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High Sierra Mine

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park Links:

July 30th, 1999

6.0 miles
1475 vertical feet
Total Time: 4:57

Rating: 8/10

Directions:   View Driving Map

Jennie and I hiked in Yosemite National Park.

We parked, at about 9am, at the Tioga Pass parking lot, just inside the park. Soon after we arrived, the lot was already fully. Mount Dana loomed high above to the south. We'd been there the year before; this time, we were heading north.

View on the climb up, looking backwards

The trail climbs steeply, immediately -- 560 feet up, providing nice views of Mt. Dana. The switchbacking trail includes many rock steps. At the top of the hill the trees clear out and there are even better views. To the south there is still Mt. Dana. To the north, downhill, lies Middle Gaylor Lake, backed by a huge pyramidal hunk of rocks, rocks, and more rocks.

Middle Gaylor Lake

We descended down to the lake, where we saw fish jumping out of the water. Sea gulls (yes, sea gulls) glided over the lake, looking for lunch. Heading north around the lake, we saw the Cathedral Range in the distance seem to rise out of the water.

Cathedral Range "rising" out of Middle Gaylor Lake. That's a reflection of a sea gull in the water.

The trail then climbs gently up to Upper Gaylor Lake. Here, large patches of snow still cling to the hillsides in late July. The trail is muddy in places, and covered with snow in others, but it's mostly fine.

Upper and Middle Gaylor Lakes

We saw no one else as we went from Middle Gaylor Lake, up past the upper lake, up the switchbacks to the High Sierra Mine. There are numerous structures made of stacked rocks here. These are the remains of a silver mine. Filled-in mine shafts still dot the area. In places one could still fall 20-30 feet down.

A rock cabin left over from the High Sierra Mine

From here, we were supposed to reach Tioga Hill and then go cross-country west across a ridge and down to Granite Lakes. Unfortunately it wasn't clear which point was Tioga Hill. We scrambled up to a nearby hill and enjoyed the view down toward Lee Vining Canyon and Tioga Lake. We walked around trying to find a trail, but to no avail.

Glacier Canyon (left) and Mount Dana (right) from Tioga Hill

We eventually went over a ridge and down toward the Granite Lakes. Along the way we saw some amazing displays of wildflowers. Indian paintbrush was the most commonly found flower here. I regret not finding a trail and having to walk through the flowers (trying to step as carefully as I could, to avoid trampling them).

Indian Paintbrush

More wildflowers

Even more wildflowers

Upper Granite Lake sits in a large granite bowl, the mountains towering steeply above it. A small stream connects it to Lower Granite Lake. By this time it was early afternoon and clouds began to threaten us. We stopped briefly for lunch, then continued west before heading south toward Middle Gaylor Lake.

Granite Lakes

We crossed a bumpy meadow, probably made that way by squirrels. We reached Middle Gaylor Lake and traced the shore back to the trail we'd taken before. After passing it on the first try, we backtracked and found the trail heading back up the hill, then the short steep journey down to the parking lot.

Return to Mount Whitney trip report.

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