Saturday, June 16, 2012

Western Nevada and Yosemite Park - a Land of Contrast

 Following Hwy 95 from Pahrump, we traveled to Hawthorne, NV. On the way, we passed several small towns that time seems to have forgotten. At one time, there must have been bustling activity in these areas, but now, most of the folks have moved on.

 It seems that mining was the big focus here and at this outpost, we could still learn how to pan for gold.

 From our nice rv park in Hawthorne, we drove about 30 miles west to the far, blue mountains that you can just see above. There was literally nothing else on the road (we passed one car going the other way in the entire 30+ miles). Rick was glad he checked the car out well.

Just before we took the final turn off of CA 395 into the Yosemite area, we passed amazing Mono Lake, seen above. Mono Lake, at about 6500' above sea level, has no outlet to the ocean. As a result, the lake has a very high saline level and no fish are present. Further, California cities diverted much of the water that had flowed into the lake, lowering the lake level, although this has been reduced recently.

 We approached Yosemite from the west and immediately began to climb rapidly. After many switch-backs, we passed this jewel-like lake at 9500' elevation. What a huge change from the desert conditions just a few minutes before.

We entered the park at Tioga Pass (almost 10,000' high), and began to descend into the Yosemite Valley. 

The rock formations in the park are amazing, with many peaks nothing but solid rock. These mountains are very beautiful, but forbidding. 

After driving about 40 miles through the park, we entered the Yosemite Valley, home to some of the most famous attractions. We picked up quite a bit of traffic, even though we were visiting on a weekday, but had no real problem seeing the things we wanted to. Of course, Yosemite Falls was high on our list, with the upper falls dropping over 1,400'. This is a wonderful sight.

 El Capitan is another feature we had heard about for years and we were delighted to be able to see it on a gorgeous day. This 3,000 foot high granite rock dome dominates the area and presents an amazing view as you come toward it after passing through a tunnel on the road.

 Coming back toward Nevada, we passed Olmsted Point which gave us a great view of the western end of the Valley. Again, much of the point was solid granite which provides a great differentiation from the heavy woods found in much of the valley.

 Yosemite Park is a remarkable place to visit, although well off the beaten path when coming from the Nevada side. Still, it was well worth the trip and we were delighted to have been able to visit.

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