Day 8...Monday 9/17/12
It is a thrill to enter Yosemite on Tioga Road (hwy 120)....had another early start to the day, leaving from Mammoth Lakes shortly after 7am... the elevation at the Tioga Pass entrance station is 9945 ft....and the scenery is grand.
But my first stop for the day would be at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead, just past the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center on hwy 120...parking is limited, but was available at 9:10am. Put my travelling food in the provided bear locker, tho it probably wasn't necessary, as hwy 120 is very busy. Took 2 1/2 hours to reach lower Cathedral Lake...there was only about 1000 ft of elevation gain in this 3.5 mile, 1-way trek, but it starts right off the bat. Trail goes thru forested areas primarily....a big rock formation that looks like a mini-Half Dome is prominent. Trails end finds a cirque....a curved rock formation rising 1000ft or so around lower Cathedral Lake....very pretty place....stayed there about an hour, then headed back. Found 2 differing opinions on this hike from 2 folks met along the trail...1 was hiking with his dad, coming back a 2nd time to camp, 1 saying 'this is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen"....the other had just been hiking in Little Creek Valley/Mosquito Flats area and he was disappointed...."3.5 miles for this?,,,what a letdown, expected more"
Back in the car....was just thankful that my injured leg held up and was able to complete this hike (thought...what happens when you're hiking alone--a day hike---and you turn your ankle miles in??)...Lembert Dome would've been nice to hike to....sure looks impressive, but that would take 3-4 hours...a ranger at the visitor center suggested Pothole Dome would be a good, short walk,. Pothole Dome is like a mini-Lembert Dome, further west on Tioga Road....and Pothole was fantastic....quick, easy and superb views of Tuolumne Meadows....great bang for the buck.
Olmstead Point, was quite familiar with this from prior visit...but it seemed better this time...perhaps because of the 1/4 mile hike out to a different viewing area,..well worth it...last time just looked from the parking lot pull-out.
First time entering Yosemite Valley from Big Oak Flat Road...not as dramatic as El Portal Road and Tunnel View, but still grand. Once in the Valley....it was WOW time....knew what to expect, had seen this before....but it was still WOW, WOW, WOW....El Capitan....the meadow....nice shots of Half Dome in front of a bridge on the Merced....
Found Curry Village...and my canvass tent cabin...and explored the area...a very interesting place...limited power outlets--must go to the Lounge...great pizza on the Patio....and a great view to wake up to....