The signs on the highway said the passes were open and a call to Yosemite road conditions confirmed 'no restrictions on any of the park roads. What?!? On New Year's Day? No snow in the Sierra Nevada so far this winter has resulted in this unique opportunity to visit Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows with a drive up Tioga Pass on New Year's Day.
Adventure Pal P and I loaded up my Rav with winter layers and equipment only to find temperatures hovering in the high 40s to low 50s with bright sunshine. It was almost surreal to be at 8000 feet elevation in shirt sleeves in January!
Our first stop was Olmstead Point to catch a glimpse of Tenaya Lake. (The park removes the interpretive signs in the winter; didn't know that).
Lots of people along the shore of Tenaya Lake, walking dogs, sitting in the sun; AND ON THE LAKE..... ice skaters, a couple hockey players, many slip, sliding around, and even a remote control monster truck!
I got brave enough to go out a few feet so P could snap this shot. But no walking across the lake for this California girl!
There was a weird low rumble from the ice; maybe an echo from the ice skaters? And all these cool vertical frozen bubbles.
On to Tuolumne Meadows where we parked and climbed a ways up the face of Lembert Dome to sit in the sun. (And take advantage of gnarled trees to try the wide angle of my new camera).
The day was just too perfect not to do a hike so after grabbing a snack we took off up the trail along the Dana Fork. There was some snow, but not enough to worry. The river was spectacular with only a couple small pools of open water.
We made one last stop at Tenaya Lake on our way back down the mountain. The late afternoon sun created the illusion that these folks were walking on water!
According to monobasinresearch.org, who have been keeping records since 1933, the other two late closures of Tioga Pass happened on December 29, 1976 and January 1, 1999. Wonder how long it will be open into 2012? Not long I hope!