Sunday, May 5, 2013

Farewell Yosemite, For Now--Until Next Time...

Beyond the obvious majestic rock formations with names like El Capitan and Half Dome, and aside from the roaring waterfalls with names like Bridalveil and Nevada, Yosemite has a magic about it that is evident almost everywhere you look.  Here are my parting shots from a trip that was long in coming, and too quickly passed.  This small set of photos didn’t quite fit in with other groupings, but if omitted would leave an incomplete sense of the Yosemite experience.  Whether it’s the Yosemite Visitor’s Center, the Ansel Adams Gallery, or the Ahwahnee Lodge, there are many things to do and see—and a few oddities and curiosities along the way.

Take for example the very surprising hiker that was coming up the trail to Upper Yosemite Falls as we were making our way down.  She was in a costume that looked like a cross between a ballerina and circus clown.  I was either too tired (yes) and/or too caught off guard (definitely) to ask her to stop so I could take her picture.  I was mumbling to myself for the next couple of paces at my missed opportunity, one that would clearly never happen again in my lifetime, when low and behold, here come some more colorfully decorated hikers.  I must live right!  Ok, now I’m ready…what gives?  Turns out that one of the hikers has her birthday today and all of her friends thought this would be a great way to start the celebration—and I agree! 

Also to be seen in Yosemite were mountaineers on the face of El Capitan, photographers out in the middle of a foggy meadow, craftsmen (and women) making arrow heads and weaving baskets, and even a bobcat! 
An early morning walk before that first cup of coffee provide an opportunity for a "surprising" shot.  My objective was to see if there was any wildlife out, so my camera was all set up for such a possibility...telephoto lens, continuous focus setting, fast shutter speed, etc...  I'm walking through the woods holding my camera like a hunter...when all of a sudden a rustling and commotion off to my right accompanied by a loud and active quacking!!  Without hardly thinking, I raise my camera in that direction, and with little time to look through the viewfinder, I press the shutter hoping to capture the action.  I got lucky...the duck looks beautiful.

Oh, and coffee?  Well, as nice as the rooms were, they didn’t have coffee makers in them.  Instead, when you checked in, you got vouchers for free coffee at the Lodge’s food court.  I wasn’t going to sound like a commercial with this, but I have to say that this was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.  And it wasn’t just the first day, or the influence of excitement from seeing a bobcat…no, this was great coffee every single time.  When I got back home, I sent an email to the company that provides the coffee and asked them specifically which of their products they provide to Yosemite.  They were quick to respond and the coffee is commercially available.  If you want more details, send me note (I’m not on commission, but wish I was!!!).

The drive out of the park, through the same long tunnel that had whispered anticipation on the way in, now said goodbye and beckoned a quick return.  It's easy to understand how the early visitors to this area were captivated by it, and much thanks should be given for John Muir's efforts to preserve it as a National Park, and Abraham Lincoln's taking time out from the Civil War to make it so.
I saw a sign once that said, take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints...  The memories I took away will last a lifetime.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yosemite--Falls and Rivers

Our photography club specifically chose April to visit Yosemite National Park because of the abundance of water from the snow melt and the resulting dramatic gushing over the cliffs as waterfalls.  By summer, the majority of the waterfalls are either dry or barely trickle.  As luck would have it, our visit not only had an amazing amount of water in the falls, but the weather could not have been dialed in more perfectly.  Mornings were crisp in the upper 30s and quickly climbed into the 50s and 60s.  With full sun most every day, one warmed up fast hiking around the valley and climbing trails—layering was the key to all-around comfort.

We stayed at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, which is an easy ten-minute walk from your room to the base of the falls.  It was a 5 minute walk to the Merced River that meandered through the middle of the valley and was accessible just steps away from the Lodge.  Convenient (and free) bus transportation looped around the valley floor to all the major stops and destinations.  Another short walk from the Lodge took you to Swinging Bridge which straddled the Merced River.  The shot of Yosemite falls above was taken from the bridge.  From morning until evening, the lighting was constantly changing the way this seen looked.  I was lucky to capture this moment with the late afternoon sun and the abundance of clouds that had built up during the warm day.

Yosemite Falls was mesmerizing.  One couldn’t help but stand there motionless and just look at the water and listen to its sound.  Visible from so many parts of the valley, Yosemite Falls was a constant source of inspiration and beauty.  Bridalveil Falls, another iconic waterfall at Yosemite, was equally exciting to watch, although it was a little further out and not as readily visible.  Bridalveil's excitement stems from the fact that you get a pretty good soaking when you walk up to the base of the falls.  What you experience is being enveloped in a mist so thick that it’s almost like standing in the rain.  For photography, this presented a challenge that I was not quite prepared for.  Nonetheless, the falls and the ensuing streams were beautiful and offered many opportunities to capture their beauty.
There are so many images that I'd like to share with you here, but there isn't enough room--so to see them you'll have to skip over to my website gallery and check out my Yosemite collection there:
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