I recently had the chance to spend one full day in Yosemite National Park. Someone told me of an individual in my situation who spoke to a Park Ranger and told them they had one day to spend in Yosemite. This individual asked the Park Ranger what he should see in that one day. The Park Ranger told the individual that he should sit down and cry because he would never see everything Yosemite had to offer in one day. I have to say that he is 100% correct.
I started the day at 4:30 a.m. My plan was to start at Tunnel View, an observation point providing an iconic view of El Capitan, Half-Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite Valley, and then to make my way through the park in an effort capture the surrounding landscapes. So, I arrived at Tunnel View and awaited the rising sun. As I setup the smoke from recent wild fires moving on the light breeze was detectible in smell and the slight stinging of my eyes. I was hopeful this would add to the atmosphere of the scene and I was not disappointed. As the sun was rising the silhouette of El Capitan, Half-Dome, and the surrounding valley was depicted in clear contrast to an amazing orange and red sky. The valley below, with a hanging layer of mist, was shrouded in blue.
As the sun continued to rise I was greeted with an unexpected, but utterly spectacular surprise. The sun was rising right over Half-Dome. I have to say that, as I realized where the sun would rise, I was more than a little excited. Here is a series of photos capturing the sun as it made its way over Half-Dome.
After spending several hours capturing the sunrise I headed off to get breakfast. That was easier said than done. Yosemite is filled with so many beautiful sights that at every turn I was captured by the scene. I would stop, grab my gear, and begin to hike off to make more photos. On this occasion, as I rounded a corner I was struck by the sight of El Capitan being struck by the morning light.
As I turned I saw Bridalveil Falls. So I struck off toward the falls. After a short hike I arrived and began working around the other tourist in an effort to capture the falls. This was difficult as my fellow tourist were climbing all over the rocks surrounding the falls. It took some patience but I was able to to get the shot.
Having spent a couple of hours here it was time for some breakfast. So, I put the blinders on and headed to my hotel. The hotel was located just outside the park. This was a great location as it saved time traveling into the park. After bellying up to the breakfast buffet I turned around and made my way back into the park. Relying primarily on the GPS on my phone to guide me around the park I was able, for the most part, to stay on track. I have to say that ones orientation while moving around in the valley surrounded by the enormous rock formations can be a bit distorted and thrown off. There were times were my GPS signal was lost and I ended up heading off in the wrong direction.
Once back in the park I would having one destination in mind only to be stopped in my tracks by the scene in front of me. So I found my self once again capturing Bridalveil Falls. This time I was along the Merced River shooting across the valley at the falls.
I feel very fortunate that the falls were flowing. It is my understanding that, at this time of year, the falls sometimes run dry depending on the conditions. Although the falls may not have held the granduer that they do at their peak, it was still spectacular.
Next I was off to Yosemite Valley Visitors Center. This would put me in position to observe Yosemite Falls from the valley and to visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. Here is one of those times where my GPS failed me and I took a wrong turn. After making the necessary correction I finally made it to the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center. Unfortunately my misdirection and the abundance of traffic in the area delayed me to the point where I only had time at the visitors center to grab a Clif Bar and bottle of water before heading off to Mirror Lake. The Ansel Adams Gallery will have to wait for a return trip.
My goal at this point was to hike to mirror lake and capture Half-Dome reflected in the lake. So, I hiked the mile or so to the location and found that the lake appeared that have receded due to the time of year. I unfortunately did not get the reflection shot that I was looking for, but, again the scene was still incredible.
After Mirror Lake it was back to my car and a return to Tunnel View for sunset.
I stayed until the sun was below the horizon to capture the scene during the blue hour.
After about 16 hours of making my way around Yosemite and shooting it was time to get back to the hotel and get some sleep. Unfortunately my schedule only allowed for the one day in Yosemite, but I think I made the best of it. It was an incredible experience and I will be returning. I hope those of you who take the time to read this blog enjoy the photographs.