After killing myself the day before, and still managing to get a 6-mile loop in near Mirror Lake in the morning, I decided it was time to head toward the exit. Not wanting to miss out on the different world that is Yosemite outside of the valley, I chose to drive the Tioga Pass Road and exit on the east side of the Sierra.
What a spectacular trip! It was a poor winter, so the road was open fairly early this year, in Mid-May. There were still patches of snow around, but nothing that looked too bad. A cold front was passing through though, and it was windy, blustry, and very cold up there. The campgrounds were not open, and the visitor center at Tuolumne Meadows opened for the first time all year that day. There was no power and they were having problems with plumbing freezing. Snow was in the forecast overnight, and the rangers were hoping the road would be closed for a few days, leaving them some solitude in the mountains on their own.
Had I not been sick, I definitely would have liked to spend an extra couple of days up here exploring the numerous hiking options from this part of the park. Alas, it was not to be, but my next trip will skip the valley and head straight for the high-country!
The length of the road has numerous pull-outs and vistas, and an app for my phone links to labeled road markers that explain the various points of interest as you pass. That was very helpful! I stopped countless times and took short walks away from the road to find good viewpoints and vistas.
It was a perfectly sunny day, making photography difficult amongst the exposed granite and snow, but there was very light traffic on the road and the drive was leisurely. The views across to North Dome, Half Dome, Clouds Rest were a highlight of the "valley" views, and then the alpine ranges and peaks caught the eye as the road climbed ever higher.
Tenaya Lake is an alpine gem and I spent more than a few minutes walking it's shores. The pass itself is actually the entrance to the park, before the road decends rapidly down the windy, rocky, exposed, and desolate Lee Vining Canyon into the high desert below.
Made a quick stop at Mammoth Lakes before holing up for the night at Bishop. By this point, I had basically blown out both ear drums and my sinus congestion was beyond the point of pain. I immersed myself in hops and a variety of pharmaceutical remedies and passed out in a nasty little hotel room, unprepared for the 10 hours of driving which lay ahead of me the next day.
And I'd do it again next time I get the chance. Without a second thought!