Backpacking Glen Aulin to May Lake in the High Sierra Aug 20 - Aug 23

Posted by Adventure 16 | 09.07.2016

Tuolumne Falls  View after Tuolumne Falls
Tuolumne Falls                                                                                        View after Tuolumne Falls

The Glen Aulin to May Lake was the only wilderness permit available the day we showed up--and we were so thankful it was available! There is a backpacker campground at Tuolumne Meadows, which you are able to stay at one night before your entrance day and the night of your exit day, just in case you need to stay an extra night but we didn't have to use it as we hit the trail and then the road right away.

Bottle water from McGee Lake
Bottled fresh from McGee Lake


We hiked from the Glen Aulin trailhead (off Tioga Road) to McGee Lake. Initially we planned to stay at Glen Aulin, but the campground was so packed we decided to keep hiking and make camp at McGee Lake, adhering to the permit regulations (https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildregs.htm). This was probably the best backpacking experience of the trip, as we were completely devoid of other humans and surrounded only by nature. One of my buddies even saw two bears across the lake while he was fishing!

Kim wilsonKim Wilson and Friend

Altitude Day!                                                                 Gone Wild on Day 2

Altitude day--yay! Hiking steep switchbacks in exposed sun isn't necessarily fun, but the views from the top were absolutely breathtaking! Eventually, when your feet start to feel like anvils, you pass through a meadow which opens up to the sights and sounds of May Lake. Beware, this is another crowded campground it is split between backpackers and those that come up from the May Lake parking lot and "glamp" in fancy white tents with cots and eat catered meals.


View of Tenaya Lake coming down from May Lake
View of Tenaya Lake coming down from May Lake


My group decided they didn't want to summit Mount Hoffman nor continue on to Cathedral Lakes (as we were permitted to do), and instead chose to hang out by the lake before heading down to hitch hike or shuttle back to our cars. And as we got into our trucks, it was a good decision as thunder storms rolled in as we drove off.

Overall, it was a great backpacking trip with good people (my husband, Nic, and his co-workers). The weather was perfect--a good balance of warm days and chilly nights. The mosquitoes even stayed away!


Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 OutDry BackpackLooking back on the trip, my favorite piece of gear was my new Mountain Hardwear Ozonic 58 OutDry Backpack -- a women's specific, completely waterproof, full-featured, yet lightweight and comfortable multi-day backpack! 

I've been using youth packs for the last couple of years because they were the only ones that fit my short torso. But never again! The Ozonic 58 fit perfectly and carried my whopping 25lbs of gear easily (Thank goodness for a husband and the Gregory Baltoro 75 that carries 45lbs easily).

If you haven't done Glen Aulin to May Lake, do it! It's an easy 3-day trip that will give you lasting memories. And if you don't want to hitch hike, leave a car at the May Lake parking lot. :)