Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nature Attacked Me - Yosemite National Park, Day 1

I travel a lot. It's part of my job, and I'm on the road often between March and November. As I've chronicled here, though, my primary travel takes place in Canada. I hate to say it, but I'm quite confident when I say that I've probably seen far more of Canada than I have the United States.

I want that to change and, this week, I'd like to think it's started to.

The week began on Sunday in Long Beach, California. A buddy of mine was getting married on board the Queen Mary. Ryan and I have been friends for ten years, and I wasn't about to miss it. The wedding was a LOT of fun, and a good time was had by all.

But my focus was, as it had been for the last couple of weeks, on what was to come. Monday brought with it a five hour drive from Long Beach to Bass Lake, just 15 miles south of the southern gate into Yosemite National Park. My friend, Andy Platfoot of the band Buck-O-Nine, has been extending an invite for some time, so I decided to finally take him up on it.

There would be no traveling into the park on Monday; we got to central California too late in the day for it to be truly worthwhile. But Tuesday... Ahhh, Tuesday.

While driving towards Yosemite, it was lost on no one that, thus far, there had been no coffee. Anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, knows that I'm a fan of coffee. Somewhere, I surmised, there had to be coffee.

I surmised correctly.

We entered the thriving metropolis of Fish Camp, population 200. This is where things finally began to look rather "Yosemite-ish". I don't know where everyone who lives in Fish Camp works, but I'm glad that one of them worked at the Fish Camp General Store. When it comes to a "general store", this place was the real deal. They had a little bit of everything, including coffee:

Fish Camp General Store...

With the caffeine jones addressed, it was time to head to the park. We pulled through the gates around 10:00am, and began the twisting, turning drive to the north. Every once in a while, we'd see a nice overlook or pass by a running mountain stream. It was at one of these; Alder Creek, to be exact, where nature attacked me.

Thankfully, I was only carrying the Canon G12. Halfway down the embankment to the stream, the National Parks gods decided to have their fun. My feet came out from under me and, as will happen when someones feet come out from under them, I became subject to the laws of gravity. Unfortunately, I became subject to those laws while plummeting towards the earth and an exposed tree root. It caught me right below the tailbone when I landed, and it hurt.

A lot.

The result was that I now have a rather pronounced bruise on my posterior. I also managed to mangle the inside of my left forearm and wrench my left shoulder. I suppose I was fortunate to stop the bleeding from my forearm when I did. I was beginning to feel a bit weak; light-headed, even. Hey, this is the wilderness, man, and bad stuff can happen if you're not prepared. Thankfully, I was able to call upon years of first aid training to immediately block out the pain I was in and treat the gaping wound on my forearm. As you can see, I was pretty damn lucky:

Gruesome, I know, but it has to be shown...

So, with my medical needs addressed, we decided to continue on. We drove along until we came to what's known as "Tunnel View". It's called that because, I guess, the view that you first see when you exit the tunnel through the mountain is simply indescribable. I can only assume that it has the same affect as when someone seen the Sistine Chapel for the first time. It is, quite simply, awesome, and I'm sorry to say that my pictures simply don't do it justice:

Yosemite Valley, as seen from Tunnel View. El Capitan is on the left, Half Dome
is visible in the distance, and Cathedral Rocks are on the right...

As you exit the tunnel, Yosemite Valley spreads itself out in a degree of grandeur which takes your breath away. We've all seen pictures of Yosemite Valley, taken by everyone from Aunt Midge to Ansel Adams. But there is simply nothing like standing there and seeing it for yourself.

This is why I wanted to make this trip. If I went the rest of the week seeing nothing else, this view, alone, was worth the drive.

From Tunnel View, we continued down into Yosemite Valley. All along the way, there were countless places to stop and shoot:

Yosemite Falls...
El Capitan, as seen from Bridal Veil Falls...

After stopping for the umpteenth time, we decided we should just head into the Village. Upon arriving in Yosemite Village, it becomes rather apparent that they don't want park visitors feeding the local wildlife:

Welcome to Yosemite Village. Don't feed the deer...
Don't feed the squirrels, either, or it'll cost you five grand...

After some lunch, we decided to head over to the Ansel Adams Gallery. While I can't imagine that there's anyone in this world who doesn't know who Ansel Adams was, I'll simply state that there's no one who captured more images of our National Parks, Yosemite among the most common subject, than Ansel Adams. When you put an image of Yosemite in your mind, it's more than likely an image created by Ansel Adams.

The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village...

The collection of images in the gallery was stunning, as was the collection of books available. Most impressive, though, were the original signed prints of Ansel Adams. The one I liked was a mere $45,000.00. Unfortunately, I didn't have that on me, so I guess that'll just have to wait for my next trip. Despite that, I still didn't get out of the gallery for less than a hundred bucks, but I see it as money very well spent.

After leaving the gallery, we decided we'd go ahead and start to make our way back to Andy's. Even this trip was not without numerous stops along the way. Simply put, there's always something to shoot in Yosemite Valley.

We started to find our way back up the mountain and, once again, at Tunnel View. We didn't stop this time, but decided to travel on. Even still, though, I couldn't resist taking another picture:

Leaving Tunnel View...

We found our way back to the house, and decided to go have dinner at Tenaya Lodge. If you ever find yourself four miles outside the southern gate of Yosemite National Park, I highly recommend you visit the restaurant "Embers" at Tenaya Lodge. The Filet Mignon was awesome, as was the Flaming Banana Desert Thing (okay, that's actually not the name of it, but it should be), better known as Bananas Diablo, we had for dessert.

After dinner it was back to the house, as Wednesday was going to bring an early start, with a sunrise shoot at Tunnel View...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome shots, Steve....looks like a great experience!


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