We were making our way towards Yosemite when I started googling places to grab a morning bite to eat. This is what led us to the Mountain Sage café. It's located in Groveland, just outside the park limits - on 120. It looked closed (a scenario of “no you go first”), but we went it anyway – finding the most unique little breakfast place– with absolutely amazing, home cooked food and an adorable garden. Take our word, it is a must if you are heading into Yosemite from San Fran and do not want to be clobbered by people).
As we ordered, we ran into a family member of the café that was getting ready to take his kid and their class on a hike up Mt. Hoffman. We chatted a bit about where to go, and what to do in the Yosemite Valley and we all went on our way.
That day we explored the Yosemite Valley and with a very late start (and no permit), made a failed attempted to at least get below the half dome ropes on Half Dome Trail. But we kept thinking about the High Peaks region – so they next day – that is what we did.
Getting to Mt. Hoffman was fairly easy - it's right off Tioga Pass Road, taking the May Lake turnoff. Once you hit the parking lot - lock up any food in the car, then take the May Lake Trailhead).
The first bit up to May Lake is very casual. The landscape changes from rock to forest back to rock - but it's a very short stint to May Lake.
Stopping at the lake is worth it- it’s really rather pretty. They also have camping spots here - so note if you want to stay overnight. There are a few people around, but there weren't many. We even got the chance to compliment a group of people on their beautiful dog that ended up being not their dog, but a wolf passing by.
As you continue on the trail, you will see a peak – and that entire time you will assume it is the summit. It is not! I had a bout of elevation sickness so I once we got out of a forest area and hit open rock and saw the "summit" in view, I was hopeful. Once you get there, you will realize quickly the trail continues among a vast flat alpine area.
The view is beautiful, the hike is calm and there are Marmots everywhere. We stopped to take a bunch of photos of the Marmots and then headed towards the rocky peak.
If you have read our stories – you will know that I am ‘semi- uncomfortable’ (but getting better) with specific heights. I can safely say that this was an ‘uncomfortable’ part of the hike for me. We were on our hands and knees rock climbing up to the peak. It was tough for me, Tom had raced up about twice before grabbing my hand to lift me up to the peak. Once there, we celebrated, met a group of teens who had just got to the top and shared some salami.
It didn’t take us long to make it down and the views heading back were spectacular. The hike took about 3 hours, and was just under 11,000ft in elevation. All in all, it is a must see if you are in Yosemite, want to escape the Yosemite Valley crows and get some spectacular views.