Around this time of year, I start getting restless for Tuolumne even if I haven’t spent enough time in the Valley to justify the itch. Fortunately, Tioga Pass opened last Saturday, so I didn’t have to wait long before satisfying my lust for the highlands.
When we left the Bay Area around 7:30am, Victor, Sean, and I had our eyes set on Conness though we had no idea what the snow conditions would be. We probably started hiking a little late from Lembert (around 2:30pm) to make it to Young Lakes in time for a comfortable camp.
We reached the Dingley Creek Meadow beneath Ragged Peak before putting on snowshoes.
The trail was covered with snow, so a "minor" navigational error sent us east rather than west... We went about a mile roundtrip in the wrong direction, up the bowl to the northeast of the meadow.
When we made it back to the western side of Ragged, we picked up what we thought was the trail for a while, but eventually traversed too high up the ridge to make it to our destination before dark. After heinous postholing in snowshoes for about an hour (falling through to our chests with air below us), we descended to the trees to set up camp. We missed our Young Lakes goal by a half-mile or so and were at camp two hours later than expected. In all, we had hiked a little over seven miles. We made some mac and cheese and pb&js for dinner and were all pretty exhausted and satisfied with the level of suffering that had just occurred. Victor spent the night coughing, having caught a cold that was going around our household a week before. The temperature was surprisingly mild, around 25 or 30 degrees(?).
That night, I had strange dreams about a bear the size of an Escalade after Sean, in a half-sleep state, yelled, “Bear!” as I was falling asleep.
The next morning, we got up around 7am, too late for us to make an attempt at Conness after our performance the day before, though we entertained the idea of making a go for a little while.
Instead, we put on crampons and hiked toward Young Lakes to attempt to drop back into the meadow via the bowl to the southeast of Ragged Peak rather than back the way we came through the posthole minefield.
Success! And a little tag of Ragged Peak as well.
Victor and I made it back to the stables around 2:30pm. Sean had run ahead and had some cold beverages ready at the car when we got back. We nursed our wounds for about an hour before saying goodbyes.
Victor had taken Monday off, so we went to the East Side to reward ourselves with a stop at the Mobil and a soak in hot springs before driving to the Valley to try to get on some rock the next day. The hot springs did wonders for our aches and pains, a lovely way to end the suffering.