Text by Matt - Pictures by Jenya and Matt and a kind stranger
It was a busy backpacking season, including this odd little trip up
to Mount Hoffman. Most people go up by way of May Lake. We didn't.
Day 1 - Saturday, August 30th - Gettin' There
We caravaned in two vehicles to the Yosemite entrance. Lots of traffic
this busy holiday weekend. There were further delays as the permit office
was closed for lunch when we arrived. Finally parked and disappeared into
the backcountry around 3pm.
Here's the crew from left to right: Mike, me, Dawn, Nils, Bernhard, and Julia.
Jenya was taking the picture. It's hard to see but Nils is actually lugging
along a classical guitar in a soft case.
We only had a couple hours before sunset to find
suitable camping. We gained about 2000 feet elevation in the process, during
which we got kinda lost and found ourselves having to traverse up and down
nasty boulder piles. We had maps, but no GPS, and we lost our route while
under the canopy of trees. Whatever. We made it to a nice, flat camping area
in the general vicinity of Mount Hoffman in one piece. Actually there were
seven of us, so... seven pieces.
Set up for the night in our four tents. The blob in the foreground is
part of Mike's magic water filtering contraption. It's a five gallon
dirty water container from which surgical tubing drops down fifty
feet into a regular hand-pump filter on the ground below. The pressure of
this water is enough to press through the filter and clean
water ends up in a nearby five gallon container without any human effort
whatsoever (except for hauling five gallons of dirty water up the rock).
Anyway, the stress of the treacherous journey was compounded slightly
by the fact that we ended up only having one working stove between
all of us. But thanks to Jenya's ready-made mixes,
we were able to whip up an enjoyable and delicious dinner
(and have plenty of hot food to spare).
Day 2 - Sunday, August 31st - Goin' up Mount Hoffman
After breakfast we grabbed our day packs and headed another couple
thousand feet up to the top of Mount Hoffman, getting there more or
less by Braille.
Pretty lake down there. Note the prescribed fire in the distance.
Nils and Mike on the cliff edge pointing out faraway features.
Less trees as you go higher. I love this terrain, except we had to hug these
ridges for a while.
Yet another body of water, about a thousand feet below the edge of this
The final ridge heading up to the peak.
We made it! There was only one other person up there, and he took
this picture for us. For what it's worth, we're at 10850 feet above sea level.
We rested and had a long picnic, enjoying the 360 degree view including:
Half Dome over yonder (and quite a ways below us).
Mike, who organized this adventure, feeling pretty good about himself. We
were surrounded by marmots the whole time,
but the only picture of fauna we got
was the bird on the rock behind him.
The trek back down was slow and deliberate. We arrived by sunset.
Mike and I back at camp. I'm busy pumping extra water with my own filter.
We both somehow ended up being the watermasters, which was fine with us.
We had another enjoyable dinner followed by a clear sky with a million
stars. Nils broke out the guitar and we all traded songs before going
to bed. I never really acclimated to the high altitude, and my heart
was beating all night. That wasn't very restful.
Day 3 - Monday, September 1st - Outta here
Sunrise over the lake.
Another bear canister breakfast before packin' up and headin' out.
It only took us about two or three hours to get back to our car, but it
was down steep backcountry with packs on. My knees were killing me before
too long. I need to invest in hiking poles.
A pretty lake we passed on the way in and on the way out.
Victory shot back at Bernhard's van. Hooray! We rock!
We all headed into the valley for food to equalize our blood sugar levels,
and then onward back to Oakland.