Sunrise at May Lake Day three was no joke. And it started after a fairly sleepless night. It was so warm (never dropped below 50 degrees) and I woke up in the middle of the night to watch the meteor shower (which was pretty cool with large streaks running across the sky). Plus, we had talked about getting up early to watch the sun rise and light up Mt. Hoffman. That meant we stirred around 5am and then got out of bed at 5:30am.
We started out at the ridge but then we decided to divide and conquer and I went down to the lake to watch Mt. Hoffman and it’s reflection in May Lake turn rose-colored as the sun came up. I think I got the better deal. The stillness and warmth of the sun on the rock was beautiful.
Our meal plan also included breakfast and we were impressed, again with the incredible spread of food. They even make oatmeal taste good! At first I thought the oatmeal and fresh fruit was the complete meal, but then a spinach and tomato omelet and French toast appeared on the table. Delicious!
Tenaya Lake We left the lake around 9am and the first 3.5 miles down to Tenaya Lake were easy ones. We had planned on picking up food for our third night at the bear bins at the Sunrise trailhead, but after some reassurance from the folks at May, we were confident we could purchase a meal at Sunrise that night. So rather than burden ourselves with more weight, we actually deposited fuel, our pot, stove, utensils, etc. It was liberating!
Before starting the steep and hot climb from Sunrise we stopped in at Tenaya Lake. I hadn’t remembered it being as beautiful as it is. We were so very tempted to go for a swim! From there we climbed 1,150 feet in just 2.5 miles. The trail was paved with granite stones and very much felt like cobblestone. We believe the cobblestones and stairs are to make it easier on the mule trains, but we really didn’t like them. But Lee kept a killer pace and we were to the top pretty darn quickly.
Tenaya Canyon The other hikers on the trail had all stopped at the saddle where the trails joined for lunch. But because Lee had done his research, he knew that just a 100 yards or so off the trail there were great views of Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon. And not only were the views awesome, but we had them all to ourselves. We took our shoes off, rested and enjoyed our lunch while soaking up new views. It was the perfect lunch spot. We could have stayed there for hours. From there we only had 2.5 miles until we reached Sunrise. We past three lakes on the way there before climbing one more ridge that dropped us into the beautiful meadow. We somehow only managed to see two of the three lakes we walked past – Lower and Upper Sunrise lakes. We still don’t know how we missed Middle Sunrise.
Hanging out on the Blob We were the first backpackers to arrive that afternoon and we claimed a fantastic little spot with views of the meadow, tree stumps and shade. From there it was a 5 minute walk or so to the High Sierra Camp – where we confirmed we could indeed dine for the night. With a couple hours to spare before dinner we decided to walk up to the top of the “blob”. A large rock formation behind the camp. It was probably a 10-minute scramble to the top but the views were AWESOME! Lee brought his tripod and took 360 degree views of the Cathedral Mountain Range the Clark Range and others I don’t know while I rested and dozed in and out. It was a really pleasant afternoon.
Cathedral Peaks and Clark Mountain Ranges Sunrise High Sierra Camp was run by mostly women and one male and all of them were super relaxed, earthy or “granola”. They called the campers to dinner with cow bells and drums and made the best dessert we had all week. The entire meal was delicious though. Friday night was “chicken” night and it was served with butter, quinoa, oranges and peaches, fresh bread, salad, asparagus and pumpkin spice cake.
Before turning in for the night we walked in the beautiful meadow. We really liked the tranquility of Sunrise. Pictures from that day are here.