Friday, August 16, 2013

Trip Report // Perseids and Clouds Rest

This past weekend we took a long overdue trip up to the Sierras to take in the Perseid Meteor Shower and do a little hiking and camping while we’re still in peak season. I’ll post the full hike report later, but for now I’d like to try something a little new. A Bill Simmons’esque retro diary of our trip.

11:58a - Sandwiches in the car, ready to roll, on the highway and rocking out to Green River.(You can find our road trip playlist here)

12:15p - Traffic is backed up on Mission Blvd and not moving. We pursue a detour for the next 15 minutes saving us approximately 2 seconds as we literally see the car previously in front of us just behind us as we pull onto the freeway. Fail.

3:12p - Off goes the A.C. It’s Old Priest Grade Time. Beylah falls asleep about 10 seconds after we clear the top.

Indian Rock

4:30p - I abruptly pull off the road to the Porcupine Creek Trailhead and after a bathroom break we cruise on up the trail towards North Dome.

4:32p - We pass a group almost immediately that warns us about a bear ahead - we’re not sure if we should be reacting with excitement or alarm. We decide on both.

4:35p - We don’t end up seeing the bear. Our bearless streak continues!

5:55p - With our turnaround time (so we don’t end up hiking in the dark) just 5 minutes away we decide to call it a day at Indian Rock instead of proceeding to North Dome. Indian Rock

Indian Rock.

6:01p - After hiking up a steep hill to Indian Rock we find ourselves waiting in a queue behind a german couple taking photos of themselves in the rocks

6:15p - The german couple finally leaves. We take our photos and bail. Beylah hangs around the end of the trail. Note: After seeing some of the photos of Half-Dome through the arch Bey would later remark “damn, I wish I went up there”. Neither of us could figure out what she was thinking by hanging out at the base. Half Dome from Indian Rock

Half Dome photographed through the arch of Indian Rock

7:00p - We munch on our pre-portioned 365 brand “Morning O’s”. They taste very much like what I imagine styrofoam tastes like. I begin pre-visualizing Fish Tacos.

7:35p - We arrive back at the car, toss our boots off and hit the road directly.

7:55p - Touolmne Meadows is soaked in pink and purple light. We have to make good time to find a campsite.

Perseids Meteor Shower

8:15p - We search through all 4 campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon looking for sites - nothing! The mountains are packed like it’s a holiday weekend.

8:45p - We finally pull into the Lee Vining Mobil and get our grub on. They’re out of IPA on draft so I pick up some bottles in the store, I would not regret this decision.

9:00p - Our food arrives, Beylah inexplicably orders Chili. It’s good, but the fish tacos are bliss - again, she regrets her decisions.

9:05p - Still without a place to lay our heads we pull out of the Mobil and check through Lee Vining for motels, basically just desperate for anything at this point. No Vacancy... anywhere!

9:08p - Okay then...on to Mammoth! We also happen to be low on gas.

9:30p - We pull into about 4 hotels that clearly have vacancy signs illuminated, they all claim they turned their signs off. In each case we confirm that the signs are in fact on after leaving the building - eiher that or we were hallucinating.

9:45p - We finally find some vacancy at the Mammoth Mountain Village Lodge - a 3 bedroom for $265/night. The clerks at the desk however point us to some camping sites out in the desert they guarantee won’t be occupied.

10:15p - We follow their directions out near the Alkali Lakes and hit the dirt roads right as our gas light turns on. Ooops... forgot to get gas in Mammoth. I knew I forgot something.

10:30p - We turn down a random branch and set up camp on the side of the road in a previously used site. alkali lakes camp

Our Campsite near Alkali Lakes the next morning

10:45p - Exhausted, I crack open a second Mammoth Epic DIPA, snuggle into a down jacket and settle into my chair to watch the Perseids. Beylah snuggles into her down sleeping bag. The Perseids are impressive (we counted about 50 shooting stars) and the milky way is especially magnificent.

11:58p - Like clockwork just before midnight we find ourselves drifting off. Bed time.

Day 2

5:45ish - Just before sunrise I somehow naturally wake up and roll out of my sleeping bag, exit the tent, and set up my camera and tripod to catch sunrise.

5:58a - I rummage through our food box trying to find coffee. Only grounds and no way to brew them. Nooooo!

6:01a - While making hot coco (an acceptable consolation prize) by the car first light hits Mt. Morrison. I sprint (okay, it was probably a lazy shuffle) back to the camera and begin shooting the sunrise. first light on mt morrison

First Light on Mt. Morrision (The Great White Fang)

6:30a - After sunrise I wake Beylah up and we break camp.

7:30a - We stop in Mammoth again for fuel (bagels and coffee). Also gas.

Clouds Rest Trail

8:30a - Making good time we hit the bottom of the Tioga Pass heading towards Clouds Rest.

9:30a - We finally hit the trail after getting stuck behind a few annoying cars in Touolmne Meadows.

9:32a - The morning is perfectly still. You can see the ripples from fish under the water on Tenaya Lake. tenaya lake

Morning Stillness. Tenaya Lake

10:00a - After a mellow start we start the heavy climbing towards Sunrise Lake.

10:44a - Near the top we’re advised by a couple of ladies that at the junction ahead, if you follow the unmarked trail to the right there is a fantastic view. They are correct.

10:58a - We finish wolfing down some peanut butter and banana wraps (good lord are these amazing, somehow they kept us full for the rest of the hike)

12:15p - At our turn around time to get home early, we discuss turning back briefly and continue blazing up the trail. lake

Trailside lake on the way to Clouds Rest.

12:50p - At the summit ridge, views of the high country start to come into view

1:05p - The final few hundred feet are a blast, I use my hands to climb over the rocks.

1:07p - We finally reach the summit. The view is amazing. My buttcheeks are very excited to unclench from the previous scramble to the summit. clouds rest

View from the summit of Clouds Rest.

tenaya lake from clouds rest

Looking back towards the trailhead, Tenaya Lake.

1:31p - After spending too much time on the summit we make our way back down.

1:40p - The downhill gets really had with my runners knee. My hands start getting puffy as we start rationing our water.

2:15p - I finally relent and take advil and immediately feel great. The downhill does not relent. Dehydration is becoming a bit of an issue as the little bit of altitude and the dusty trail start parching us.

3:45p - Beylah gets murdered by an uphill segment with our pack on. Very thirsty now.

4:00p - Our goal return time passes as we start to scramble down the last big hill. We drink the last sips of our water.

5:22p - A group of hikers from the top passes us, I’m secretly disappointed in us for not finishing the trail ahead of them. Mostly just thirsty though.

5:28p - We hit the trailhead, walk a few hundred extra feet to our car and down the extra jug of water we kept in the trunk. We use wipes to wash off the trail grime, brush out teeth, change, and hit the road feeling totally refreshed.

7:15p - White knuckles down the Old Priest Grade

8:30p - We brainstorm for the entire drive about where we will eat, looking for a suitable reward for our effort today. We settle for Chipolte - we’re both disappointed in ourselves.

9:57p - Finally home.

10:15p - Shower.

10:26p - Bed.


  1. Epic! Absolutely Epic! Sounds like quite the first day between the traffic, the tourists and the lack of campgrounds but fun nonetheless!

  2. We've really never seen the Sierra so packed to the gills. I guess this is why smarter people make reservations!

  3. That view from the summit - absolutely stunning! Jaw dropping, in fact.

  4. Yeah! That's only showing two directions too. It's pretty just 360 degrees of breathtaking views from the summit.