Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Quick Trip to Yosemite Valley

Having heard that the dogwood trees were in bloom and that the waterfalls might peak early this year, I took a quick trip to Yosemite Valley this weekend. Originally I planned a one day up-and-back trip – yeah, I’ve learned to deal with getting up at 3:30 for the almost four hour drive – but my wife, Patty, suggested that I go up a day early this time. (Thanks, Patty! :-)

I left right after my Friday afternoon class and I arrived in the Valley by about 6:30, in time to try to photograph a rather cloudy view from the Wawona Tunnel parking lot. As is my habit, I hung out there for nearly an hour and a half, eating my “dinner” (Starbucks sandwich) and waiting to see if there might be the magic light that comes in just before sunset beneath the clouds to the west. Not this time. After packing up I headed down to the Valley and to my North Pines campsite, where I set up my little tent and soon crawled into the sleeping bag.

I got up early – close to 5:30 – and within a few minutes I was in the car and looking for interesting morning light. There was a shallow fog in the meadows near Yosemite Village, so I stopped there to photograph a group of trees with Yosemite Falls in the background. From there I moved on down the Valley, stopping at several other meadows where the sunlight was just hitting the trees and grass. Finally I worked my way up to a large turnout above the Wawona Tunnel, hoping for an interesting Valley view but finding perhaps a bit too much haze. The light was losing its magic and I was getting hungry so I headed back towards Curry Village for The World’s Most Expensive Espresso and a bagel.

My plan was to hike up the Valley in the afternoon looking for dogwood blooms. But first I decided to check out the newly remodeled Visitor Center and visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. I returned to the car and prepared for an afternoon of foot travel and then headed back to the Curry Village parking lot. (Curry Village itself had the largest display of dogwood blossoms that I saw that day, but I just couldn’t bring myself to photographing those dogwoods.) From here I wandered up to Happy Isles and, believe it or not, for the first time actually went to the “isles.” A nice spot, but the light was quite flat and I didn’t see the subjects I was looking for.

Having heard a report of dogwood blooms near Mirror Lake I headed that direction. There were some dogwoods in bloom, but most were not conducive to photography (too far above the ground or no suitable background). I followed the footpath rather than the road and ended up on the right side of the lake. I paused to photograph some trees in the lake and then, remembering a bridge way above the lake, I headed up the river hoping to cross and come back down the other side. It might have helped if I had taken the actual trail – eventually the little “use trail” I followed more or less petered out and I decided to head back the way I came.

By the time I returned to the car it was around 5:00, so I thought I’d head back to the lower end of the Valley to check some dogwoods I’d seen earlier and, if necessary, go part-way down the road toward El Portal to where I had been told there might be more flowers. By the time I got to the lower end of the Valley it was starting to rain lightly. I headed on down toward the entrance station and finally found a beautiful dogwood tree, fully in bloom, behind the rock wall along a steep section of the canyon. As I photographed here the rain began to increase, so I finished up and got back in the car.

As I drove back toward the main Valley it seemed like the clouds might be lightening up a bit, so I figured I had nothing to lose by making one more quick stop at the Wawona Tunnel. I was the only person photographing, which kind of makes sense given that it was raining. I improvised a camera cover from a rain hat and managed to get a few shots as the light faded. Time will tell if they are worth anything or not.

By dusk the rain was increasing and it was time to go. I headed up toward Highway 120 and encountered some significant snowfall at the high point. As I descended the snow turned back to rain, which continued nearly all the way home.

So, that’s why you are likely to see some more Yosemite photos here over the next few days.


April 22, 2007 - Posted by | Trips

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