When I saw the dead deer in the middle of the highway I should have realized that was a bad sign.
It was six a.m. and barely light out but just enough sunlight eased over the mountain pass to make out a dead Bambi at the trailhead?
I had researched the Clouds Rest hike online and had pretty specific instructions how to get to Clouds Rest from Lake Teneya; Park at the trailhead ( I assumed it would be marked and not just by a dead Bambi next to a drought strickened lake.) near the west end of the lake and cross the inlet.
I saw no signs for Clouds Rest but I thought ( I had not been up Highway 120 to Yosemite National Park in two years) this had to be it, it was the west side of Lake Teneya after all.
So we started hiking across the inlet ( bone dry; I was so sad the gorgeous lake I remembered was so miserably drought stricken and much, much smaller now)
I knew this hike was only about 2,000 feet of altitude gain and I knew a mile in there were 1,000 feet of altitude gain, all switch backs. As I crossed the inlet then a gorgeous meadow the trail was getting so steep, following alongside a raging creek and I was guessing I was already gaining a good eight hundred feet in altitude.
I stopped to speak to some other hikers and good thing I did… I was on the Mt Dana trail! One of the hardest hikes around this area! ( I know, as one of my good friends had done this Mt Dana hike!) I had hiked a mile almost straight up hill when I talked to these guys who pointed out to me I was at Tiago Lake not Teneya Lake!
I hadn’t seen the sign for the lake as it was still dark when I rolled through! That is why I remember Teneya Lake being so glorious; it was a completely different lake and actually this hike I wanted to do starts inside of Yosemite National Park! I knew Clouds Rest was inside the park but in my head I remembered the little lake outside the park and I just assumed that was the correct starting point.
I thanked these helpful guys as I felt like a total ding ding and started quickly down the super steep trail back to my Subaru. At least this little hike was a good warmup for my day ahead!
Than I slammed my thumb in the door of my Subaru!
I will have a purple thumbnail to remind me for a few weeks of my very short assent of Mt Dana!
More Yosemite adventures to come; like swimming in an inside out sports bra ( yup, it was just one of those kind of days)