View Full Version : Cloud's Rest CONQUERED! (Part 3)

06-15-2009, 11:02 AM
Welcome to the third and final installment of the Trail Reports from Yosemite. If you missed the others you should read Part 1 (http://www.mountwashington.org/forums/showthread.php?t=5025) and Part 2 (http://www.mountwashington.org/forums/showthread.php?t=5029) first.

So, just to set the scene... this is our next destination: Cloud's Rest. In the photo you will see the peak, which is a little farther off than a false peak, or rock dome closer to you. The closer peak is called Pinnacles. The trail wanders from the lower right corner of the pic right up until you are on this side of the the Pinnacles, the hug it around the right and then up to Cloud's Rest.


And now, on with our story.

Our original game plan was to hike Half Dome in the morning, then proceed over to Cloud's Rest. After summit there, we'd set up camp somewhere on the other side. But late afternoon when we came off the cables, Ross and I knew that we overestimated the plans just a bit. Since we had to go 2 miles back down to the trail intersect, we weren't in position to make it to the next camp in any decent time, so we ended up going back to Little Yosemite Campground for the night.

Plans being altered, we figured we'd get to Cloud's Rest, then decide where we wanted to go from there. Ross really wanted to head up to Tenaya Lake, however, now that I realized that the temp of the water in the crossing we'd have to do, I wasn't as excited about it as I was when the Ranger told us about it.


The first few miles of trail we were already familiar with and the view of Half Dome in the morning sun never gets boring.


At the next intersect we take a quick break. Climbing a steep trail first thing after rolling out of the sleeping bag is always the toughest.


My hiking buddy Ross and I usually have a pretty casual pace, as well as a good understanding that if our paces don't match, no big deal, we'll just hike our own hikes and meet up at the next overlook or intersection. This is nice as it gives each of us some time to enjoy the solitude. As the trail got steeper, I would pull ahead by a fairly good margin. After a while I started leaving him messages in the trail. Either to make him laugh or encourage him on. Here's I let him know where the he was finally crossing the 8,000' elev mark.


Few minutes later the trees open up and present us a great panorama of the Clark Range.


Looking up the trail, we can see the Pinnacles are coming into reach.


Another 800' gain in elevation and I leave a message that we are now even with the top of Half Dome.


Looking back you get a great view. From here on out, its higher than I have ever hiked before (which was 8800 the day before!) Note the blue dot in the trail.. its like a game of Where's Waldo, or Ross. :)


As we reach the base of the Pinnacles, a beautiful ledge opens up. Almost as if it were a set from the original Star Trek or Dr Who, three of these rock formations mark the left, right and center points of the ledge. We note that the flat sandy area is just far enough off trail that it would make an incredible (and legal) backcountry camp! A better view of this ledge area is in the third episode of the video.


After a good 20 minutes of goofing around and soaking in the view, we need to press on. At least we don't have far to go.


Finally! The summit of Cloud's Rest appears within reach. A check of the GPS says we still got at least 400' more to gain... ugh!


Quick photo op in the snow.


OK.. big push, last 200 feet to go!


After many steps and switchback, you finally step out onto the summit. You're out of breath, heart pounding like a jack hammer, legs burning, and you've never felt better one you open your eyes.


While Half Dome was quite a challenge in it own right, when you get to the top, you are celebrating with probably 150 of you're closest friends. However, on Cloud's Rest, it seems almost much more personal. Ross and I had ownership of the entire summit for it seemed as long as we wanted. From here we watched the weather patterns shift and move throughout the valley, listened to waterfalls in every direction, birds soared gracefully looking for the next updraft, and the resident Yellow Bellied Marmot came out of his rocky home to greet us.

If you are thinking about doing a Yosemite trek to Half Dome, I would insist that these two are a matched set. You need to do Half Dome first, but you can't get the full appreciation of what you've accomplished until you see it from this view.

Of course, I had to show proper representation for the MWO!




Soon, the clouds started moving in, and yes they were 'resting' on the mountain, and a little thunder in the distance. We figured this was the gods way of telling us to move on, so we packed up and got moving.

The trail off the summit of Cloud's Rest is a knife edge. The clouds moving in made it quite interesting and we got through just in time before being totally fogged in.


In some spots the trail got a little tricky while carrying a heavy pack, but slow and steady we pushed through.


Soon, we found ourselves on the snow side of the mountain and lots of the white stuff remains.



Snow like this made it a little difficult to stay on trail. Being able to read a topo map (and having the GPS to back it up) was a big benefit to make sure we were treading on vegetation any more than we had to. Once we found our way, we got a look back at Cloud's Rest.


We stood catching our breath too long, as soon as we got our packs on and took a few steps, a heavy hail storm moved in forcing us to stop again to get our rain gear out. (See video)

Finally down to the trail intersection and its decision time. Get out the maps and check all the options. Ross is still pushing to head to Tenaya Lake, and I'm desperately looking for another option. After about 10 minutes of not finding an alternative, I gave in. However, after making fun of me for wanting to get a kilt for future hikes, I told Ross that if I'm going to have to do a waist deep water crossing in snow melt water, HE'S wearing one on our next adventure. So, off to Tenaya Lake we go.


I seemed that the rest of the way to the lake the trail was either under water or under snow. We tried our best to heed the Rangers plee to stay on the trail even if we have to get our feet wet to avoid causing more damage and widening of the trails.

Here, where you see the river of water, is the the trail.


The other half of the time, the trails were covered in deep snow as shown below. Since the park doesn't use blazes to mark the trails, you really need to be comfortable with your navigation skills.


After a while, we finally figured out that there WAS some sort of vintage trail marker system in use. However they are few and far in between, so they are more of just a reassurance that your map skills aren't as bad as you thought.


Every now and then, we had some decent size streams to cross. Each one, Ross was confident that THIS was what we were warned about, and happy about winning the bet. Was he right? .....


The trail comes straight down into a hidden quiet pond. Surely THIS was the water crossing! No...


06-15-2009, 11:02 AM
Just when we thought we were out of the snow, descending down another mountain side, we had more to work through.


Calling on our "Man vs Wild" skills, we detect tracks in the snow of hikers before us the day before. Ah... a good sign! Unless of course they were lost!


Out of the snow and back into the water again.


Where's the trail? Straight down the middle, of course!


Yeah Ross! THIS must be the water crossing. No?


Soon after this point, we had hiked for almost 11 hours this day. We had seen blue skies to stormy skies, cool dry breezes to hail, dry groomed trails to trails of rivers, but not a single other hiker! But, just as soon as we said that, around the corner come two hikers headed out on what we had just come through. We stopped and chatted, gave them the low down on trail conditions and tips on navigating their way though. After parting ways, Ross and I noted, "Gee, they look awfully dry! I think we lucked out. Whoo hoo!"

Here on out, I hit my stride. Soon we were going to be up on Tioga Pass Road where we'd hitchhike back to the valley. My feet weren't soaking wet and I was happy that they'd stay that way.

And then.....


"Oh $^&*!" Yup, THIS is the water crossing. There was no mistaking it, and no way around it. Someone has even taken the time to put stepping stones in the water to guide you. Now the plan was to strip down and head through as quickly as possible. Make no mistake, the weather was cool, and the water was COLD! The best approach was not to think about it too long and just GO!


Almost there!


I'll save you the picture of me in my undershorts after coming out of the water.... :X After come jumping jacks to warm up, we assembled ourselves and made it up to the road.


We walked for about 30 minutes down the road until some rock climbers in a van were kind enough to give us a ride. They weren't going to the Valley center, but within a few miles. Once we jumped out of the van, got our packs on, a family in a pick-up stopped right away and asked where we were going and offered a ride all the way to the valley campground! Sweet!

On the ride, Ross and I reveled in our accomplishment and watched in amazement as sun was starting to set on the valley as we passed by.


That night we camped out in the parking lot and spent the next morning gathering our souvenirs to take home to the family.

All-in-all, an absolutely incredible trip! The elevation took a little getting use to, the climbs were slow and tough, the views were breath-taking, the scenery, sounds, smells and everything else were inspiring. If you have the time, you need to go and do this trip! And if you need a guide, just say the word and I'm on the plane!


And if you have broadband and iTunes, you can download episode 3 (http://www.follylane.org/podcast/) of the video podcast. In this one you'll get some great footage of the hike, the summit and one of the most incredible looks at Half Dome as the clouds move in to swallow it up.

06-15-2009, 12:13 PM
Wow what an incredable adventure. Your pictures are absolutely amazing. I can only hope to someday take a hike like that. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort into posting it here for all of us to share with you.

06-15-2009, 01:29 PM
Awesome pics! I can't wait to do this one later this summer. I'd love to do an extended overnight hike like you did but I'm operating on a limited time budget so I'll have to try and make a day hike out of it like I did Half Dome (drove 3 hours after work and slept in the car to get an early start...shared half dome with 4 other people).

Cloud's Rest is now officially on my "To Do" list. I'm going to try and bag Whitney while I'm out there. Highest hiking I've done was 10,000' in the Cascades. I'm curious to see what 14500' feels like.

Nice TR and even better pics!

06-15-2009, 06:41 PM
What a great wrap-up Erich. This was obviously a life-list trip and the TR was one of the best ever. Not sure Clouds Rest is one I'm ready for either though. The picture that follows the line "In some spots the trail got a little tricky while carrying a heavy pack" left me saying "WTF"?? Was that drop off as steep and the path as narrow as it looks? I'm not sure that I could get myself around there to begin with but a 45# pack would be the deal breaker for sure. Glad that there are so many other less precipitous spots in Yosemite to hike. The more I see the more I'm sure that next summer that's the plan.

Jimmy Legs and Little d
06-18-2009, 01:42 PM
Again a first class report and pictures. Even this hike was a challenge for you and your friend; which I think is half the fun when you are on a hike. Certainly a most memorable vacation for you.

06-18-2009, 03:04 PM

Oh, and I didn't mention that the weekend before I went back to Pen Mar, PA and did a successful completion of the MD section of the AT! Three days to get to Harpers Ferry, but I also did all the Blue Blazes this time, going down to Devil's Racecourse, Annapolis Rocks, etc. Those pics are also on my flickr page, though, not as exciting.

Jimmy Legs and Little d
06-18-2009, 08:10 PM
Good for you! I am sure the weather was 100% better. We were wondering if you ever went back to complete the AT in Maryland. As a matter of fact, we went back to do a pre-vacation warm up hike at Harpers Ferry on May 23rd (Maryland Heights to the Fort Loop). It almost turned out to be a disastrous day as Michael inadvertently left his camera on the wall (once you go into town from the rr tracks), but we were very lucky that a good soul turned it into the visitor's center.