Hearing the news that Tioga Pass was opened my husband Ron & I decided we had to go! According to the local newspaper, “This is the latest in winter that 9,943-foot Tioga Pass has been open since park officials started keeping records in 1933.” It also happened to be a free weekend at the National Parks.
We packed the van with sleeping bags, warm clothes, snacks and camera gear & left home before 5am on Saturday morning. The fog had settled in the central valley, making a great photo op. As usual, I drove and Ron shot photo after photo out the window.
We arrived at Tenaya Lake before 11am. People were already ice skating, picnicking and enjoying the blue skies and the magic of the High Sierra. It was weird to walk on 8-10 inches of ice on a frozen lake but see very little snow on the surrounding peaks. The ice made haunting whale-like sounds as it shifted and warmed as the day got warmer – some call this “singing ice”. It’s a eerie sound when you are standing on the ice, a sound we won’t forget.
As the day wore on, more & more people came to enjoy a hockey game, ice skating or just a quiet time on a frozen lake.
Late in the afternoon, we headed east over Tioga Pass to Mono Lake. Ron took a few photos as the sun set and we chose a flat spot to park the van after dinner. We to a local diner in Lee Vining. Not much was opened as this is usually a sleepy and isolated place this time of year. After a so-so dinner and a couple glasses of wine, we drove back to our flat spot, donned our sleeping clothes, laid out the sleeping bags & crawled into the back of the van. The next morning temps were about 20 degrees which made for a chilly foray to brew up some coffee. Nothing like a good hot cup of coffee in your sleeping bag while watching the dark dissipate. We drove north on HWY 395 to the County Park and discovered a boardwalk out to the shore Mono Lake.
Heading north again on 395, Bridgeport was our next destination for breakfast. We fueled up both the van and ourselves and completed the circle by driving home along HWY 89 through Markleeville and finally to HWY 50. Just outside of Bridgeport, we saw one of our favorite views of the Sawtooth Range.
Our goal is to enjoy a “36 Hour” getaway once a month – whether it be to visit friends, a favorite place or somewhere new. It’s a great way for Ron & I to spend time together – either chatting or enjoying the silence as the scenery passes - we usually don’t even turn on the radio.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. This from the newspaper on Tues Jan 17: “After an unusual winter with very little snow, officials at Yosemite National Park are finally closing Tioga Road, the highest crossing of the Sierra Nevada.