Eastern Yosemite: Tuolomne Meadows, Pt. III

Here are some more pictures of the river that flows through the meadows, and I tried portraying the sense of calm and peace that I had that day.

There were children inner-tubing in the river, while families sat on the rocky bank, there were fishermen, and there were crowds of people with cell phones. They all readily ignored the “Restoration in Progress–Please stay on the trail” signs; there were so many reminders of the people who see Nature as something to be consumed not conserved, to be discarded when done and not defended.

People who assume it will always be there.

Again, it draws me back to the purpose John Muir wanted to preserve the Meadows: to protect it from the destructive grazing of sheep.

I grew up leaving no trace. You pack it in, and you pack it out. That day in Yosemite, I even had plastic bags, a trowel, and a roll of toilet paper in my pack, unsure of where any restrooms may be or where the need may strike.

So, the consumption of Nature is an idea that is foreign to me, something that I will never completely understand.

And yet . . . and yet; even they couldn’t break Yosemite’s hold on me or chase away the perpetual feeling of awe that enveloped me.

Logically, I know that there were people hiking trails, school groups visiting, families running and playing, and so much more. But, to me, it was Nature, the wide open sky, and a rejuvenation my Soul.

No distractions.

I hope you enjoy.

Eastern Yosemite: Tuolomne Meadows, Pt. II

This trip, after hiking to the Gaylor Lakes Crest earlier in the morning, we decided to explore the meadow areas themselves and not do anything too strenuous or that too steep of an incline.

One of the hikes that I want to do next time that I am in Yosemite is to hike to the top of Lembert Dome. It has such a commanding view of the whole meadows that I imagine it would be breathtaking, not to mention taking pictures.

If I am crazy or determined enough, I imagine it would be beautiful to get there before dawn, and get pictures of the meadows below as the sunlight stretches across, beginning the day. Or, vice-versa for the sunset.

Either way, one of the things I love about the high mountains is that the more I explore, the more I know I need to see, and the more I have reasons to return.

While at the Parsons Memorial Lodge, one thing I learned this trip was that John Muir was in Tuolomne Meadows with friends, not the Valley Floor, when they came up with the idea of getting Yosemite protected as national land, in order to protect it from overgrazing and destruction by livestock.

I hadn’t realized the Meadows was at the center of where so much of the history of the park, and the Sierra Club, and the conservation movement began. I had always assumed it had been lumped in with the Valley Floor.

Yet, reading about the first members of the Sierra Club, the long-term effects that Nature had on their psyches and souls, and the way they longed to return to the Meadows and the high mountains, I understand why it was in the Tuolomne Meadows that it began and why the Meadows contains so much history.

It is a pull to the wild places that I all-too-often feel myself.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

P.S.: The triptych-esque nature of the first two top photos was completely accidental, but I like it.

Eastern Yosemite: Tuolomne Meadows

After hiking up to the Gaylor Lakes Crest and photographing the magnificent views from so high, we headed farther into Yosemite.

And then stopped almost immediately after we got back into the car. Right past the trailhead parking for Gaylor Lakes is a scenic turn-off for Dana Meadows. It had a lovely view of Mt. Dana and the lakes below, as well as the grassy meadows.

This is where we learned that Eastern Yosemite is, in fact, an alpine zone, thanks to one of the fascinating National Park Service informational displays.

After admiring the view, we headed deeper into the park, and we decided to try and find parking near Tuolomne Meadows. After a few minutes of navigating tightly packed roads, we found parking at the Toulomne Stables Parking, and head off to Soda Springs as a first stop in our destination.

I know I have said it before, but I cannot say it enough: the open vistas, the high mountains, and the sheer beauty of the area left me frequently stopping to take it all in, breathing in Nature. It has had a lasting impact on me.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. There will be more to come, as I find time around work to edit them.

Monochrome: Bodie State Historic Park, Pt. IV

I believe that these are the last of my pictures of Bodie, having now combed through them all and chosen the ones to post.

They all come from earlier in the day, before the afternoon thunderstorm arrived.

I hope you enjoy.

Eastern Yosemite: Gaylor Lakes Foliage

The hardiness of life in the high mountains amazes me. The vibrant colors of plants and wildflowers as they hug the mountainside, or the way that trees seem alive even after being cracked by lightning, snapped by high winds or by frost.

Even the way that life grows out of cracks in the very rocks themselves.

The rugged simplicity and beauty leaves me in awe. Even though I know the winters are harsh and the weather changes the landscape, the high mountains will always feel timeless to me. They are a place that feels like another world entirely, set apart from everything that takes place in the city.

It is a place of noisy solitude (nature is quite noisy sometime), reflection, and rest.

Some of these plants I have been unable to identify. If you have an idea of what they are, please let me know in the comments.

I hope you enjoy these pictures from my hike.

Eastern Yosemite: Gaylor Lakes Hike

While in Eastern Yosemite, I went on a hike to the Gaylor Lakes. The trailhead is literally right inside of the Tioga Pass entrance to the Park and has very limited parking.

I got there in the early morning, around 8 am, and the air was crisp, the sun was rising but not hot yet, and there was a lovely breeze. It was a beautiful day.

As the hike progressed, I had to keep reminding myself that I was still in California. The views were something out of the The Sound of Music–alpine, full of meadows and lakes and trees. I learned later that day that Eastern Yosemite IS an alpine zone, which is designated as being 9000-13000 ft. in elevation.

The only problem? Mosquitoes were out in force because of the wet winter and spring the area had. But, even those pesky things couldn’t dissuade me from trying a new trail in a part of Yosemite I had never seen before.

The hike to Gaylor Lakes has beautiful wildflowers, streams crossing the trail, and gorgeous vistas. It is also a short hike, only being about a mile to the crest of the ridge, after which you can continue on to see more lakes or head back to the trailhead.

Because I wanted to do more in Yosemite that day, I decided to make it to the crest and see the first lake, take some pictures, and then head back down.

Don’t let the short distance fool you, though. The trailhead rests at about 9900 ft. of elevation, and in that short mile you gain another approximately 600 ft. It is like climbing stairs for a mile.

Thankfully, as I have been getting in better shape this summer, the hike wasn’t as bad as it could have been in any other year.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. They will be less frequent now I am back at work, but I still have plenty to share.

Eastern Yosemite: Tioga Lake

When I go to Yosemite, it has always been to the Valley Floor from the Mariposa direction and it has always been in the late fall or early winter.

As beautiful as it is at that time of year, I longed to see the higher eastern park of the park, especially Tuolomne Meadows. But, the roads through the high passes and meadows are always closed that time of year.

Fortunately, this year I was able to finally make it up there in the summer. I stand in awe of the area’s beauty, and I have only scratched the surface of the area (and my photos from those days).

I hope you enjoy!

The Oncoming Storm: Bodie, CA

In some of my other posts about Bodie State Historic Park, I have mentioned that the afternoon thunderstorm lent itself to some dramatic monochrome photography, which is true.

Many of the pictures that I have shared so far come from earlier in the afternoon. These next few were taken as lightning crashed and thunder rolled over the hills, people fleeing to the safety and dryness of buildings and cars.

I hope you enjoy.

Monochrome: Bodie State Historic Park, Pt. III

Here are some more pictures of abandoned equipment from Bodie State Park.

Some of them are mining equipment, and another one is of old gas pumps and an abandoned car. The head frame structure is a wooden structure that would rest above a mining shaft and would help move material.

Bodie seems custom made for monochrome pictures, as do most of the Eastern Sierra. The spectacular clouds and afternoon thunderstorms look remarkable in whites, greys, and blacks.

Try as I might to edit and publish them in color, every time I think they look better in monochrome.

I hope you enjoy.

Devils Postpile National Monument Hike

Here are more pictures of the hike from Devils Postpile to Rainbow Falls.

I hope you enjoy!