California Vacation 2011: Hiking Lembert Dome

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On our second morning in Yosemite, Jason and I embarked on this summer’s “adventure” hike: climbing Lembert Dome.

Now, I use the term “climbing” loosely. There is a trail that weaves through the woods along and behind Lembert Dome. The trail splits for a short side trip to Dog Lake as well. As for the climbing portion, it’s really just walking at a very steep incline. We set out to make it as far as we could.

I failed to have my camera out and to take any pictures during the first mile of the hike. It was bad and reminded us of last summer’s hike, particularly the portion between Vernal and Nevada Falls. It was just a rocky trail with 500 feet of elevation gain in that first mile. Despite all of my running this spring and mileage increase leading into the trip, I once again could not handle the elevation. We had to stop several times for me to catch my breath and for my heart rate to go down. It was very frustrating.

Finally, things evened out and the hike improved greatly.

Jason ready to cross the first of many small streams.
Lembert Dome Hike

We made the quick trip to Dog Lake first. It was so peaceful; Jason could’ve stayed here all day.
Dog Lake

On to Lembert Dome!
Lembert Dome Hike

The side of our ultimate destination.
Lembert Dome Hike

Making the turn to climb the dome…
Lembert Dome Hike

Here’s where we ran into a little trouble. When I was reading about the Lembert Dome hike before we left on vacation, some accounts made it sound like the trail was not well-defined when you hit this point. So when we saw granite slabs that kind of looked like a trail, we turned. Nope. We were wrong.

Lembert Dome Hike

Then we came to what we thought was the dome. So up we went.

Lembert Dome

When we got to the top and looked to the east…Oops!

Lembert Dome

(That point is wrong, too, although we still didn’t realize at this time.)

We took a break on the wrong turn to catch our breath (plus Jason wanted to find an easier way down than the way we came up).

Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome

When we made it down, we saw hikers in the distance on the well-defined trail we didn’t originally make it to. We wound our way around and made it to the base of our real climb.

Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome

Because of the activity involved, not many photos were taken, obviously. After the initial climb, there was a flatter portion, another small bump, and then the final summit. Jason pushed us to continue over the bump, but neither of us had any desire to climb to the summit. In that case, it would have been legitimately climbing. And even if we had made it up, we were both pretty sure we wouldn’t have made it down.

Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome

The point we saw from our first mis-climb. Can you see the people? (They’re right at the tip.)
Lembert Dome

We made just about to where the three people are (just above our heads).
Lembert Dome

Lembert Dome

Instead of retracing our steps, we continued down the opposite side of the dome. It’s steeper, but the trail was full of gentle switchbacks. Even still, it was hard on the knees. I need hiking poles badly.

The trail took us to the short road Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is on and follows the river around to the main meadow.

Hike to Lembert Dome

We came across a lone deer and were basically able to walk right up to it.
Deer

Some people take a much different route up the dome.
Lembert Dome

The beauty of the hike is that we were virtually alone. We didn’t run into any fellow hikers until we turned around from Dog Lake. There was a group of older women and a middle-aged couple on the dome with us, and a few more people were heading up as we were making our way down. But that was it. It was fabulous!

It was a great, short hike (about three hours total), and it definitely provided a minor adrenaline rush (well, maybe more like a major rush for me). I’m not going to lie, it was slightly terrifying for me. I don’t have too many issues with heights except, apparently, in situations like this. I did have to do the butt scoot a couple times as we were making our way down the dome  😕

But hey, I climbed a dome! I’m pretty proud of me  🙂

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4 thoughts on “California Vacation 2011: Hiking Lembert Dome

  1. Jeffrey

    Perhaps you weren’t quite acclimated yet–it can take a few days to get used to being at almost 9,000 feet, and that trail will get you winded fast even if you are acclimated! There’s a temptation when hiking to hike as fast as is vaguely comfortable, but that’s not sustainable. Take a slower pace and it’ll be a lot easier, even though it might seem too slow (at first). (One rule of thumb some people use is that you should be able to hike and talk–if you can’t talk, it’s because you’re breathing too hard because you’re hiking too fast.)

    As for the heights thing, the more time you spend on places like Lembert Dome, the more comfortable you’ll probably get being in those places. Nothing wrong with a butt-scoot: being a little cautious is a good thing, as several Yosemite hikers this year have found out the (really) hard way.

    Reply
    1. Laura Post author

      Good point about hiking too fast. I’m going to guess that this was a bigger problem for me. I’m typically a very fast walker, and I have a hard time pacing myself. Something to work on, just as I’ve been working on it when running.

      I think a little caution on the part of more people is a good idea, all things considered.

      Reply
  2. iris

    I think I butt-scooted parts of the Appalachian Trail when I did a portion of it. Without trekking poles, that really is the way to go.

    Oh, and I hear you on the 500 ft incline over 1 mile. We would totally expend ourselves going a mile, with some ridiculous ascent. It could be altitude issues, or it could just be the fact that running uses different muscles than climbing uphill?

    Reply
  3. Laura Post author

    I’m guessing it was partly an altitude thing and partly a walking-too-fast thing. I’ve always been a very fast walker, and it’s often hard for me to pace myself (I struggle with the same thing when running). We started out too fast, and everything caught up with us too quickly. I guess each trip I’ll learn a little more on how to handle mountain hiking.

    Reply

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