Unexpected Tioga Pass

Rey Spadoni

I remember being in Yosemite National Park some ten plus years ago. It was summer and it was hot. Really hot. I figured our recent late June revisit would be more of the same. It wasn’t.

The Tioga Pass, a mountain highway named after a mine, is a roadway that passes through the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and from Yosemite to destinations east, including Lee Vining and Mammoth Lakes. Because of its elevation, nearly 10,000 feet, it remains closed typically through late May due to runoff from snow capped mountain peaks. Because of a particularly harsh winter and late season storms, the Pass was only open for an hour in the morning and then an hour in the afternoon while we were there. We took advantage.

The scene above is of a mountain lake near Mount Dana, still topped by portions of ice. It was one of the most scenic and most climate variable drives of my life. Stopping on the main portion of the Pass was strictly forbidden and so our desired photo ops are now simply memories of stunning scenes as we rushed by. The view above is just outside the main Yosemite gate and so we were unencumbered by the rules by that point.

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