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Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin Hike

We headed down the trail, following the beautiful Tuolumne River, full of reflections in some areas and waterfalls in some other spots. We also had white puffy clouds and critters accompany us on our adventure.

Where: Yosemite National Park
Distance: 12 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Range: 7,868′ – 8,657′
Date: June 12, 2015
Maps: Falls Ridge Topographic Quad

We drove past Tuolumne Meadows, crossing the Tuolumne River, then we turned left, driving up the road to where the gate is across the dirt road and the bear boxes are located. We sprayed ourselves for mosquitos before we left and they weren’t bad although they were out. We parked, stashed our snacks for after the hike and our other items that bears could like in the bear box.

We then started walking north and up the dirt road. There is more than one way to hike to Glen Aulin but this is the way we normally do it. We have also made a long loop out of this hike, heading back along the trail to Tenaya Lake and catching a shuttle back to our cars.

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There were a few clouds that added to the beautiful scenery as we walked along the Tuolumne River. The National Weather Service showed a 20% of rain and although we were prepared for rain, we were very curious what the day’s weather would bring us.

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There were several tarns or small ponds along the trail that created ever changing reflections of trees, grass and clouds in them.

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We had a couple of creek crossings that we were able to do without getting out feet wet.

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A few critters were checking us out as we walked on the trail.This deer and his bird buddy kept an eye on us as we walked by. The Marmot photo is by Debra Sunderland.

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In some areas the Tuolumne River was wide with bright green grasses along it.

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The river then reached an area where it went over and by huge, smooth granite slabs with shade of red in it.Over the past millions of years, the rocks and soil that were once on top of this granite have eroded away. About 2-3 millions years ago, the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range had risen high enough for glaciers and icefields to form periodically along it’s crest and into its valleys.

These glaciers moved an unimaginable amount of rubble and that scoured out the this area of Yosemite. A lot of this rubble headed down the rivers into the Central Valley but you can still see a lot of what was left all around the Park.

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Here is a closer look at that reddish granite.

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We continued down the trail to the Twin Bridges that cross the Tuolumne River. Looking upstream was not a bad view but wow, those downstream views were incredible. The river was really rolling and tumbling over the granite slabs.

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The views of the surrounding mountains and sky were also very nice.

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We reached Glen Aulin where plenty of water was flowing over the falls. Crossing over the bridge gave us one of our favorite views down the Tuolumne River.

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We had a wonderful lunch spot at the base of the base of the falls at Glen Aulin. The Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp is also located at this site and they were finishing setting up the camp for the season. They told me that they planned on opening June 19.

The Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp has 8 cabins with a total occupancy of 32 guests. For more information on lodging and rates at the 5 High Sierra Camps, you can go to http://www.yosemitepark.com/high-sierra-camps.aspx

I did a little research to discover that the original camp was located in a valley just downstream from the present location. That valley was named by James McCormick, a USGS topographer, in 1913. The correct Gaelic spelling is Glean Alainn, for “beautiful valley or glen,” but McCormick spelled it differently to help with our pronunciation.

In 1923 Glen Aulin was chosen as a likely spot to add a hikers’ camp and the Yosemite National Park Company built the camp in 1927. Mosquitoes proved to be too annoying and the camp moved to its present site alongside the White Cascade. The original rate was a dollar a day and a dollar per meal. (Third photo by Debra Sutherland)

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It was time to head back up the trail, crossing back over the bridge and when I say that we needed to head up the trail, it is really an uphill haul for a while The afternoon hike out of the canyon can get a bit warm but we lucked out on this day with cloud cover and breezes that came up at the perfect moments.

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Once we reached the top, we took a little break and one last look at that beautiful river tumbling over that granite.

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Of course, we also stopped along the areas of the Tuolumne River that ran quieter.

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We headed back pretty much the same way we came out, but we deviated a little bit about 2 miles before we got back to the trailhead. We headed straight down to the river and worked our way along the red and tan slabby granite, taking in the views. (Third and Fourth photos by Debra Sutherland)

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It you would to get a better feel for what that water rushing down the Tuolumne River sounded like, check out my short video that I made.

We made our way back to the trail. For a while we were in front of the stock, then later we followed behind them. The last mule’s name was “Guinness” just in case you wondered. (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin 44It was the perfect day to do this hike but you don’t need to go as far down the trail as we did to see these magnificent views. I have been very lucky to have hiked with some very good photographers and I always learn something from them.

Debra Sutherland is one of these outstanding photographers and she captured this amazing picture along the upper portion of the river. She is a very gifted photographer and has a great eye for composition. Even though I felt for her as she lugged her big camera on this hike, she sure got some beautiful pictures.

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OK, now it is time for some trail stories. You just never know what you will see. How can someone lose their white underwear along the trail. What was the story behind this? How would you miss something like that?

Tuolumne Meadows to Glen Aulin 46And why would someone write graffiti on the bridge to Glen Aulin?

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And while I am asking questions about questionable things people do while hiking. We passed by this guy and his dog hiking into Glen Aulin where dogs are not allowed on the trail.

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Sources:

Favorite Hikes of the Sierra Seniors Book, Jim Putman, July 2010
http://www.nps.gov/yose/naturescience/geology.htm
http://www.yosemitepark.com/Glen-Aulin-High-Sierra-Camp.aspx

Prior Blogs in This Area:

https://www.sierranewsonline.com/?option=com_k2&view=item&id=2177:tuolumne-meadows-little-devil-s-postpile-and-glen-aulin-hike&Itemid=595

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