Diaries - Travel - Photos

Previous Diary -

Yosemite in Winter

January 27-29, 2016
Written January 28+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

d160127_02_ftoy.jpgd160127_04_pictures.jpgFresno has one special advantage: closeness to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks.  Right now, Kings Canyon is closed, and Sequoia visits are limited to a single hotel, but Yosemite is largely open and we decided we needed to take advantage.  It's about a 90-minute drive to the park, with another hour drive to the main attractions on the valley floor, a drive that generally takes much longer because we "need" to stop and take more pictures of the scenes we have seen many times before.  Go figure.

Our first stop was at at the Badger Pass ski resort, a small lodge with a few short chair lifts and ski runs.  (It was the first ski resort in California.) We don't ski, but it was nice to see enough snow for others to enjoy themselves.  Last winter we visited and there was hardly a dusting, but now we drove past high snow banks and the lodge was properly blanketed in white.
The next milestone on the drive in is Tunnel View, the most famous stop of the whole valley.  We have taken a zillion pictures here, and paused for more on this Wednesday.  We never tire of it.
Farther along, we got closer to rocks and found the details interesting. from giant El Capitan to all the dramatic faces and outcroppings.  Not interesting enough to join the rock-climbing class however.  That must remain for another generation.
I have found it is best to look for pictures both up and down in Yosemite (or anywhere else).  On our drive in, "look down" meant stopping to look in the reflecting waters that were running through the valley.  Shooting still, moving, or falling water is always fun, a beginner trick that I still use.
d160127_60_raven.jpgd160127_62_bearboxes.jpgThe other park attraction one needs to experience is wildlife.   Done correctly, that involves patience and skill, neither of which we have in abundance, so we made do with a picture of a large, black raven and these bear boxes.  Apparently the way to see a bear is to leave food out, or even in a car, and bears will arrive for a snack.  This was not recommended.
What was recommended was our hotel, The Yosemite Lodge at The Falls.  The room was spacious, the restaurant served good food in a very nice setting, and the hotel grounds offered pleasant walks.  I suspect the place is pretty crowded in summer, but for our mid-week winter stay, we had plenty of private space.
So that was it for Wednesday.  Why don't we do this more often!!

I finally managed to get up and out early, like good travel photographers need to do.  Not far from the lodge, I stopped in a meadow, looked around, and saw several of the Yosemite icons: the silhouette of Half Dome, the moonlight on Columbia Rock, the rock walls of the eastern end of the Valley.  Sure it was cold, but I could tell it was worth it.
I spent most of my time pointed at Yosemite Falls.  The sun descending on the rock wall made a different scene every few minutes.  I can imagine the scene in the spring, when there should be far more melt water pouring over the cliff.
The rocks themselves took on character as the sun and shadows moved around.
Two hours in the cold was followed by a leisurely two-hour breakfast in the Lodge Food Court.  Serviceable food and cavernous cafeteria seating, but filled with happy sounds of families on winter vacation.  It's all good.

d160128_50_lunch.jpgWe rested some more and then headed out to lunch.  You will notice that we are not hard-charging tourists: we do a bit and focus on rest and munching.  For lunch, we splurged at the Ahwhanee Hotel, the fanciest of the Yosemite Valley settings.  It was a pleasant change from the Lodge cafeteria, and we like it all.  We should do this more often.

By now clouds had invaded the area and we went out so I could try my hand at "blurry water" pictures.  We stopped along the Merced River with Bridal Veil Falls off in the distance. I had not done this type of photo in quite awhile so it took lots of attempts to get just a few OK pictures.   It's the process I like in any event.
For the final shot of the day, we went back up to Tunnel View, hoping for sun-going-down pictures, but by the time we got there the valley was pretty dark.  That never stops the photographers who line up every day.  Good luck to all.
d160128_70_barview.jpgPhew.  Done for the day, except for a quick stop by the Mountain Room Lounge, back at the Lodge, where we celebrated with a martini for Marianne and a beer for me.  I'm not sure what the celebration was, maybe just of a quiet day in a magical place.  Dinner was limited to fruit and snacks we had picked up earlier at the Curry Village store and then we settled in to watch the Republican presidential debates, the country's latest reality show.

On Friday morning I finished these diaries over breakfast while Marianne worked on her sketches and drawings.  This is our standard slow-travel start of the day, this time a day that will see us return home to prepare for next week's trip to the Nevada side of the Sierras.  Another story.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


Diaries - Travel - Photos

Previous Diary - Next Diary