Finding our feet in Yosemite

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Aug 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Strawberry Creek
What I did
Getting back to basics with Mother Nature

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, August 14, 2011

We had a super breakfast provided by Vineca at Hess House and she was a very interesting person to talk to as she is a quarter Pauite Indian who were the native American tribe who lived around Lake Mono for many years. She explained to us that her grandmother used to weave baskets in the traditional Indian style and that an exhibition of art work by native Americans was being shown at the Visitor Information centre in Lake Mono.  We duly headed out and learned a lot about lake Mono - which up until recently was being drained to provide water for Los Angeles and as a result, a valuable ecosystem was being destroyed.  The lake is home to a large variety of birds, drawn there by the numerous brine shrimps.  Several species of birds including gulls and phalaropes use the lake for their nesting sites. The Lake Mono Conservation Group had fortunately managed to convince the authorities in Los Angeles to reduce their uptake of water from Lake Mono and as a result the Lake and surrounding habitat are starting to recover.  The striking thing about the Lake is the formations of tufa that stick out from the water, almost like stalagmites. The Visitor information centre was well laid out and designed and it was very informative.  We then decided to stock up on groceries for the self-catering part of our trip as we had been told that shops are few and far between in Yosemite. 

    We then set off on the Tioga Pass road into Yosemite which was a busy but brilliant drive. Initially the road climbs fairly slowly but then it becomes more dramatic once you have actually entered the eastern entrance to the national park.  Tioga Pass is the highest mountain pass in the Eastern Sierra Mountains and it climbs a breathtaking 9,945ft. Understandably the Tioga Pass is closed during the winter months but in reality, the Pass is often closed from the first snows in October until as late as June - so it really was something to see.  This was hard on Julian, as he was driving at this point as we kept oohing and aahing and we needed him to most definitely keep his eyes on the road!  Flo was not so keen on the sheer drops at the side of the road and it was a good job there were plenty of pull offs to enable people to take snaps.  Eventually the road levelled off and we managed to stop in Tuolumne Meadows, which is the largest sub-Alpine meadow in the Sierra - and the lakes and flowers were beautiful and my photos could not do them justice.  To cater for the many visitors to the park there were picnic areas and camp grounds and we managed to stop at a roadside grill - in a large tented area which was surprisingly good.  Following lunch we drove through the Park on our way to reach our base at Strawberry Creek.  Our first sightings of the various peaks we were to come to recognise by name was stunning - El Capitan, Half Dome, Cathedral Rocks were all magnificent - and very different from the mountains in the Rockies or Switzerland.  We were a little dismayed at the number of cars on the roads - more on this later but we did find that the traffic eased off as we drove towards Yosemite West. Our rental house is actually out of the Park (very limited accommodation within the park itself, either tents, camping or very expensive luxury lodges) but only a 20 minute drive into the valley floor.  Strawberry Creek is a romantic name - we did not see any strawberries or a creek but it was in a very quiet secluded part of the forest.   
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