Tioga Pass

Tioga Pass is the section of Highway 120 than takes one from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas on Highway 395 up and over to Yosemite on the western side of the mountain range. Tioga Pass is only open from late May through October, weather permitting. Tioga Pass is one of three roads that crosses the Sierra Nevadas, allowing access from eastern and western sides of the mountain range.  From Tioga Pass all the way to the south of Mt. Whitney, no other roads cross the High Sierra.

Tom and I drove up as far as the Yosemite Park entrance which was closed at the time.  Later we met up with a fellow Nikonnian and went as far as Olmsted Point but did not photograph Toloume Meadows. We later returned with Diane and captured even more of the magic of this Pass..  This is a collection of photographs from all three trips.

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 On our first trip, the lakes were still partially iced over.

On our first trip, the lakes were still partially iced over.

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 This is a huge waterfall!  You can hear from miles away.

This is a huge waterfall!  You can hear from miles away.

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 Taken at Olsted Point. The iconic granite Half Dome is visible in many areas of the park, but we pulled over here to get a different view.  To the left of Half Dome is the northwest face of Cloud's Rest at 9,926 feet above sea level. Its face drops nearly 5000 feet to lower Tenaya Creek.

Taken at Olsted Point. The iconic granite Half Dome is visible in many areas of the park, but we pulled over here to get a different view.  To the left of Half Dome is the northwest face of Cloud's Rest at 9,926 feet above sea level. Its face drops nearly 5000 feet to lower Tenaya Creek.

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 One the most important features of this area of the Sierras is the great amount of granite.  You can see it in the very smooth, treeless, gray colored mountain faces.  Trees do their best to make use of small pockets of soil.

One the most important features of this area of the Sierras is the great amount of granite.  You can see it in the very smooth, treeless, gray colored mountain faces.  Trees do their best to make use of small pockets of soil.

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 In the distance you can see Tenaya Lake.

In the distance you can see Tenaya Lake.

 Tenaya Lake from Olmsted Point.

Tenaya Lake from Olmsted Point.

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 Diane could imagine this being a board game for giants!

Diane could imagine this being a board game for giants!

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 Tenaya Lake is easily accessible from the road.

Tenaya Lake is easily accessible from the road.

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 Trees trying the thrive on a granite mountain.

Trees trying the thrive on a granite mountain.

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 At 8,600 feet Tuolumne Meadows is one of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

At 8,600 feet Tuolumne Meadows is one of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

 Water sources for the meadow include two forks deep in Yosemite's wilderness—the Dana and the Lyell—and include three creeks—Budd, Delaney and Unicorn. The Tuolumne River runs through the middle of the meadows, for three miles, and is supplied by snowmelt and hill-slope aquifers. In spring as soon as the snow melts, it is not uncommon to see large areas of the meadows flooded and practically transformed into a lake. 

Water sources for the meadow include two forks deep in Yosemite's wilderness—the Dana and the Lyell—and include three creeks—Budd, Delaney and Unicorn. The Tuolumne River runs through the middle of the meadows, for three miles, and is supplied by snowmelt and hill-slope aquifers. In spring as soon as the snow melts, it is not uncommon to see large areas of the meadows flooded and practically transformed into a lake. 

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 Most of the water that filters through Tuolumne Meadows is collected in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and then becomes an important source of drinking water for San Francisco.

Most of the water that filters through Tuolumne Meadows is collected in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and then becomes an important source of drinking water for San Francisco.

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 On our way to Olmsted Point, Diane spotted a small lake that had interesting rocks spread about. We looked for it on our way back down the hill.  She was correct.  It proved to be an interesting stop.

On our way to Olmsted Point, Diane spotted a small lake that had interesting rocks spread about. We looked for it on our way back down the hill.  She was correct.  It proved to be an interesting stop.

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 Well, we went up so we had to go down.  Great road trips, all three.

Well, we went up so we had to go down.  Great road trips, all three.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake is a large, shallow lake located in Mono County, CA.  Formed at least 760,000 years ago, it lacks a natural outlet, causing it to be highly saline.  Even with its desert environment and salinity, the lake has an important ecosystem based on brine shrimp.  The shrimp support a nesting habitat for nearly two million migratory birds and black flies, also known as alkali flies.  Tom, Diane and I made several trips to the lake, including both sunset and sunrise golden hours.  The photographs below are a compilation of all of our trips.

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 Mono Lake is known for having 'Tufas'.  These calcite formations are formed below the water's surface around underground fresh water springs. When the lake's water level fell (result of removing water to be sent to Los Angeles, the tufas were exposed.

Mono Lake is known for having 'Tufas'.  These calcite formations are formed below the water's surface around underground fresh water springs. When the lake's water level fell (result of removing water to be sent to Los Angeles, the tufas were exposed.

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 Probably the most important part of the magic at Mono Lake is to capture reflections of tufas, mountains, and golden hour skies.

Probably the most important part of the magic at Mono Lake is to capture reflections of tufas, mountains, and golden hour skies.

 Mono Lake is one place I have photographed where the color of the water seemed to change by the hour as light played with sky reflections and even the calcite of the tufas.

Mono Lake is one place I have photographed where the color of the water seemed to change by the hour as light played with sky reflections and even the calcite of the tufas.

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 We did not see many birds as the main migration was over.  But a few hung around to be photographed.

We did not see many birds as the main migration was over.  But a few hung around to be photographed.

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 To the east of the main collection of tufas is an area called Navy Beach.  Here, the remnants of tufas, worn down by weather, offer a slightly different view of tufas.

To the east of the main collection of tufas is an area called Navy Beach.  Here, the remnants of tufas, worn down by weather, offer a slightly different view of tufas.

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 Enjoy some 'big picture' representations of Mono Lake.

Enjoy some 'big picture' representations of Mono Lake.

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 A common sight!!  Mono Lake is a very popular destination for photographers from all over the world.  There are groups that go there just for night photography, groups that show up in large busses, and kids from local schools that have a field trip.  You are never alone!

A common sight!!  Mono Lake is a very popular destination for photographers from all over the world.  There are groups that go there just for night photography, groups that show up in large busses, and kids from local schools that have a field trip.  You are never alone!

Bodie

For years I have been told, "You gotta go to Bodie."  I have now been to Bodie!  So have Tom and Diane.  Bodie is a ghost town that receives about 200,000 visitors annually.  It is an historic state park, established as such in 1962.  But, its history goes back much further than that.  In 1876 it became a boom town following the discovery of gold and at one time had several thousand residents.  Today, Bodie is preserved in a state of arrested decay.  There are about 110 structures still in the town including one of many once operational gold mills.  For a small fee, visitors can roam the streets, peek into windows and in a couple of homes can even walk into a room or two.  Room interiors have remained as they were left, which certainly adds to the description of decay.  No attempt has been made to clean them up or even organize them as they might have been used by their residents.  There are many resources on the internet that tell more of Bodie's history and I encourage you to check some of them out.

 When one drives over the last hill and gets parked there is one structure that can easily be seen from the parking lot.  That is the church's steeple.

When one drives over the last hill and gets parked there is one structure that can easily be seen from the parking lot.  That is the church's steeple.

 This structure was once a Methodist Church.  A Catholic Church in the town burned down in one of several fires the ravaged this community over the years.

This structure was once a Methodist Church.  A Catholic Church in the town burned down in one of several fires the ravaged this community over the years.

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 One cannot enter the church.  But, you can get a decent photograph by holding your camera such that it pokes it lens through the wired 'fence'.

One cannot enter the church.  But, you can get a decent photograph by holding your camera such that it pokes it lens through the wired 'fence'.

 Tom was nimble and Tom was quick to climb up the hill behind the town to get a different perspective of the whole community.  The road in the background is the road you drive into park.

Tom was nimble and Tom was quick to climb up the hill behind the town to get a different perspective of the whole community.  The road in the background is the road you drive into park.

 This might be considered the Main Street.

This might be considered the Main Street.

 Now it appears that the town is spread out.  But, in its heyday there were many more structures between these buildings.

Now it appears that the town is spread out.  But, in its heyday there were many more structures between these buildings.

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 The weather changed quite dramatically as the day passed, with increasing clouds and threats of rain.

The weather changed quite dramatically as the day passed, with increasing clouds and threats of rain.

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 Not all buildings are made of wood.

Not all buildings are made of wood.

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 In addition to capturing images of the whole structures, we found many smaller details that gave some insight into the living conditions of the residents.  Here, a vine treacle and a tricycle.

In addition to capturing images of the whole structures, we found many smaller details that gave some insight into the living conditions of the residents.  Here, a vine treacle and a tricycle.

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 There were a number of outhouses dotting the fields.  I am assured that one of them was operational.

There were a number of outhouses dotting the fields.  I am assured that one of them was operational.

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 A brick structure proved to be worthy of some photo-exploration.

A brick structure proved to be worthy of some photo-exploration.

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 We know how Tom is about cars.  It turns out the Diane is also interested in old cars and tractors.

We know how Tom is about cars.  It turns out the Diane is also interested in old cars and tractors.

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 A Tom classic style car photograph.

A Tom classic style car photograph.

 Diane was experimenting with a fish-eye lens.  I see a fish-eye lens in her bag in the future!

Diane was experimenting with a fish-eye lens.  I see a fish-eye lens in her bag in the future!

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 This hearse was found in the museum located in the central part of Bodie. I was surprised by its elegance.  The town's cemetery is up the hill away from town and it would have been a very short ride in an elegant carriage.

This hearse was found in the museum located in the central part of Bodie. I was surprised by its elegance.  The town's cemetery is up the hill away from town and it would have been a very short ride in an elegant carriage.

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 As mentioned, the rooms have not been cleaned up or changed since they were abandoned by their residents or business owners.  It gives the whole place a very different feel than one might expect from other ghost towns where an effort is made to preserve them as they were when being used.

As mentioned, the rooms have not been cleaned up or changed since they were abandoned by their residents or business owners.  It gives the whole place a very different feel than one might expect from other ghost towns where an effort is made to preserve them as they were when being used.

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 There is a small museum with displays of some of the items that were used by the town's residents.

There is a small museum with displays of some of the items that were used by the town's residents.

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 There were bird nests under several of the eaves around town.

There were bird nests under several of the eaves around town.

 A visitor and his dog.

A visitor and his dog.

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 In one corner of the town is the abandoned mill.

In one corner of the town is the abandoned mill.

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 Left in a helter skelter fashion, there are pieces of mining equipment strewn around the fields.

Left in a helter skelter fashion, there are pieces of mining equipment strewn around the fields.

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 The last three miles of the road into Bodie is an oftentimes bumpy gravel road.  While I focused on making sure I did not drop the car too far into a big hole, Tom focused on the mountains in front of us.  He had the better job!

The last three miles of the road into Bodie is an oftentimes bumpy gravel road.  While I focused on making sure I did not drop the car too far into a big hole, Tom focused on the mountains in front of us.  He had the better job!

 On the way home we stopped at an overlook and below us was the beautiful Mono Lake with its blue-green water.  There was still snow on some of the taller mountains.  Perfect photographic ending of a very fun-filled day.

On the way home we stopped at an overlook and below us was the beautiful Mono Lake with its blue-green water.  There was still snow on some of the taller mountains.  Perfect photographic ending of a very fun-filled day.

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