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Published: August 17th 2006
We departed Vegas late morning after catching up on some much needed Z’s. The sun was bright and it looked like we were headed for some hot weather in Death Valley. Soon enough we confirmed our suspicions. Death Valley was interesting but unfortunately the visibility was not great here either. We still enjoyed watching the elevation drop and the temperature rise as we drove through it! Other cars were scarce so the park was very quiet - as if we were the only living things around for miles because we probably were! The temperature went above 110 while we were there and was predicted to hit 120!
We stopped at a family owned resort on the west edge of the park for a big frozen smoothie. While we were there one of the employees caught a scorpion on the front porch and gave us an opportunity to take pictures.
We then pressed on north toward Yosemite. Before going to the park we wanted to stop at Mono Lake. This is a salt water lake that has been drained due to diversion of its water by local municipalities and other cities as far away as L.A. As the lake’s water
level fell, natural springs and the mineral deposits that formed around them began to show above the water’s surface. These formations are called “tufas” and make for some very interesting photographs.
That evening we had a BBQ dinner in Lee Vining, a town just outside the east entrance to Yosemite. Without reservations, we were unable to find lodging near the entrance so we followed the recommendation of a person in Lee Vining and backtracked south to June Lake. There we found a very nice room in this small resort community. The lake is frequented by fisherman in the summer and there is a ski slope for the winter. This small town was not on our radar at all so its discovery was a welcome surprise.
The shadow of the mountains helped us to sleep in the next morning before entering Yosemite. We entered the park through the Tioga Pass. Given that our reserved campsite was in southern part of the park, we had the opportunity to see much of the park on our way there. The first area we encountered was Tuolumne Meadows. We did a short hike through one of the many meadows full of wildflowers and
natural springs before continuing the 4 hour drive through the park.
After setting up camp we headed for the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. This is a grove of giant sequoias. The pine cones from these trees are the size of a human head! We took a short 1.5 mile walk through the grove before heading back to camp for dinner.
In the back of both of our minds we were anticipating a hike to the top of Half Dome which we planned to do in the next couple of days…
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