From the monthly archives:

May 2009

Fly Fishing in the Sierra’s

by Ted on May 31, 2009

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Yosemite’s Tioga Road open

by Ted on May 23, 2009

Yosemite National Park
Image by Stefan Schlautmann via Flickr

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – Tioga Road, the trans-Sierra highway through Yosemite National Park, opened at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the National Park Service announced.The road closes with the first snow in fall and usually reopens around Memorial Day after crews clear the snow.No services will be available through the holiday. The campgrounds and the visitor center at Tuolumne Meadows will remain closed for the next several weeks. There will be road-side pit toilets. Visitors are urged to take extra safety precautions, especially along the Merced River.

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Mono Lake

by Ted on May 20, 2009

The Mono Lake is pictured 12 September 2007 in...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
Mono Lake Tufa SNR
State Natural Reserve
The reserve was established to preserve the spectacular “tufa towers,” calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water.

Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. It is an ancient lake, over 1 million years old — one of the oldest lakes in North America. It has no outlet.

Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams. Freshwater evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean.

Highway 395, 13 miles east of Yosemite National Park, near the town of Lee Vining, California.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended clothing

The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.

Winter is a particularly beautiful time at Mono Lake. The crowds are gone, a quiet stillness prevails, and snow crystals sparkle on the tufa towers.

The road to South Tufa is kept plowed, allowing year round access except immediately after large storms.

South Tufa, Old Marina, and the State Natural Reserve boardwalk below the Mono Lake County Park are all wonderful places to cross-country ski when snow conditions permit.

Facilities – Activities

Interpretive Programs
These programs are a cooperative effort of the State Natural Reserve, U.S. Forest Service and the Mono Lake Committee. Rangers lead free tufa walks at the South Tufa area — tours are at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays May through October.

Tours are offered 3 times daily from late June through Labor Day (10am, 1pm, and 6pm); and daily at 1pm late May through September.

Bird walks are offered at the Mono Lake County Park/State Natural Reserve boardwalk at 8:00 a.m. Fridays and Sundays mid-May through Labor Day.

A spooky Moonlight Walk is offered each October.

Visitor Center
The Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center is a great place to start your visit to this area. The center is located just off Highway 395, north of Lee Vining and includes a variety of exhibits about the natural and human history of the Mono Basin. Visitor center staff stand ready to help you plan your explorations of Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra.

Outdoor Activities
Hiking, swimming, boating, and cross-country skiing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy at this unusual lake.

Photographers come from all over the world to capture the interplay of light, desert, and water. The natural history of the lake is described and explained in a one-mile self-guided nature trail at South Tufa.

This spectacular tufa area is the best place to visit if you have time for only one stop. A boardwalk trail below the Mono Lake County Park allows access to the north shore tufa area and marsh. A trail at Panum Crater leads to the dome and crater rim.

A swim in Mono Lake is a memorable experience. The lake’s salty water is denser than ocean water, and provides a delightfully buoyant swim. Old timers claim that a soak in the lake will cure almost anything. Keep the water out of your eyes or any cuts, as it will sting.

The State Natural Reserve is surrounded by the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, operated by the Forest Service. There are no campgrounds in the State Natural Reserve or the Scenic Area. Dispersed camping is permitted in most of the Scenic Area outside the exposed lake bed lands. Campfire permits are required. Established campgrounds are located in Lundy Canyon, Lee Vining Canyon, and the June Lake Loop.

All types of boating are permitted on Mono Lake, although access is restricted to all islands between April 1 and August 1 each year to protect the nesting gulls. It is advisable to stay near shore while boating, and to be alert for sudden high winds. We recommend launching canoes and kayaks at Navy Beach, on the south shore, where a parking lot is close to the water. For those with boats too large to carry, an unimproved launch ramp is available near Lee Vining Creek. Stop by the Scenic Area Visitor Center for directions.

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Half Dome Cables Up

by Ted on May 17, 2009

Half Dome Near Sunset, Yosemite National Park
Image by wisconsinhiker via Flickr

National Park Service:  The cables allowing trail access for hikers to the summit of Half Dome are up and open for the season today, May 15, 2009.

The Half Dome hike is a round-trip hike of over 17 miles and is considered extremely strenuous. Hikers gain 4,800 feet of elevation along the hike that passes highlights such as Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, before reaching the cables on Half Dome’s steep granite shoulder. A series of metal cables are placed along the steep shoulder of the dome to assist hikers to the summit.

Visitors are advised to take appropriate precautions when planning a hike of this length and difficulty, and to be prepared for changing weather and trail conditions. Thunder and lightening are common occurrences in the High Sierra during the summer and fall; hikers should not to attempt to summit Half Dome around or during thunderstorms and are advised to use extreme caution when the rocks are wet.

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Glacier Point Road Opens For Season

by Ted on May 7, 2009

Glacier Point Road  in Yosemite National Park opened for the season earlier this week.

Yosemite Officials say the Glacier Point Concession stand remains closed, but limited services like hand washing stations are available.

Visitors are advised to travel with caution along the Glacier Point Rd. as the road may be wet due to melting snow. Wildlife is also very active. There is not a projected opening date yet for Tioga Road or the Bridalveil Creek Campground.