100 Days of National Parks: Day 27 – El Capitan, Yosemite

El Capitan

There’s something about the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley that make it ideally suited to black and white photography. Perhaps its the association with the works of Ansel Adams, my first introduction to the park, or the way the cracks and crevices in the rough-hewn rock accentuate even the smallest shadow. Whatever it is, I find myself fighting the urge to shoot everything in black and white when I’m in Yosemite, and it’s a matter of willpower to find elements of color in many cases to force myself to highlight them.

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El Capitan

El Capitan
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There’s something about the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley that make it ideally suited to black and white photography.  Perhaps its the association with the works of Ansel Adams, my first introduction to the park, or the way the cracks and crevices in the rough-hewn rock accentuate even the smallest shadow.  Whatever it is, I find myself fighting the urge to shoot everything in black and white when I’m in Yosemite, and it’s a matter of willpower to find elements of color in many cases to force myself to highlight them.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 27 – El Capitan, Yosemite”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 20 – Mirror in the Merced, Yosemite

Mirror in the Merced

There is something profoundly peaceful about sitting on the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley listening to the slow rush of water and staring out at the towering granite cliffs and domes that rise out of the valley floor. It’s impossible not to be captivated by the scenery, transfixed by your surroundings.

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Mirror in the Merced

Mirror in the Merced
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There is something profoundly peaceful about sitting on the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite Valley listening to the slow rush of water and staring out at the towering granite cliffs and domes that rise out of the valley floor.  It’s impossible not to be captivated by the scenery, transfixed by your surroundings.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 20 – Mirror in the Merced, Yosemite”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 11 – Parting the Veil, Sequoia National Park

Parting the Veil

Parting the Veil
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Mt. Whitney.

The tallest mountain in the lower 48 states.

In my years of hiking, I’ve always repeated the mantra, “Sometimes you beat the mountain, sometimes the mountain beats you.”  Whitney, that unassuming monolith at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the eastern edge of Sequoia National Park, is the one mountain that has truly beaten me.

In 2015, while descending the switchbacks on the western side of the mountain, after being turned back from a thunderstorm that swept in during my ascent, I picked up a stress fracture that ended my dreams of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that year.  It was a tough injury, more for the emotional and mental distress than for the physical hardships it caused.  I left Sequoia and the PCT that June defeated but determined to return, to beat the mountain that beat me so resoundingly.

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.” – Napoleon Hill

When most people think of Sequoia National Park, they think of the big trees, with the mountains almost an afterthought, but so much staggering beauty is out there in the backcountry of the High Sierra, waiting to be explored.  Though daunting, these mountains are some of the most dramatic, beautiful examples of wilderness we have in the U.S.  I encourage everyone to get out and explore them some time, to find their own mountain they need to beat, I know I intend to.

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

First Light on North Peak

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.

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.

100/100/100: Day 6 – Morning Light on Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Sometimes it’s worth getting up before sunrise on a cold October morning, with storm clouds moving in and the bite of the autumn chill penetrating even your warmest layers. In 2013, I pulled myself out of my tent at Tuolomne Meadows despite the frigid conditions and made my way down the Tioga Road to Olmsted Point, a brilliant overlook across the heights of the Sierras down into the eastern end of the Main Valley of Yosemite National Park. The billowing clouds parted as the sun rose letting a sliver of light in to kiss the top of Half Dome, creating a pastel glow to the sky and surrounding mountains, and allowed me to capture this photo which almost resembles a painting.

Morning Light on Half Dome

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Sometimes it’s worth getting up before sunrise on a cold October morning, with storm clouds moving in and the bite of the autumn chill penetrating even your warmest layers.  In 2013, I pulled myself out of my tent at Tuolomne Meadows despite the frigid conditions and made my way down the Tioga Road to Olmsted Point, a brilliant overlook across the heights of the Sierras down into the eastern end of the Main Valley of Yosemite National Park.  The billowing clouds parted as the sun rose letting a sliver of light in to kiss the top of Half Dome, creating a pastel glow to the sky and surrounding mountains, and allowed me to capture this photo which almost resembles a painting.