Two years ago, my friends Evan & Rebecca recommended this hike as one of their favorites up in the Tuolumne Meadows area. On Saturday, Dennis & I finally committed to hiking Mt. Dana. We did it with Tom R.’s daughter Megan (a former Ridgecrestee) and her boyfriend Nick. We left the campsite sometime around 9:15am, driving 20+ miles back to Tioga Pass where the trailhead is located.
The Mt. Dana hike is a great half day activity. It took us approximately 2 hours 40 minutes to reach the summit and just under 2 hours to come down. From the top, you see Mono Lake on one side and the domes of Tuolumne Meadows on the other side. It is spectacular, and totally worth the effort!
The trail is very well maintained due to the traffic it sees annually. The first half of the trek meanders among lakes and meadows in a forrested region. The second half turns into a rockfest, above the treelines. There are cairns along the way to help an unobservant hiker reach the top. Basically, we just veered to the right when in doubt, and the steepness eases off.
When we got to the top, there were a group of people lounging about eating lunch, enjoying the view, signing the register. We met a father/son team who were excited to report it was their first peak bagging experience! I explained the whole register dealio, and we wished them luck with future conquests.
Dennis & I had a snack up at the top, took some pictures and a few minutes later Nick and Megan greeted us. They were taken aback by the pretty views (as were we!), and set up their camera to capture a shot of the four of us. They also took some pictures of the agressive marmots.
On the hike back, we stopped several times to take pictures of the wildflowers. We saw lillies, daisies, lupine, and paintbrush. All the colors dotted the landscape, and a boulder provided the perfect place to pose for a picture. We were really happy to be out of the wind, among the trees again. On the way up, we had our windbreakers on to protect from the chilling winds.
We got back to the car around 4pm and headed to the lodge for showers. We picked up Marley on the way (Rachel’s friend from Vegas). She had climbed Hobbit book with Walter & Daryl, and was quite hungry for din-din. Megan was nice enough to reserve a spot at the lodge at 6:30pm. So the 5 of us charged in there with growling stomachs.
Our table at the lodge was lovely, with a view of a creek cascading by us. The noise level in the room made conversation difficult, but we managed! I scarfed down my cornbread encrusted trout, it was delish. Dennis & I split a cheesecake slice for dessert, but everybody else was stuffed. (After such a demanding week, I was READY for dessert!).
Back at camp, we all hung out at the campfire whilest Marley and Walter told us about the fun on Hobbit Book. Justine related some entertaining stories about a certain crazy longtime friend of hers, sending us all into fits of laughter.
We were all so happy to be there. What a truly special week of climbing, hiking, adventure, and good food! I’m so happy my girlfriends from Vegas came out to climb, and also that my hubby came up for the weekend!
Can’t wait until TM 2007!!!!!