While camped at Tuolumne Meadows this summer, I took the shuttle to Tioga Pass and climbed the steep trail west of the Pass toward Gaylor Lakes. Where the trail crosses the ridge above the lakes, I left the trail and headed for Gaylor Peak, the 500-foot knob to the north.
At the top I found myself in the middle of a vast panorama. In all directions there were mountains, lakes and endless sky. Below me on the west was the broad basin of Gaylor and Granite Lakes. The lakes gleamed blue, reflecting the sky. Between the lakes, moraines from a long-melted glacier filled the basin. Swales between moraines were deep green with lush plants in moist soil.
Far beyond rose the turrets and aretes of the Cathedral Range, beyond Tuolumne Meadows. In the south and east, the peaks of the crest marched in procession, culminating in 13,000 foot Mt. Dana. To the northeast, the lake-filled basin of Lee Vining Creek dropped into the Mono Basin, with faraway ridges forming the skyline. To the north, the crest marched on.
Truly, I was in the midst of a wondrous landscape–and standing here, I was now part of it, and of everything in it. Quietly, I sat and watched a busy chipmunk as it searched for seeds on the summit.