The Gaylor Lakes trail starts at 9,950 ft elevation just past the Tioga Pass entrance, then it's another 600 ft elevation gain to the basin. We followed the stream to the upper lake, then went further up to Gaylor Peak and explored the old silver mining ruins.
Starting out in Dana Meadows
Looking down on Dana Meadows
Upper and Middle Gaylor lakes
Pretty flowers and lichen way up in there in the cold thin air
Heading back down.
We all know the water cycle. It's one thing to just learn and know this, but to actually see the entire process in action has given us a whole new level of understanding and fascination. Hiking to the top of a snow covered mountain, seeing the path that the melting snow takes as it drains into a lake, and following the stream further down into other lakes, rivers and waterfalls, is a lot more exciting than a textbook illustration.
This journey has been one giant field trip for us! We're learning so much about human and natural history everyday, that we've taken to calling our expenses tuition.
Glacial erratics in Tuolumne Meadows
Granite cliffs at Olmsted Point. Activist and conservationist Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park in NYC, and is considered to be the father of American landscape architecture.
We took one last drive to Yosemite Valley, explored a few short trails and hiked up to see Vernal Falls.
(UP as in 1.6 miles uphill the whole way!)
We didn't see any forest spirits, but we did see a big brown bear when we reached end of this walkway!
We crossed paths with him, maybe 25 feet apart. He glanced up at us, and continued on his way, unimpressed. I wasn't expecting a bear in that spot because there were so many people and cars around, but Yogi Bear is based on the truth, in that bears just want to steal your sandwiches. We heard they break into mini-vans more often than other vehicles - think little kids and cheerios on the floor.
On our drive back towards home, we stopped again at Olmsted Point to watch the full moonrise from behind the mountains. I've never seen a brighter night. The whole place lit up with the moonlight glinting off the white granite cliffs.