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I had originally planned to do a hike to Bunnell Point above Little Yosemite Valley, but the smoke that had filled the Valley the past two days was originating from up in that area so I decided to find something else. Devils Dance Floor is a minor summit on the north rim at its far western end. It is most easily reached from the Tamarack Flat Campground, a short mile-long hike with modest gain. There is informal parking for day use outside the campground boundary which is marked along the road. When I arrived at the turnoff on SR120 around 7a I was surprised to see the road gated with a sign, "Camp Full". Did they close the gate at night to keep from disturbing the campers? Another car that was already there when I arrived took off soon after it was apparent that no one was coming to open the gate at 7a. Would they open it at 8a? The campground is 3mi from SR120 so it seemed I could probably walk down the road to get there around 8a. No sense waiting around, I figured, so I parked the van and heading out.
A sign near the start says "Rough Road" but it appears to have been recently paved and was as smooth a road as one could imagine though fairly narrow. It looked pretty clean, too, with hardly any debris on the road which made me expect it was still being used for the season. A few deer along the way ran off as I approached, but otherwise it was a nice hike through the woods, dropping in elevation from about 7,000ft at the start to 6,300ft (this is one of those hikes where you start off higher than the summit you're after) when I reached the campground. I found the place deserted and judging from the tags still left on the posts outside the campsites, it had just closed the previous weekend - good thing I didn't wait until 8a for someone to open the gate because I'd still be sitting there. Despite the plague warning on the bathroom door I used the facilities before continuing on, wandering through the campground in a southerly direction until I crossed a dry creek and started up a modest slope out of the drainage. I reached a large, open granite slab area south of the highpoint that seemed flattish and might qualify for the Devils Dance Floor, but upon reaching the summit I found it, too, to be broad and flattish and equally worthy of the name. There was a benchmark located here as well, labeled as "Dance Hall." The views here could be decent if it weren't for the smoke filling much of the Valley to the south. The sunshine felt good with nary a breeze and I took about 20min to relax and warm myself in the sun. This seems like it would make a good nap spot.
After returning to the campground, I hiked back up the road, this time disturbing a juvenile bear that was minding its own business on the side of the road. When it spotted me approaching it looked up, pausing only briefly before darting off into the woods almost silently. I didn't even have enough time to get a snapshot off before it was out of sight. It was 10a by the time I had hiked most of the road back to the highway and noticed on my GPSr that there was an easy bonus peak only half a mile away, practically next to the highway. I wandered cross-country over that way (coming across an old corral along the way), tagged the non-descript summit and mosied back to where I'd left the van. It was barely 10:30a but seemed a good time to start for home. I'd be back again in a few weeks if all went well...
This page last updated: Sun Oct 22 07:55:01 2017
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