Monday, September 26, 2016
For our second hike on our second day in Yosemite we walked out to Taft Point, a magnificent spot overlooking Yosemite Valley. We visited Taft Point in the late afternoon so we had to contend with a lot of haze in the valley. The haze actually added a lot of impact to the photos that we shot, giving a greater sense of depth to the canyon walls. You really have to be careful here as there are no railings to keep you safely back from the edge of the cliffs. It was a little nerve-racking to stand close enough to the edge to get photos like this. It seems like everywhere you go in Yosemite there is jaw-dropping beauty and Taft Point was no exception!
On our second day in Yosemite National Park we did two shorter hikes rather than one longer hike. The first of those hikes was to the top of Sentinel Dome, a cool rock dome that gives an awesome view of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley. Unfortunately we couldn't spend much time on top of the dome as it looked like storm clouds approaching and the last place you want to be during a storm is on top of a dome! So, we enjoyed the view for a few minutes, took a few pictures then headed back down. As it turns out the weather never did make it as far as Sentinel Dome, but it's always best to play it safe and we're glad we did.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Our next stop after a night of rest and recuperation in the town of Bishop was the high country of Yosemite National Park. We camped at the Tuolumne Meadows campground and hiked up to Cathedral Lakes. This hike was unbelievable! Talk about a quintessential Sierra mountain scene! We first hiked to Lower Cathedral Lake which, of course, was plenty beautiful but I much preferred Upper Cathedral Lake. The views from the far side of Upper Cathedral Lake were awesome, to say the least.
The upper lake has a rock hillside on the opposite side of the lake from Cathedral Peak. When you climb up this hillside you get an incredible view of the lake with Cathedral Peak behind it. It was one of the best views I've ever seen. Ever. I felt like I could sit there forever and never tire of the view. We lingered for a while on the shoreline of the lake after taking in the view from the hillside, but then it was time to go. We had to get going if we wanted to make it back to our campsite before nightfall. On a future trip I really want to camp here with Jessica and take in the sunset/night sky/sunrise views with her. That will be even more awesome :-)
Our time in the Bristlecones now behind us, we headed back down to the Owens Valley. The drive down from the White Mountains was just as spectacular as the drive up. As we approached the valley we could see the Sierras getting closer. And, lo and behold, there were clouds! So far on this trip clouds had been a rare sight. The rugged peaks of the Sierras combined with the lovely clouds made for an unforgettable scene.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Well, this was one of my bucket list items in terms of photography. Photographing the night sky over the Ancient Bristlecones was a dream come true. Ever since first hearing about these trees a long time ago I've wanted to visit them. It was awesome, to say the least, to finally be able to see them and bask in their presence. At night the trees take on a whole other magical feel. I can't wait to go back and photograph them more at night. I think I need to move to California... that way I can spend lots of time with them :-)
One of the things that was really amazing and totally different than back home in Minnesota is how many stars we could see even with the bright light of a half-moon. The clear air up at 10,000 feet sure makes a difference in that respect. With this kind of moonlight in northern Minnesota you wouldn't see nearly this many stars. We could even see the ribbon of the Milky Way Galaxy clearly in the sky. That basically never happens in Minnesota. If you've got moonlight in Minnesota, you can't see the ribbon of the Milky Way except for a little while when the moon first rises. Once it's high up in the sky, you really can't see the Milky Way. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these images. I sure had a lot of fun making them :-)
Out of the countless Bristlecone trees that we saw, I think this one is my favorite. There is just something about its shape and the fact that it stands out so cleanly from any other trees. It's the one that I see as having the most photographic potential. Indeed, as soon as we saw it I knew it was the one I wanted to come back and photograph at night with the stars and moonlight. Speaking of moonlight, you can see the moon rising just to the right of the tree in this photo. This photo was made about an hour and a half before sunset.