After I completed my hike on the Sierra High Route, which I will write more about soon, I spent a week in Tuolomne Meadows with Karen. I rested for a day and a half, and then we decided to head back into the high country to climb Vogelsang Peak. I had camped below the peak on my last night on the previous trip. It is a beautiful peak, though fairly easy to climb if you pick the right route.
We snagged a permit from the backcountry office in Tuolomne, then packed up enough food for two nights. Our plan was to hike up to the base of the peak near Vogelsang Lake (about 7 miles from the trailhead) then camp and climb the peak the following morning. We knew it wouldn't take more than a few hours to finish the climb, so we planned to get back to camp, then move to beautiful Evelyn Lake to spend a relaxing afternoon and our second night.
The hike up to the lake was cool and sunny and got more alpine and beautiful with every step. The high country was shockingly dry (in late July 2013) from a very sparse previous winter. Rafferty Creek, which drains a large watershed near Vogelsang, was bone dry. Most of the meadows were covered in dry, golden grass that looked more like typical mid-fall conditions than peak summer.
After a somewhat windy night we arose to perfect clear blue skies and chiily temperatures just above freezing. A leisurely breakfast and plenty of coffee delayed our start as the sun rapidly warmed us.
Vogelsang Peak is quite popular due to its asthetic nature, great position in the heart of the Cathedral Range, and its proximity to the popular Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. Despite the perfect conditions, we were the only people on the peak that day. The best route up the peak takes a fairly direct line to the north ridge, aiming for a point several hundred yards north (right, from Vogelsang Lake) of the summit. This route is easier than it looks, with a little bit of routefinding as you near the final gullies just below the summit ridge. After some easy scrambling in the gullies, it's a simple matter to pick your way along the ridgeline to the summit.
The view from the summit of Vogelsang Peak is spectacular. You get a nice view of the "back side" of Half Dome, and the upper flanks of El Cap. Much of the Yosemite High Country is spread out around you - Mathes Crest, Cathedral Peak, Fletcher Peak, the Lyell area peaks....too many to name, and many I don't know. The polished and rounded domes of northern Yosemite roll off into the distance, dotted by trees and and water, and beckoning for another day.
After taking in all the view and sun we could, we decided to traverse down the south ridge and over to Vogelsang Pass, eventually joining a trail which would take us back to camp. This descent involves one moderately steep and loose gully, but is mostly gorgeous terrain and moderate hiking. This ascent/descent combination is highly recommended. The morning and position were so perfect that we went as slowly as possible, taking lots of breaks to look around at every lake and valley and far off glacier. Our final break was at Vogelsang Pass, where it was easy to see more valleys and ridges, tucked away from trails, and also tucked away in our minds for another day, and another summer.