This summer for our big hike we chose to revisit one of the most beautiful places on Earth: The Yosemite Wilderness. Specifically, the area north of Tuolumne Meadows. After studying maps and routes I applied for our permit reservations in the late spring, hoping to hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north toward the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp. From there we would head further north to climb Matterhorn Peak (of literary fame). That was the plan. Unfortunately, we were too late to get a reservation for this popular trailhead, and instead got our third–ranked choice: The trailhead leading to Young Lakes via Dog Lake.
We had no choice, so we decided to make the best of it. Vicki called the Yosemite Wilderness Ranger Station and spoke to one of the helpful folks who, after a few questions, came up with a plan for hikers like us who weren’t afraid to travel cross-country, without a trail to guide us. She said that we could get back to the PCT (and Matterhorn Peak, our ultimate goal) by heading north from the Young Lakes, climbing over “Don’t Be A Smart Pass”, then descending west along the McCabe Lakes to the main trail.
Back to the map we went. Sure enough, there was a pass on the map, and it was nice to know that others had crossed it. But the name? Don’t Be A Smart Pass? Were they serious? That name wasn’t on any map that I could find. But it was on the internet, where I was able to find reports of it as well as a few photos.
Armed with this knowledge, I made several plans of attack, and scheduled our daily hikes in order to make the trip work. There was so much to see, and so many possible loops of trails, so I made several plans: Easy, Medium, and Difficult. I printed them out, complete with mileages and elevation profiles, and then Vicki and I sat down to decide which one to attempt. Well, maybe I’m a bit ambitious, but Medium and Difficult were struck down almost instantly. I’ll admit to being a bit crestfallen. But how to salvage “Easy” and make it more fun? We stared at the map some more, and decided to upgrade one or two of the ten days into the “Medium” category, thus giving us an extra day, which we planned to spend exploring the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, which had many named waterfalls.
We weren’t sure which would be the highlight of the trip: Matterhorn Peak or the Tuolumne River Waterfalls. Surely they’d both be stunning.
Click on the photo to read the complete Trip Report