On Day 2 of the Epic Road Trip of 2014 Mum and I hiked Clouds Rest in Yosemite. This was the primary purpose of the road trip. I think at one point this was all we had planned to do until I said something like, "Could we see (insert point of interest) too" a couple of times.
It's 7 miles (11km) up and 7 back. Most of the trail is well marked, but once you get to the peak, it looks like this. It really doesn't look like you should be scrambling up those rocks just past the sign. On either side are very steep drops. The hike even warns you not to do it if you have a "heights thing".
I think the guide was a little lax in explaining how narrow a piece of rock you are crossing over. Everyone had problems going over the last bit of rock. When we reached the last part of the trail I found my heart racing, so I just looked at my feet as I went up and over. (Actually, if you don't have a "heights thing" while doing the last bit, your sense of self preservation simply doesn't exist and you might have bigger issues in life to contend with.) If you go up and over, you get the best view in Yosemite. Just to my right is Half Dome. And the deep valley to the right of Half Dome, that is Yosemite Valley. You are above it all. Clouds Rest lives up to its name.
After finishing that hike, Mum and I got ice cream and then drove to Lee Vining via Tioga Pass. This pass is a sight to behold. It always closes for winter because of the snow. This year was a low snow year, so I believe it opened earlier than usual. If ever you get a chance to travel to this part of the world, drive down this pass. I would recommend doing it in the late afternoon when the shadows start creeping in. You start believing you are in a movie because everything is so grand that it almost seems fake.
The pass opens up to a view of Mono Lake, a neat place in of its own right. Mono Lake is a saline lake with no outlet. And on a day when the clouds roll through, it is particularly spectacular.
The lake has Tufa formations, which are mineral deposits. There are many places around the lake to see them, but the South Tufas are particularly stunning.
We were lucky to get a view of Lenticular clouds and a flower I had never seen before called the Giant Blazing Star. The flowers were approaching the size of my hand. I didn't even know that size of flower could exist somewhere like the East Sierras.
As the sun set, Mum and I drove to the Whoa Nellie Deli and had a tasty meal. She had the fish tacos, I had the meatloaf. When we got back to the hotel, I hobbled to bed and passed out after having such a great day.