I’ve spent years exploring the Sierra, but I’d never hiked to Glen Aulin. George and Steve, on the other hand, have been coming out there for thirty years straight. A place must have a special draw to bring seasoned veterans out every year for that long. I had to see this for myself. After sleeping off the Tahoe Relay, we drove down the 395 from Tahoe, stopping in Walker for some of their famous barbecue. Thunderheads loomed over the Sierra, and we knew we’d be facing some rain.
George, Jay, and I drove up to the Tahoe area on Friday. We stopped by the Sugar Bowl ski school area to hike up to Donner Peak. It was a quick hike with a little bit of snow and some great views.
There was enough snow between Vogelsang High Sierra Camp and the pass that I kept my ice axe handy for most of the day. Vogelsang Lake was still frozen over, strange since it’s only a few hundred feet higher than the thawed out Fletcher Lake. I skirted the West side of the lake and began climbing toward Vogelsang Pass. Right before the pass I turned into a small creek drainage on the East Face of Vogelsang Peak. The snow here steepens as it climbs onto the East Ridge of the peak. I French-stepped to the top of the snow slope, then took off my crampons as I climbed onto the dry ridge.
I must have been desperate for some final human contact when I picked up a hitch-hiker at the Crane Flat gas station. He was a retired professor of economics from Bristol, England, out on a tour of the Western United States. We drove up the Tioga Road into the parking lot a half-mile past the Tuolumne Meadows wilderness center. The professor left north toward Lembert Dome, and I left south along the John Muir Trail toward Rafferty Creek. The river was flowing high, the crowds were still at home, and I was alone in the wilderness.