Alaska 2013, Day 8, Mono Lake and Yosemite
Sunday June 9, 2013
We hiked the South Tufa Field off route 120. The tufa are like stalactites, they are caused by natural springs bubbling up in the alkaline salty lake. The calcium carbonate forms at the spring when the spring water interacts with the lake water forming towers. They grow up to the surface of the water. Most of the tufa here is 10 feet or so high because the water level has fallen. In the 60s they started diverting water for the cities and as a result the water level dropped. Conservation groups have fought to get the water level restored to about half the difference of today vs. its high water mark. The lake has brine shrimp (tiny) and small alkaline flies. Lots of different kinds of birds layover here on their migration and 80% of the CA population of California Gulls nest here on the island in late June.
Yosemite Tioga Pass
From Lee Vining we drove up route 120 Tioga Pass. The park gate is 11 miles up the pass and we have only been east to the gate, never beyond. It is a pretty drive up the pass from the west. Ponderosa pines, large boulders, ponds and a big water fall at the top. Reminds me of Jasper Park in Canada. Pretty busy along here, all the pull offs are full once you get inside the park. The road across the top is really narrow, I had to be careful passing oncoming RVs especially in areas where cars were parked along the road. Saw several cars out in the road and had to stop to allow an oncoming RVs to pass thru. One car stopped dead in the road on a grade and almost got taken out by a big fifth wheel coming down hill. The drive down into the valley is really narrow, lots of places with no sholder or rail, toward the bottom there is a stone gaurd rail. Last time I drove this in the jeep so it didn't register with me how tough this road was.
Yosemite Lower Pines Campground
The valley was jammed, the parking areas full but not as busy as when we were here last. The campgrounds have like 500 sites and they are all full. 90% tents, not too many RVs (not too many RV sites). There were only like two RVs in our campground larger than us, most were small.
Yosemite is the busiest park in the system. It is a beautiful place, the trick is to get away from the crowds.
77.3 miles today.
2512 miles so far.