This trip begins in Yosemite National Park, California. Today you will meet your guides and traveling companions at the Backpackers' Campground, located at the far end of The North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. Our guides conduct a full trip orientation and gear check before distributing approximately 7-10 pounds of group gear and food for each of us to add to our packs. Tonight, we have an opportunity to relax and enjoy a welcome dinner together around the campfire. All meals included from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on Day 5.
After breakfast, drive in your own vehicle to the White Wolf trailhead, about 60 minutes away. Our day starts off winding our way through thick stands of Lodgepole Pines, past small meadows, and eventually over an ancient lateral moraine, as we drop into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. We enjoy sweeping vistas of the canyon and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir as we make our way to the Tuolumne River. This will be our lowest elevation of the trip; from here we continue along the river all the way back to Tuolumne Meadows. After a few miles of hiking through old growth ponderosa forest, blanketed with lush green ferns, we find ourselves at Pate Valley. Here we make camp under the tall trees and find a place to cool off in the clear blue waters of the Tuolumne.
Backpacking: 12.5 miles; minimal elevation gain; 4,000’ elevation loss.
Wake up to the sounds of the Tuolumne River and enjoy a hot breakfast prepared by our guides. Today’s trail brings us past giant trees, massive boulder fields and countless cascades. We enjoy lunch at the base of a waterfall, a side creek that feeds into the Tuolumne itself. After lunch, we begin our big climb to bypass the Muir Gorge, a tight granite gorge in the middle of the Grand Canyon. At our high point, we gaze up at the peaks of the Ten Lakes Basin and get a glimpse up canyon. We drop back to the river level and continue along until we reach our campsite for the evening. Our camp offers nearby swimming holes and a great vantage point for sunset. After another spectacular backcountry dinner, we enjoy another tranquil evening under a blanket of Sierra stars before turning in for the night.
Backpacking: 10 miles; 2,500' elevation gain; 1,200’ of loss.
Enjoy a hot cup of coffee at the river’s edge and a hot breakfast in camp. We take a dip in another spectacular swimming hole along the river, before beginning our big climb out of the Canyon. The climb is nicely broken up by unbelievably beautiful waterfalls, including Waterwheel, LeConte and California Falls. After climbing past the three falls, we wander through lovely Glen Aulin. This beautiful valley sits at the top of the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne, under massive granite peaks, covered in wildflower meadows, Lodgepole Pines, and Aspen groves. At the far eastern end of the valley, we navigate one shorter climb to camp where we enjoy our final backcountry dinner, followed by the best sunset of the trip with views of Mt Conness, Wildcat Point, Glen Aulin and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne itself.
Backpacking: 9.5 miles; 2,500' elevation gain; 400' elevation loss.
Our last morning will be bittersweet, as there is nothing like a delicious hot camping breakfast in the mountains, but after three days of hiking, our adventure is drawing to an end. Our day begins with a last climb from camp alongside White Cascades and Tuolumne Falls, followed by a descent into Tuolumne Meadows. From here, our trail undulates through the woods with spectacular views of the famous granite domes of the Meadows, where we enjoy one last wilderness picnic together. Our hike finishes at the base of Lembert Dome and short walk along Tioga Road brings us to our transportation that will shuttle us back to our cars. While we wait, we have an opportunity to buy postcards and mail them from the Tuolumne General Store, or possibly grab some ice cream at the famous Tuolumne Meadows Grill. Our 45-minute transfer delivers us to our vehicles back at White Wolf Trailhead, where we sort gear and say our final goodbyes, and dream about our next REI adventure!
Backpacking: 6.8 miles; 1,100' elevation gain, minimal elevation loss.