Visiting Yosemite in the fall

We recently went on a day trip over Tioga Pass to Yosemite. On our way there we stopped in the ranger station at Mono Lake. It is one of the oldest lakes, formed by melting glaciers, and is surrounded by volcanoes. The two small islands in the lake are volcano domes. Since the lake has no outlet, the streams that flow into it have left salts and minerals over the years. As the fresh water evaporates the salts and minerals are left behind and it is now almost three times more salty and nearly 80 times more alkaline than the ocean. While watching the short video of the history of the lake, they said that if you have an extremely soiled garment that you have been unable to clean and you dip it in the lake once or twice, the stains will disappear.

Fish can't survive in the salty waters, but tiny brine shrimp thrive in the lake. Brine shrimp are also called sea monkeys and are available to grow in your own aquarium. It is also home to alkali flies which feed the thousands of birds that make the lake their annual nesting grounds. There are so many of alkali flies that the shoreline and surface of the water may appear black. You can walk along the shore right through these flies and they just scatter without landing on people. 

Crossing Tioga Pass on California 120 offers views of some magnificent rock formations. Glaciers also formed the huge craggy cliffs and smooth domes that are typical of Yosemite. The trees appear to be placed on the slopes as if a child was playing with miniatures. Some of the massive granite domes just rise out of meadows. The signs warn of the fragile meadows that provide home to area wildlife and ask that we stay on the paths and not step on the grass.

Evidence of last year's devastating wildfire is seen as we drive closer to the lodge. The firefighters are to be congratulated for being able to protect the buildings that the fire came so close to being destroyed. Looking out over the meadows and valleys, there is already new growth coming up from the fires of several years ago. While we didn't see any deer or other wildlife, I did find a stack of pine cones from the sugar pine. These cones are almost two feet long and very heavy. Don't tell anyone but I had to bring a few home. 

Have a rambling good week!

n Reach Gail Davis at or call 265-1947.



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