Last week I went on my annual pilgrimage to the beautiful glory of Tuolumne Meadows. It's one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. My family has been going to Tuolumne Meadows together since I was in high school. Back in the day, we sometimes had a huge group : my grandparents, my mom and her sisters, my cousin, my brother, occasional significant others, and on and on. But this year, it was just my mom, my aunties, and me. It was sweet and easy and low-key, and totally wonderful.
lunchin' in the central valley
Our Yosemite vacation starts with a long road trip from the sea to the mountains. This year we decided on a Bring-Your-Own-Lunch plan. We stopped in Los Banos, where the temperature was around 100F. We found a park with shaded picnic trees and had a nice lunch together. Everyone had odds and ends from cleaning out their fridge before leaving town.
I had a nectarine, an apple, a great sandwich with grilled veggies and cilantro hummus, and water -- all transported in my fancy new tote bag from Herbivore Clothing.
mom, me, and a huge box of delicious figs
Further along our journey, we made another stop because my aunt knew of a fig tree in an empty lot that wasn't spoken for. Between the four of us, we quickly filled a box with beautiful, ripe figs. Our hands were covered in sticky fig goo, so the next stop was to find a fast food joint where we could all four pile into the bathroom and wash our hands. Ha ha ha. What a sight that must have been.
This was my usual camp breakfast: a good cup of hot coffee, a Vigilant Eats cup of oatmeal, and several figs. Such a delicious and satisfying start to the day.
me and my special buddy!!!
When we go camping, I usually wake up quite early and sneak off to do my yoga practice before anyone else wakes up. It's cold in the morning in the mountains, but also so beautiful. On my very last morning, I was practicing around 6:30 am in my favorite spot, when a long black animal ran right up to the rocks in front of my mat, turned around and stared at me!! We looked and looked at each other for what felt like quite a while. Then I made a little movement and he got scared and hid under the rocks. I felt bad knowing he was hiding under there, feeling scared, so I got up and walked about 20 feet away, and he was so fast I barely saw him dart back into the trees. I thought he was a weasel, but when I got home and looked around online... it turns out that it was a MINK!! How amazing is that?! It was a super special experience for sure.
Our daily lunch preparation station. My two aunties are also vegan, and my mom is just extremely easy-going and agreeable. My aunt Laura and I did the food planning for the trip and we just decided that we would have baked tofu sandwiches everyday. This makes planning super easy and efficient, and honestly, when you've gone on a good hike, one of these sandwiches is extremely satisfying. We also brought along tangerines, and I brought a big bag of bars and snacks for people to choose from. Because my family members are so civilized and well-organized, there is even a table cloth for us to spread out over the bear boxes when we prepare our lunches each day.
my lunch at Lower Gaylor Lake
A pretty sweet place to eat lunch and hang out.
We saw a million tadpoles, a couple little frogs, and heard a bunch of super loud birds.
after lunch snack along the Lyell Fork.
After eating, reading my book, and doing a few crossword puzzles with my mom and auntie, I went for a nice long dip in the water. It's always cold, but this year the water temperature was quite tolerable. It's so fun to swim in the beautiful high sierras! Also, I like these PureFit bars a lot!
happy with my tofu sandwich!
dinner on night two: Tuolumne Tacos!
There are restaurants available in Tuolumne -- in fact we ate at the Tuolumne Lodge our first night. The food there is a little pricey, but there were a few legit vegan options, which was a huge improvement over previous years. But, if we had eaten there all four nights, we would have gotten pretty tired of the same few options. So, we planned to cook our own food for most of our dinners.
It turns out that tacos are a super easy and delicious and satisfying camping dinner!! We had black beans, homemade pico de gallo salsa, tomatoes, lime, avocado, and even nooch! Oh man these were so tasty!
Our dinner spot at the base of Lembert Dome
I'm not really a regular camper, but my aunts are -- so they had all the good stuff you need to cook your own dinners: camp stoves, pots and pans, systems for cleaning the dishes with minimum water, and so on. It was great to learn from them! Isn't this a beautiful place to eat dinner?
This night we had veggie burgers, which were delicious. I didn't take a picture though, because I was hungry and lazy, and my tooth was hurting a little. Well guess what? When we got back to the campground, I realized that I had broken my tooth! ACK!
post-tooth-breaking simplified lunch
Breaking my tooth had me plenty freaked out, but I didn't want to spoil our vacation and come home early. So, I changed my meal plan and pretty much only ate super soft foods on the other side of my mouth for the rest of our trip. Lucky for me, the store at Tuolumne Meadows does sell baked tofu, so instead of eating a sandwich, I just ate a whole pack of tofu. It was actually pretty satisfying and prevented me from fainting with hunger exhaustion.
see the cute little Belding Ground Squirrel?
near Lower Gaylor Lake
Guess what I had while everyone else enjoyed Taco Night 2.0? I had another pack of tofu! It's a little "ha ha," and a little "I feel sorry for myself." Apologies to the soy people, but I have no regrets. I was super grateful for such a nourishing and healthy and soft food that I could eat. In fact, I ate a third pack of tofu on our drive home too. I just really didn't want to mess up my darned tooth!
Plus I also had some beans and salsa, which was a nice toasty addition.
(ps. I went to the dentist asap when we got home and they are fixing it up)
At night I made myself a toasty cup of Maccaccino -- it's a hot beverage made with roasted maca. I really like the flavor a lot; it's a little bitter just like coffee is. The only thing I don't love about it is that it tends to get a little gritty at the end of the cup... but I can live with it. It's nice to have some good coffee alternatives!
We all enjoyed playing some competitive rounds of multi-player solitare at night... and probably even do a couple crossword puzzles together too. A while back, I bought a book of NYT crossword puzzles. They are pretty hard for me on my own (e.g. nearly impossible), but with the help of my mom and my auntie, we could almost always speed right through them! It was so fun!
from Lower Gaylor Lake, looking toward Cathedral Peak
A male mule deer, in the meadows alongside the Tuolumne River
Here are a few last scenes from our time in Tuloumne. If you ever have the chance to go there, I highly recommend it. It's such a special, majestic, beautiful place. The space there is just so HUGE and there are no crowds. Every year we see so much wildlife and so many wildflowers, and so much beauty.