Weekend Adventure: Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip
Alex and I secured permits for our almost-annual Glen Aulin Backpacking Trip in March and Josh and Amie from California Through my Lens decided to join us for a long weekend in Yosemite’s backcountry.
We made our way up to Mammoth Lakes, California late Friday afternoon. We got in around 10:00 p.m. and even though I was bummed we didn’t get to spend more time in one of my favorite places in the world, the familiar smell in the air as we opened the doors at our motel for the night had me at ease. It was a longer than usual drive to Mammoth thanks to traffic and I was tense from the time spent in the car, but one deep breath of fresh Mammoth air had me the most relaxed I had been in weeks.
Day 1: Getting to Camp
I hadn’t been sleeping well that week and that night was no exception. I gave up around 6:00 in the morning and walked to Stellar Brew for our first round of drinks and breakfast burritos. We told our friends we would meet them at 7:45 at the cafe to discuss our plan for the day, but I wanted a walk in the cold air and to have some time to let my burrito settle before heading into Yosemite for a long weekend.
The plan: get into Yosemite National Park and get our permits before 10:00 a.m. and get to the trailhead by 11:00 a.m.
We were on the trail at a great time and the weather was perfect for our adventure. The water levels were very low to non-existent along the trail, but the views were still impressive. Alex and I have only backpacked in this area in July, so a difference of two months is noticeable.
Time from trailhead to camp: 3 1/2 hours. We didn’t stop for a proper lunch but there were plenty of short breaks for photos and time-lapse videos.
We set up camp away from the high sierra camp and Josh found a great tree for his hammock. Our campsite was big and there weren’t many people staying in the campground so we were able to spread out a bit. The views we had were great and we could tell that sunset was going to be amazing. Alex decided he wanted an extra photo and took a bit of walk to the other side of the cliff and zoomed in a bit to take the photo above to show off our kickbutt camping spot.
We spent some time down by the waterfall (I washed a lot of trail dust from my legs and face in the ice cold water) before making dinner and setting ourselves up on a cliff above the camp to catch the beautiful sunset.
Day Two: A Very Active Rest Day
Sunday was our rest day. We got up at a leisurely time and decided to head out on a 6-mile hike to the Waterwheel waterfalls.
It ended up be a lot more hiking than I expected and we got caught in a wonderful afternoon thunderstorm. The upside? We ended up having a cloudless sky in time for dinner and another beautiful sunset!
I will share more about the Waterwheel hike in a future post.
The weather cleared up before dinner and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky by the time the sun set.
Day 3 – Packing Up and Getting Fries
Packing up the next morning was slow but once the sun made it to our campsite, we were ready to go. We were in the last group of hikers to leave the campground that morning. Many hikers were continuing their journey to different campgrounds and others (like us) were returning to the trailhead and home. We didn’t run into many dayhikers until we were about a mile and a half from the trailhead.
It took about 3 1/2 hours to get back to our cars because I needed to take some extra breaks at the start…there is just so many stairs! I could power up a few switchbacks but quickly burned out. We had a good constant pace and the group was good about stopping at important junctions of the trail to make sure we were all in one piece.
That morning we discussed stopping for lunch at the world famous Whoa Nellie Deli. We knew Alex and Amie would need to order the famous fish tacos and Josh and I were up to the challenge of ordering something delicious when we arrived. Knowing that french fries were in my future helped me power through the hike and get to the car quickly.
Alex and Amie got the fish tacos, Josh got a grilled chicken sandwich and added bacon, and I went all in with a bacon cheeseburger and fries with a Pepsi. We ran into each other again in Bishop at The Looney Bean, which is a favorite stop of ours, and we split up a the last McDonald’s on the route before we headed into the desert…Josh and Amie love the $1 iced tea!
You can watch our trip in Josh’s video on YouTube!
The best thing I did was pack a hot/cold reuseable bag with some snacks to stow in the bear lockers at the trailhead. I left a gatorade and some nectarines in there, which were nice and cold when we returned a few days later. Plan to not have very much space in the bear lockers and be considerate of other trail users by not having too much to stow in there. You do want to remove anything from your vehicle that has a smell including wrappers, fruit peels, and lip balm. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
This wasn’t our first time heading to Glen Aulin:
- Our first time to Glen Aulin Backpacker’s Campground. This post includes more photos of the trail.
- Our second time to Glen Aulin Backpacker’s Campground – this time with first time backpackers!
- Our first backpacking trip in Yosemite. We started on the Glen Aulin Trail and looped over to Young Lakes.