View Full Version : Yosemite----The Good,the Bad, and the Priceless

John Kasaian
11-Aug-2016, 11:36
So last night was supposed to be pinnacle of the Tears of St.Lawrence meteor showers. My son and I headed out to Tuolumne Meadows, but with our late start out of town we decided to go to Glacier Point instead.

the Bad #1---North bound 41 out of Fresno is being widened in Madera County---when the highway sign says lengthy delays believe them!

the Bad #2---We went Yosemite Valley to scout out additional locations. There is only one lane open for traffic around the valley floor and it is near gridlock. The other lane being reserved for the rangers and buses. This was on Wednesday afternoon. Weekends would be a night mare. Welcome to your National Park:rolleyes:

the Good #1---There was no traffic on the Glacier Point road. We scouted the Mono Meadow trail head, Washburn Point and Glacier Point but our perennial favorite is the unnamed area just before you get to the Glacier Point parking lot---you have to pull off on the opposite side of the road and parking is limited. It is an uphill hike from the larger Glacier Point parking lot. There were a few other photographers(very nice people,) but plenty of room for everybody. The Milky Way was spectacular by 10:00PM and the "rustler's moon" was well to the South. By that time it was getting chilly enough to warrant sweatshirts---delightful coming from the 100+ degree valley heat. A German photographer wearing a headlamp kept us entertained by long boarding down the last big turn on the Glacier Point road.

the Priceless---Spending time with my son, discussing photography and life while sitting in the dark on rocks waiting for our cameras to record the star trails with the sound of Nevada Falls thundering in the night air. Something I wouldn't trade for the world.

the Bad#3---Both the McDonalds and the Valero were closed in Oakhurst (it was 1:30AM when we rolled into Oakhurst) so we had to stop at the Denny's for coffee and a bite to eat---very pricey, IMHO.

So it is with my Yosemite report!

Drew Wiley
11-Aug-2016, 11:50
I gotta pick up my widerness permit as miserable Oakhurst FS Stn next weekend, with no truck AC, but hope to beat the afternoon heat and get uphill to Granite
Cr in time, then over the top around 11,000 a couple days later. Last summer was thrilling for astronomical things. We were camped around 10,000 in the Nevada
Rubies and waited out the ridiculously wet afternoon shower, followed by utterly incredible sunset activity, followed by a phenomenal lightning storm passing at
a safe distance over the basin below, giving an impressive light shows for hours on end, while at the same time, the Perseid meteor shower was going on above
and behind us. I had obviously packed up the view camera after sunset, but my friend positioned his little digi camera on a rock and videoed a couple hours of
this until his batteries went dead.

Mark Sampson
11-Aug-2016, 17:40
Congratulations John,
That's living life as it was meant to be. Priceless indeed!
May your pictures turn out well too. Even if they don't, it's an experience to remember always.

11-Aug-2016, 22:28
John, Bravo for your priceless. 'Hope its insanely good time w/ your son & I can't wait to see your images.

Drew Wiley
6-Sep-2016, 08:52
So here we are a month later, John. I'm quite surprised Bass Lake and Oakhurst still exist. It's only a matter of time before both will be utterly incinerated. I've never seen so many dead pines anywhere in the West, or such a ho hum attitude from the FS. I remember when the whole area burnt 50 years ago. Next time it will be worse. Even many of the sugar pines up on Chiquito Ridge are dying, and I can imagine quite an inferno of a crown fire pulling up that draw with nothing to stop it except the bare granite of Shuteye. But I was soon in paradise, over the top of Post Pk Pass and down to the Lyell Fork of the Merced. An unbelievable location if one doesn't mind a bit of work getting there, which is probably why no one else was around. Of course, AA visited there when he was 21 and then again when he was 41, resulting in three or four famous shots. Then up to all those quiet lakes on Harriet Bench, watching the eagles and cooper hawks doing their stunts. Quite a bit of bighorn sign too. Close to zero sign of people ever having been to some of those magnificent lakes, though they undoubtedly have been.

6-Sep-2016, 09:12
My daughters both went/go to Northern Arizona University, a big forestry school. The conifers are browning all over the high country. The word I hear from there is that soon there will be no remnant forests left. They'll all die off, and/or burn. And it's too hot today for seedlings to start over. The forests were remnants from the last Ice Age, but they caused a microclimate on the sky islands that sustained them. Once seriously burned, they won't come back.

The Calif redwoods are remnants too, from 65 Million years ago when that was the predominant species. Strange how everything is changing, but most don't care. As long as they have their TV, extreme sports everthing, and smart phones.

Drew Wiley
6-Sep-2016, 09:28
I think sky islands are a somewhat different thing. Yes, our giant sequoias are basically remnants; but they're quite fire resistant. What threatens them is smog and dessication and burning of surrounding forest, affecting the overall water table and ecosystem. These huge pine die offs are due to beetles surviving warm
winters, combined with drought. I doubt anything quite like this has occurred for tens of thousands of years. It's exacerbated by suburbanization in the resort areas. Trees need to "breathe" too, and are strained by smog and physical fracturing of the ecosystem. The local FS is doing some roadside brush clearance and
just leaving the piles there to dry. I've survived enough huge fires in my own lifetime to recognize that they're just fiddling while Rome burns, or is about too.
And no, they won't have their TV's, speedboats, or smart phones when it arrives. They'll be lucky to get out alive. This one will be a monster. Dry autumn winds
are no far away, plus deer season and its careless drunks. I wouldn't want to be around in the mid altitudes.

Jim Galli
6-Sep-2016, 10:22
One of the little pleasures of dwelling in central Nevada. Just turn the lamps inside the house off and go out on the patio. Whoa!! A glass of good wine and the milky way. Not the mars bar one either. Too lazy to take pics. Maybe that's the down side of always having real darkness and brilliant skies. Never ordinary, but almost always there.

Drew Wiley
6-Sep-2016, 10:28
Yep. The moon was below the horizon last week, and even the color of the stars came out. The air was pretty clean at 11,000, despite some smoke in the lower
canyons. Mars seemed more red than pink, kinda like the #22 deep orange filter I had along. Here in the Bay Area we generally see zero stars due to the fog.

9-Sep-2016, 10:24
sounds like fun! have you shared the good bad ugly and priceless shots from the trip yet?

Drew Wiley
9-Sep-2016, 11:34
Nope. I'll let my hiking buddy do the web thing with his digi snaps. I've developed my film but didn't do any scans. Hope to print a couple black and white images once the rains return (gotta finish a fence first, while it's still dry weather), but won't print any color work until next Spring, with many other potential color negs taking precedence. There's nothing secret about the primary location. It's just a lot of work getting there. A skilled wrangler could get a horse or mule there, just
like AA did both in 1924 and twenty years later. He was inspired to do so by a prior photograph by Solomons a generation earlier. Someone's horse didn't make it back out from the season prior to ours, so the coyotes ate well. All of us, it seems, maybe even the coyotes, have set up tripods in almost exactly the same spot. It will be the nuances of lighting, composition, and personal printing which differentiates any of this, not the location per se, though it is wonderful to have a magnificent mountain park completely to oneself (plus my hiking pal, who was generally wandering off upstream or downstream anyway, at the time). Afterwards we hit up places still further off-trail which I've never seen pictures of. Some lovely spots I didn't photograph at all. I just sat there watching the eagles and cooper hawks, or listening to the coyotes, or fiddling around looking for bits of obsidian left over from Indians hunting bighorn. Or just plain tired at
the end of a long day lugging stuff. I was predicting that in that corner of Yosemite the odds of seeing anyone else would be 50/50, and I was correct. Only one other encounter the first week, and it was a small trail crew preparing to dynamite a particularly steep section of canyon trail to make it easier for horses.

9-Sep-2016, 21:34
sitting and looking at eagles and other soaring birds sounds like exactly what I need.
thanks for the report!
and good luck on that fence!

Bill Burk
10-Sep-2016, 10:06
Well, you're ahead of me Drew. I haven't developed except maybe a few sheets of film yet from my trip... Keep trying to clean out the darkroom but boy scout stuff keeps getting in the sink...

Got a busy day today... handing out a half dozen Eagle Scout awards...