Tag Archives: Yosemite

Range of Light Film Festival

2 Mar

I spent most of this rainy weekend at the Range of Light Film Festival.

It was brilliant. Of course it was, it was all put together by Steven Bumgardner, the creative genius behind Yosemite Nature Notes.

It was fantastic to have all of these films, each showing a unique perspective of a place I already love, all gathered together in one place.

I was particularly excited to finally see Mile, Mile and Half the feature length film created by the Muir Project that I posted about forever ago. It was everything I was hoped it would be.

Folks were pestering Steve all weekend long, asking him if he was planning to have the festival next year. I really hope he does it!



Photo Adventure: Yosemite Falls

16 Feb


My life is still a whirlwind, but I did go for an overnight adventure up the Yosemite Falls Trail.


Yosemite Falls is one of the steepest and most difficult trails in Yosemite Valley. I’ve hiked up the trail plenty of times, but never with a full pack. Fortunately the company was awesome and the scenery was as stunning as ever.


I’ve seen rock and ice fall on this trail before, and I know they happen pretty frequently. So it was a bit scary when we heard a loud cracking rumble on the way up. It was so loud I was convinced that it was rockfall, but it turned out to be huge chunks of ice plummeting into the snow cone.


My friend Ryan actually saw the rockfall that caused this white colored scar on the rock face a few weeks ago.


It’s been a really low snow year, which is causing all sorts of problems for California. There was just barely enough snow at the top of the falls for us to snowshoe.


We trekked to Yosemite Point for this view.


I was utterly fascinated by this Dali-esque airplane contrail.


The Clark Range is pretty stunning too.


The view from the top of the falls looking down into the section known as “Middle Earth.”


Insert “Vertigo” theme here.


Photo Adventure: Yosemite West

1 Feb

I’ve been crazy busy again, but I took some photos during an excursion to Yosemite West.


The lovely and under appreciated South Fork of the Merced


It’s January and the Manzanita was blooming at 6,000 feet. Someone needs to tell winter that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.


I wish I could share with you the smell of sun warmed ponderosa needles. It is exquisite.


The South Fork Canyon and Henness Ridge


I like to think this rock was sad, so the tree decided to gave it a hug.


I accidentally snapped this shot as I was shoving the camera back in my pocket. I can’t explain why I like it so much, but I do.


Have I ever mentioned how alarmingly enormous the cones of the sugar pine are?


Any excuse to stop at Tunnel View is worth taking advantage of. If you ever need a place to “accidentally” lock your keys in the car, I highly recommend it.


This is why I love working in a National Park….

5 Jan

Because this totally happened during a meeting:


We were really excited at first because we thought it might be a young Pacific fisher. As it turns out it was actually an oddly colored pine marten. And when several of us disappeared for a few minutes to watch it….no one said a word.

I love Yosemite.



11 Oct


“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ~John Muir~

With my day job coming to a sudden halt when the government shutdown closed Yosemite, you probably expected me to spend all my extra free time plastering the blog with righteous indignation over the whole situation. I am pretty worried about the government shutdown, but I have been distracted by the loss of a family member. Our loss was sudden and tragic and my family is still grieving, but it has made me appreciate the wonderful people in this world who can be so caring and thoughtful, even in the worst situations.

There is plenty of healing needed right now. Hopefully our refuges of beauty will be re-opened soon.


DSLR Adventure

3 May

A while ago my brother upgraded to a new fancy-pants DSLR camera. He gave me his old Canon Rebel with the instructions to go out and only shoot in manual mode until I got the hang of it. I did: once. After two hours of shooting and playing with the controls I had a million photos of Joshua Tree that looked like this:


I kind of gave up.

The camera sat in my room for months collecting dust. I would take it out occasionally (ie, when my other camera was dead,) and take a few shots in auto mode and stare at the little “M” on the dial with pangs of regret and guilt. Then Yosemite did something that provided the motivation I needed.

I made a little cheat sheet reminding me about F#s and their relationship with aperture, and what the heck ISO is. I grabbed the camera, borrowed a tripod, and hiked up the Four Mile Trail in the dark. I took over a hundred photos that night but one of them turned out like this:


The handful of shots that weren’t too dark, too blown out, or too blurry were totally worth it. I’m not the next Ansel Adams or Nancy Robbins, but I feel pretty successful. Of course, it would have still been worth it if all I had gotten out of the experience was a chance to see Yosemite out do itself by making a rainbow out of freakin’moonbeams!


P.S. Thanks to Derek Ferguson for convincing me to borrow the tripod. That was clutch.

P.P.S. There’s a Yosemite Nature Notes on Moonbows!

Two Sticks and a Dam

8 Mar

Last week, my Facebook had some bad news for me.

Image from National Park Services
Image from National Park Service

Barker Dam in Joshua Tree was closed indefinitely due to vandalism.  Barker Dam is a staple of the park.  I’ve visited it almost every time I’ve gone to Joshua Tree and I always love how different it looks depending on when you visit.  I’ve been there when the dam is overflowing with water and when it’s bone dry.

Nice and lively in 2010:


Empty in 2012 (you can see the water level):

Robin and I have had discussions about awesome places in the park being ruined by too many people visiting and trashing them.  I think my librarian training gives me a knee-jerk reaction.  I want everyone to be able to access all the things!  Keeping things purposely hidden is elitist and presumptive! 

Then, I see things like this and it makes me so sad.  I understand why Robin and her park people like to keep all the secrets to themselves when sharing them results in destruction.  It makes me so angry at people.  I want to believe the best of them, but obviously they can’t be trusted.  Right?

Image from Reddit

Image from Reddit


So last week, I also came across this letter, posted on the Yosemite Park Facebook page.  The letter itself is sweet, but there’s so many levels to it that just makes me love it more.  Not only did this little girl go to Yosemite, she wanted to take a natural souvenir home with her.   She must have attended a program or talked to someone who told her that you’re supposed to “take only pictures.”  She remembered what she was taught and internalized it enough to return the sticks even after she’d returned home scott free.  I think it shows a mixture of respect for nature, importance of education, and childhood innocence.

It’s moments like this where I see hope again – with a healthy dose of frustration.  I completely get why these places need to be protected, but I also want that little girl to be able to visit the hidden gems of the parks.

I think kids today are being inundated with “green” messages about how they should take care of Mother Earth, but there is absolutely no substitute for positive experiences outdoors.  If we can get kids outside, to see the value of nature, I think we can prevent at least some of the incidents like Barker Dam.

– April