As I have said in previous posts, I have a tremendous amount of respect for REI and its #OptOutside practices for the last few years. For those people that don’t know, REI–an outdoor equipment store–closes all of its stores on Black Friday, gives all of its employees the day off, and encourages everyone to spend the day outdoors in nature, rather than celebrating the worst of humanity and capitalism.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was walking from the Ansel Adams Gallery in the Yosemite Valley to one of the transit buses, I noticed some adults and children using binoculars to gaze up at the side of the mountain above us. At first, all I saw was what was in the first image.
It was later in the afternoon, I was exhausted from hiking to Mirror Lake earlier in the day, and if it wasn’t for the people gazing up at the sky, I would completely have missed seeing something unforgettable and I would have missed the chance to take some pictures of iconic Yosemite activity.
I switched the 24-85 mm lens that I had been using for most of the day for the 70-300 mm lens that I had stowed in my bag, so that I could get a better picture of what was happening.
The longer zoom lens is a lens that I rarely use. It is unwieldy, hard to use handheld (I rarely use my tripod, when I remember to bring it), and it is rather heavy due to its size.
I keep it along with a 50 mm fixed lens in my camera bag, which I admittedly use more often, because of the irrational fear that I would need it the one time that I ended up leaving the bag in my car or at home.
Yesterday, I was glad to that I had it with me because it allowed me to take both pictures in this post, with a clarity that allowed me to see the four people up on that rock spire.
As you can see from the second picture, there is someone on the peak of the spire, someone suspended from ropes to the right, a person climbing on the left-top of the spire, and some down at the base of this cropped picture.
While I know that rock climbers have flocked to Yosemite for decades, challenging the granite peaks and the weather, I have never seen them in person while they have been climbing.
In some ways, it is like seeing a legend in real life. I don’t know what they were doing up there, how long they had been at it, or what their ultimate goal was; yet, I do feel lucky to have taken some pictures of them from the valley floor.
This was something I hadn’t seen in Yosemite yet, and it made the exhaustion and the cold worth it.