Dan's Outside

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

My Photography

It occurred to me after I moved this blog to the new URL that some new readers might arrive here without the context that some who followed the old version of the blog might have. One big chunk of that context is my photography – the thing that often takes me to the places I write about here.

While I did travel to Yosemite last weekend largely to see and experience the transition from winter to spring in the Sierra, making photographs is a very important part of such trips. I don’t post them all here, but I do post a new photograph every day at my photography blog: G Dan Mitchell Photography.

Additional photographs from opening day along Tioga Pass Road are already posted there, with more to come from TP Road and Yosemite Valley.

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June 9, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, News, Photography, Site News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yosemite Blog Reports High Water in Yosemite Valley This Weekend

According to a post at Yosemite blog, the weather service is forecasting that high levels of spring runoff water in the Merced River may cause some flooding in Yosemite Valley this weekend. Before you panic, a bit of flooding in wet years is a normal thing and is part of the natural life cycle of meadows there. And, if you are a photographer, this can provide some very special photographic opportunities.

June 3, 2010 Posted by | News, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SFGate Update on California Camping for Holiday Weekend

SF Gate’s Tom Stienstra reports that it is still possible to find decent camping locations for the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday weekend. His article also includes updated information on a number or related topics – including more road opening information than I had before I read it. (He speculates that Caltrans is trying to get at least a couple of trans-Sierra passes open this weekend – though not Tioga.)

As for me, no camping this weekend. In previous years I’ve joined some friends for a “Goodbye Winter, Hello Summer” traditional visit to Mammoth for desert camping and late-season telemark skiing. However, this year I’m just a bit too busy with other things, and I’ll likely be staying closer to home.

May 27, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

Take Transit to Trails?

Tom Mangan of Two-Heel Drive (Tom, again I first typed Two-Hell Drive before backspacing and correcting… ;-) has an interesting post with a quick overview of some options for getting to your San Francisco Bay Area hike on public transit. (See Transit accessible trails in the Bay Area)

Read Tom’s Post for details and links to more information. The short story is that you have lots of options if you live in certain areas north of the Golden Gate. You have limited options if you live elsewhere in the Bay Area, but some of them do seem pretty interesting. His report on Mt. Diablo, for example, is intriguing. I’ve often considered heading to New Almaden Quicksilver County Park on a VTA but have never quite gotten around to it – something about schlepping my typical Big Bag o’ Camera Gear through city streets and on the bus perhaps?

A day after posting this I realized I could have had even more perverse fun with the title of the post – “Time to Take Transit to Top Trails” would have worked. (I suspect that Tom would have approved… or at least chuckled a bit.)

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, News, Trails | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting for Sierra Summer?

There is a progress report from Yosemite National Park covering the prospective opening date for the Glacier Point Road and progress on clearing Tioga Pass Road:

Tioga Road Plowing Update for April 20:

Start: Crane Flat
End: 7 miles past Crane Flat (just beyond South Fork bridge)
Miles plowed today: 7 miles
Average snow depth: 4 feet

The Glacier Point Road tentatively may open on Friday, May 1, conditions permitting.

The Mariposa Grove Road tentatively may open on Friday, April 17, conditions permitting.

I love to engage in the sport of predicting when Tioga Pass Road might actually open. I don’t have the sources that some people have so I really have to guess. My guess is sometime around the middle of May if conditions stay more or less on track. Sometime close to that date I hope to enjoy fish tacos in Lee Vining while overlooking Mono Lake, and perhaps stop at Latte Da for an espresso afterwards. (You can view a historical record of opening dates online.)

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, News, Sierra Nevada | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuolumne Gas Station Will Close for Upgrades

From a West Coast Imaging blog report:

Tuolumne Gas Station Closed For Upgrades Beginning Monday, 9/8, the Tuolumne Gas Station will be temporarily closed for vapor recovery and dispenser upgrades. Fuel will not be available from 9/8 until 9/29. The sport shop will remain open for business and propane will still be available through 9/21, daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. Fuel is still available at Crane Flat Station 24 hrs/day. (NPS Press Release)

I virtually never buy gas there anyway, but this is good to keep in mind if you aren’t one to watch the gas gauge carefully. Since I most often come in from the west side I usually tank up in Oakdale or possibly near Groveland on the way up – prices are a lot lower there than inside the park. If I’m coming up from the east side I usually try to get gas in Bishop – again, considerably lower prices here – or possibly Mammoth if I have a reason to go up there.

The gas prices in Lee Vining are notoriously high – generally among the very worst prices in the eastern Sierra – so I avoid purchasing gas there if at all possible. (Though a stop at the Mobil station at the junction of Tioga Pass Road and Highway 395 is worth it for the food. Really. Get the fish tacos. That’s all I’ll say.)

September 5, 2008 Posted by | Commentary, News, Places, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite | 5 Comments

Smoke from the Little Red Tent

Edie Howe’s Little Red Tent blog, that is. Edie lives in Yosemite Valley and often posts her photographs at her site and elsewhere. Recently she did the Four Mile Trail (from the Valley to Glacier Point) and she has posted a sequence of photographs from the hike. For everyone who wondered whether the smoke from California wild fires has gotten into the Valley, here is a partial answer.

(Another way to check on this is to look at the Yosemite Web Cam page, which hosts links to four web in and near Yosemite Valley and one at Tioga Pass. When I looked this morning the smoke was visible in the Valley but not as bad as it was a few days ago, but there is also a big smoke cloud to the west.)

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Commentary, News, Trails, Trips, Yosemite | Leave a comment

Sunset at Point Lobos State Reserve

Point Lobos State Reserve (part of the California State Parks System) is one of the best places in central California to enjoy the Pacific coast. This rocky shoreline features great vistas and wildlife including otters, sea lions and seals, and tons of birds. There have been two downsides:Being only a few miles south of the tourist mecca of Carmel it can be quite crowded, and closing time has always been way before sunset – at one of the best places in the state to watch the sun set over the Pacific.

This summer the park system fixed one of those problems, and in doing so reduced the other. The change is that the park now closes 30 minutes after sunset. (This may change after the peak tourist season, so contact the park to make sure that this policy is still in effect before visiting.) Yesterday I went there to photograph the evening light – the park listed sunset as 7:15 so I was able to stay until nearly 7:45.

It was a nearly completely calm evening, with low surf and almost no wind. The “golden hour” light was beautiful, occasionally illuminating wispy clouds of fog.


Dusk, Point Lobos State Reserve. Monterey Peninsula, California. September 15, 2007. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell.

Surprisingly, there was almost no one in the park at this most beautiful time of day – quite a contrast with a typical weekend during the day, when the park can be so full that all the parking spaces are taken and cars are queued up at the entrance waiting to get in. There seemed to be a small number of people waiting for the sunset, but most of them left around 7:15 as the sun dropped below the horizon. Extraordinary light continued, and perhaps even improved, for another 20 minutes or so – but I don’t think that there could have been more than a dozen people left by then.

September 16, 2007 Posted by | News, Places | Leave a comment

Two-Heel Drive Fire Coverage Continues

Tom Mangan continues to post interesting stories about the Lick Fire. Today he links to an article about people who have property in the area, and he includes a link to a slide show featuring some very good photographic work by Patrick Tehan.

September 8, 2007 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

'Turned the corner' on Lick Fire

Firefighter Blog post an update on the Lick Fire in Coe Park here in the SF Bay area:

Lick Fire Bosses Gain Ground. Lick Fire Incident Commander Bob Whallen, his command team and the 1,900 firefighters assigned to the incident have turned a corner. The weather helped as humidity and winds worked to their favor.
According to the morning report from the incident the fire is at 39,585 acres and is 45% contained. Demobilization of some of the resources begins today…. By Mike. [Firefighter Blog]

Follow the link for the full post, which includes a summary of some interesting facts about the fire: Total area projected to be close to 50,000 acres and total cost of fighting the fire to be about $10 million. Or $4.8 million if you believe SF Gate.

September 8, 2007 Posted by | News | Leave a comment

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