The Mountain Spirit (excerpt)
Driving all night south from Reno
Through cool-porches Bridgeport,
past Mono Lake’s pale glow,
past tongues of obsidian flow stopped chill,
and the angled granite face
on the east Sierra front —
Today i would ride Tioga Road into Yosemite Park. This was pretty much a relentless climb for about 6 miles before leveling off at a series of alpine lakes. I have to saw though that if you are inching your way up a pass, scenery like this is pretty much ideal for long contemplation. Stark granite cliff faces, crumbling piles of rock, rust red peaks, jagged mountain peaks like castle walls all above a green valley.
When I did reach the lakes, they were like a string of sapphires among the pale white, tan and brown landscape. Nearly to the summit Tioga Lake was a large body of water with like blue green patches amidst the darker blue. On the other side of he road I saw a large beaver like animal but without the big flat tail. I’d latter learn this was a marmot.
There was one final little uphill and then the line to the Yosemite Park entrance station and the pass summit was here. Tioga Pass at 9945 feet is the highest pass on the route and one of the highest in the nation. I rode to the front of the line (advantage: bicycle), paid my entrance fee and was in Yosemite National Park. Yosemite! At long last. I descended a bit, thou a rock strewn alpine meadow and then into rather sparse woods. Soon enough there was plenty to see and I stopped now and again to check it out.
The big bare rock of Lambert Dome hove into view, dominating ones attention. But this was the edge of Toulemne Meadows where I’d camp tonight. A short ride, even with the big pass crossing, but it’s a long way to Yosemite Village still and this would give me a chance to check out these end of the park. I was able to set up in the hikers area as it seems to be the rather I noted policy of the park that bicycle tourists can sty there as well. Then I did some exploring.
I hiked out around Lambert Dome, doing a bit of the trail up to that but mostly took this hike to a soda springs whose water bubbled up through rusty rocks and had a rather appealing mineral tang. Just past the soda springs was a historic Sierra Club lodge where they’d take people as they were fighting for the creation of the park. I walked back along the Toulumne River though the meadow that John Muir wrote so passionately about. It was along this river that I saw four more marmots and a helpful fly fisherman told me that’s what these animals were.
Back to camp I made dinner in the dwindling light and it cooled right off as the sun descended. I’m still above 9000 feet and it promises to be a cold night.
a bold bluejay
landed right on my table
and stole a walnut