I was staring idly out of the window as I was flying across California when a shape on the ground below caught my eye. I grabbed the camera as I realized we were coming across Yosemite. From above, the most conspicuous shape is that of Half Dome. However, it looks very different when looking down on it than it does when you are on a level with it. It almost seems distorted. I grabbed a few shots as we zipped overhead and then it disappeared behind the wing.
More window shots today! I usually end up sitting on the same side of the plane depending on which way I am heading in order to be on the shady side. However, I was on the opposite side on one flight back to Oakland recently and ended up with a good view of Yosemite National Park as we came home. The light was a bit harsh and I was a long way up so nothing outstanding here but it was still a cool view with Half Dome being the easiest landmark to pick out from this angle.
The scenery in Yosemite attracts a lot of people but some of them want to get a bit more personal with the rocky landscapes. Climbing is very popular and, when you stop to take a look around, a quick look up may well reveal a few brave fellows scaling the heights. I initially didn’t notice a group above us at one of our stops but then I saw someone else looking up and took a more detailed peak myself. I saw some people up on a ridge and only then noticed some people lower down on the face of the rocks as they descended. The long lens doesn’t quite give you the impression of their height but I assure you they were a long way up.
The Tioga Pass has a nice selection of water courtesy of the various damming activity that has gone on. I have been this way before and that made its way on to the blog here. The color of the water is great. Whether this is because it is clear water or a function of the light at this altitude I don’t know but it looks great. Having lakes surrounded by such impressive peaks makes the place seem like it has been created for postcard manufacturers. I just think it is great. The sun reflecting off the surface certainly enhances the look.
As we were driving back past Tuolumne Meadows on the return journey through the Tioga Pass, Nancy saw something moving out in the grass. Fortunately we were very close to a pull off so we hopped out. She grabbed the binoculars and I grabbed the camera. It was a coyote strolling around on the hunt for a snack. He was heading roughly towards us which looked promising. Sadly, a family next to us decided to try their best wolf howls since they seemed to think that this would in some way help the situation.
The coyote clearly decided that a better idea was to head off in the other direction and I shared his assessment. However, before we moved on, I took a quick scan across the meadow and saw a small herd of deer. At this time of year, it doesn’t take much to work out who the males are!
A previous trip across the Tioga Pass had taken me to Olmsted Point and I did post about that here. Nancy hadn’t been before so it was fun showing her the spot for the first time. Like me, she was amazed how many people never left the parking area and discovered the better views after only a short stroll (or what counts as a stroll at that sort of altitude). Even when people are there, you still feel like you have the place to yourself.
Last time I was there, it had been a bit hazy. This time it was a bit clearer which was good. The nice thing about Olmsted Point is that, despite the lengthy road journey from the valley, you are actually very close to the same place and you have a nice perspective on Half Dome. Being there earlier would help from a lighting perspective because things are starting to be a bit backlit but it is still a lovely view.
A trip into Yosemite means a chance to see some big trees. I had originally thought about a trip to Mariposa Grove like the one I posted about here. However, coming in over the Tioga Pass makes for a long trip to get to Mariposa so, instead, we decided to head to the Tuolumne Grove instead. While perhaps not as extensive, it is still a nice spot and, courtesy of being a bit more out of the way and involving a walk of about a mile, it is a lot less busy.
The trees are always cool to see. I always find it funny how the large firs start to make you wonder whether they are the big trees until you do see a sequoia at which point you realize just how big the big guys are. One other feature of Tuolumne Grove is the tree with the road cut through it. I should point out that this sort of vandalism is appalling. The idea of hacking out the bottom of a huge tree so people can go through it is really nuts. However, now that it is done, you do see something quite unusual. I hope lessons have been learned though.
Scale is something that is always hard to portray in photos. People are a good way of getting some perspective on this. Most of the time you try and get the shots with no one there. Best to try both and then go with which one works best. Of course, you can include your wife and just get a shot that you like anyway!
I was on a flight back home recently and our course took us almost directly over the top of Yosemite. I was on the right hand side of the plane which happened to be the side with the view of the valley. I only had my phone with me but here are some shots anyway of a view you don’t normally get. I could clearly see El Capitan. Interestingly, the most famous view of the valley is Half Dome but, from this angle, you were behind it and it wasn’t very obvious at all.
One part of Yosemite that I have not previously explored is the Tioga Pass Road. It has either been out of my way or closed for the winter during previous visits but this time I decided to take the drive across to end up at Mono Lake. The route takes you to Olmsted Point. This is only a couple of miles from my starting point in Yosemite Valley but the direct route is not available to cars so an hour’s drive is the alternative.
Olmsted Point itself is a pretty bleak and exposed place. The view across to Yosemite Valley is good (and would probably be a lot better at a different time of day to my visit)and you can see a lot from the parking lot. It is only a short walk to a better spot but most people don’t bother walking down. The rocky outcrop is very bright and on a sunny day the light is quite harsh. However, you do get a view of everything around you which makes it worth doing.