I had an amazing time in Yosemite National Park, spending four days camping nearby and exploring as much as we could. Even with four days, we didn't make it out of the valley and only saw a fraction of the park.
I will say, that my first impression was...mixed. While standing in the mist-shrouded Yosemite Valley, with El Capitan and the falls looming over me, I felt as if I were in Jurassic Park. Not only because of the ancient, unbelievable views, but because of the multitude of tour buses and thousands of people milling about. In the valley, everything is paved. Even the trails...and the fields are fenced off with signs asking you to stay out. They have to do this, in order to prevent everything from being trampled to death (probably would only take a few days). It was very, very odd. I'm used to the tamer parks here in Washington State. Even on the busiest weekend of the year, when we would consider the traffic crazy in Mount Rainier National Park, and the camping grounds full...it comes nowhere close to the commercialization of Yosemite. I guess that's what bothered me. Had me conflicted inside: the commercialization.
The irony, of course, is that I was a tourist. As I stood there looking around with some disdain at all the people swarming me, I had to accept that I was one of them. Drawn to the park by the lure of the world-famous Half-Dome and two-thousand-foot Yosemite falls. I firmly gripped my Nikon and sucked it up: be a tourist.
My traveling companions (fellow photographers), were smart. (and early risers, which I am not) They made plans arrive at the park early in order to miss the crowds. We were told that the line to get into the park would be MILES long by seven. SO...we got there at 5:30 and there wasn't a soul in sight until about eight. Then the park quickly filled to the point of the streets of Disneyland. However, they were all polite and pleasant. WE were all there to experience the beauty and peace of this awe-inspiring place. So I was able to get over my trepidation. (I don't like crowds)
My absolute favorite part of the trip was our very early morning hike up to the top of Sentinel Dome. The valley floor is around 4,200 feet elevation. The top of the valley is about 6,200 and the top of the dome is just over 8,100. Yup. I was standing on top of a granite dome, looking straight down some 4,000 feet to the valley below us. I was looking DOWN on Yosemite Falls, and across at Half Dome. It was absolutely, freaking amazing. I am providing pictures below!
The only downer was when I finally caved to car sickness. The roads in and out of the valley ascend and descend 2,000 feet a couple of times, and they do it very quickly on endlessly winding roads. I survived though. :)
Rather than bore you with more details, I will take you on a little photo tour!
This is El Capitan. I'm still not sure how I achieved these colors. Yeah...I processed the image more than I normally do, just because...well...it was all FOG. I only had a UV filter on, but as I worked with the contrast, brightness and color saturation the purple and green jumped out. Perhaps light reflecting in the fog? Sort of like how the Northern Lights sometimes look extremely fain, but with a long-exposure image the colors are visible. Anyway...I like it. :)
Bridal Veil Falls.
Also Bridal Veil...again, with the purple and a little green evident. It was...surreal.
That night, back at camp, we had an amazing thunder storm!
I got to see everything in the sun the next day!
The view from the top of the dome!
Our last stop was at a grove of giant Sequoias!
Some of the local wildlife!
So to sum up the trip..."Breathtaking!"
I plan on camping at Mount Rainier National park at least once, hopefully twice this summer, and I WILL get to Yellowstone in the next year or so. I'd love to spend at least a week there!
I will be at Blast From the Past this coming weekend (June 5,6,7) in downtown Sedro Woolley. I'll have a few pictures from my trip available, as well as SO many others. I'll also have all of my books, signed and at low prices. I hope to see all my local friends there!!!