Thursday, May 17, 2012
Yosemite Falls and Tioga Road

Up at dawn, we immediately set out on our latest attack on the mountains... Ha, ha! Just kidding! We lingered over coffee and peanut butter sandwiches and eventually wandered out of camp around 10:00.

First we headed over to Lower Yosemite Fall. It's about a ten-minute stroll to the base of the fall, where you're too close and it's too wet to get a good picture. On the approach to the fall, though, I got a great pic of both Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls, a 2,425-foot drop in total.

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Lower Yosemite Fall

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Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

Then we started up the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail, which is a brutally steep path, with over a hundred switchbacks in the first mile. We didn't hike all the way to the top of Upper Yosemite, but we went past Columbia Rock Viewpoint and to the base of the fall. The views were outstanding.

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From Columbia Rock Viewpoint

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Half Dome from Columbia Rock

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Upper Yosemite Fall

In the afternoon, we drove out Tioga Pass Road as far as Mono Lake and Lee Vining. The road goes eastward from the valley, up and up and up through the High Sierras, and reaches the park boundary at Tioga Pass, elevation 9,945 feet. This road just opened for the season a week ago, and there was quite a bit of snow yet along the road, with the highest-elevation lakes still frozen over.

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The Sierras from Tioga Road

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Tom plays in the snow

Olmstead Point was a highlight of the drive, with a wide view of the valley from an unusual vantage point. Half Dome just doesn't look like Half Dome from this angle! It was very windy and very cold when we walked out to the point.

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A different view of Half Dome

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Jana at Olmstead Point

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Tenaya Lake

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Along Tioga Road

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Brrrr...

Mono Lake is a 60-square-mile lake in the middle of the high desert that's three times as salty as the ocean and 80 times as alkaline. It has no natural outlet, only inlet streams. As the water evaporates, it leaves salts and minerals behind. It looks otherworldly, like something out of Star Trek.

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Mono Lake, California

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Mono Lake, Mars

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The Sierras from Lee Vining

We returned to Curry Village about 7:30 and feasted at the Pizza Deck. We'd never gotten around to eating lunch today and were famished! The power was out in the shower house tonight, so they had it locked down. We'll have to hit them in the morning.

Note: Got gas today in Lee Vining, $4.99 a gallon. Ouch!

Continue to May 18, 2012

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