...ha...(:


Social climber
WA, NC, Idaho Falls
  Sep 7, 2010 - 12:04pm PT
Nice Y'all

Grand Junction, Colorado
  Sep 7, 2010 - 12:14pm PT
Awesome!!! Lucky little ladies you have!! They will never forget it.
Denise Umstot

Princess of the El Cap Bridge!
  Sep 7, 2010 - 12:44pm PT
Spectacular TR! No doubt the highlight of their summer and yours too! Thanks for sharing:)

  Sep 7, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
Great feel good Tuollumne pics.

Have those kids wear helmets when learning to climb/rap. Years ago I did the same type of day with my 7 yr old neice, no helmet. After a 60 foot top rope ascent I lowered her gently. She was back on the ground all smiles and rope was slack when she forgot that she couldn't lean back on the rope anymore. She had gotten used to trusting the rope. She toppled over backwards and smacked her head really hard on cobbble-sized rock. She was Ok but had headaches for days. It could have been worse. A kids bike helmet woulda made all the difference.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Trad climber
Will know soon
  Sep 7, 2010 - 03:31pm PT
Say Guy, it was Awesome meeting you and your darling daughters !!! Thanks for stopping by, your kindness and mucho friendliness. Peace and joy Always, lynnie

Random Nobody
  Sep 7, 2010 - 03:43pm PT

That looks to have been a fun-fully-filled weekend!!!!

Awesome outing.. Including the bacon, the bear, A-Crowley and Lynne (not sure.. but I think I may have mentioned them twice.. )


Great experiences with the family... Keep them going as long as possible..
Deb Drew

Boulder climber
  Sep 7, 2010 - 06:55pm PT
What a beautiful family & fun times you've shared! Thanks, Chris.
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
On the road.
  Sep 7, 2010 - 08:56pm PT
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  Sep 7, 2010 - 09:21pm PT
Deb Drew? This answers that other OP, How did you all connect? Wow! and double wow! Double Rainbow!

It was really great having TM Jesse's kids spend the night coming and going to TM. I would like to think there was never a dull moment; Friday night concert in the park, Saturday morning farmer's market, backyard pool, one of the best city/creek pools still going, personalized puppet play, bicycles, guitar, we had it going on.

LIke nita says, you guys are welcome anytime and feel free to relocate.

Really great to see Bill taking the initiative to shine. That cat gets a short shrift on here from what I've read in the past but the dude is all charm and pro when he steps up to the plate. Nothing better than a vacation in TM. Thanks for the share. Your daughters are the greatest!


Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
  Sep 7, 2010 - 10:02pm PT
A most wonderfull TR! Thanks bunches. Looks like those girls have a solid parental unit.

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Sep 7, 2010 - 11:15pm PT
Dude, that's the most awesome TR ever. Wow.

  Sep 8, 2010 - 01:05am PT
This is a super sweet trip report!
Oh yeah!

  Sep 8, 2010 - 09:00am PT
Fun stuff. Me miss the range

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Sep 12, 2010 - 06:24pm PT

Your reports keep gettin' better!!!!

(and all of those food shots sure made me hungry)!!!!!

Mountain climber
Marooned, 855 miles from Tuolumne Meadows
Author's Reply  Feb 25, 2015 - 09:35pm PT
Lookin forward to 2015! is it bone dry, or what?

  Feb 26, 2015 - 04:37am PT
What a great first thread to click on this AM!
Thanks for the self-bump, TMJ, and wishing you as beautiful a trip this year as '10 appears to have been.

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