Day 6: Yosemite (Tioga Road), Death Valley
The Tioga Road climbs relentlessly from the valley, through Crane Flat (last fuel for a long way, but only in summer...snowed up in winter!) and up to 8000ft at Olmsted Point.
This offers the view back down Yosemite Valley to Halfdome - though the famous American photographer, Ansel Adams, fought in vain to prevent the upgraded Tioga Road from running past this spot. We're glad he failed (in this instance) or this view would never have been accessible to us.
Yet more breathtaking mountain scenery accompanied us to the east as we cruised down I395 through Independence, Big Pine, and finally Lone Pine, where the road to Death Valley beckons you south-west on Highway 136.
|Ascending the 9000ft Tioga Road was as breathtaking as Yosemite Valley itself. Just before Tenaya Lake, the viewpoint opens out down the entire valley from Olmsted Point - you can almost visualise the old Glacier carving it out.|
The isolated domes of Tuolumne Meadows remind you that there is still plenty of weirdness around you, then suddenly the road crosses into what feels like Alpine or Pyrennean mountain forms - the Sierra Nevada. The descent is rapid and also Alpine-like, until the Mono Lake...
It was impossible to do justice to the Sierra Nevada on our eastern side as we cruised I395 south. Then Death Valley slid into view and we forgot all about the mountains! The Dunes shot is from a couple of hundred feet below sealevel...clever eh.
The searing heat of the place (36 degrees Celsius on the valley floor today) is indescribable. On our way out of the valley, the preserved Borax Works of Mustard Canyon created a useful distraction. Then yet more stunning, unearthly sights from Dante's View...