100 Days of National Parks: Day 10 – First Light on North Peak, Yosemite National Park

First Light on North Peak


First Light on North Peak
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As I write this on a chilly Sunday morning at the Portland Saturday Market, I find myself warmed remembering the coldest morning I can ever recall out in the backcountry, beneath North Peak in the 20 Lakes Basin, on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park.

We had hiked out to this beautiful camping spot overlooking Shamrock Lake, and set up camp the previous evening as the sun went down, and the temperatures began to drop.  I awoke at 3:00am unable to sleep and freezing in the single digit temperatures that penetrated my sleeping bag and coated the tent with a film of ice.  I crawled out, over my girlfriend’s dogs in a vain attempt not to wake her, and did jumping jacks on the rocky ledge overlooking the lake, watching the first rays of autumn hit the majestic peak to the west.

Sometimes the most beautiful moments come from the most discomfort, and I’ve found it’s always worth braving the cold or the elements to capture a perfect image.


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