Trip Number: 12146A
Staff: Tony Bellaver
- Create your journal or scrapbook of the trip
- Share artistic ideas with like-minded members
- Experience Yosemite's high country and spectacular vistas
- Journaling art instructor
- Opportunities for reflection on two relaxed layover days
- All meals, group cook gear, including stoves and bear canisters
Unfortunately, this trip has been cancelled. If you
have questions, please
Photo: Mary V. Marsh
This trip is designed for creative hikers interested in translating their
backpacking wilderness experience into a creative form. For the leaders, trekking
is the framework to paint, draw, or Haiku our nature experience into an artist's
book or journal. This 25-mile all-trail loop though the alpine splendor of Yosemite's
Cathedral Range discovers the granite high country of Yosemite, and leaves leisure
time for artistic endeavors. Under the insightful encouragement of our journal
instructor, Mary V. Marsh, we'll have time to write, draw, or collage our way
through the "Range of Light." Our alpine ramble takes us from Lyell
Canyon on the John Muir Trail, up to Ireland Lake, through Vogelsang Sierra
High Camp, to Emeric Lake and back to Tuolumne Meadows via the Rafferty Creek
Trail. We will also have time on two layover days to explore Yosemite vistas
and peaks not only on foot but with paint. On the trip we'll find and share
new ways to express our enjoyment of the wilderness through personal artistic
expressions. During early evenings, we can show and share our journals in a
non-threatening environment around the dining area. For this trip, it's expected
that participants have an artistic background and participate in the journaling
process, as well as have novice backpacking experience.
Day 1: We will meet Tuesday, September 11th at 9 a.m. in
the Tuolumne Meadows campground (8,550 feet elevation) and share a group breakfast.
We'll spend the first half of the day with the trip's journaling instructor,
organizing the supplies needed for our journals. After lunch, we'll take off
with our day packs to the top of Lembert Dome, a nearby favorite place, to begin
our journaling experience.
Day 2: In the morning, fresh and inspired by our first day,
we'll divide the group commissary equipment and discuss basic techniques for
trekking and loading packs. We will begin with a gentle 5.3-mile trek on the
John Muir Trail, following the rushing waters of the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne
River. Our first camp will be in tranquil Lyell Canyon at 8,900 ft.
Photo: Tony Bellaver
Day 3: After breakfast and a leisurely morning, we'll continue
our adventure. We'll trek 4.5 miles, first on switchback trails through lodge
pole pines, then up to Ireland Lake, which is nestled at 10,735 ft. in the high
country! This is our largest single-day elevation gain, of 1,835 ft.
Day 4: Our first scheduled layover day allows us the opportunity
to shed life's woes and dream in the experience of nature. With the group art
materials, we can draw, paint, or write under the grandeur of Amelia Earhart
and Parsons peaks, which shadow Ireland Lake. We'll also have opportunity for
day hike exploration.
Day 5: This will be one of the longer hiking days, close to
8 miles through spectacular vistas of the Cathedral Range. The day begins with
a slight elevation gain and a wrinkle in the landscape as we pass Evelyn and
Fletcher Lakes, and Vogelsang Sierra High Camp on our way to camp at Emeric
Lake (9,330 ft.), where we can enjoy the evening stars by a campfire.
Day 6: Our second layover day lets us be "in the moment,"
reflecting on wilderness in our own personal way without the pressure to travel.
Whether through photography, writing, or just exploring the incredible scenery
in the "Range of Light," everyone can find their place and explore
Day 7: With an inspired step, we'll gather ourselves and
head back to Tuolumne Meadows, following the gently downhill, freestone charm
of Rafferty Creek, for about 9 miles. We expect to get back to our cars by late
afternoon on the final day, however we cannot guarantee a specific time. To
be safe and allow enough time for the drive out, we advise that participants
not plan return flights until the following day.
The route and itinerary are a general plan and may be changed due to unforeseen
conditions or circumstances. Snow conditions, stream runoff, progress of the
group, campsite availability, and other factors may require the leaders to make
adjustments. Please plan to be flexible and bring a good sense of humor to the
We will meet at the Tuolumne Meadows Campground at 9 a.m.on the first day.
It is not mandatory, but the leaders strongly suggest that everyone arrive the
night before to help acclimate to the high elevation.
The closest airports are located in Fresno, California, approximately 150
miles away, and Reno, Nevada, approximately 180 miles away. Alternatives include
the San Francisco and Oakland airports, both about a 250-mile drive from Tuolumne
Meadows. While there is currently no direct route to Tenaya Lake via public
transportation, it is possible to get there by a using a combination of bus
and train if you are willing to spend a couple of extra days doing so. A roster
of trip participants will be sent out well in advance of the trip to assist
those who wish to share rides and/or rental cars.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Mimi Moncier
The trip price does not include car camping at Tuolumne Meadows Campground
on September 10th, the night before the trip officially begins. Our first meal
will be breakfast at the campground on September 11th. Our final meal
will be lunch on the last day of the trip, September 17th.
Our meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) will feature hearty recipes
that include meat, fish, and vegetables. Soup and dessert will accompany each
dinner. We are happy to accommodate vegetarians, however other special diets
can be very difficult to accommodate. If you prefer vegetarian meals or have
other special dietary requirements, contact the leader to see if all your needs
can be met. Snack bags are provided for each trip member to carry, so you will
always have something to nosh on. Every effort is made to include a wide variety
of nutritious and tasty foods to fuel our adventure. Trip participants take
turns serving on cook crews and performing various camp chores. The leaders
will manage the stoves and assist, as needed, in meal preparation.
The trip is rated 2 on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being our easiest trip and 5 being
our most difficult). This rating reflects an average, and needs to be put in
relation with the whole spectrum of backpack trips that the Sierra Club National
Outings program is offering. That means that as a novice, you might find some
days to be much harder than others, despite the rating. All of our hiking will
be on established and pretty well-graded trails. Wet creek crossings are possible.
Carrying a heavy pack (40-45 pounds) for several days, especially on prolonged
uphill stretches, is a strenuous aerobic activity and is not suitable for everyone.
In order to enjoy this trip, participants need to be in good physical condition.
Regular aerobic exercise (such as treadmill, running, swimming, biking, or hiking)
during the 3-4 months before the trip is essential. The best physical preparation
for a backpack trip is going day hikes. Make sure your hiking shoes are well
broken-in. Include in your conditioning plan an occasional long walk, while
carrying pack weight on trail. As well as endurance, you need leg strength;
be able to lift yourself and your pack the equivalent of two stairs at a time.
Our campsites are between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, so acclimatization to the
altitude is also essential. If you are not used to these elevations, you might
want to consider arriving a couple of days earlier and acclimatizing by doing
easy day hikes in Yosemite National Park. There is plenty to see and to do!
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Mary V. Marsh
Some journaling supplies will be available to the group to share over the
course of the trip. A basic set of water colors, color pencils, and paper will
be in a communal area each day. Members of the trip are encouraged to bring
their own supplies however, especially if you have something favorite you like
In addition to basic art supplies and food, the Sierra Club will provide all
cooking gear (stove, fuel, pots, and pans), and offer a variety of water treatment
options, group first-aid kit, tarp and the bear-proof canisters used for food
storage. Your clothing needs to be stored in waterproof stuff sacks or plastic
bags. Sleeping bags need to be wrapped in a plastic bag to stay dry. If your
tent is not freestanding, we recommend bringing some cord to tie it down, because
staking might be difficult in some places. If you have a large tent (for more
than one person), please consider sharing it with another trip member in order
to keep your pack weight down.
All participants should keep their personal pack weight below 25 pounds (not
including hiking boots and water). The weight of the commissary gear is about
15 pounds per person. We will weigh all packs before we start, and people whose
personal gear is too heavy might need to leave some non-essential items behind.
Please think ahead about what you want to bring.
Also keep in mind that you must have the additional capacity in your pack for
about one large grocery bag. This will be the volume of the bear canister or
commissary gear for each person. Most of it is sturdy (non-squeezable).
Your gear will be much easier and safer to carry if it is tucked away inside
your pack and not dangling on the outside.
Photo: Mimi Moncier
On this trip, we will spend some time discussing public lands and wilderness
protection. There are areas adjacent to both Yosemite National Park and the
Ansel Adams Wilderness that still need protection. The proposed California Wild
Heritage Act includes these lands, among others, as additions to our existing
wilderness areas. You can find more information on this important proposal at:
The Sierra Club Outings program provides an excellent opportunity for members
to discuss current problems while also celebrating past conservation victories.
Trip participants are encouraged to come prepared to share and discuss issues
affecting their home communities as well.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from Yosemite National Park.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Tony Bellaver is a native Californian and loves the art of journaling as much as he enjoys coffee and fly-fishing. He has been an Artist and Dreamer his whole life and embraces the responsibility that goes with it. When he's not working in his studio, he's off hiking with Mary V. Marsh and his dogs Reba and Luna. To learn more about Tony go to:
Joanne will be staffing her fourth Sierra Club season, her second stint with Tony and Mary. Spending time in the Sierra much of her life (her family has a cabin near Wawona), Joanne has a keen love and passion for the Sierra granite covered routes and peaks of Yosemite. Joanne enjoys cooking and brings this love on our trip. She currently lives in San Francisco and can't wait to get back up in the high country.
Mary V. Marsh was born in Portland, Oregon where she grew up playing under the Douglas Fir trees. She has exhibited her paintings, drawings, and artist books in many venues around the Bay Area. She received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1992, where she met her soulmate Tony Bellaver. Happiest when drawing from nature, she keeps journals in handmade signatures that are full of drawings and writing from backpacking trips and her daily travels.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips