Spending a little time…

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4-10-14 websitecover Lately I’ve been spending some time exploring my portfolio of landscape photographs. Though feeling physically and mentally much better between rounds of Chemo, I still haven’t quite mustered up the energy to spend much time outside, never mind having the oomph to be out early or late capturing any new good light on the landscape with the camera. That leaves me fondly reminiscing about some of the work I’ve already done, and as I do so, I get to spend a little time perusing my web site – and you know what that means… yes, tweaking.

As you can see from the screenshot above – http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com – I’ve abandoned (for now) my attachment to a single strong black and white coastal image in favor of a more eclectic, colorful, and assorted view of what is distinctly Acadia National Park – after all, there is so much to see in Acadia, why not show her off in all her glory?

We’ve had a lot of incredibly generous local support in response to our little medical emergency, and as a way to say thank you, Lori and I have been selecting prints that we think people might appreciate, and we’ve been ordering and delivering them as thank you gifts.

I’ve learned that it’s one thing to conceptualize, experience, and actually create any one of my photographs, but I have to admit, following the process through to where it physically gets printed and held in hand – whether it is printed on canvas, paper, or better yet, on metal – it is quite exhilarating to hold a piece, especially since many of these pieces to date have merely been images on the screen.

I’ve a couple of big pieces being printed on metal on the way as “thank you’s” to our friends, and I’ll be sure to grab a pic of what they look like “in-person” as it were when they arrive. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing from what I believe is a new and improved web site, please use the discount code “chemo” when in the shopping cart area – despite it’s not-so-nice meaning, it will get you 25% off any purchase 😉

A Window to the World

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I’m celebrating the fact that I actually got off my you-know-what and made a new landscape photograph – one that I’m actually prepared to share! I hadn’t visited Acadia in several months, but all that changed this past weekend when local photographer Chad Tracy and I cruised down to MDI for a quick photo expedition. Despite the below freezing temperatures and the biting wind, standing on the rocky shoreline of my favorite national park never felt so good!

I’ll share a few more photographs from what was a beautiful sunrise over the next few days, so stay tuned. After exploring a part of the granite “ledges” along the Loop Road near Thunder Hole, our original plan was to meander back toward Sand Beach to maybe do some long exposures with the surf. We got sidetracked though when I realized how close we were to this unique location, and since the sun was already up, I was excited to visit at a time when I wouldn’t get the willies from it being too dark.

The ecosystem within this sea cave is extraordinarily delicate, so Chad and I were extremely cautious about making sure to walk only on the solid rock. Although not a huge secret, and relatively easy to find, to further protect this little gem I made Chad swear not to divulge the location to anyone else. The approach to the cave – and the floor inside – was quite slippery and tricky to navigate, and to add to the mystique, this location is only accessible at low tide. It was quite an experience to spend some time in here, and as we looked through the window out onto Frenchman Bay, we appreciated the shelter from the chilly winter air. I like this photograph, and I’m going to add it to my portfolio.

If you haven’t seen my full portfolio yet – if interested – you can click on over and check out a selection of my favorite images on Acadia and Beyond (in addition to Acadia, I’ve shared images of Maine, Ireland, Death Valley, Yosemite). If you do visit the site, drop me a line… I’d love to hear your thoughts. If interested in purchasing from the site between now and the New Year, to save some cash be sure to type in the discount code “Acadia” when checking out. A bargain… Happy holidays!

And yes… I’m trying out a new blog theme. Feedback appreciated on that too 🙂

Twiddling my thumbs

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As I sit here twiddling my thumbs in anticipation of the first snow covered landscape photography opportunity of the winter, I do what most photographers do… go back into the archives to see if there are any images I might have missed the first time around, or any that I might be able to post-process better after all this time. Here are a couple I came up with of a big rock in Yosemite National Park, hands down one of the most beautiful parcels of land I have ever seen…

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Dumpster Diving

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Tioga Lake pano

Well, not really dumpster diving… more like combing through the archives. It’s always fun to take a walk down memory lane, and when you carry a camera around with you, well… there are lots of memories created to return to later. Just recently, as I was wandering through an old hard drive where RAW images from a trip to Yosemite in 2010 are stored, I came across a series of photographs that I hadn’t yet processed. Every now and then I’ll encounter a broad and grand vista, one that is hard to capture in one shot, even with a wide angle lens. In this type of situation, I’ll sometimes turn the camera on its side to portrait orientation, and then pan across the landscape making several tighter shots, with the intention of merging the images together into one panoramic photograph later when back at the computer.

Yosemite National Park is one of the most spectacular, majestic and remarkable places I have ever seen. Truly breathtaking landscapes are around every corner, and on this particular morning Sam and I were in the high country, making our way up, over, and through the Tioga Pass from Lee Vining to Tuolumne Meadow. The reflection of the Eastern Sierra in Tioga Lake was a jaw-dropping scene, one that not only reminds me of what was a great trip with Sam, but also of some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever experienced. The pano above is made up of about 10 separate images, and is actually quite large… I could probably print it 50 inches wide if I wanted to (and if I had a wall to hang it on), and the wider, single-image view below shows you how challenging it is to include everything you want to from a scene like this in one shot.

Tioga Lake

My Favorite Photographs from 2010

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I tried my best to resist the urge to follow along with the trend of posting favorite photographs of the year, but in the end I couldn’t stop myself. On a positive note, I do believe that reflection is one of the strongest learning tools one could ever employ – so I do this little exercise in the name of improving my photography skills.

Looking back over the year and picking favorites is not an easy task, and as you can see below I wasn’t exactly able to whittle it down to a top 10! Also, I know that just because I like a photograph it doesn’t mean others will like it, so though these aren’t necessarily my best photographs… they are my favorite photographs!

For me, there is usually a story to accompany each image, and it is more about the experience of having been there… hearing the early morning sounds that no-one else does, being amazed by the beauty of nature in a new place, or simply seeing something in a familiar place that I hadn’t previously noticed… these are why my photography expeditions are so personal.

Anyhoo… some from far away and some from close to home here in Maine… here they are, not in any particular order… my favorite photographs from 2010… enjoy!

Revisiting Tuolumne Meadow

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Now that I am back home in Maine, I have some time to revisit the glorious first evening of our trip to Yosemite when we were fortunate to witness some amazing colors and clouds over the higher mountains in the backdrop. Afternoon thunderstorms have been known to unexpectedly pop up in this area, and on this occasion we were in the right place at the right time. The storm had begun to clear right before sunset, and as the twilight gained a hold on the scene, we enjoyed some deep and rich pastel colors. We fought off mosquitoes as big as small birds, but it was well worth the effort to experience such an incredible sunset. The four days Sam and I spent up along the Tioga Road and near Tuolumne Meadow wasn’t nearly enough time to truly see the landscape, so maybe someday we will return and spend some extended time exploring what was for us a unique and breathtaking area.

Giants and Athletics

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The giant Sequoias in the Mariposa Grove are something that everyone should see. Their journey through life provides us with evidence of strong but gentle giants that have reached high up into the sky for many, many years. They tower as high as 200+ feet above the forest floor, and some of them can measure more than 90 feet in circumference. This time around, we didn’t stop for long as we wanted to continue our journey on to San Francisco and see the sights of the city. I think the entire Patterson clan fell in love with this eclectic and vibrant city on our visit last summer, and I know that Sam was very excited to return.

Map in hand, Sam navigated our way over the Golden Gate Bridge and then through the streets of San Francisco, and before long we had returned our rental car and checked in to our hotel. We decided not to let the fatigue we were feeling get in the way of our chance to add to the list of memories we have been making, so we hopped on the BART train toward Oakland to go see our own hometown Red Sox play the local Athletics. The chilly “summer” temperatures which were only in the high 50’s didn’t dampen our enthusiasm, and JD Drew getting good wood on the ball to pull one foul right over our heads kept us on our toes. We both marveled at how easy it was to actually get a ticket to a Red Sox game, and even though the Sox lost this time out, it was definitely exciting to be able to see them play on the opposite coast.

Sentinel Dome at Sunset

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Sam and Lori had climbed Sentinel Dome on our family visit to Yosemite last summer, but Jack had been feeling a little under the weather, so I stayed back at the lodge with him on that occasion. They came back telling stories about what a cool hike it was, so this time around I wanted to see for myself. Sam needed no encouragement to do it again, so after dinner we headed up onto the Glacier Point Road to start our hike.

Relatively easy, we were at the top within about half an hour. The 360 degree views were amazing, and as the light faded the whole place took on a magical glow. We must have spent 90 minutes up there enjoying the cool breeze, the incredible landscape, and the tiny but remarkable wildflowers that were doing their best to survive. Of course I photographed the famous, though now dead, Jeffrey Pine that still rests on top of the dome, and I also had a great time checking out all of the glacial erratics that were deposited here thousands of years ago.

The return trip to the car was bathed in the most beautiful golden light, and on three different occasions we were fortunate to encounter foraging deer right on the path. Throughout this trip it has seemed as though every time we made a hike it became a new favorite… and although Sentinel Dome was not as strenuous or grand as some of the others, we really enjoyed the time spent there.

Wildflowers on a Mountain Road

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As we cruised up the Glacier Point Road toward Sentinel Dome, a couple of small meadows right off the side of the road filled with beautiful wildflowers caught our eye. The early evening light created little pockets of color that begged to be explored and photographed. The Glacier Point Road climbs as high as 9,000 feet, so at that elevation these the little beauties get a pretty late start to the summer.

I wish I knew more about the local flora so I could name these (Shooting Stars?), but am going to have to settle for just showing them here. I found it challenging to use the camera viewfinder to truly do this scene justice, but at least we have a sweet reminder of how pretty and alive this part of the forest was. In amongst all of the magnificent and rugged grandeur of Yosemite, these delicate little swaths of intense color were a striking contrast to the immense scale of the park. This was another side to the changing seasons of Yosemite that we were quite fortunate to witness on this visit.

There are Waterfalls in Yosemite

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There are waterfalls in Yosemite…

…but it is also very crowded. I realize that Sam and I were merely adding to the throng, and I understand that national parks were created to make such beauty accessible to everyone, but I hope that we at least carried with us a better appreciation of why somewhere like Yosemite NP was created in the first place. Deep breath… am letting it go now.

Here are some views of the iconic, but none the less beautiful, waterfalls that are located on the valley floor. Unusually heavy snowfall this past winter has meant that they are still flowing with impressive power yet delicate grace… even this late into summer.

Moving Day and a Bear Sighting

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Hard to believe it was time to leave the Tuolumne Meadow area, but our next destination wasn’t too shabby either! The Tioga Road was a truly remarkable part of the world that deserved much more time than we were able to devote to it on this trip, but now we were off to experience the wonder of Yosemite Valley and join the hordes tourists who flock there every year. The drive along the Tioga Road was as beautiful as ever, and even though it was the middle of the day with pretty harsh light, we stopped at Olmstead Point, an overlook and short trail that offers spectacular views looking back down the Tenaya Canyon toward the “other” side of Half Dome.

The further we got away from the Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadow, the more people we saw. This was not unexpected, but Sam and I had become spoiled by the relative solitude we had experienced while hiking higher up. As we made the left turn off the Tioga Road at Crane Flat, the traffic had stopped, and things didn’t look too good for getting to our Curry Village tent any time soon. This was no ordinary traffic jam though… a bear was doing his thing in the meadow off to the right, and people were milling all around, jockeying for position to grab a long distance and probably fuzzy snapshot to take back home with them as proof that they saw a bear. We skipped the opportunity to add to the melee, excited though that we could now say that we too had seen a bear. Speaking of bears, we took the warnings about respecting their desire for human food seriously, with Sam being especially fastidious about clearing out the car and making sure everything food related or scented was stored in our bear locker.

Our first experience of the Curry Village tent community was great, and we woke bright and early to explore the valley floor. Even in the height of summer, there are still a couple of hours to be had when the masses have yet to stir. The early morning light was impressive indeed, and the valley absolutely sparkled. I’m not so sure the owners of the van in the image above would have been so enthralled with the place though after seeing the damage a bear did trying to get to some water bottles they had carelessly left inside. I wonder just how much the ticket left on the windshield was going to sting?

Without opining too much, Sam and I were both quite dismayed, not only by the sheer volume of people in the park, but also by how careless, unaware, and downright rude some of them were. However, all the boorish behavior, sloppy driving, and littering of trails could never diminish the experience of seeing the magnificent Yosemite Valley… we just wouldn’t want to do it again in the summer.

A Room With A View

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As we approached the Tioga Pass entrance station for the last time, Sam asked if I would be interested in exploring the Gaylor Lakes Trail that started just inside the park. The original plan for our final morning in the higher country was to wander around the Tuolumne Meadow and climb Pothole Dome to get a wide view of what is probably some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. As much as I was looking forward to seeing more of the meadow, Sam’s surprise invitation to tackle the Gaylor Lakes Trail seemed like an excellent way to squeeze one more good hike into our visit. After hiking the 14.2 miles to Clouds Rest the day before, I wasn’t entirely confident of my legs being able to withstand another climb, never mind one that would take us to higher than 10,000 feet! But Sam assured me we would be OK, and that the photographs he had seen from this hike showed pretty spectacular scenery…. what the heck, what’s another five miles!

We filled three water bottles each, lubed up with bug spray and sunscreen, and set out on the trail. My initial fears were justified… this trail was so steep I was doing my own personal switchbacks on the switchbacks. Slow and steady… that was my mantra as I kept my head down and tried to keep my pulse under 200 beats per minute. Sam blazed the trail at a pretty good lick, but after getting ahead of me by about 50 yards or so he always stopped to let me catch up and make sure I hadn’t collapsed. Tough climb… maybe because it was straight up, or maybe because I had already hiked 20+ miles in the past two days, but none of that mattered when we crested the top of the ridge and we caught a glimpse of the Gaylor Lakes basin.

Truly breathtaking. This is what I had envisioned when we had first decided that we wanted to explore the high country of Yosemite. Laid out before us all in one vista were green meadows dotted with huge boulders left over from glacial times, jagged and imposing granite peaks sweeping down to the bluest of subalpine lakes, bubbling mountain brooks, and all of this framed with a 360 degree backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra mountains. Going down into the basin was much easier than the climb up, but by now I was catching on to this hiking thing… in general, what goes up must come down, and what goes down must come up. I tried not to think about that though, and instead focused on the amazing scenery.

After skirting the middle lake, we followed the stream up hill toward the third, higher lake. As we climbed the hill we became reacquainted with our mosquito friends, as they seemed bound and determined to welcome us to their domain. As soon as we reached the upper lake, thankfully they lost interest in us and went back downhill to bother some other hikers. The upper lake was in the shadow of Gaylor Peak (11,004 ft), and on the other side we found ourselves in the still unmelted snow that blanketed the landscape. It definitely felt unusual to be walking on what was still deep snow, but both Sam and I agreed that this was waaaaay cool.

Not done yet, we climbed above the upper lake and headed toward the Great Sierra Mine – an old abandoned prospector’s homestead and silver mine that dates back to 1878. It was impressive to see how a home created entirely out of flat stones could stand so strong for so long in what must be a very inhospitable climate for probably 6 months of the year. As we sat high atop the landscape enjoying our lunch of Clif Bars (new favorite of mine), we admired the fortitude of the pioneering spirit who had lived and worked here so long ago. Imagine working hard in the mine all day and coming home to a view like this…

All good things come to an end though, and unfortunately we had to leave this stunning lunch spot and return to civilization. I won’t bore anyone with the details of me huffing and puffing up the hill again, nor will I mention the sounds my knees and ankles made as I gingerly made my way back down the other (steep, very steep) side, but I will say that this was probably my most favorite hike of the entire trip. This must surely be classic Yosemite high country, where the effort to explore is rewarded with sights and sounds that are polar opposite of what most of us experience in our normal daily lives. As we drove along the Tioga Road and passed by Tuolumne Meadow for the last time on our trip, I felt so very happy that Sam and I got to share this time and this place together. Maybe one day Sam will bring his kid here… that would make me very proud.

Yosemite… the high country

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So, we have just finished the first leg of our trip… after spending three nights near the shore of Mono Lake in Lee Vining, we are moving down into Yosemite Valley to stay a couple of nights in Curry Village before heading back to San Francisco. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in the high country around the Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadow area, but needless to say we did not have nearly enough time here. There is so much to explore and experience, and from a photography standpoint the opportunities for seeing new things and enjoying the spectacular mountain light are endless. It would take a lifetime to really understand the power of this landscape, and even that might not be enough.

Leaving Mono Lake…

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Staying in Lee Vining gave us the opportunity to visit Mono Lake. We were lucky with the light on the first evening we visited, but things didn’t really come together when we returned last night. The afternoon thunderstorms that brew over the Sierras didn’t quite cooperate with their timing, and we were left skunked with rain instead. Mono Lake is a fascinating place, and as with much of this area, we would love to have had more time to explore. As we head down into the zoo of people in Yosemite Valley we will be out of contact with the blog for a couple of days, so here’s a few more from our time spent at Mono Lake. This is a very often photographed location, but there is still something special about being there in person and trying to make your “own” images of what truly is a special place.

Where the Clouds Rest in Yosemite

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Soaring high above Yosemite Valley floor, Clouds Rest is a large granite ridge left over from when glaciers moved through the high country and carved out Tenaya Canyon. The top of Clouds Rest is 9,930 feet above sea level, and when Sam and I hiked to the top of it today, it felt like we climbed every one of those feet! In reality, the elevation gain was more like only 3,000 feet, but at this altitude, and in 80 degree weather, these two flatlanders from Maine were certainly challenged.

We started the hike at 8:30am, and were able to reach the summit by noon. The first 1.5 miles or so of the hike lulls you into thinking this isn’t going to be so bad. After wading knee deep across Tenaya Creek, we followed a wooded path alongside the water, but soon we started to climb, and climb quickly. The next mile had us navigating uphill switchbacks that despite the generous staired trail, absolutely tear at your legs and lungs. Things flattened out a little after that, and we were treated to a wide variety of beautiful wildflowers in bloom, the ever majestic and sometimes gigantic Yosemite trees, and a lovely quiet pond nestled in amongst the landscape.

The final push to the summit of Clouds Rest was long, hot, and dusty as the remainder of the 7.1 mile trail steadily climbed to where we were exposed above the trees on the granite that is synonymous with Yosemite. At the summit, we enjoyed the expansive views of the park, especially of the valley floor some 5,000 feet below – we also had an amazing view of the back side of half-dome. As you can see, Sam had no qualms about getting to the very summit, but with my fear of heights, I was quite content to admire the view from the wider “summit” part of Clouds Rest.

After a brief rest and a chance to refuel, we reversed direction and started the descent, confident in the knowledge that going down couldn’t possibly be as hard as coming up. Though we certainly moved along at a better pace going down, the length and elevation difference in this hike made for one of the more challenging experiences I certainly have had hiking. On our return to our starting point, the cool water in Tenaya Creek felt sooooo good on our feet and legs, and we were quite relieved to have finished this hike. It took us a total of 7 hours to complete, and that includes a 45 minute rest on the summit… not bad for two boys from Bangor, Maine.

Tioga Lake, Yosemite National Park

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When Sam and I started planning this trip, we originally wanted to stay at the canvas tents of the Tuolumne Meadow Lodge. Apparently these are a hot ticket though, so we had to settle for a motel in Lee Vining, outside the park and about a 25 minute drive back to Tuolumne Meadow. Bummed at first, though we soon realized the benefit of our daily commute… having the opportunity to experience the remarkable beauty of the landscape along the highest part of the Tioga Road. Even though Tioga Lake technically is outside the boundary of Yosemite National Park, the mountains you can see in this early morning reflection are inside the park! The image in this post is just one of many spectacular sights from this incredible stretch of road – a road that cannot possibly have very many equals when it comes to natural beauty. Tioga Lake… not many commutes have views like this!

Not Quite Yosemite… Mono Lake

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It was still raining lightly as we left the Whoa Nellie Deli. However, things looked very promising as the storm moved across Mono Lake and warm light started to stream over the Sierras toward us. The low-angled light made the ground seem as though it were on fire, and the dark and heavy storm clouds served as a perfect backdrop to what was a remarkable scene. It looked like tonight could have the potential to be one of those special sunsets, where the light on the edge of a storm is truly magical, so we hurried down toward the lake hoping that everything would come together.

Mono Lake is an ancient salt lake covering 70 square miles that lies in the shadow of some of the major Eastern Sierra peaks. It is renowned for several reasons, including the migratory bird population that visits each year, the beautiful landscape it offers photographers, and probably most famously, the interesting limestone “tufas” that are scattered along the shoreline.

Last time we were here the place was covered in snow, and although that certainly made for some unique conditions, the light on that particular occasion did not really cooperate. The sunset Sam and I witnessed last night in Tuolumne Meadow was spectacular, so we wondered if it might be asking too much for another good one tonight. We had our answer soon enough as the sun dipped below the crest of the Sierras and the sky began to light up in a way that makes photographers smile…

Cathedral Lake, Yosemite NP

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As I mentioned in my last post, Sam and I hiked in to Cathedral Lake this morning from Tuolumne Meadow. Apart from the steady climb at the very beginning I found this to be a very manageable hike. The 9,000+ feet of altitude took its toll on me early though, forcing my lungs, heart, and legs to work overtime. After the initial climb and thoughts of how they were going to carry my dead body out of the forest, we settled into a good rhythm and I actually felt fine most of the rest of the way. We crossed freshwater streams, saw large areas of mid-July snowpack, and admired what were often spectacular mountain views.

After about 90 minutes or so of hiking, we reached the clearing that signaled we were about to see the lake, but we still had one more hurdle to clear… a mosquito infested marsh that stood between us and what we knew would be a beautiful sight. I have never seen mosquitos as vicious and bloodthirsty as those that we encountered going across the 200 yard-wide marsh. I swear they were getting drunk on the insect repellant we had doused ourselves in, and when mixed with a little blood, they were absolutely loving their early afternoon cocktails. The breeze along the granite shore of the lake brought us a little respite from their appetites, but they were still active even there. Here’s Sam on the trail…

Lunch was spent enjoying the views and briefly exploring the area, but it was soon time to head back. Once again the mosquitos swarmed around us as we crossed the marshy area leading back to the trail. Without exaggerating, Sam must have been bitten fifty times on his shoulders alone, and we actually resorted to running to try to get away from them. We both laughed about it afterwards, but the image of him frantically trying to escape from the swarms of skeeters will stay with me for a long time 🙂

Storms were brewing on the way back home, so we quickened the pace as best we could without sending me into cardiac arrest. We made it back to Tuolumne Meadow and the car just before the thunder, lightning and rains came. First stop when we got off the mountain was to purchase some after-bite stuff that is supposed to stop you from itching… hopefully it works better than the bug repellent!

With the weather looking pretty bleak for the rest of the evening, we headed back down through the Tioga Pass to Lee Vining to get some dinner and decide what to do next. After a pizza at the Whoa Nellie Deli – yes, we ate there again – it looked like there might be a chance of the skies clearing and offering some good, stormy light, so we decided to stick close to home for the evening and visit the picturesque and surreal landscape of Mono Lake.

* apparently we completely missed that we should probably have visited Upper Cathedral Lake while on this hike… bummer.

Cathedral and Unicorn Peaks, Yosemite

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The image above was from a wonderful evening spent last night on the Tuolumne Meadow. We had some amazing weather conditions all come together to provide a stunning sunset complete with rainbows, and what better location to enjoy it from than the higher country within Yosemite National Park. In this image, I was looking across Tuolumne Meadow toward the impressive granite mountains known as Unicorn Peak (10,823 ft) on the left, and Cathedral Peak (10,911 ft) on the right.

I learned today that hiking uphill at 9,000 feet is hard on the lungs. Very hard. Sam and I made the 7 mile round trip hike to the beautiful Cathedral Lake, located on the other side of the ragged granite peak shown on the right hand side of the image above. A steady – and for me at least – tough beginning to the trail initially had me laboring, but I was able to make it all the way there and back alive, and am recovering very nicely right now. I will post some photographs from the hike later… that’s if I make it back from the daunting hike to Cloud’s Rest tomorrow.

We are off to the world famous Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining for dinner. We are getting some thunder and lightning as I write this, so plans for another short hike this evening have been abandoned. Instead, after dinner we will make the short trip down to the shore of Mono Lake, and who knows, maybe the weather will break and we will be rewarded with some nice light over what is a surreal landscape. Keeping our fingers crossed…

Tuolumne Meadow Sunset

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Long day. We were up before 4am to get to JFK for our flight to San Francisco, and as I write this I am still on east coast time where it is 2am. Traveling couldn’t have gone smoother, and by about 1pm local time we were on the road driving toward Yosemite.

As we made our way across the central California valley, even from one hundred miles away we could see some serious thunderheads on the horizon getting us excited about what we might see at our chosen first destination… Tuolumne Meadow. We passed up the opportunity to stop at many beautiful places along the Tioga Road so that we might get to Tuolumne before dark, and hopefully in time for some nice light playing with the storm clouds.

Sam and I both caught our breath when we first glimpsed the meadow, and we excitedly jumped out and started to explore. There was some stormy weather over Lembert Dome and beyond into the high country where Mount Gibbs and Mount Dana towered over the landscape, and with the sun behind us we were treated to a spectacular rainbow and some amazing late evening light.

In the brief but productive time we had here, there must have been fifteen or more deer happily grazing in the meadow, and the mosquitoes rivaled anything we have back home in Maine. As you can see though, nothing could spoil the remarkable sight before our eyes. Cannot wait to explore more tomorrow.