Meet your guide and fellow travelers in Reno, Nevada, at 9am today. From Reno we drive along the east side of the Sierra Nevada to Mono Lake, stopping for a picnic lunch at the Mono Lake Visitor Center. This afternoon we hike through the world-famous South Tufa Grove, wandering through otherworldly tufa towers and learning about Mono Lake?s unique million-year-old ecosystem. Arriving in Lee Vining late this afternoon, we check into our hotel rooms. Tonight we gather for a home-cooked dinner and orientation in our private group dining cabin. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 1.5 miles, Elevation gain: 100'; Driving: 3 hours
We drive over Tioga Pass (9,943'), the highest highway pass in California. Arriving at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, we hike to Budd Lake. We follow a primitive trail through a high alpine meadow bursting with wildflowers and the crystal clear, bubbling waters of Budd Creek. Today?s hike takes place at 8,570' to 10,120' in elevation. All meals included.
Hiking: 9 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,900'
Departing the east side of the Sierra, we drive to Yosemite West. En route, we stop to explore a series of stunning mountain lakes. We begin our hike at just under 10,000' with a short and steep climb to a breathtaking view of nearby Mount Dana. Past the ascent, our trail becomes gradual and easy as we make our way to Middle Gaylor Lake and Upper Gaylor Lake. Along the trail we have sweeping views across Moraine Flat to the rugged mountains beyond. Reaching the top of the pass we are rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the granite peaks along the Sierra Crest. Our loop hike continues past Granite Lake, which sits below an impressive granite cirque. Today?s hike takes place at 9,950' to 10,861' in elevation. Our day concludes at our private lodge in Yosemite West. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,200'; Driving: 2 hours
We set out for the McGurk Meadow Trailhead. On our way to the very edge of Yosemite Valley at Taft Point, we take in the giant fissures and vertical gashes in the granite mountain. From Taft Point we have stunning views across the valley to Yosemite Falls. Our final reward is the panoramic vistas from Sentinel Dome, which include Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, Merced River Canyon, Tenaya Canyon and beyond to the high country. Today?s hike takes place at 7,000' to 8,100' in elevation. Overnight at Yosemite West. All meals included.
Hiking: 7.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,500'
From Glacier Point, we appreciate the sights of Yosemite Valley from a different perspective than the day before. We hike the Panorama Trail past Nevada Falls (594?), admiring the granite dome named Liberty Cap that rises to an elevation of 7,080'. Next, we hike down the famous Mist Trail for spectacular, up-close views? of Vernal Falls (317'). Today?s hike takes place at 4,000'?7,200' in elevation. All meals included.
Hiking: 8 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +700'/-3,200'; Driving: 1.5 hours
We load our luggage onto the support van and drive to the Merced Grove of giant sequoia. Our hike takes place at 6,000? in elevation, through a grove of magnificent trees that are thousands of years old. Following our hike we stop along the shoreline of Tenaya Lake for a picnic lunch. Our drive continues to the Reno-Tahoe Airport. We expect to arrive by 5pm; flights departing Reno-Tahoe can be scheduled after 7pm. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 400'; Driving: 5 hours.