Yosemite National Park

After the heat in Death Valley it was time for colder temperatures. My plan for the remaining two weeks until my flight back to Zurich was to enter Yosemite from the east side over the Tioga pass, spend two days in the famous Yosemite National Park and then visit Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park before driving to LA.
But first I had to stop in Bishop and have the spare wheel mount fixed. The guy in the Napa Auto Parts store gave me a number from a welder in Bishop. Unfortunately it was lunch time, so first I went grocery shopping. By the time I was done, Hector Martinez was back from lunch and he was so nice to squeeze me into his day.
A bit more than an hour later I have a better than new spare wheel carrier 🙂 He welded the broken parts together and also put a reinforcement into the part the broke now twice. It looks much better than the last fix and I hope this one will last a bit longer!
Anyway, if you need something fixed in Bishop, give Hector Martinez a call!

My wish of colder temperature was already granted on the way to Lee Vinning, shortly before reaching the top of the pass between Bishop and Lee Vinning the weather changed and it started to snow. Since it was already too late to get into Yosemite I decided to explore the nearby Monolake.

The next morning, after a freezing cold night (-7C) I got up early to get a head start into Yosemite. However, the Tioga road was closed because of snow. After a very good Latte, a muffin and watching all the movies in the visitor center in Lee Vinning the road was still closed. According to a newsletter in the visitor center the falls colors are fully out on Sagehen pass and this was only 25miles (40km) away. The falls colors on the pass were quite nice and I met a bunch of other photographers that gave me great tips where to go, unfortunately it was all into the opposite direction that I was heading and by the time I reached Sagehen pass, the Tioga pass road was opened again. I drove leisurely up the pass and wanted to get into the park. However the queue to get in was so long that I decided to camp just outside the park and do little hike to a lake nearby. The campground was at almost 3000m elevation and the following night was the coldest so far, it got -15C. Two sleeping bags and a fluffy inlet kept me warm though. On the bright side, the auxiliary heater still worked at this elevation, so getting up wasn’t that hard.
To ditch the crowds I got up a six and after a quick breakfast drove to the Cathedral Lakes trailhead. This is a 8 mile (13km) roundtrip hike to two lakes in the cathedral mountains. The weather was perfect and my early start allowed me to reach the lakes early enough to have good light and a very calm, mirror like surface on the lake. Apart from two overnight hikers nobody else was at the lakes. On my way down I passed many hikers, I guess it gets quite busy up there.

I spent the rest of the day driving the scenic road through the park and enjoying the Yosemite Valley. I can see why the park is so popular. The lush valley is the ideal stage for the gigantic granite domes like Half Dome and El Capitan. The “Tunnel View”-Viewpoint is as breathtaking as it looks on all the pictures 🙂
Since all the campgrounds where full I camped just outside of the south entrance. After a much warmer night, I got up again early to get the sunrise at Glacier Point. Not quite as spectacular as in Bryce but still a very nice sunrise, the view of Half Dome and into the valley is gorgeous. Thanks to a looking glass you can also see people that hiked up to Half Dome on top of it. I wonder when they had to get up to be there at sunrise! It also looked like Half Dome was as busy as Glacier Point. You definitely don’t get solitude at the main attractions of this park 😀

I am not much of a crowd person, thus I left Yosemite and headed to Kings Canyon but more about that in the next blog post!

One word to mountain pass roads in the states: These are usually not narrow, steep roads the wind up a side of a mountain but often two way highways that have a steady incline of between 5% and 8% and are quite long, with a speed limit of 65mph (105km/h). This puts the engine cooling of my Land Rover to a different test than what the English where testing it (or it might be a problem with the tuning?). Shifting down a gear and take it a bit slower (55mph|90km/h) keeps the temperature in a reasonable limit.

By the way, fill up your diesel tanks in Bishop, it was $4 per Gallon in Lee Vinning, that’s almost $1 per liter! You see, I got used to a different diesel price than in Switzerland 😀

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