Mono Pass with Clouds

Another splendid day in Tuolumne! I hiked up to Mono Pass and lunched at Spillway Lake, munching on a brownie and peanuts while feasting my eyes on Kuna Crest, and listening to the sound of the snow-melt rushing down the cliffs. Corn lilies had begun springing up in the meadows, along with some yellow flowers that I could not identify (our Illustrated Flora of Yosemite is just too heavy to bring on a hike!).

I met only four other people on the trail, and three of them had Yosemite Association connections! Judy Marks, our new employee at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, was heading up to the pass on her day off. One of our returning volunteers, Heather Schneider, and a new volunteer, Julie Rice, also had spent the day hiking in the area. We certainly have a great group of volunteers and employees who enjoy exploring the park.

On my return hike, the cumulus clouds had evolved into cumulus congestus, and I felt the first drops of rain hit me about halfway to the trailhead. After my hike, I drove to Tuolumne Meadows and watched as the storm formed over Mammoth Peak. An hour passed, and Mother Nature still had not produced any lightning, so I called it a day and headed home. However, I did stop at numerous vantage points along Tioga Road to watch the progress of the storm (thinking this safer than trying to watch the clouds in my rearview mirror). The clouds had climbed high into the troposphere and a definite anvil, the precursor to a thunderstorm, had formed. I almost drove back up to the meadows, wanting to see the lightning dance over the peaks, but I reasoned that I would have plenty of opportunities to see thunderstorms this summer.