I've wanted to check out more of Tuolumne Meadows for a while, specifically Water Wheel and the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. So my buddy Thomas came in from Texas but once he arrived, we realized that he didn't leave enought time for a two night trip. Revieiwing the options, we decided to target some spots on the other side of Glen Aulin near Water Wheel. Late Thursday, we left LA and finally arrived at the Tuolumne Wilderness office around 3am Friday morning. We parked and tried to get comfortable so we could sleep for a few hours.

After waking up around 7am, we made the mistake of hangning out in the car while we waited for the office to open. What we didn't realize is there was a line forming to get permits for the day. D'oh. So we took our place around 20 back in line. After quite a few permits were issued and we neared the door for the office where a friendly ranger asked us where we were trying to go. "Glen Aulin". "Ooh, that's full. But you can take the Murphy Creek trail to Glen Aulin and it only adds a couple of miles." "Sold." We were then told to go into the office and tell them where we're going. But once we stepped up to the second ranger, he informed us that the group before us had more people than they expected and took the last permits. So no Water Wheel. But the ranger pitched Pate Valley and fields full of wildflowers and active bears. We were in Yosemite and an opportunity to see an area I hadn't been before, so we went with it.

We showed up to the trailhead around 10am and found the main road to White Wolf was closed. So we parked along Tioga Road and hiked the mile or so to the trailhead. Once we were on the trail, the fields of wildflowers the ranger told us about were in full bloom. They would reach chest level in some areas and formed a thick blanket for the first mile or two, which was fairly flat. But then we hit the downhill and it was basically switch backs all the way down. We encountered the first group of the day that referred to this section as "the staircase". As we continued to descend, we started getting glimpses of the Tuolumne River and Pate Valley.

Nights: 2
Miles: 22
Type: Out-and-back
Dogs: Nope
Campfires: Nope
Trailhead: Google

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