Today I hiked up Fresno Dome with my friend Jordan after we had both spent two loud and sleepless days working near Bass Lake. The hike was uneventful, but that was the whole point. Fall colors were everywhere, and the bright yellow and reds sharply contrasted with the dark evergreen forest, making for beatiful views. Surprisingly, the air was clean enough see into the Merced River Canyon below Yosemite Valley, which was quite a sight. To the south, along the Fresno River most of the oaks had begun changing colors, which made the valley look as if it had been filled with a sea of fire.
The last time I hiked the backside, I didn't take the trail. This time I found the trail leaving the parking area heading east even though Fresno Dome was clearly visible to the west. The trail circled much the marsh that lies directly adjacent to the parking area, and then crosses it at a narrow point via a small bridge. From here, the trail was very easy to follow all the way to the small dome northeast of Fresno Dome. Here we found three groups camped out and probably all of them were making attempts on the south face. The trail became a little hard to follow as it dropped to the saddle and wrapped around to the north face of the dome, but by the time it really petered out, our destination was obvious. Even though the trail is longer, I actually made it up faster than I did the last time when I headed cross country most of the way.
There was no summit register, but we were greeted by the sounds of gun fire to the north, and although I'm not an expert, I'd say they were big guns. I found this interesting, because the Yosemite National Park Boundary was in clear sight, and I'd swear the shots were coming from the other side of the ridge...
The noise subsided as we dropped back down into the forest, which seemed unaturally dense. Considering how close this peak is to Fresno, it is amazing that we never saw anybody. If you ever want some peace and quite without putting your life on the line, this would be a perfect destination.
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