Tag Archives: Yosemite National Park

High Tea

17 Apr

Oh hello! Is this thing still on?


I’ve been wanting to throw an elaborate tea party on a scenic vista for a long time, and a few weeks ago I finally got the chance.


We headed up to Turtle Back Dome and laid out our spread, which included these awesome baby chick deviled eggs that Katie made.


There was sparkling conversation.


There was music.


There was art in many mediums. (Jacqueline had the brilliant idea of painting her nose to be The Nose on El Capitan, although I think if we want to get really specific I think her nose is actually the Great Roof.)


Sunset was pretty splendid.

Over all I’d say it was pretty spectacular. There aren’t nearly enough tea parties in my life.


P.S. Pictures are compliments of Daniella’s phone since I failed to bring a single functioning camera.


Photo Adventure: Ten Lakes Redemption

20 Jul

On completely separate occasions, both my friend Daniella and I, had kinda lousy experiences at Ten Lakes. Not that we’re complaining, mind you. Camping in Yosemite is still preferable to many things, even if it does involve blood loss, sickness, missing persons, and monumental amounts of whining.


But looking back on the experience several years later, I still remember amid all the complaining, the jaw dropping view from Ten Lakes Pass, and the view of the lakes. It was time for us to give Ten Lakes another try.



Glacial Polish


In the early evening we heard rockfall off of this wall.


The moon, Jupiter, and Venus reflecting on glacial polish


The wildflowers were so fluorescent they could have been painted by Lisa Frank.



I was apparently obsessed with glacial polish on this trip.


Blue Conness




Earth Day: Books in Nature

26 Apr


Everyone in Yosemite is slightly relieved that we finally got some precipitation this past week. It isn’t even close to enough to relieve the drought, but every little bit helps. We’ve seen the effects of the rain most dramatically in Crane Creek, which runs smack through the middle of the burned area from the El Portal fire last summer. With no plants to hold the soil back the deluge of water has filled the creek with sediment.

The book in the picture is Your Water Footprint by Stephen Leahy. It provides a good overview of current water use issues, and includes a pretty extensive section on the water footprints of everyday products. It also provides several suggestions for how to reduce your individual water footprint, and well made visuals accompany the information.

In truth, I wanted to review more books about reducing water footprints, and after scourging the local libraries, the shelves of Barnes and Noble, the collections of other Central Valley libraries, and even the library of the environmental organization I work for, I was disappointed by how little I found. You would think that in a place in such a dire state of drought, resources like this would be in high demand. Friends, this does not bode well for us.


Read Green 4

Earth Day: The Lorax

18 Apr


UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

-The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss-

(The photo is from last night’s Earth Day Family Night performance of The Lorax. Today is also Jr. Ranger Day. There are more events happening today, and it’s a fee free weekend in honor of Earth Day and National Park Week.)


Read Green 5

Photo Adventure: New Toys!

1 Mar

My brother (the great enabler of all things involving photography) gave me new toys for the holidays.


I was excited to play with them, but I was hopelessly lost at first. (After several minutes of struggle, I finally realized why I couldn’t get any of my new filters to attach to the lens; there was already a UV filter on it. Yes, I’ve had this camera for two years. No, I never noticed it before.) I’m going to be the first to admit that I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I am having fun.


Half Dome through a fisheye lens


El Capitan and the Three Brothers with a wide-angle lens


Yosemite Falls and the Merced River with a ND8 Filter (I think.)


El Capitan, with orange and blue filters


El Capitan and the Three Brothers, with fisheye? wide-angle? I don’t know.


Tenaya Creek. I’m not even going to try and guess what I used here.

I still have a bunch of macro lenses to play with!


Happy Birthday Wilderness!

3 Sep


Mount Lafayette, Pemigewasset Wilderness: White Mountain National Forest

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”


Double Point, Phillip Burton Wilderness: Point Reyes National Seashore

Fifty years ago the Wilderness Act was signed by president L.B Johnson. This act protected many of the wonderful wild places that I love. If you are able, and haven’t yet walked into an “untrammeled” landscape, give yourself an opportunity to experience the world as you have never seen it before. Visit the 50th Anniversary website for more inspiration.

Yay! Wilderness!


Banner Peak and Thousand Islands Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness: Inyo National Forest


P.S. We also celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant earlier this summer. I didn’t blog about it because it happened at a pretty crazy time for me, but there are events happening all year that are worth checking out.


Cathedral, Yosemite National Park

Art in Cook’s Meadow

27 Aug


My foot is still keeping me from going on big adventures but I did wander into Cook’s meadow with watercolors a few days ago.


Cook’s Meadow is a lovely spot, and easy to access. Just by circumnavigating the meadow on paved paths you get spectacular views of some of Yosemite’s most iconic rock features.


Plus you’re painting in a place that was also walked by the likes of Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt, Georgia O’Keefe, and Ansel Adams. That’s got to count for something.


Totally worth it, even if your painting of Half Dome does come out wonky.



31 Jul



Eagle Peak during and after the El Portal Fire

This community never ceases to amaze me.

The first thing I did when the fire started was run into the house and grab my laptop bag, my fire box, my guitar, and the bridesmaid dress I’m wearing to April’s wedding in a few weeks.

I probably would have kept packing like this except at this point my neighbor Claudine came over, and pointed out that the fire was only a few feet away from another neighbor’s house where no one was home. She rallied a crowd of folks who sprang into action, contacting the people who lived there and rescuing their stuff. Claudine’s house wasn’t that far from the fire, I am floored by her selflessness in checking in on her neighbor’s before thinking about herself.

Similarly, Andy abandoned all of his valuables to run to the neighbor’s houses and helped them fight the fire off with garden hoses. We lost no structures in El Portal, and while a lot of that can be attributed to luck, favorable winds, and a quick response from fire crews, I think Andy the flip-flop clad firefighter can take a small portion of the credit.

The community of Foresta had it worse, although I was stunned to learn that they lost only one building. Watching the fire blaze up the hillside we were certain it was going to be much, much worse. It easily could have been.

Unfortunately the one house that did burn was a duplex and was occupied by some friends of mine. They are the nicest people you can imagine, and it broke my heart to hear that they had only minutes to evacuate and lost nearly everything to the fire.

Fortunately this community rallied like no other. Online fundraising campaigns were started for the Martel Family and the Laizer Family, with goals of raising $5,000 dollars. While I’m sure that seemed like an ambitious fundraising goal, it is only a small fraction of the actual financial cost of rebuilding a family’s life.

Both campaigns blew past those goals within a few hours.

This is what I love about this community. We choose to work and live here because it’s breathtaking and beautiful, and many of the people who live here have managed to accomplish some truly impressive feats. But when things go wrong here they often go wrong in big and dramatic ways. So when this community of people who are drawn to the spectacular and sensational get it in their heads to help each other out….Let’s just say that those fundraising goals didn’t have a chance.

If you would like to contribute to the fundraising campaigns I know both families would greatly appreciate it even though they have surpassed their fundraising goals.


P.S. I don’t want to forget to appreciate the firefighters and various responders who have been working hard to contain the fire and save structures. We are extremely lucky that there have been no major injuries associated with this fire.



El Portal Fire

27 Jul

Yesterday was hot in El Portal. This hasn’t been news for several days, but I took this picture somewhere around 12:30pm yesterday.


At around 2:30 (more reliable sources are now saying the fire started around 3:15. It was my day off, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the time) we heard sirens coming up our street. We walked out the front door to see this.


It wasn’t long before it looked like this.


The rumor going around was that it started when a tree branch fell on a power line, but I don’t think the cause has been officially established.


Within a few hours the fire shot up the hillside to Foresta. We have heard that several houses have burned, including one of my friends, but we don’t know much besides that.


The cavalry arrived.


We were lucky that the fire started up the hill from the big chunk of our houses. As far as I know none of the houses in my neighborhood were damaged, although it came frighteningly close. I hoped the danger was over but after the sun went down the fire continued to burn back down the hillside.


We watched from the roof of our house.


(The white lights high on the hillside next to the fire are fire crews cutting fire line.)

We got a mandatory evacuation order around 2:30am and left for a friends farm at 3:00am. It’s been hard to get information but it sounds like El Portal is still there.


Art Adventure: Young Lakes

16 Jul

I’ve been slowed down a bit by a relatively minor foot injury this summer, but I did manage to haul myself out to Young Lakes with a bunch of supplies for a mini art-retreat.


Ragged Peak and Young Lake


Ragged Peak (Western Approach)


Emily told me the third lake was the best. She was entirely correct.


I spent a lot of time with my Law’s Guide


Someone else was here before me.


Does this landscape look ominous?

It was. I had the very exciting- but not very pleasant- experience of waiting out a hail storm hunkered under my tarp. I didn’t take any pictures, but I’ll recreate it for you:


After it cleared though?




I took a well-worth-the-extra-walking detour to Dog Lake.


And the rain held out long enough for me to paint.