Hiking Stats as of 11/19/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Jun 26, 2013 - Tioga Peak


Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 3.37 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,628 feet

Trip Time: 2:32

Maps and Stats:
The time had come for Kyle and I to set off for Mt. Whitney and a busy 2 1/2 days of travel and hiking. Our plan was to leave my house Wednesday around noon, stop in Yosemite to do an acclimatization hike, then continue on to our hotel in Mammoth Lakes where we would sleep over the 7,000 foot elevation level. Thursday we would pick up our permits and spend some time over 10,000 feet and Friday we would get up early, hike Mt. Whitney and then drive back to my house Friday night. We had not yet decided which peak in Yosemite to climb - I had narrowed it down to Gaylor Peak, which comes in around 11,000 feet and Tioga Peak, which rises to just over 11,500. I had left the decision up to Kyle, and he decided on Tioga Peak.

The trailhead for Tioga Peak is just a couple of miles of driving off of Hwy 120. I had summited Tioga Peak last year in preparation for Whitney and was excited to go up again. We parked at the Gardisky Lake trailhead at about 9,800 feet from where the trail rises quite steeply up towards Gardisky Lake at 10,500 feet. The trail levels off before ending at the lake, however, meaning the last 1,000 feet of elevation gain is off trail and up some moderately steep slopes. This would be a perfect warm up in addition to providing some acclimatization for Whitney.

We started climbing upward - dodging the few areas of brush and vegetation while searching for the faint use trail that I had discovered on my descent last year. Although we could not find the trail, the climbing is rather easy over the scree and rocks. We eventually picked up the trail just before the ridgeline where we encountered the only class 2 portion of the climb, although this was easily navigated. From beyond the ridge boulders it is a simple walk over another 1/5 mile or so to the summit. It only took us a few minutes longer than an hour to make the summit.

From the top we could see Mt. Dana, Tioga Lake and Hwy 20 to the south and the starkly contrasting green Sierra to the west and the dry and desolate desert and Mono Lake to the east. We located the summit register where I found my entry from last year before adding new entries to commemorate this year's trip. It appeared that Tioga Peak gets about 5 visitors a week, and we had been the first to summit since the previous Sunday. This was a little surprising, given the relative tameness of the climb the easy access to the trailhead.

We had planned on spending a couple hours on top, but once we were up there we started being attacked by mosquitos. We retreated to a snowfield thinking the mosquitos might leave us alone but then we didn't really feel like standing around in the snow for 2 hours. I had brought a book to read, and unable to find a comfortable location where the mosquitos would leave me alone, decided that we had done enough after about a half hour on top. We began the descent with fantastic views towards Gardisky Lake and decided that we would pay the Lake a visit rather than heading straight for the trail. Fortunately, we were able to get right up to the edge of the Lake without being attacked by the skeeters. With the daylight starting to wane a bit we made our way back to the trail and descended down towards the car. The entire round trip was a bit less than 3 hours and about 1,600 feet of elevation gain. Off we went towards Mammoth Lakes where we stopped at the Vons to pick up some mosquito repellant before checking in to the Motel 6...

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