Day 17: Saturday, June 19: Nine Lakes Trail off Tioga Road to Big Bend campground by Lee Vining

I had slept well. As usual, I woke up when the birds started singing right as the sun was coming up. I marveled again at the quiet of this place, and thanked myself for stopping. I skipped making coffee, knowing that it would take me a while to leave down the path, and I wanted to get on the road before it got too hot.

I packed everything down the hill to the bike, retrieved my food (which was untouched, of course), packed everything back on the bike, and rode and dragged my bike back down to the trailhead. Though I wasn't looking forward to another day of climbing, my sleep had brightened my mood.

Today was a repeat of yesterday. The stupid, rushed drivers, the thin air, and the useless downhills annoyed me. But the scenery was still great, and the day was somewhat cooler (of course, I was now above 8500 feet and snow was all around). I was able to get something to eat at Tuolomne Meadows Grill, refilled my water, and kept climbing. Finally, I got over Tioga Pass.

The ride down Tioga Pass was one of those 8-10% grades where I had to use my brakes to keep from going more than 35 mph. So I got to stop and enjoy the scenery. This area is suddenly different than Yosemite. Less water means few trees, and there are many dramatic vistas. I only wish I could make panoramic photos. But I did take a few shots going down past Inyo Lake.
One photo going down Tioga Pass
Another photo going down Tioga Pass

There are several campgrounds along Tioga Road on the way downhill toward Lee Vining. I picked one that wasn't full, and camped there for $7.