A Trip Over Tioga Pass

Flooded lodgepole pines along Tenaya Creek
Flooded lodgepole pines along Tenaya Creek

My wife Claudia and I drove over Tioga Pass on Saturday, the first day the road was open this year. There’s a lot of snow up there! Patches of bare ground were scarce, and in some places the snow was still five or six feet deep. Tenaya, Tioga, and Ellery Lakes were still mostly frozen.

We arrived at our home-away-from-home, Murphey’s Motel in Lee Vining, at about 4 p.m. Around seven o’clock, as we drove back over the pass for some photography, we noticed that a large avalanche had covered part of a snow basin just east of Ellery Lake. We had both looked at that slope three hours earlier, and hadn’t seen evidence of an avalanche, so it had apparently fallen within that time.

All the snow was melting fast, and water was everywhere. I saw waterfalls I don’t remember seeing before, and innumerable creeks, streams, and ponds. Just above Tenaya Lake I found a spot where  swollen Tenaya Creek had enveloped a stand of lodgepole pines, with the water reflecting a sunlit ridge above.

The next morning we rose early and drove up to Tioga Lake, where I photographed snowy peaks reflected in the partially frozen lake, and wonderful ice patterns near the shore. Of course I got too near the edge and received a boot full of water when one of my feet broke through the ice to the lake below.

With the opening of this road the Yosemite high country will be more easily accessible throughout the summer and fall, providing access to many great photo locations. But the snow and ice won’t last long.

We didn’t get into Yosemite Valley, but I’m sure it’s beautiful, with the waterfalls roaring and the meadows flooded. Did any of you make it into the valley this weekend?

Gaylor Peak reflected in Tioga Lake
Gaylor Peak reflected in Tioga Lake

Leave a Reply

Main Menu