The folks in Fresno who administer the program were super helpful in confirming my reservation over the week-end even though their office was closed. I was set for Tuesday night at May Lake!
A slight complication waited at the May Lake Road turn off from the Tioga Highway. Not only was it closed for construction, most of the parking lot was too! Without thinking it through I grabbed the last spot available under the disapproving eye of the construction foreman with his yellow tape in hand. (For future reference I could have gone up the highway to the next trailhead; walked in on that trail).
After recovering from the initial surprise of no parking, I really wasn't too concerned about the longer hike. It would be 3 miles instead of a little over the 1 mile up from the real trailhead. The walk up the road was really very nice, following the little creek that flows down from May Lake.
At Snow Flat I came across a snow survey course, and after some exploration, the snow cabin. (The snow surveyors used these cabins the first of every January, February, March and April in the old days when they skiied the snow survey loops. Note the ladder that accesses into the top of the cabin. Sometimes, if the snow was really deep, they had to dig down to even find the ladder!). The mosquitos ran me off before I could find the current 'snow senors'. Next time I'll explore some more.
The elevation here is 8710, so I had another 500 feet or so in elevation to climb up to the lake. Before long I came to the regular trail head parking, the Wilderness boundary, and the beginning of the trail. No far up the hill I heard the tell-tail 'clip clop' of a mule trail on hollow granite. Love that sound!
That's Mt. Hoffman in the back ground. So, from here on, it's a pretty much straight up climb to the lake that sits right at the base of Hoffman. This was my first high elevation hike this year and I was feeling the elevation; hiking fifty or so yards; resting; repeat!
After the pack trains passed I noticed a strange bull frog like sound echoing around the mountains. It sounded kinda like a saw and I thought, great, more construction! But as it turned out, two male grouse were calling to each other (or more likely, a female). I watched in the brush for them with no luck. A young girl in camp saw one in a tree. The sound must have carried for miles!
The trail abruptly tops the mountain, splits to the left to the back packers camp and to the right to the High Sierra Camp, and there is May Lake!
After getting checked in with the camp manager, Brain, and unloading my pack in my 'private' cabin, I hiked around the lake on the Mt Hoffman trail. (btw, the cabins are dorm style for four).
The cabins are nestled in the trees and blend in better than might be expected.
The sun goes down almost directly behind Mt Hoffman. At 10,000 feet that makes for early shadows on the lake
All the sleeping cabins and the dinning hall are water proof canvas. The kitchen is an small rock building with pine bark slabs for shingles. (An aside, the water tanks are constructed of welded/riveted steel in the same method as ours that Dad created at the HPH in Early Intake in the 60s!).
The lake was like glass at dusk.
And it was cold and with no electricity; wasn't long after dinner before I was in my cozy cot with my alarm set for 5 AM.