Monday, August 1, 2011

A shade of serenity

Usually when I am taking pictures on the hiking trail I am all about the colors.  Deep, vibrant colors or subtle muted hues catch my eye but Sunday's hike took on a different tone as we traveled to one of the most splendid of hiking vistas, Yosemite National Park.

It had been many, many years since I stepped foot on the valley floor there and that one time was on assignment for a newspaper long ago.  Sunday's hike was all for me, and it would be one of the more interesting hikes of the season so far.

The plan was to drive down early and meet Alice's son Patrick and tag along for some pictures as he rock climbed on El Capitan.  Then Alice and I would go exploring through the valley and maybe pick up a waterfall or two among the sights.  There were forecasts for thundershowers in the Yosemite Valley and Sierras on Sunday but we decided to give the trip a try.

Yosemite is a magnificent opportunity for pictures and as we drove through the valley floor we saw many people taking pictures of the many vistas, one photographer was even draped under the cloth of a film view camera.  Meeting up withPatrick we began a short hike to the base of El Capitan, steadily climbing through  loose rock and small army of hungry mosquitoes.  The weather was humid and storms clouds edged their way across the sky into the valley as the rock climbing began.  A few other climbers were working their way along the face of the mountain when we heard the first bellows of thunder echo through the valley.

With Patrick's climb almost complete the first few drops of rain drifted down as thunder and lightening flashed around us.  We decided to call the hike short and headed back to the car as we started our return trek in a steady rain.  The face of El Capitan glistened in the rain as fell drenching us as we took breaks among the trees.

Back in the car we headed to the Yosemite Lodge for lunch and to try and wait out the storm.  Sunshine finally broke and we headed out to the Lower Yosemite Falls.  This wouldn't be like a hike up the trails of Mount Diablo.  We would be rubbing elbows with lots of other tourists and visitors to the falls.  But we found the trail and headed down to the fall.

The falls are still gorgeous at Yosemite, even in late summer.  The torrent of water spilling over the fall sent a cool damp mist up as we made our way to the bridge.  Most of the visitors stop there for the pictures but we pushed on forward to the base of the falls.  there's not really a trail, just pick the path you like best through the slippery rocks bathed in the mist form the falls.  We stopped one rock formation shy of the bottom, we were already get sprayed and it was an effort to keep the lens free of water drops for a clean shot.

It was almost mesmerizing to watch the water cascade down in a endless plunge of white froth amide the glossy black stone.  The roar of the water was amazing too and I could have stood there for an hour watching the water beat down to the ground, falling upon itself, shifting and churning as it plunged down.

There were other sights that were equally grand; the sweeping panoramas, the forests of trees even the meticulously placed piles of stones and rocks seemed clam and peaceful amid the Yosemite splendor.  And finally it was time to head back down to our valley, dry hills and hot winds awaited us.

With our hike cut short with the weather we are planning a return trip to Yosemite soon for more exploration among its many wonders.  On a sad not I read of the death of hiker on Half Down, who fell to her death during the thunderstorm.  It is tragic that amid all that beauty such sorrow could occur.

Yosemite is an awe inspiring place.  The beauty in the park needs to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.  I must make a promise to my self to not let so much time go by before visits to this most beautiful of places.

Looking at my photos from the day I decided that the only way to do justice to Yosemite was to present them in black and white.  it is a place of many colors but I think I found just the right shade to view it in.

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