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Tuolumne meadows/Saddlebag lake update

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Tuolumne meadows/Saddlebag lake update

Postby Recycling1991 » Mon Aug 17, 2015 7:20 pm

Since we just got back from Tuolumne today, thought I'd provide an update in case anyone is going up and wondering about the conditions.

We camped in Tuolumne meadows campground Sat/Sunday nights, checked out today, along with many others. The rangers were quite nonchalant about the plague. We took caution and wore shoes and long socks in the campground. We also sprayed Off (with Deet) per the recommendations. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Mosquitoes mostly dead. A couple of us got bitten once, but nothing bad.

Fire - no smoke in Tuolumne today or yesterday. Saturday we could see the smoke flume (?) from the Walker fire clearly, but yesterday and today it was clear. Good air quality. Clear at Olmstead point too today. Nice view of half dome and the valley.

They were either not letting people through Tioga pass or caravanning them through. We wanted to hike Saddlebag lake area on Sunday and were told we could drive down to the junction, but the road to Saddlebag lake was closed and they were sweeping the canyon. I said to the Tioga Pass Ranger Station that we will go perhaps towards Gaylor Lakes and she said great, stay in the park. We hiked Gaylor/Granite Lakes and had no problems. We could see some smoke looking down towards Lee Vining, but nothing that bad. I thought it odd that we were allowed to hike Gaylor Lakes, but Saddlebag lake area was being evacuated. Maybe that one ridge is enough of a barrier?

Inyo national forest's website says nothing about Saddlebag lake evacuations, as far as I can tell.

It was rather chaotic at the pass, as non-English speaking tourists were being turned around and were not happy about it. There were a couple of gals Saturday night who had come up from June Lake area for the day (all their belongings were in June Lake) and were told they could not go back. I think eventually they started letting people through, caravan style. Things were very fluid and not much communication.

Saturday Tenaya lake was a zoo. Is it like that every Saturday in the summer? We enjoyed our time there very much, but I have never seen the lake so crowded. People were parked all along 120, even in the narrow spots. It was just crazy. While the drought is not fun for most of us, the shallow waters of the lake and Tuolumne River make for fun wading and warm-waters for the kids to play.

Marmots were busy ( and I love marmots ). Counted seven in two days, including five at close range. Thousands (?) of little frogs at Granite Lakes.

Didn't Yosemite Conservancy have plans for a boardwalk (?) at Gaylor Lakes? didn't see anything new there.

As always, it's nice to be up there. Now we just have to hope for the best that we all stay healthy.
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Re: Tuolumne meadows/Saddlebag lake update

Postby Phil » Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:30 pm

Tuolumne Meadows campground is now closed for the rest of the week until Friday 08/21 for spraying of insecticide. The NPS is claiming that this is purely an overly precautionary measure only and that there's no imminent danger to campers, even though 2 squirrels were found dead in the immediate area and combed for fleas which tested positive for the bubonic plague.

Yes, being right before kids go back to school, as well as peak tourist season, Tenaya Lake is always a madhouse at this time of year. Last Hurrah kind of thing. Fortunately, Tuolumne is still free of smoke from the Walker fire and Highway 120 is now open since yesterday, although the fire is now about 2 miles from Lee Vining, 3700 acres involved, only 20% containment, and, no real big surprise here, it's human caused. And yet, the NPS is still at Stage 1 fire restrictions for reasons I can't imagine. Must be something like thinking it was a good idea to do a controlled burn in August to protect Foresta a few years back.
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