Today we decided to drive along the Tioga Road to the Tuolumne Meadows, climbing to over 9000 feet, still lots of snow lying.
First stop was a short walk to May Lake. There was a small pond near the car park and we were lucky enough to spot a water snake swimming across it. The walk to the lake was across huge slabs of granite. The scenery was amazing – masses of granite with pine trees growing amongst it. We saw one other couple coming down as we were on the way up – we really were alone. Our senses were heightened, as this is bear country and I suppose we did feel a little vulnerable. The lake was beautiful, snow capped mountains all around us.
I was enjoying the silence when I heard what I thought was a workman tapping away, possibly erecting a tent as this was a seasonal campsite. We walked near the tent, and realised it wasn’t a workman – something was inside, trying to get out. It sounded like sharp claws scratching at wood, and we could see a snout shape pushing against the tent walls. We backed off a bit, just in case. I turned and saw something brown run through the rocks. It was a marmot! There were quite a few. I looked back at the tent and one was on the roof! His friend was obviously inside! Not a bear! Phew! We watched him for a while. They were gnawing at the wooden roof which they had exposed by ripping the tent canvas. He decided to climb back up to the top of the roof, but slid down the slope and fell off! It was so funny! He looked very embarrassed and shot into a hole that they had made in the tent wall.
We climbed up onto some rocks and enjoyed the amazing views before walking back to the car. We continued along the road and the scenery changed to stark granite mountains. It was beautiful, like we had gone to a completely different area.
The previous photo is of Clouds Rest, the largest face of Granite in the world. It is a mecca for climbers and we spotted several on this granite outcrop:
We reached the area known as Tuolumne Meadows. It was like being in the Alps, lush meadows, rivers, snowcapped mountains. We saw lots of mule deer, then watched a coyote casually stroll across the meadow into the woods.
We continued along the road to the Tioga Pass Resort, 110 years old, lovely and rustic. We had a meal there before making the long trip back. The evening sun was enhancing the beauty of the lakes and mountains.
We drove slowly back along the stretch of road where we had seen the bears yesterday but they had obviously gone to bed!
What a day! If only we’d known how fantastic the Tioga area was we would have spent a night up there- so many walking trails to explore. Next time…