Eastern Sierras, Fall 2002

The Merced River flowing through Yosemite Valley.
The Merced River flowing through Yosemite Valley.

In late October I managed to get away from the office again, and again headed to the High Sierras. It is not a difficult decision to travel to the stomping grounds of Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, and John Muir which is located just over 250 miles from my house. My brother and I again, over packed my Jeep, and set off for the Eastern Sierras early on a Saturday morning. Just over 6 hours later, we pulled into our camping site at Silver Lake campground, in the June Lake Loop.

After a very cold nights sleep, we took a short drive up to Mono Lake to a short hike to the Mono Lake Fissures, and a little bird watching. The Mono Lake fissures are found on Black Point and just of short hike over some steep and sandy terrain. No trails to be found, but a fun adventure none the less. My brother the Field Biologist went crazy over the bird populations to be found in the inland dead sea of California. After a week listening to my brother, I must admit that I am starting to develop an appreciation for our feathered friends. Mono Lake is a wonderful place for birding, as it is a major food source, and is the breeding ground for 80 – 90% of the California Gull population depending upon whom you believe.

Monday morning found another cold morning for us. We packed up our gear, and headed for a short drive over the Tioga Pass, and into Yosemite Valley. I had visited the valley the previous year, and vowed to return quickly. My first afternoon in the valley was spent exploring the Merced River, and composing reflections of Half Dome.

After a noisy nights sleep, we began our days activities. On the short list we wanted to visit the Mariposa Grove, and Glacier Point. The Mariposa Grove is a ‘small’ grove of Giant California Redwood trees. Small is a relative term, when you are describing the largest living things on the planet, but I personally was expecting huge numbers of these large trees. The scale of these trees is just amazing, and to compare them to any other thing, does not do them justice. After a quick 4 miles hike among the Giants, we drove to Glacier Point for the late afternoon light.

Glacier Point could quite frankly summarize the image of Yosemite. On on high granite pedestal, Glacier Point projects into the middle of the valley, and from a single location, one can see Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, North Dome, and of coarse the ever noble Half Dome. I knew what to expect when we pulled into the parking lot and took the short hike to the point, but to describe this place with words would be pointless for me. I choose to narrative this place 1000 words at a time. As the sun dropped, along with the temperature, the light on the Half Dome, yellowed and warmed the timeless granite. Just after sun down, the view of Hale Dome took a magnificent metamorphosis. The sun light shown turn the length of Yosemite Valley, through the narrow valley door and shown a wonderful pink alpen glow against the pastel blue sky!

The next day, we took a bit of a hiatus, and just wondered around the valley floor. A quick stop at the Visitor Center, and store accompanied a walk down the Merced River towards Mirror Lake.

Our time in the Yosemite Valley was unfortunately over, we headed back over Tioga Pass, and met up with a friend on Convict Lake just South of Mammoth Mountain. A small lake nestled in the glacier carved val lies of the sierra, Convict lake is a prime location for fishing, and my brother quickly caught three trout just feet from our campsite. We headed towards Mammoth to pick up much needed supplies.

We we started the next day, our newly enlarged party headed towards the Minaret Wilderness, Devil’s Postpile National Monument, and the San Joaquin river valley. On our daily hike, we jumped into the Ansel Adams Wilderness and dropped over to Rainbow Falls.

On our final full day, we again drove to Mono Lake as part of our show and tell to my friend. We spent the afternoon soaking in the Hot Springs just south of Mammoth.

** I took over 7 rolls of film on this trip. Unfortunately, during development the lab destroyed all of the images that I worked so hard to capture. I have only memories of this wonderful trip, and my galleries will not grow. **

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