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At the end of my last post, I said, "remember this shot, you'll be seeing it again". Yosemite is certainly a place that really inspires wanting to photograph it in every conceivable type of light. This provides a fun comparison with the previous night's sunset image:


To back up a bit, though... my last day in Yosemite consisted of my running around trying to do a few last things before driving back to the coast, where I was to meet up with my family for the wedding (that provided the pretext of the trip in the first place). And because I hadn't gotten up to Glacier Point the night before, now that was added onto my goals.

My first stop, however, was wanting to get a good pic of El Capitan, which I hadn't yet. (This was not from the angle that you first see it when entering the valley.)


Apparently one of the attractions of stopping to stare at El Cap isn't just the fascination of looking at the largest exposed granite monolith in the world -- it's also trying to spot the people who are in the process of climbing it. I understand that that takes four days to do, and that the people who do it sleep on little collapsible platforms that they just hang right off the cliff. ...Yeah, I'll pass.

I had help spotting the following (a couple who was leaving as I pulled up pointed them out to me; they'd be scanning the cliff face with binoculars):


Here, let me help:



I'm not really sure what the cylindrical things hanging beneath them are; maybe more gear, or those platform-beds rolled up for the day. Given their height on the cliff, I'm assuming these two people were on their last day of their climb. My hat is off to them.

I had also stopped wanting to get a clear pic of the Three Brothers formation, which is just to the east of El Capitan. (Here with the butt of my trusty rental car.)


Then, on my way out of the valley, I stopped again at the Wawona tunnel lookout to get pics in the different light.


(I kind of like the guy in the loud shirt, here; he provides a human scale to the vista.)


I also think it's really compelling in these pics that you look out across the valley, and because of the tree cover, it *looks* untouched. It's not, of course; the valley floor has roads and buildings and camps and stuff, and is swarming with people. But you can't SEE any. It just looks remote and pristine, like you just discovered it.

For : when I pulled into the lookout parking area, there were a couple of ravens hanging around, one of them sitting on top of an SUV. I tried to get some pictures as it hopped thoughtfully onto the roof of a pickup truck cab next to the SUV... and then boldly in through the open window in the back, no doubt wanting to poke through all of the stuff back there to see if there was anything edible or interesting. I don't know where the owners of the pickup truck were. I walked closer, both to get a better shot and with a thought of being neighborly and trying to keep the raven from raiding the truck. And the raven indeed flew off into a nearby tree, where it quorked at me with irritation for a while as I tried to get some good pics.


My next stop was Glacier Point -- as mentioned, only a 16 mile drive away, but a very slow 16 miles if, like me, you were trying to be prudent about the speed limit. Glacier Point hangs over the valley right above Camp Curry, and provides spectacular panoramic views. Like this:


This is sort of a reversal of that previous view from Olmstead Point -- the canyon of Tenaya Creek, with Half Dome at the right (obviously); the just-visible meadow midway up is the location of what would be Mirror Lake (from a couple of days ago) in a less dry part of the year.

Looking beyond Half Dome to the right, I became utterly fascinated with the view from above of the two waterfalls I had hiked up to (or in the case of the higher one, viewed) a couple of days before:




The above gives a far better view of Nevada Fall (far bigger and more extensive than my view from the bridge below). Try as hard as I could, though, even at the highest resolution of the above pics, I couldn't spot the trail that is supposed to go to the top of it. (At the highest zoom, I could see the Mist Trail that I climbed to the top of Vernal Fall. Somehow, though, you can go up beside Nevada Fall, too, and I'm a bit boggled by that.)

Here you can see the folks standing at the top of Vernal Fall:


Finally, before leaving Glacier Point, I revved up my camera's video function and took a short panning shot around the valley:

Farewell, Yosemite Valley!

My final stop in YNP was to be the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia, located right by the southern entrance to the park. It did not disappoint, although once again I will say that with my camera, it was really difficult to get good pics that gave a sense of the sheer size of the trees (which are not merely tall, but incredibly massive in build), even using unwitting other tourists for scale:



Above is the Fallen Monarch, which has been fallen for a very long time (there are some very old pictures of it with people -- whole regiments, in fact -- posed along the top of it, although they have finally stopped allowing people to clamber over it).

Giant sequoia are REALLY BIG. (This is an interpretive plaque on the approach to the largest one in the Mariposa Grove, the Grizzly Giant.)


I think you might have to click through and zoom in on this to see the little people at the bottom (a bit washed out by the light, unfortunately). And you can't get right up next to it any more, now that they have realized that it's bad for the trees to have people (or vehicles) compacting the ground too near the roots.

Google-imagine "grizzly giant" will yield better pics than this, if you want to marvel. Including the famous old pic of Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, and others standing right up next to it, giving a sense of the true size of the trunk.



While not the tallest of the giant sequoia, the Grizzly Giant is the tallest of them in YNP. Although reports vary around the web, its age is given as between 1,800 and 2,700 years old, and most sources seem to grant that it's the oldest known giant sequoia. A few sources (including some of the literature in the park) claim that that really big branch midway up the tree (sticking out horizontally to the left in the second pic above) is bigger in diameter than any single tree east of the Mississippi. (I raise an eyebrow about that, but you have to admit, it's pretty massive -- it only looks comparatively normal in relation to the tree itself, but the tree is just stupendously huge.)

The Mariposa Grove had two tunnel trees. As mentioned in the previous post, the older one, the Wawona tree, fell over in the late 1960s, which is when people realized that maybe cutting a huge tunnel and allowing cars to drive through the trees might be bad for them. (*eyeroll*) I didn't go out to see that one, as it was farther than I wanted to hike that day. But the California Tunnel Tree, not as large but still alive and standing, was very close to the Grizzly Giant, so I got to see it too:



And that was it for Yosemite! A superlative experience. As I remarked to someone earlier in the comments to one of the previous posts -- I'm usually the type who, when faced with the choice of going back to a place I really enjoyed, or spending the time/money to go see a new place that I really want to see, will usually choose the latter. And I seriously do want to see some of the other big Western parks, Yellowstone primarily. But I would also really love to go back to Yosemite and be able to spend more time there, seeing more of it, and also perhaps getting to sit and enjoy some of the various spots that I sort of rushed through.

I recommend it to everyone.

Next: the last bits of my trip, including Pebble Beach and Big Sur.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
I've always wanted to see a giant sequoia. I'm so jealous.

Your camera is doing a great job for you!

Also, I cannot look at many of these for long. So vertiginous!
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
I was cool with the vertiginous bits except when I had to actually be walking down them and stuff. But I've seen pics of people being a lot more casual about walking around right on the edge of things.

For example, check this out:


That's John Muir standing on the extending rock at Glacier Point. (OMG, please notice all the SNOW AND ICE.) You can see that rock in the opening shot of my YouTube video above, it's the thing at far left.

In the early days, they used to let people out there to take souvenir pics:


People were FUCKING NUTS, is what I'm saying:


They seem to have let you do this until comparatively recently:


They don't allow it any more. There are railings to keep you back. Although, for all I know, people still sneak out there for pictures. (I'm not sure why they DO keep people back; as I said, YNP seems to have the attitude of, "well, we warned you, but if you want to do something really stupid, go ahead".)
Oct. 18th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Indeed! :)
Oct. 18th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Holy. Bat. Dren. Seriously biiiiiig cliffs. Big rocks. Wow.

And aw......raven! Very fuzzy looking raven with its feathers all puffed up in possible annoyance for being interrupted?
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Undoubtedly. ;-) He didn't seem to appreciate being chased away from his target.
Oct. 19th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
Who can blame him. I mean, a bird's gotta eat. ;)
Oct. 18th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
Wow, the view from Glacier Point is amazing.
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
And, if you can imagine, there used to be a hotel up there, with that exact view from its balconies. Apparently it burned down in the late 60s.
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
Your photos are breathtakingly gorgeous!

I'm really sorry I didn't take you to Henry Cowell Redwoods. The redwoods and the sequoias are both big trees, but they're very different kinds of big trees.
Oct. 19th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
Well, remember, C. did take me up to Muir Woods back on my first full day. So I *did* get to see some coastal redwoods first -- I just didn't get many pics of them that I thought were worth sharing. And they WERE totally impressive, height-wise and also mass-wise.
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Lovely, lovely pictures!
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :)
Oct. 23rd, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not really sure what the cylindrical things hanging beneath them are; maybe more gear, or those platform-beds rolled up for the day.

Those are haul-bags! Big wall climbing is not my area of expertise, but I know that bit; the bags will contain all the stuff they're not actually using to climb with, including food and water, cooking equipment, and yup, the platform beds.

If you're interested, here's a video with the legendary Lynn Hill talking about one of her breakthrough achievements, free-climbing The Nose on El Cap (and then freeing it in a day):

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )