Continued from previous post : http://wp.me/p73yZZ-3n2
During our last hike on June 25, there was a discussion regarding the imminent opening of Tioga Pass on Hway 120 for 2017. Tioga Pass, at an elevation of 9943 ft, remains closed to public during winter. Due to heavy snow during winter of 2016 – 2017, we were not sure when the pass would open for vehicular traffic. We decided to keep in touch and visit at the earliest opportunity. Fellow hiker, Rajiv , emailed on Tuesday night that the pass would open on June 28 and we should plan to go either on Thursday or Friday. It was a short notice. I did not see the e-mail till Wednesday morning. Quick phone calls and e-mails followed and we decided to go on Friday morning.
PART 3: June 30, 2017 : Friday: To the Mountain
As luck would have it, I had to remove one of my wisdom teeth,my first, on Thursday morning (narrated here : http://wp.me/p73yZZ-3lD ). My wife was reluctant to let me go as I was in much pain the whole of Thursday. Luckily the bleeding stopped late at night though I was having difficulty eating anything except liquid food. Boy, am I glad I decided to go.
Three of us were driving separately to our friend Amit’s house and from there taking his car for the journey starting at 5:00 AM. I decided to wake up early enough to take care of my tooth (or the open cavity ) and have some breakfast as I was famished from my liquid diet of the day before. Though I started from home early enough for the 15 minutes drive to Amit’s house, in the dark and most probably due to lack of sleep, I took a wrong turn on the exit from the freeway. Luckily the wrong turn led to a dead end to a small shopping complex and I realized my mistake before going on a wild goose chase. No harm done except for a few minutes of anxiety and frantic calls from my wife and Amit trying to figure out my whereabouts. To make a long story short, we started about 20 minutes lates from our planned starting time of 5:00 AM.
Journey was uneventful. There was not much traffic on the road to Yosemite National Park so early in the morning. We reached our planned breakfast point near Oakdale and then realized that we were so early that very few establishments were open. Thank God for the fast food restaurants. We had a quick breakfast at a Burger King and proceeded towards Yosemite. As I had to show some TLC to my lost wisdom teeth, I stuck to soft food only and had to forgo the temptations of Indian snacks. We arrived the gates of Yosemite national Park quite early and took the left turn to HWay 120 towards Tioga Pass and arrived at Olmsted Point (8300 ft) around 9:30 Am.
Olmsted Point is visited by so many visitors every year and there are so much information available that it is an wastage of time blogging about it. As the crowd at Olmsted Point was already sizeable and there were tour buses and tour guides busy explaining about the vistas, we decided to cross HWay 120 and hike up the mountain on the opposite side of HWay 120.
I am always amazed at the natural stone tile formation at Olmsted point. Did humans learn about tile work from nature?
As we started hiking up the mountain, people were thinning out. Soon we four were the only ones left out there to enjoy the vista. And what a vista was that. We were rewarded with views of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Lake Tenaya and snow capped mountains of eastern Sierra.
A few marmots were playing hide and seek and keeping company.
Here and there were nature clinging to the bare stone faces of the mountain. Flowers blooming at such high elevation and such barren place sang the resilience of nature.
After climbing up about 600 ft and hiking for an hour and half, we decided to call it a day as the fresh mountain air was making all of us hungry. Lunch was calling and we still had to drive about 30 miles past Tioga Pass to Lee Vinings for our lunch. Before the sun bore down on us with its full strength on a clear day at the mountain top, with a heavy heart we started our descent. As we were descending, stone formations chiseled by millions of years of erosion,cold, heat, wind and water were visible all around us.
Thankful for nature’s bounty and realizing that a day trip did not do justice to our effort of a nine hours round trip drive, we started driving towards Lee Vining for lunch. Myriads of water falls cascading down the hill side fed by molten snow filled our heart with joy but our empty stomachs were growling for food. One last stop near half frozen Tioga lake and off to Lee Vining we drove.
To be continued.
©All photographs in this post were taken by the author. Readers are free to use with proper acknowledgement to the author.