California can shine. It very well may shine brightest in springtime. This year, we had a low snow year and that’s the yang. The yin is that Tioga Pass opened very early so in one day, you can easily experience the foothills, the white granite domes, the high mountains, the east side, and the desert.
Today, I woke up in Waterford, CA and got on the road by 7:30am. From there, it was a classic California adventure: Flipping into Rainbow Pools in the foothills, gaping at Half Dome, skiing Poop Chute on Tioga Pass, gawking at last year’s Yosemite Rim Fire, ice cream at Mono Cone, watching Osprey eat fish at Mono Lake, and the Lazy River was up to 102F, the hottest I’ve ever seen it.
I was way too late at Tioga Pass. I started hiking at 11am and dropped in at 1pm. The snow in Poop Chute was terrible. On the open face, the snow was fun, albeit slow. But you could at least open it up. The past two weekends, the Ellery Bowl zone needed a lot of time to soften. Today, it was scorching hot up there, the wind was hot, and I don’t think it froze last night.
It was burning hot and windy and nice at Mono Lake. I watched an Osprey eat a fish on a tufa tower in the lake. No, there aren’t fish in Mono lake, the Osprey bring the fish from other lakes and eat them on the tufa. The tufa is formed by the process described below. The towers are surreal. Today, there were also water spouts on the far end of the lake. They initially formed as amorphous blobs, then powerfully formed into skyrocketing cyclones that thinned out and gained height as they swirled east. If you haven’t been to Mono Lake, it’s time to go. It’s a jewel.
Mono Cone was good as always. They’re apparently crushing it. They bought the motel across the street and another small building that they’re turning into a coffee shop that will appropriately be called “Mono Cup.” Yes.
The air at Rainbow Pools was hot by 8:45am. The water honestly wasn’t too frigid, I think. The waterfall is frighteningly low for May. At this time of year, it’s usually like jumping into freezing water with enormous Jacuzzi jets powering in air bubbles at a ridiculous rates. It’s an intense feeling. The raging current spits you out 10-15 yards downstream from where you landed. This year, the waterfall is a trickle and you pop up right where you drop in. It’s still a sultry experience.
The Lazy River in Mammoth was the hottest I’ve ever experienced. 102F at least. The air was warm as well, which made getting out easy. Last weekend, it was below freezing and snowing on us. Getting out was brutal. Ten white pelicans showed up for a little bit today. The Lazy River is on right now.