We left Mammoth Lakes and headed north to the infamous Tioga Pass. Today was a chance to explore Yosemite National Park at our leisure. We were only 150 miles from our next overnight stop at La Portal, so we stopped to buy a picnic lunch just outside the entrance to the park and then entered in small groups and spent most of the day taking in the sights. Today we were at alitudes of 4,000 to 6,000 feet, so the temperatures were very pleasant compared to the extremes of temperature we encountered in Death Valley.
Every park we've been to on this trip has had it's own unique character and Yosemite is characterised by towering granite cliffs, spacious meadows, lakes, waterfalls and giant sequoias. Photographs can never convey the scale and grandeur of the place, but you can get some feel for the magnificent views that appeared around every bend in the road. This is a landscape that has been shaped by glaciers over millions of years.
The giant sequoia trees dwarf even the largest pine and fir trees that live among them. They can live for over two thousand years and their trunks can reach over 25 feet thick. One of the most bizarre sights in the park is the "Tunnel Tree." This is a giant sequoia which has had a tunnel big enough for a car to pass through cut into it's trunk. The tree can only be reached on foot, down a 1 mile path, and only a few of us decided to hike down to see it!
On leaving the park we rode 20 miles along Hwy 120 to reach the Cedar Lodge Hotel in El Portal.