We got up early once more as the fire forced us to take a detour to enter Yosemite. A rockslide blocked yet another entrance – so yeah… Once we got into the valley, we noticed everything looked a bit hazy – and when we opened the window to show the ranger our passes, our longs died a little from the smoke. We drove past a few uncontrolled fires, before stopping at Tunnel View. Especially near the start of the Valley, vision and smoke conditions were bad:
… but the morning light and smoke worked together to create mesmerizing scenery in other instances, and especially near the end of the valley things were considerably better. We took in the scenery for a few hours, hiked to a waterless waterfall, and set course to Big Pine after. All in all, we’re very grateful we still got to see the park on the day of reopening:
When starting our ascend towards the pass, we almost immediately saw something rummaging in the bushes. It was … an Asian dude, but he was photographing a bear! A BEAR! A small black bear to be precise, so we pulled over and may have created a tourist traffic jam in doing so.
The landscape only seemed to be getting more spectacular from there: from alien granite wonderlands (with Yosemite in the back), to meadows, mountain lakes, and eventually the saltwater Mono Lake:
This Mono Lake had a few more surprises in store though, in the form of amazingly picturesque rock formations on its southern shores. These old calcified geysers gave the place a mythical feel and further drove the point home that the state of California has the landscape variety of an entire continent.
Our final sunset stop was at Mammoth Lakes, a nice recreation area we happened to almost pass through: