One part of Yosemite that I have not previously explored is the Tioga Pass Road. It has either been out of my way or closed for the winter during previous visits but this time I decided to take the drive across to end up at Mono Lake. The route takes you to Olmsted Point. This is only a couple of miles from my starting point in Yosemite Valley but the direct route is not available to cars so an hour’s drive is the alternative.
Olmsted Point itself is a pretty bleak and exposed place. The view across to Yosemite Valley is good (and would probably be a lot better at a different time of day to my visit)and you can see a lot from the parking lot. It is only a short walk to a better spot but most people don’t bother walking down. The rocky outcrop is very bright and on a sunny day the light is quite harsh. However, you do get a view of everything around you which makes it worth doing.
The drive along Tioga Pass Road is an impressive one with plenty of dramatic scenery around you. As you get to Olmsted Point, your initial view is towards Yosemite Valley. However, if you turn around, you are looking towards Tenaya Lake. This was the next stop on my journey. Looking at the lake from Olmsted Point, it was hard to believe it was real. You are very high along this pass, often above 9,000′, and the sky is a darker blue at that height. Also, the water is clearer since it is either straight from the sky or from snow melt. Consequently, the blues are intense.
The lake looks like something that someone would create as a made up lake. It is very striking. It isn’t alone either. As you drive further towards the descent to Mono Lake, there are a number of lakes that have been created with dams and they all are pretty impressive. I don’t know how they look on an overcast day but in the sun they look great.