TAHOE-YOSEMITE TRAIL July 23-August 1, 1972

With another backpacking challenge looming, I sought to get a ride to do this journey, one way. The people in the Sierra Club were good enough to help me, with such favors returned in full, and more, by me, later! I had a book by Wilderness Press describing the route, which had not been completed with a good trail, as the Pacific Crest Trail was to be, in years later. I had plenty of experience in navigation, so felt that I could do this. By then, I had climbed a good number of peaks, but didn’t have any camera. My movie camera had broken, and I was too poor for a good 35 mm still camera.

Being allowed now on Peak and Gorge activities, I joined a peak climb to do Koip Peak (12,979’). Getting a ride one way from the leader, he took me, and another, Dan, down south to Yosemite and the Dana Fork Trailhead. I attended the climb, with a backpack into a campsite, and then a side climb of Parker Peak (12,861’). This was my introduction to the Northern Alpine Section.

Fourteen hikers attended, and after climbing Koip Peak, many of the others went to climb nearby Kuna Peak (12,547’?). Too altitude sick from the rushed weekend ascent, I was told to wait on top of Koip Peak, as the assistant leader, Dan, gave me his orders. The others descended from Kuna by another route down the glacier or snowfield, so the assistant had to re-climb Koip Peak to tend to me. Him complaining about it, I could hardly help it. They stay fit for the summer, while I had no opportunity for such acclimation.

I hiked back to camp, and we packed up and out. I started, then, my own trip, to head north from Tuolumne Meadows to Meeks Bay, Lake Tahoe. The distance is about 180 miles, but I was to accept a ride on part of it, maybe saving me two or three miles walk along Highway CA 108. I got a ride from the trip leader to my trailhead start at Tuolumne Meadows. It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

July 23

I got some food somewhere, probably the coffee shop, and planning to stay at the campground, the fear of bears drove me onward, to the trail north. I started backpacking, with plenty of food and gear, now, toward Glen Aulin. Getting there in quick time, I made a camp by the other campers. Night fell, and I heard noises. A large bear was circling about, eyeing me for my food. I tried to pay no attention, with other campers unconcerned, but it kept me awake, and I began to worry about my food. I had my backpack by my head, but it unnerved me enough that I decided to pack up and hike along further in the dark. I had a flashlight, but the moon was up, and I could see my way.

A short distance away, I found a sloping rock cliff, and a ledge. I climbed up and made my camp on this ledge, away from the bear, but kept an eye open for awhile, and then went to sleep.

July 24

Not disturbed at all, then, I got up and started hiking north, again. I went over Benson Pass to Smedburg Lake, where no bears were supposed to be. This was wild, remote country, and I kept to my lifetime record of never losing food to a bear. Making camp by another hiking group, they began burning their plastic garbage, and the acrid smoke wafted over by me. Not much that I could do. They made a lot of noise, but I was happy with no bears about.

July 25

I hiked in and out of three bear infested canyons before arriving at Wilbur Lake, about as far as one can get from civilization in the Sierra. I slept on top of a huge rock.

July 26

After hiking over Bond Pass, I ran into a book writer coming down south from Brown Bear Pass. He interviewed me at length, saying he was a “Clark Cameron from Oakland,” but I refused to speak into his tape recorder. He was writing a book on the trail, and his hike. I camped at Saucer Meadow, safe from bears.

July 27

Hiking into Kennedy Meadows off Highway 108, I feasted with a $2 “packer’s breakfast.” The T-Y trail goes two ways to CA 108, one cross country, which I declined as too hard. I had to hike to the trail’s northbound departure from CA 108, about five miles east on the highway. I started hiking on the shoulder, with cars whizzing by. I declined an offer of a ride, meaning to do the walking, but a car stopped with a couple with kid. The driver said, “Get in,” so I didn’t have any qualms, and took the ride. They had to double back to drop me off at the correct point, me telling them of my backpacking. This would be the St. Mary Pass trailhead.

I followed the trail up to the pass, then headed for Stanislaus Peak. Following a use trail for peak hikers, I saw that I was getting off route, so had to figure out my navigation better. Traversing around the peak, I dropped down a steep, brushy slope, taking animal trails to the trail that I was supposed to be on. I slept at Clark Fork campground, back to civilization, for now.

July 28

Managing to find the way to the trail continuing north, I took the Clark Fork trail, which was very dry and dusty. Reaching Lake Alpine on Highway CA 4 in late afternoon, I availed myself of the restaurant there, and also bought some food. A Forest Service ranger told me that I couldn’t camp where I had chosen, and transported me back 1.5 miles in her truck to another spot. Back two spaces!

July 29

I hiked back to the restaurant for breakfast, then followed the way the ranger had told me to go. Climbing to the top of Mt. Reba with the lookout tower, I spoke a bit with the lookout on top, then found the trail down into the Mokelumne River Canyon. I got across the river, then had to make my way, cross country, to Summit City Canyon. I scrambled, clawed, and backtracked, finding my way, with some ribbons and ducks to point out the route. I should have been wary of rattlesnakes.

Finally, I made it back to a trail. Climbing out of the canyon, I rolled out my sleeping bag at Fourth of July Lake. Tired and dirty, I was to get rain that night, throwing then my tube tent over me, too weary to string it up.

July 30

While the clouds raged and the wind blew, I hiked on around Round Top (10,381’), a peak that I wanted to do. As it looked like lightning might occur, I decided to forget it. Reaching Highway CA 88, I was met by cold, lonely asphalt. No restaurants, lodges, or pack stations--only trees, and wet ones at that. Despite the principles of conservation, I would have been happy if there was a coffee shop.

Trudging on north again, I met several people, hiking or fishing. I ate lunch at Showers Lake, a nice place. Descending on what I believe to be the steepest portion of the trail, to Benwood Meadows and Echo Summit, I felt my legs ready to give out. After walking through a wet, boggy area, I came to U.S. 50. Walking along the highway by speeding cars and trucks, I came westward to Little Norway, an old, now non-existent, resort. I bought some food and sent some postcards.

Hoping for a ride, I went to Echo Lakes, meeting with mixed emotions the last leg of this trip. Camping along the trail above the outlet dam, I stared at the flickering, faraway lights of South Lake Tahoe. Remembering last Easter, how I had seen the same lights on the last part of a Sierra Club snow tour, when we snowshoed from Chambers Lodge to Camp Sacramento, bagging a couple peaks along the way, the lights seemed to mean a little more.

July 31

Traveling slowly, I stopped at Lake Aloha for lunch. This day, I decided to break my pace and do other things. Lazing on a rock by the water, I discovered trash squeezed into a crack on the rock that I lay on. Later, another Forest Service ranger talked to me. After showing her my permit, I hiked on up to Dicks Pass, hid my pack, and climbed to the top of Dicks Peak (9,974’), one of the peaks that we had tried on our spring snowshoe trip. A T shirt on a stick marked the top.

Climbing back down to the pass, I continued on, perhaps detouring to camp by Fontanillis Lake. This next day was to be my last on this trail. The sun seemed to set awfully slowly.

August 1

The beginning of the finest month for backpacking saw me with my end to one trip, and the arrival of incredibly good luck. As the last six miles passed under my feet, I fell into a conversation with two other backpackers. They were from Sacramento, going home to less than a half mile from where I lived, and with room in their car! Reaching the end of the trail, I was too dazed with my incredible luck to appreciate the end of my journey. Returning home on Interstate 80, my mind turned to other hikes, Colorado the strongest in my mind.


I had to sell my book about this trail as I needed rent money in 1974, so have no published details on the hike anymore. It took me nine days, so I did about twenty miles a day on average. I didn’t spend much money, with the rides, and only food for expense. I had a better backpack, and sleeping bag, a three pound down bag from REI, now. I still drank out of streams, then, not treating my water, and didn’t seem to get sick. About 1981, I seem to have contracted Giardia, so then started to boil my water.

With highways to cross for food, I didn’t have to do much camp cooking. I had my Bleuet stove, but used it sparingly. I had a poncho for rain, and warmer clothes for the trails. My pack weight was down about 25-30 pounds, so I could move fast. I always thought that I could easily go back here when I had more money or a good job, for photos. So, it turned out, with the peaks!

Fit and ready, I went to finish the Muir Trail, and go on to climb many peaks. From here on, I started my peak climbing, big time, and counted peaks. A God-send to have the Sierra Club, and to never have to do hitch-hiking again, or as very much as I did.

No one seemed to care very much about my accomplishments, and still to this day, I seem to be disbelieved. I typed my notes on an old typewriter, and stored them away, to be referred to, this very day. So much poverty and hardship affected me, and then I had to drop out of school. But hiking and climbing is fun and cheap to do, a life saver as far as my self respect!