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Sierra Nevada Mountains

Summer vacation

September 11 - 13, 2010: Oakland to Yosemite

What a wonderful week Julia and I spent touring and hiking through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California; we started our tour of this sylvan wonderland with the granite jewel, Yosemite.

Moonrise over Yosemite

We have both been here many times before, but I never get tired of this place.

When we arrived, we took a short walk at the eastern end of the park to walk off our stiffness from the long drive from home.

Video: Yosemite day 01

The second day we hiked to Stanford Point 6,000 feet up at the western end of the park.

The Yosemite Valley

The views of Yosemite Valley are the best there. The weather was clear and sunny, but not too hot, perfect.

Video: Yosemite day 02

The next day we hiked 16 miles and climbed 5,000 feet to Half Dome at the eastern end of the park. We started walking at 6:00 am to avoid the crowds that gather to climb the dome.

Half Dome

However, even with our early start we still encountered a human traffic-jam on the last section of the climb. The journey was worth all our effort as the scenery and views are superb. We got back to the car at 6:00 pm, a full 12 hours of walking.

September 14, 2010: May Lake

We took highway 120 east through the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains taking in the views of the vast granite outcrops.

May Lake

We took a small detour to hike up to May Lake, which is a beautiful high mountain lake. We got views of Half Dome again on this hike, but from the eastern side of it this time.

Video: May Lake

After eating our regular cheese sandwich at May Lake we continued east on high way 120 until we came to Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuolumne Meadows

This is a high prairieland with granite crags surrounding it. The views and air there are invigorating; I must go back sometime soon.

From here, we travel towards the far eastern side of the ranges and watched as the white granite gave way to less sturdy rock and the Sierras disappeared into the Nevada high desert.

September 15, 2010: Mono Lake

We spent a miserable night in a ghastly motel in Lee Vining. We were supposed to stay two nights, but decided the place was just too horrible.

Tufas of Mono Lake

Julia went to return the key and the owner immediately gave her a refund, no questions asked. I guess he must be used to people leaving his hotel early.

From Lee Vining it is a short drive to Mono Lake. LA water supply needs long ago diverted the rivers that feed this lake and so the lake level has slowly dropped. This has revealed the Tufas. A Tufa is a variety of limestone tower, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from ambient temperature water. Underground springs in the lake bubbled-up water laden with limestone. The limestone slowly built up odd shaped towers of the mineral. When the water level dropped in the lake the gaudy, Tufa towers where revealed.

Video: Tufas of Mono Lake

Next stop after Mono Lake was the ghost town of Bodie. This place is very isolated and reached by an unpaved road, but well worth the trouble getting there.

The ghost town of Bodie

Bodie is in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California. It is located 12 miles east-southeast of Bridgeport, at an elevation of 8,379 feet. Bodie is a National Historic Landmark and been administered by California State Parks since 1962. Beyond all this Bodie is a time capsule of a way of life in America that is long gone.

Video: Bodie

September 16, 2010: Wolf Creek

Near the intersection of highway 89 and highway 4, back in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.

Wolf Creek

A magnificent hike there follows the Wolf Creek. The hike is framed by the Toiyabe National Forest and tall granite escarpments. Julia and I once again ate our cheese sandwiches in a phenomenal spot. After this hike, we returned to our hotel in Topaz Nevada.

Video: Wolf Creek

September 17, 2010: Lake Alpine and Arnold

We drove back up into the soaring Sierra again this day heading west through the mountains to Arnold were we stayed with Holly, Alex, and Claire our good friends.

Mosquito Lake

Along the way, we stopped off to take a hike near Lake Alpine where we once again enjoyed our cheese sandwiches in splendiferous surroundings.

That evening we all attended the Sheryl Crow concert at the Ironstone Amphitheatre, Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys California; a nice way to end the day.

Video: Lake Alpine

September 18, 2010: Angels Camp

We finished off our summer with water skiing at New Melones Lake.

Not a pleasant site, but it was fun

We were treated to Holly's and Alex's prowess on single waterski and wakeboard. And I made my second ever attempt at riding two waterskies behind a motorboat careering along at 30 mph; it wasn"t a pleasant sight, but it was fun.

Video: Angels Camp

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