Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mono Lake , Mammoth Mountain & YoseMite National Park

         This was my 2nd weekend in US and we really wanted to drive long on this. We chose Yosemite National Park ,which is 4 hours/180 miles/290 KM drive from Santa Clara.
        Three of us Myself, Kumaran & Ratnesh  were in for it .

From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
Our initial plan was to start early morning say 5 AM .But later changed the plan to get started by 12 AM in midnight and reach Mono Lake for sunrise. We were not ready to believe the GPS completely and took prints from Google maps. We started around 12:30 AM  and no major stops on the way, apart from picking coffe from McDonalds. I hate this coffee ,made a decision to never take it hereafter. It was a long drive as i was awake through out the trip. Sun was supposed to rise at 6:21 AM , but when we reached there at 5:45 sky was already well lit even though sun hasn't risen. Now we were in the high way and we need to take a small road to the lake. After looking for the road quite a long time and trying some trial and error on few unmarked path, we saw a car taking the road to the lake and we followed it and reached the lake just in time to see the sun rise.
        The unique proposition of this lake is the nature of water ( high density due to mineral content) and tufa ,sort of coral reefs formed by mineral deposits. Water looked crystal clear but while touching it was like oil and tasted miserably :).
From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
We saw the sun rise here . We couldn't have the view of sun due to clouds but it was picturesque seeing the horizon getting painted first in red then in glittering gold by the sun .Apart from us there were 10-15 people.
From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
       Initially our plan was to go to Yosemite national park from here . But we were pleasantly surprised by the snow on the hill top surrounding mono lake. Mammoth mountain which was famous for its snow capped mountains was not in our plan , as we didn't expect snow at this point in summer. But now we changed our plan to accommodate mammoth mountain too. On the way there was a place to refresh our self . It seems to maintained by government and it was pretty clean.

From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
Not even 5 minutes into drive from here ,front tire got flattened. After a bit of trial & error experiments , we were able to replace the spare tire. But spare tire was not full sized one and it was meant for only short term drive. We didn't want to waste time repairing it and our calls to renting agent(budget) was also not responded properly .So we decided to carry on the trip and change the car itself the next day.Later came to know that it was a wrong decision. We shouldn't drive for long using spare tires and that too in the front axle. Anyway we came to now this fact on the next day only when we were mentioning this incident to colleagues. 
     We continued to mammouth mountain. There were only traces of snow . During peak season there would be meteres of snow above the ground it seems . We took the cable car to the top of the moutain and spent about an hour there. View from there was very nice. This is the first time i am encountering snow and so even though there were only little snow it was thrilling for me.
From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
  
From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
  After mamouth mountain ,we drove towards Yosemite National Park. There was a severe forest fire in one portion of the park and i was bit worried if we could access all the places .But all the must visit places were out of the danger area .We could see the fire engines and forest ranger vehicles whizzing  to and for on the road.
    We visited lot of vista points .There we could park our car and take some snaps and enjoy the nature.Mostly there were moutains,streams and coniferous tress. Mountains were huge and beautiful.Half Dome , a mountain which looks as if it was cut into half was the important one. At various points in the trip , we saw the same mountains ,falls from different altitudes and angles.
From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
From Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park
Every view was equally beautiful. We went to the top of the hills (glacier point ) and had a full view of the entire area from there. Then we drove down to the valley . It was almost sunset at this point and we started to travel back.We thought of going straight to Sanjose airport and change the car . But by the time we reached the city it was almost 1 AM and we were damn tired (24 hours non stop driving ) and hence postponed the car change plan to the next day and reached home.
More photos here
Mono Lake, Mammoth mountain & Yosemite National Park

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