Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crazy Road Trip Summer 2011: Day 6

When I woke up for my second day in Yosemite, I realized how out of shape I truly was! I could barely walk I was so sore. Bill was feeling pretty worn out as well, so we decided to take it easy on our second day. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then took the drive to the valley floor. One thing you may not realize is that Yosemite is packed  during the summer. It kind of reminds me of this:
which I guess shouldn't really be surprising considering the fact that Yosemite is also a popular California summer tourist destination. As a result, our drive to the valley floor that should have taken about 40 minutes took an hour or more. Once the cars hit the entrance fee booth, they are bumper to bumper and backed up quite a way. Once you reach the valley floor, there are very few places to park and very little room on the shuttle, so getting anywhere is a time consuming process.

First, we parked in a spot next to the meadow in the middle of the valley floor. We saw the crowds of people looking up towards the rock face next to the meadow and heard the sound of a helicopter in the distance. Bill and I quickly got out our cameras and binoculars to start sleuthing. From what we could surmise, a rock climber had gotten injured climbing the rock face. The first helicopter had dropped off a paramedic with first aid supplies and a back brace next to the rock. He had given the climber aid and attached him to the back brace. Once he was finished, the helicopter flew back to the rock face and the paramedic attached the climber on the back brace to the rope hanging from the helicopter. The paramedic then attached himself to the rope and they all flew safely back to the meadow. It was pretty amazing!  

After witnessing the harrowing rescue, Bill and I went on a quest to find the scene from his mother's Thomas Kinkade painting:

This is what we found:
It is a painting of Bridalveil Falls probably during the late summer since the water is low. 

We went to Bridalveil Falls next and experienced the water covered trail during daylight. My shoes got totally soaked!
 Me in front of the base of Bridalveil Falls. What you can't tell in this picture is how soaked I am getting by the mist and the fact that my feet are basically in the river. That snow melt off was COLD!!
 Bridalveil Falls

After getting soaked at Bridalveil Falls, Bill and I had lunch at Yosemite Village. After that we went on a 30 minute expedition to find a parking space by lower Yosemite Falls. We even had a difficult time parking with my tiny little car.
Me in front of Lower Yosemite Falls. I am desperately trying to stand up. The wind and mist coming off of the falls were very strong!
Bill tried to get a picture at the base of the falls with his waterproof camera, but there was too much mist!

For our last stop on the valley floor, Bill and I drove over to Swinging Bridge. Since the Merced River had flooded over, it was a great opportunity to get some reflection pictures.

 Yosemite Falls in reflection
Whirlpools created in the Merced River as it passes under the bridge.

 The river had gotten so wide that it was even starting to swallow the fence by the walkway.
  Bill walking by the river.

After taking pictures at Swinging Bridge, we drove back up to Glacier Point for sunset. Along with what seemed like every other photographer in the park, we waited for sunset. There was also rumor that the full moon would rise over half dome, so we decided to wait for the moon rise as well. 

We found out from some of the other photographers that there had been another landslide near mirror lake that day. The landslide was in the same area, but higher. If you look at the pictures above, you can see the before(left) and after(right) of the landslide

 Half Dome at sunset
 Half Dome with several of the photographers.
 The moon (which did not rise over half dome as had been rumored). 


Read my next blog tomorrow about Day 7, our drive from Yosemite to Zion!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crazy Road Trip Summer 2011: Day 5

Our first full day in Yosemite was the first day that Bill had seen Yosemite in the light. I was really excited about this since he is so into photography and had been talking about going to Yosemite ever since we'd met. We drove to Glacier Point first, a place I'd never been either. It was so beautiful! The crazy thing was that we were driving next to at least a foot of snow almost the whole way up. That explained why the water was so high! At Glacier Point, you can see many of the attractions on the valley floor: Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, the Ahwahnee Hotel, Vernal and Nevada Falls, and the Merced River. You also have an exquisite view of Half Dome and the peaks behind Half Dome.
 Nevada Falls
 Half Dome with Nevada Falls
 Half Dome with Nevada and Vernal Falls
 Action Shot!
Yosemite Falls with the famous rock from the photo below (I think...the pic was taken in 1900 at Glacier Point. Hard to know with erosion)

 Mirror Lake next to half dome. If you look in the middle of the picture you can see the big, white landslide area. This landslide happened a couple years ago, and another minor one happened the day after I took this picture!
Bill :)

 Notice the camo backpack Lol
Nice view, but a little scary!
On our drive back down, we stopped and ate sandwiches in the snow. Some deer decided to dine with us as well :)

Once we drove down to the valley floor, we began to tackle the serious summer Yosemite crowds. Finding a parking spot was absolutely crazy! We parked in the general visitors parking area after looking around for a good 20 minutes and went and bought some groovy hiking hats (see below :) ). Then we took the shuttle down to the Vernal/Nevada Falls hiking trail and I got to try out my new Vibrams.

 My Vibram Trekkers :)
A long exposure water shot that Bill took of the river near Vernal Falls.
 A more placid section of the Merced River (or so it seems...).
 The water was really rough!

 A waterfall coming from another corner of the canyon.
 The view of Vernal Falls from the bridge over the river.
 The view from the opposite side of the bridge.

 Vernal Falls
The squirrels were pretty aggressive. They reminded me of some of the ones I've seen at the Grand Canyon.
 I believe the phrase that went with this picture was: "You are not taking a picture of me with this hat on..."
 And it's silly faces time...

 A deer by the beginning of the trail.
 The river was running over its banks so much that it was swallowing trees!

After our hike up to Vernal Falls, we decided to walk over to Mirror Lake. Our legs were pretty tired at this point since the walk to Vernal Falls is almost entirely up hill. I've also found that the Vibrams work your calves harder than normal shoes, so my out of shape calves were killing me! We powered up the trail to Mirror Lake and didn't realize until halfway through that we were actually going up the horse trail. It was full of horse "puckey" and quite a bit of muddy ground from horse hooves. That made for an interesting hike. We weren't able to go the entire way up the trail because part of it was closed off from previous land slides. Mirror lake also looks different than I remembered it. It was flooded over because of the high water flow. It was also less glassy because they are starting to let the lake fill in with silt and follow the natural process of creating a meadow. 

 Half Dome from the side on the way to the Mirror Lake trail.
A wildflower along the road.

The hike up to Mirror Lake.
 Mirror Lake

By the time Bill and I got back from Mirror Lake and took the shuttle back to our car, it was nightfall. At that point, it was time to take Moonbow pictures again :) . First we went a little ways up the Lower Yosemite Falls trail, then we stopped at a meadow area that had a great view of the falls. 

 More experimental shots.
Yosemite Falls
Bill's picture from the Lower Yosemite Falls trail. He used a flashlight to shine light on the trees and make them glow. 

 Trees and sky.
 Yosemite Falls view from the meadow. The lights are from cars passing by.

 I was sitting on the ground in order to get steady night time exposures since I didn't have a tripod. I decided to get creative...

 The ghost is Bill.

 Slight moonbow
More moonbow
Bill's moonbow shot

Once we got our successful moonbow shots, we headed back to the hotel. Check back tomorrow for our second full day in Yosemite!