We made our way towards Tuolumne Meadows, planning
originally to climb West Crack, a 5-pitch climb on Daff Dome. We stopped for coffee at the small “Tuolumne
Meadows Grill,” and checked the posted weather report. The sky was already showing signs of rain to
come, large puffy clouds and flat grey clouds in the distance. The posted weather confirmed our thoughts, so
we knixed West Cracks, and decided to find something small and with a shorter
approach. We settled on Northwest Books,
a 2-pitch, 5.6 climb on Lembert Dome.
The dome was right next to the parking/picnic area… perfect!
Clouds moved in while we climbed.
After some wondering the wrong way, we found the start… and
a guide with a group of three just making their way up the 3rd class
scramble to the start. As we geared up,
Dave realized he was missing an important piece of gear… his harness! Back to the car he ran to retrieve it. By the time he returned, the group was making
their way up the first pitch. We sure
hoped we could easily pass them at the belay, because they were moving very
slow. As the second to last climber
started the pitch, we made our way up the scramble to the start. As we talked with the last climber, we found
out he was originally from Pennsylvania.
Even better, he was born in Reading!
Crazy how often we run into people from near home!
The guide yelled down to us, asking if we wanted to pass his
group. Perfect! Dave gave the last climber some space before
starting his way up the pitch, setting up a belay on another ledge near the
guided group. Alex followed quickly, and
before long they found themselves at the top of the climb, with a short
scramble to the summit. We were both over
joyous that we were climbing and not baking in the sun! We pulled apples out of our daypacks to eat
as we made our way down the walk-off.
We made our way towards the visitor center, with a stop the
Tuolumne Lodge to score some showers. As
we made our way towards the visitors’ center, we noticed that the Tuolumne
Meadows campground had spaces available.
After some quick calculations, we realized it would be cheaper to camp
for $26 than to pay gas to drive back and forth from our previous camping
spot. After investigation, we found that
Porcupine Flat campground just down the road was only $12 a night. It was cheaper since it did not have running
water… but neither did the spot we had been staying. Our
minds were set… this is where we were going to stay! Tuolumne Meadows is awesome! It wasn’t hot, there wasn’t traffic, there
were plenty of people around, but most were more of the outdoorsy type
(backpackers, climbers, fishermen) than what filled The Valley at this time of
year. It was 68 degrees at noon instead
of 98! We started planning a backpacking/climbing
trip for when Doug arrives. We were
happy, smiling, talkative, and rejuvenated, despite the now falling rain. We didn’t realize how grumbly the heat and
crowds in The Valley was until now! This
seemed like the best day ever!
Once we picked out a campground spot, Dave walked up to the
payment box, while Alex waited with the car, and unloaded their food crates
into the bear box. Soon Alex heard Dave
yell, “Alex! Come here! Quick!” She knew from his tone he found something
exciting. She turned to see him walking
with 8 gallons of water, and a young boy down the road behind him with box of
fire wood and a propane tank. Alex
relieved the boy of his heavy load and they both thanked him. Turns out his family packed up camp and had
lots of extra water, and some firewood.
His mom offered the stuff to Dave, and he graciously accepted. We spent the remainder of the evening reading
and looking at maps and guidebooks, as we lounged in the refreshingly cool air
in our quiet little campsite.
Marmots are such creepers!