On the Drive from Home to Mammoth, September 10, 2013 - Frank Paysen and I left San Jose at about 0600. I drove until we got somewhere east of Mi-Wok Village on CA108 when Frank took over driving up to the St. Mary's Pass trailhead where we would begin our hike for the day.
We met the sun east of Altamont Pass. Smoke from the Rim Fire started to get thick in Manteca and was thickest in the Sonora area. After Mi-Wok Village and Pinecrest the air was crystal clear, although we could see the brown plume hugging the ridges to the south and behind us.
After our hike I drove from the trailhead over Sonora Pass and south on US-395 to Mammoth. Again we saw smoke hanging over northern Yosemite casting interesting shadows over Bridgeport Valley and the Sierra Crest.
We arrived at the condo before sunset but just after the office had closed. We got the key from the lockbox, but were unable to find a good internet connection--only one weak, unsecured connection was available--until the next morning when we learned the pass code for all of the MSRC wireless hotspots sprinkled throughout the complex. After that we had good connectivity.
|Cumulative climbing:||2000 feet|
Sonora Peak, September 10, 2013 - We began our hike at the St. Mary's Pass trailhead. I had initially considered starting at Sonora Pass itself at the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) trailhead. But while I was unsure of the best route off the PCT to get to the peak, I did know the route was an easy climb from St. Mary's Pass. I learned later that a decent use trail from the PCT exists on the southeast slope. I will have to try that next time.
The trail climbs steeply up to St. Mary's Pass. When we got to the pass a view to the north opened up. Stanislaus Peak rose prominently to the north. As well, other peaks in the northern Sierra became visible.
From St. Mary's Pass the main trail continues north toward Stanislaus Peak, hugging a contour on the ridge. Our route to Sonora Peak would take a well-established use trail directly up the ridge to the east.
This use trail continued for a quarter mile then petered out. We looked out across a broad bowl or plateau that would be covered by snow most of the year and realized that the ground probably didn't get enough exposure to footprints to establish a visible trail. We could see a use trail continuing up the ridge to the peak on the opposite side of this bowl, so we made a beeline in that direction.
As we approached the final climb to the peak we heard then saw two other hikers descending. As we passed we exchanged notes on the climb and bid each other farewell.
Frank and I continued up the steep, loose use trail. I was feeling good that morning, so I took the lead, arriving at the peak a few minutes before Frank. I would pay for my enthusiasm the next day when I would be the laggard.
Sonora Peak at 11,459ft enjoys good prominence along the Sierra Crest. High Sierra peaks are visible as far south as Mt. Ritter and as far north as Freel Peak near South Lake Tahoe and Leviathan Peak near Monitor Pass. Pretty much everything in between can be seen as well.
Smoke from the Rim Fire could be seen hovering over the volcanic ridges to the west and southwest, but the foul air did not reach us at the peak. We were in the clear.
We sat at the peak for about a half hour, snapped our panoramas, enjoyed the view, ate lunch, and had a brief conversation with a wild bumblebee that had landed on my sweater.
The bee was pleased that smoke from the Rim Fire was blowing to the northwest and not over his territory, but he bemoaned the fact that few wildflowers bloomed this time of year before the cold weather set in. He rested a bit with us before flying off in search of his next meal.
We briefly considered heading southeast off the summit in search of a route to the PCT, but seeing as how we didn't want our first hike of the week to turn into an adventure, we returned the way we had come. We slip-skied our way down the loose trail and back to the van at the trailhead.
At the end I began to feel the results of my enthusiasm. While Frank thought the hike unexpectedly easy, I felt it was moderately difficult, given I could feel my muscles complaining a bit. I still think this is an excellent hike to do on the drive over (or back) due to its short length and excellent view from the summit.
Meeting some Western Wheelers, September 11, 2013 - On our first full day in the mountains we drove up to Mosquito Flat. On our way up the road we passed several cyclists who looked familiar. It was then I remembered that Dick and Donna Matthews were leading a group on a week of cycling in the eastern Sierra and that they were quite possibly scheduled to ride up Upper Rock Creek Canyon today.
Indeed, we did see Dick and Donna Matthews, both on their way up, and as we were preparing for our hike, on their way down.
|Cumulative climbing:||880 feet|
Little Lakes Valley, September 11, 2013 - A hiking trip to the mountains isn't complete without a visit to Little Lakes Valley.
Mosquito Flat, the eastern trailhead, is the highest paved trailhead in California at over 10000 feet. The trail to Morgan Pass climbs gradually past picturesque lakes before making a final steep but short push to Morgan Pass at just over 11000 feet.
Our plan for the day was to meet Ron Bobb and Alice Mestemacher on the trail. They had started earlier and would by their own admission be hiking leisurely. We would catch up to them at some point, then hike together the rest of the way.
We saw Ron's truck in the parking lot, but since we were starting late, we had to park in the overflow lot a couple tenths of a mile down the road.
We hiked at a pretty good pace but did not encounter Ron and Alice. We did pass a hiker with two large Scottish terriers who looked like intelligent little dwarves out of a Tolkien story.
Several times we passed groups of older hikers--this trail seems to get its fair share of elderly hikers--and though someone looked from a distance like Ron or Alice they were not. We also recalled that they had never mentioned they would be hiking in a group.
Since I had hiked too quickly the day before I was sore today and not feeling like hiking fast or far. I stopped a couple times along the way to eat or rest. I could tell Frank was a bit restless.
By the time we reached the trail to Chickefoot Lake, I suggested we split up: I'd go out to Chickenfoot Lake to look for Ron and Alice, and Frank would head up to Morgan Pass. I couldn't imagine that Ron and Alice would have gone further. We'd keep in touch by radio.
Secretly I was planning to get to Chickenfoot Lake, then relax by the lake and soak my feet, whether or not I found Ron or Alice.
Twenty minutes went by before Frank reported he had reached the turnoff for Gem Lakes. He had gone a bit further, but did not reach the pass before he decided that Ron and Alice probably hadn't gone that way. I suggested he return and join me at Chickenfoot Lake, that he could take a short-cut down the stream from Gem Lakes that flows into Chickenfoot Lake. But, Frank reported that there were signs posted that the area was under restoration. So, he returned down the main trail, then took the Chickenfoot Lake Trail to join me at the lake.
As he arrived the sun disappeared behind a cloud, quashing the pleasant thought of soaking one's feet in the cool water. Frank sat and ate his lunch instead.
Then we decided to return to the trailhead, figuring that perhaps we'd find Ron and Alice on the trail.
Somewhere downhill from Long Lake we found them hiking back toward the trailhead. They had been at Gem Lakes and had probably passed the turn off for Chickenfoot Lake while both Frank and I were at the lake.
We hiked together back to the trailhead, then we drove in tandem down to Crowley Lake to enjoy pizza dinner at the market there. I also noticed that gas prices there were about 20-30 cents cheaper here than in Mammoth. So seeing as how it was unlikely we would be visiting Bishop on this trip where gas was cheaper yet, I topped off the van's gas tank.
|Bike Ridden:||Power Gold Rush|
|Cumulative climbing:||3760 feet|
|Avg. Speed (moving):||13.0 mph|
|Max. Speed:||49.3 mph|
|Nominal System Voltage:||24|
|Battery energy capacity:||900 wh|
|Battery energy consumed:||488 wh|
|Battery Amps-Hour Used:||19.0|
|Peak Current:||42.3 Amps|
|Motor energy to rear wheel:||342 wh|
|Human energy to rear wheel:||153 wh|
|Human energy to rear wheel (est.):||wh|
|Total energy delivered:||495 wh|
Reds Meadow, September 12, 2013 - If I bring my bike to the mountains, at least one day is a riding day. Today I wanted to give my legs a rest from hiking, and Frank wanted to give his bike a try. I suggested we ride over to Reds Meadow and back. If we got back and felt it wasn't enough there were ways to extend the ride.
We left the condo late morning and climbed past the ski resort and on to Minaret Vista where we stopped to enjoy the view before pressing on down to Reds Meadow.
The descent is scenic and somewhat technical in places. Light traffic makes the experience more enjoyable, but light traffic is not zero traffic. Occasionally a car would pop out around a corner, requiring us to leave some room for uphill traffic.
The descent from Agnew Meadows to Reds Meadow is less consistently downhill. An occasional upgrade or level stretch is encountered. At Reds Meadow the final push is uphill, then down slightly into the resort where we stopped in front of the store for a break.
While Frank rewatered himself and fussed with his GPS device, I went into the store to inquire about trail conditions in the Iceberg Lake and Cecile Lake area where we had planned to hike sometime in the next couple days. In particular, I inquired whether we'd need to carry microspikes to cross safely the semi-permanent snowfield above Iceberg Lake.
Our return trip up the hill went without incident. We stopped a couple times for photos.
Descending back into town is fun. The road is broad and smooth, and the traffic light in mid-September. I reached almost 50mph at one point.
On the final climb up Forest Trail I snapped a photo of the house with the spiral roof. Since we were staying at the Mammoth Ski and Racquet Club, the final stretch is the steep climb up Mammoth Slopes Road into the complex.
|Cumulative climbing:||1270 feet|
Gaylor Peak and Lakes, September 13, 2013 - At dinner the night before we (Frank and I) had discussed possible hikes with Pauline and Bogdan. The upshot was that they were interested in something relatively easy with lots of "bang for the buck", and not with too much climbing or distance.
I floated the idea of Gaylor Peak, since we hadn't visited its summit in several years. If that wasn't enough we could always explore the nearby lakes or head down to Tuolumne Meadows and hike up Lembert Dome.
Bogdan had a vague memory of hiking up Lembert Dome, but neither Bogdan nor Pauline had hiked up Gaylor Peak, so Gaylor Peak it was.
We drove up to Tioga Pass, then hiked up the Gaylor Lakes Trail to the top of the ridge where we took a group photo in front of our goal for the day, Gaylor Peak.
From here we were technically off-trail, although a decent use trail led us toward the peak until it petered out in a field of "clinkers", flat, metamorphic rock scree that goes "clink!" under foot.
After scrambling to the summit we rested for some time, took more photos, and explored the summit area. Bogdan went some distance down the north side and thought it might be possible to scramble down to Upper Gaylor Lake that way rather than go the long way around on the trail.
Frank frowned and thought it might be a bit too technical for Pauline (or for the rest of us), but as he likes this sort of terrain he volunteered to scout the route down to the lake. At some point he would radio back his assessment of its suitability.
So, he and Bogdan headed down the north ridge while Pauline and I waited near the summit for for Frank's report. After about five minutes Frank's voice crackled back over the radio that there were no surprises on the descent but that there was much loose rock in the chutes. He thought it would be easier and safer for us to go around the long way.
Meanwhile Bogdan had climbed back up to us and counseled a less conservative plan of proceeding down the ridge, that it wasn't too hard or tricky.
We did all make it down, although I think Bogdan must have descended it at least twice, and again when he went to look for a lens cap he thought he had dropped, which he ended up finding in his pocket.
The going was slow, and we might have saved time by hiking around the long way, but it was an interesting adventure nonetheless. Once we got down to the grassy meadow by Upper Gaylor Lake, we sat down, ate lunch, napped, and enjoyed the interesting clouds playing across the sky. We even slipped off our shoes and ventured into the lake, the bottom of which I discovered was lined with smooth, round, slimy rocks that reminded me of wading across the San Lorenzo River in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Gaylor Lake has a unique view of the Cathedral Range off its southern end that is almost level with the horizon. That in combination with the gathering and darkening clouds made for a dramatic photo.
We then climbed over the low ridge separating us from Tioga Pass and descended to the car, a satisfying hike and photo expedition completed.
|Cumulative climbing:||2780 feet|
Minarets Crescent, September 14, 2013 - It was clear from our discussion over dinner a couple of evenings earlier that Bogdan and Pauline would not be up for waking before dawn, hiking all day, then finishing after sunset. They wanted to sleep in and enjoy their vacation, then have some time to themselves that morning. But, I was able to persuade them to arrange for a late-afternoon/early-evening visit to Devil's Postpile, around the time that I expected Frank and me to be finishing our hike.
So, I left one of my radios with Bogdan, showed him where we were hiking, and told him I'd try to update him periodically with a text message when I had cell coverage (which is surprisingly good in the Ansel Adams Wilderness due to the cell towers on Mammoth Mountain).
Frank and I would not have such a leisurely start to our Saturday. We were up before dawn and had already driven over Minaret Vista before rays of the morning sun could find us.
As we got out of the van at Agnew Meadows Trailhead we heard the most amazing chorus of coyotes howling, yipping, yelping, barking, and making other dog-like and not-quite-dog-like noises. The sound seemed to come from all around us, echoing off the canyon's walls. We both recorded this morning concert as a video. I trained my camera on two backpacker's dogs to capture their reaction. One of the dogs, probably the alpha-dog, joined the yelp-fest, the other appeared a bit frightened by it all.
After a few minutes the coyote concert was over. We never saw them, although we figured they surely were aware of us as we started our hike across and around the Meadow.
The Meadow was cold and quiet, but the ridge to the west was bathed in sunlight. Two years ago David and I began our hike to Thousand Island Lake under similar conditions. Today we did not enjoy the feel of the sun until we started the climb up to Shadow Lake.
We stopped several times on the climb and again at Shadow Lake itself to enjoy the sharp reflection of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak in the lake's still water. It was here I sent Bogdan our first progress update. A few minutes later he replied, "Ack".
We continued toward Ediza Lake. Some distance after we passed Shadow Lake, we passed the fork for the John Muir Trail to the south across a wide bridge over Shadow Creek. Had we gone that way we could get to Devil's Postpile much quicker, though with fewer memories of adventure. I was still sleepy on the trail and wondered if I'd have enough energy to finish the whole hike. But I kept my thoughts to myself and pressed on with the full plan, come what may.
Another mile up the creek we passed the fork for John Muir Trail to the north. That way went to Garnet and Thousand Island Lake. Although it is beautiful a hike that I would like to repeat sometime, today our goal lay ahead.
After more zigging and zagging up rock outcroppings and through forest and fen we reached a crossing of a now-dry streambed. I can recall in 1997 crossing the high stepping stones in this stream that were at the time overtopped with water. Shortly after we reached a two-log bridge over Shadow Creek. Frank and I both carefully crossed. From here it was a short uphill grunt to the shore of Ediza Lake nestled beneath Mt. Ritter.
Water in Ediza Lake looked lower than in 1997. A couple of large campsites were occupied on the opposite shore.
After taking some photos we continued around the eastern shore to the trail that led up to Iceberg Lake.
The climb to Iceberg Lake is just under a mile, but the scenery is open and dramatic with nearby views of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak to the north and The Minarets to the south.
In 1997 Iceberg Lake presented a stark contrast with the green, inviting shores of Ediza Lake. This year Iceberg Lake was free from ice. Only a small, dirty patch of snow remained above the southwestern shore. The snow field that stopped us in 1997 was gone. Now we only had to traverse a steep field of boulders and scree to get to the highest lake on our hike, Cecile Lake. I was glad I had inquired about trail conditions two days earlier and that I hadn't bothered to carry my microspikes since they weigh a couple of pounds.
I led the way across the rockslide to the outlet of Cecile Lake. At first I tacked too high on the slope, forcing a short descent to a section of use trail below. The final push to Cecile Lake was over broken rock.
From the outlet of Cecile Lake we enjoyed views both to the north over Iceberg Lake, to the south, and up at The Minarets, and to the east at the sharp pinnacle and eye on the eastern end of Volcanic Ridge. I made a mental note to visit the summit of this ridge some day.
Cecile Lake itself was cold and uninviting, having no beach or grassy shore on which to comfortably enjoy its waters or the dramatic scenery above. In fact nearly the entire shore was a slope of talus or scree lying near the angle of repose.
The next task before us was to circumnavigate Cecile Lake, a task that did not appear to be easy on either shore. The western shore beneath the Minarets seemed more accommodating until near the southern end of the lake where a couple of cliff bands would have us scrambling high above the lake. The eastern shore traversal would be shorter but over large boulders and talus. I regretted not reviewing the best course the night before.
We started out on the western side, but what appeared to be a decent use trail soon disappeared up the flank of Clyde Minaret--probably the climber's route, so after a moment of indecision we returned to the eastern shore and began a slow traversal of the boulder field, a traversal that was neither as difficult nor slow as we thought it would be.
At the south end of Cecile Lake we could see a couple of people and a dog by the water's edge. They watched our progress. As we came within shouting distance we asked them how they got there. They told us they had climbed a long chute from Minaret Lake up Volcanic Ridge and had traversed over and down to Cecile, that the direct route up Minaret Creek was too steep for their dog.
It was this direct route up Minaret Creek, noted as "Class 2-3" in Secor that we intended to explore before looking for less-direct routes down to Minaret Lake.
Frank and I spent some time working our way from where the other hikers were to the cleft in the cliff band separating Cecile from Minaret Lakes. When we got to the clearly marked route down the cleft we discovered the Class 3 section. A 10+ foot drop down the cleft or chimney then a large chockstone below would need to be gotten around.
I didn't like the apparent lack of visible hand and foot holds at the crux of the downclimb, and having never come this way before I couldn't be sure the chockstone below could be easily gotten around. Maybe I'll explore it from below some day, but today this descent seemed risky. A pulled tendon, busted ankle, or worse would do us no good on the remaining 8 miles of hiking to The Postpile.
We climbed back up to the ridge above Cecile Lake and considered our options. A long chute covered with Sierra willow rose to the west of the cliff up the eastern flank of The Minarets. But, the top of that chute would have us climbing high on the flank of The Minarets before beginning the descent. And then the descent would be a real bushwhack.
Back the way we had come I noticed a small tarn in a grassy depression. Perhaps the outlet of that tarn would offer a way down. Neither of us wanted to explore the indirect route that the other hikers had used, and since they had already returned to Minaret Lake, we could not follow them to avoid wandering further off-route.
So, we headed back to our second choice of descent route. Along the way I noticed that I was almost out of water, so we stopped at an even smaller tarn whose water was surprisingly clear and filtered water into our bladders.
The "tarn route" turned out to be relatively easy. The marked route did not pass by the outflow of this tarn but to the west. The descent was steep and loose in a few spots but was otherwise straightforward. This route does not add distance or climbing to our hike, but our explorations did.
Once we got down to Minaret Creek we took a photo of the Class 3 route from below that we did not down-climb. If we ever hike this route in the opposite direction it will be easy to explore the possibility of climbing the Class 3 route and if we find that beyond our abilities we can backtrack a short distance to the broad chute that constitutes the Class 2 route.
Alongside Minaret Creek we found a faint trail and followed it down to the soft, grassy shore of Minaret Lake at the northern end of its western "lobe", where we enjoyed a fine view of the lake and of Riegelhuth Minaret jutting sharply to the sky at the eastern end of the line of pinnacles that formed The Minarets. We stopped here and relaxed on the soft grass to enjoy a late lunch break.
During lunch our radios crackled to life. "Bill or Frank, this is Bogdan," came the call. I answered.
Bogdan and Pauline had driven up to Minaret Vista where I had told Bogdan he had the best chance of making contact with us. They were planning to drive up San Joaquin Ridge in Bogdan's nearly new Subaru. I scowled and told Bogdan not to ruin his car, that he still needed to collect us at Devil's Postpile that evening.
The road up San Joaquin Ridge is a high-clearance 4wd road. Years ago I saw a guy drive his Subaru all the way to the end of the road. But, my recent memory was that the required clearance had grown in that time, rocks that jutted inconveniently in between the tracks had grown taller (or the tracks to either side sunk lower) and that there were too many places where a car's underbelly could run afoul of some obstacle.
So, while Bogdan and Pauline were exploring the limits of driving on San Joaquin Ridge, Frank and I started our long hike from Minaret Lake down to The Postpile.
We first had to hike around the northern side of Minaret Lake, then descend steeply for some distance over open terrain before heading into the forest for the remainder of our hike.
We stopped for a time next to Minaret Creek where it runs over a bed of solid rock, and cascades or "slides" steeply down into the canyon. It was here that we pumped water for the second time. This time Frank was running low, and this seemed as good a place as any to stop and pump water. I topped off my bladder, too.
After taking more photos of clouds eclipsing the sun we pressed on down into the forest. The trail was a nice walk compared to the harsh landscape around Iceberg and Cecile Lakes. If I were inclined I could have run this section of trail and covered the distance in an hour instead of three.
In spite of the miles already in our feet, I did not find the hiking tedious. I stopped occasionally to snap a photo or to explore an overlook near the trail.
We almost missed Johnston Meadow and Johnston Lake, barely visible through the trees that it wasn't worth a photo. The only change we noticed as we descended was that the lodgepole pines grew larger and especially toward the bottom of the hill, lodgepoles gave way to red firs.
After we passed the trail from Superior Lake Frank went into "get to the finish" mode and took off ahead of me, partly because he was worried that his GPS device battery might quit before the end, but also, I suspect, to encourage me not to dawdle too much as I tend to do near the end of a long hike.
I found the last couple miles more interesting as the trail descended the final escarpment above the San Joaquin River. The views opened up to the east, and the setting sun cast a pleasing light on the clouds and ridges in the distance.
By the time I reached the bridge across the river, Bogdan and Pauline were busy exploring the top of The Postpile. I waited for them at a bench along the trail. Frank had already arrived at the parking lot.
Soon Bogdan and Pauline came into view on the trail, and after the short drive up the hill to Agnew Meadows (that saved Frank and me about 5 extra miles of hiking) Bogdan took a couple of photos (1, 2) in almost complete darkness to document the end of our long hike.
|Cumulative climbing:||3230 feet|
Echo Ridge and Cathedral Peak, September 16, 2013 - As we drove the final few hundred meters of road through Tuolumne Meadows east of the Cathedral Pass trailhead, we had our second coyote encounter of the week. A lone coyote trotting across the road in front of us carried something large in its mouth. I quickly dug out my camera and snapped a few photos, most of which were from the rear. But, the coyote stopped and looked back at us for a moment. My best guess is that he or she snagged a grouse.
After making our final preparations and taking a "start of the hike" photo, we both started up the John Muir Trail toward Cathedral Pass. After the initial climb the trail levels off. It is here that the Budd Lake use trail veers off to the left.
The Park Service has put logs across the trail's entrance, but this trail is one of the least well-kept secrets in the park, the trail seeing much traffic from climbers heading to Cathedral Peak, one of the most popular climbs in the area.
The Budd Lake trail climbs along Budd Creek, sometimes running right next to the water, other times running at some distance from the creek over slabs or ridges. A couple of miles from the bottom the trail splits. One branch heads uphill to the right toward Cathedral Peak. The other branch crosses Budd Creek and climbs its eastern bank to Budd Lake. We took the left branch.
We climbed the Ski Run where we were met by a fierce wind blowing through the gap in the ridge. We both hoped that the wind would be less strong on the technical part of the climb to the summit.
From the top of the Ski Run we climbed east toward the summit. The first few hundred meters is class 1, then once the route becomes all rock, Class 2. It is not far from the start of the Class 2 section that I stopped climbing on my first visit here. Frank and Stella two years ago also quit near this spot where the easiest route runs right on the edge of an overhung drop of several hundred feet to the south.
In spite of the vertical aspect, the ridge itself is made of rough granite with many chickenheads to make for good hand or foot holds. There are so many chickenheads that if one were to walk upright on the rock, one might trip on one of them. And, some of these chickenheads even look like chicken's heads.
After we achieved the summit and took a group photo, Frank discovered that his video camera hadn't been operating. So, since the weather was good--the wind that had been a gale at the venturi-like gaps on the lower ridge, was merely a light breeze on the summit--and we had plenty of time since our goal was to reach this summit, I agreed to wait at the summit and Frank would descend and climb the technical part again.
After Frank's second climb to the summit, we ate lunch, took our panoramas, then headed down. I wanted to explore what appeared to be a well-worn use trail down the south side of Echo Ridge and over to Matthes Crest, but Frank said he'd rather go for Cathedral Peak this time since he hadn't climbed that one yet.
Once we got to the bottom of the Ski Run we decided we had enough time to explore the climb up Cathedral Peak. So, we traversed the slabs over to the Peak and made a bee-line to the bottom of the southeast buttress climbing route where we could see a couple of climbers preparing to ascend.
The climber's trail next to the southeast buttress is in better shape than I recall from 2005. Today large rock steps have been placed, and signs with a carabiner are located periodically along the trail to encourage us not to create new use trails on the terrain. The climb up to the ridge did not take long, and once we squeezed through the gap we found a nice spot to enjoy the view and to take another group photo.
After enjoying the view from the ridge and after watching some climbers reach the summit of Eichorn Pinnacle, Cathedral Peak's lower pinnacle, we descended the climber's trail and continued down through the forest, enjoying the light of the setting sun through the trees.
We were somewhat surprised at the number of people we saw on our descent. A couple of women enjoying an animated conversation in Portuguese overtook us, and a guy with camera equipment passed by in the opposite direction huffing up the hill, apparently racing the setting sun.
We arrived back at the van shortly after the sun had set on Tuolumne Meadows but not yet on the surrounding mountains, feeling a bit wiped out but satisfied with our week in the mountains.
Tioga Pass at Sunset, September 16, 2013 - Frank took a few sunset photos near Tioga Pass while I drove back to Mammoth. The light was especially reddish due to the sun shining through the smoke from the Rim Fire to the west.
At the Condo, September, 2013 - Frank and I took mostly sunset and sunrise photos from the balcony of the condo, with a couple other interesting images thrown in: an illustration drawn after our group dinner, and a photo Frank took of my Indiana-shaped bedroom window that he found interesting.
On the Drive from Mammoth to Home, September 17, 2013 - After being closed for a few weeks due to the Rim Fire, Tioga Road was opened through Yosemite a couple days before our return home. So, we returned home through Yosemite.
We stopped for a short break at the Yosemite Creek picnic area where Frank found a large boulder to try climbing. The section of Tioga Road that had recently opened between White Wolf and Crane Flat after the Rim Fire passed through was slow-going, 25 mph. Frank was driving and set the cruise control.
Fire damage was not too severe within the park. There were even a few spots still smoldering (and kept under careful watch by fire crews), but after Crane Flat as we approached Hodgdon Meadow, the fire had more thoroughly burned through the trees, leaving no tree unscathed.
We did not stop at the "Rim of the World" vista point above the Tuolumne River Canyon as it was crowded with tourists gawking at the moonscape left by the fire. I snapped a photo as we drove by.
Frank's Mammoth 2013 web pages - For a different perspective see Frank's web pages of the same holiday.
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