Did you know that you could camp with your stock in and around Yosemite National Park? The Wawona and Bridalveil Creek horse camps have two sites each and the Tuolumne Meadows horse camp has four sites. Friends invited me to join them at the Tuolumne Meadows Horse Camp for a ride and I jumped at the chance to “ty yi yipee I O on the back of my Caballo.”
Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 12.2 Miles
Elevation Range: 8,601′ – 10.053′
Date: July 19, 2013
Highlights: I put my cowboy boots on for this adventure on a horse, riding the trail through a variety of colorful wildflowers and watching the white puffy clouds float by, reflecting in tarns and Lower Gaylor Lake.
I arrived at the horse camp in time for dinner. I know . . . my timing is pretty darn good on these things. After dinner, we hung out by our campfire while Mr. Buckshot, my trusty steed for the ride, kept an eye on things.
Some trails within Yosemite are closed to stock use, but the trail to Lower Gaylor Lake from Tuolumne Meadows is one of the trails that people and stock share the trail. Heading up that trail, Deb and her horse Honey take a break along the Tuolumne River.
There is this spot not too far out of Tuolumne Meadows where the river makes a beautiful bend and there were a ton of different colored wildflowers.
In some areas, the trail became rocky but Buck was sure footed. Photo by Debra Sutherland.
The trail pretty much parallels a creek up to Lower Gaylor Lake, where portions were open and meadowy.
It is a lot harder than you would think to capture pictures from the back of a horse because they move around a lot. I can’t believe I actually catpured this butterfly.
We made it to Lower Gaylor Lake, tied the horses up and put fly masks on them to help them comfortably enjoy their lunch break. Stock are not allowed near the lake.
We found some good rocks in the shade to enjoy our lunch while we admired the lake. There are additional lakes uphill from this lower one, bearing the names of Middle and Upper Gaylor Lakes. They are named after Park Ranger Andrew Gaylor who served in Yosemite from 1907 to 1921 and died of a heart attack while on patrol at Merced Lake.
After I wolfed down my lunch of the new Mary’s Gone Crackers flavor of Super Seed (mmmm, my new favorite), jerky, apple and a Kind bar, I headed down to the lake to try my hand at fishing. There were several fly fisher-people knocking them dead but I only got a few bites on my artificial lures and bait fishing. I wasn’t disappointed though. Just take a look at the views I had while “fishing” of that blue sky, puffy white clouds and reflections in the lake.
Heading back down the trail, we came across a family with their little one hiking up to the lake. How cute!
We continued heading back down the trail, Deb and honey moving through a flower lined trail. . .and Deb always ready to capture a good picture.
Corn lillies, also known as skunk cabbage, are so photogenic.
Buck and Honey saw the pack train long before we did. The first mule was getting a talkin’ to from the packer. Those mules were loaded down!
What a fun trip I had. I got to smell horse sweat and leather and see the Tuolumne Meadows area from a different perspective. I am very appreciative of this opportunity that my friends gave me.
If you are interested in camping with your horse in Yosemite, information can be located at the following link: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/stock.html
Not all stock are well suited to riding the trails in and around Yosemite. Well broken, gentle and sure footed animals are needed for this type of ride. Overnight boarding facilities, spot packing, day rides, guided mule rides and both pack and saddle trips are available from Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite (DNC) whose liveries are located within Yosemite National Park.
It seems that no trip to Yosemite is complete without an interesting encounter with tourists visiting the park. I followed the next vehicle for about 10 miles down Hwy 140. The people were waving their arms like they were flying and dancing just like you see them.