Over Tioga and Through Yosemite

June 14, 2010 · 0 comments

in Americana,Mountain,National Parks,Valley

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We’ve known for a few days now that we’d be heading to the family reunion in Denver via the California Zephyr, but it wasn’t until late last night that we decided to take a different route to get us closer to Sacramento, opting to make an entire day out of the trip. Instead of going the straight-shot route back toward Sacramento, we figured we’d take the Eastern Sierra Byway through Mono County down to Tioga Pass and across Yosemite on Tioga Road. Yes, it would take several more hours, but that was part of the allure to this route!

So after waking up at the crack of dawn this morning, we left our home-base of these past two weeks to head south on US-395 toward our first stop of the day: Mono Lake. It’s a beautiful drive through this area, with farms dotting the landscape to the east and west and the occasional charming town appearing along the way. Lucky timing on our part: driving through one of these little towns before 7:00 am, we spotted an elderly gentleman—probably in his mid-80s—carrying half a dozen American flags, standing them on each of the four corners at the town’s only intersection. We honked at him and he saluted us . . . he was celebrating Flag Day.

On to Mono Lake, where we stopped for a bit to admire the thousands of gulls that use its shore as a resting/breeding grounds. Viewing it from the overlook high above was stunning, and standing at its edge was equally spectacular. Already, we were thrilled with our choice to “go the long route.”

On to Tioga Road we went, climbing . . . and climbing . . . and climbing. Just near the 10,000′ mark, we entered Yosemite for the second time in the past six or so weeks, ready to see a part of the Park attracts a fraction of the number of visitors who head toward the valley. The entire Tioga Road all the way through toward Big Oak Flat was intense: ascents and descents, hairpin turns, snow-melt rushing over the narrow road. And the scenery—the remarkable vistas throughout! Mirror-clear mountain lakes surrounded by snow dotted the road near the pass, serving as a prelude to what Olmsted Point would offer . . . a ridiculous view of  Half Dome in the distance. Neither photograph nor written description do it any justice—you simply have to stand there at the viewpoint and marvel at what you’re witnessing. We were both at a loss for words; really, what could we say about viewing just how the mountains and valleys were born?!?

Anyhow, it’s been a long day, and our senses are exhausted along with our bodies. What a wonderful way to spend a day . . . more proof that while choosing the most direct path from point A to point B may be the quickest way, it certainly isn’t always the most rewarding way!

See more photos of Tioga Pass below and in our gallery. And see our photos of Yosemite Valley.

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