Yosemite In The Spring – Part II
If you visit Yosemite enough, you learn where to go to escape the crowds. There is certainly plenty to see and do in the valley for all ages. For a change, head to the Tioga Road. In the early spring, especially the afternoon, there are so many places with few people. For sightseeing and some walkabouts, Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake and the Tuolumne Meadow combo makes for a good itinerary. Our crew would take a break from hiking today and take in some of the sites.
Located about 1 hr 15 min. north of the valley on Hwy 120, these sites offer cooler temps, spectacular views and a decent chance to view wildlife. Our first stop at Olmsted Point was right around noon. Most people hang out in the parking area where views of Half Dome and Clouds Rest make great post cards. Few head down the path to the point where you can climb the granite slab and get the full monty. At approximately 8,200 ft. the breeze is often stiff here, but one can take refuge behind some massive boulders and have a snack . The marmots were present today and more than willing to steal your food if you ventured away. They are always eating and they are some of the fattest creatures in Yosemite. After scampering over the rocks, we looked to the east and saw our next destination – Tenaya Lake.
Another 5-10 minutes and we stopped on the west side of Tenaya Lake and started walking along the shoreline. The water level is fairly high due to recent snowmelt and is crystal clear. Picnic tables, located right next to the water and the slabs make for great sunbathing spots. At 50 deg on this late May day, it was a bit cool for that. I’m not sure how fishing is on Tenaya, and I didn’t see any trout today. Once again, the photo opportunities are many. A couple of us mentioned how great a cabin would be on these shores. I appreciated the pristine tree-lined banks and could have taken a nap right then. The water can have a calming effect on you.
The last stop was probably my favorite. Tuolumne Meadows is an almost magical place. As you leave your car and start walking down the rutted dirt road, the gophers pop up all around you. They are curious and will often sneak glances from behind the boulders. The streams and creeks that feed the Tuolumne River are abundant and criss -cross the meadow before joining their bigger brother. As you cross the lively river, you can follow its slowly winding bank as it makes it way west. Only 4-5 months ago, this was a mostly frozen body of water and seemed asleep.
We would make our way up to Soda Springs where gas bubbles were being released in small pools near the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail. A collection of cabins, some belonging to the Sierra Club were not yet open for the season. We sat around on chairs made of stumps and just took it all in. So peaceful, all you could hear was the breeze through the pines and the stellar jays as they skirted around us. The herd of deer seemed to casually graze as we watched and made our way back down the trail. Yeah, Tuolumne Meadows is definitely one of my favorite places to chill.