Eternal Yosemite

Yosemite-6I went to Yosemite Valley, for the day, a couple of days ago. I don’t want to say that I was disappointed, because I wasn’t, it was a lovely, warm spring day and the Valley was Yosemite Valley at its best; majestic, serene, lots of water, and the dogwoods were blooming. It just wasn’t surprising. I’ve been reading alot of geology lately, about the Farallon Plate diving – or, subducting if you prefer – under the North American Plate and pushing mountains up all the way to the Rockies, and I’ve started to visualizing the change taking place in an relatable time. But, in real life, the change is taking place so slowly that we can’t see it – although we do feel it occasionally – and this Yosemite is the same Yosemite I first saw as a child in 1948, even if I don’t remember much of it.

About twenty years later, I first saw El Capitan – El Cap – as a sentient being and it hasn’t moved one inch from my first picture. And the best places to photograph El Cap haven’t changed either, the meadow where you can watch the climbers, looking down valley from another meadow across the river, the aptly named El Capitan View turnout, or the Tunnel View turn out. The pictures below, right and bottom, were taken on a trip to The Valley with Michele’s cousin, Marion Kaplan, during the Rim Fire when the sky was full of smoke and the valley somber, and the upper left on a drive through The Valley, late in the day, shuttling a car from the west side to the east side of the Sierras. The sky has changed but the walls have not. When I raise my camera to take a picture, I am struck by how many times I have taken the same pictures, most of them now sitting in Kodak Carousels in storage somewhere. That is not to say that, today, now, The Valley isn’t still screaming Take my picture!; it is. It still is one of the most stunning places I have ever been, even when it was smoked in, looking and feeling like Mordor. But it does raise the question, What is the point of taking pictures of Yosemite?   20130911-IMG_2320-EditI’ve sort of come to the conclusion that the only reasonable answer is To get a Selfie. Really, think about it. There are already hundreds of millions of pictures of Yosemite and the world probably does not need another one, but maybe, just maybe, the world needs a picture of us, either indirectly by showing our own interpretation of a place, or directly with a portrait. Either way, the picture is witness to our visit to The Valley, something to bring to show and tell.   IMG_6744-Edit-2This day, when I got to Yosemite, they told me that Glacier Point had just opened for the season and, since that is one of my favorite view spots, I went there first. I was amazed at the volume of water in Merced and Nevada Falls… Puma-2

and I could almost hear Yosemite Falls across the valley, it was just like old times. YosemiteIt was 59° at Glacier Point – which is amazingly warm in the sun at 7200+ feet – there was still snow on the ground, and, more importantly, the view has not changed in the last sixty years, so I went back down into warmth of the The Valley. One picture that I did want to repeat is of the boardwalk across the road from the Yosemite Valley Chapel and across the valley from Yosemite Falls. As an aside, now that I am walking around Yosemite, I remember two things that have changed during my memory. One is that there used to be a great view of the church, with Half Dome in the background, from the meadow next to the church,  now trees – which I understand the Park Service planted – have grown up to block the view. The other is that Mirror Lake is now a meadow most of the time. End aside. Once I got to the boardwalk, the natural thing seemed to just walk across The Valley to Yosemite Falls, to hear its powerful roar and feel the mist. To simply let The Yosemite Valley of the Merced entrance me.  IMG_6745-EditIMG_6763-EditIMG_6778-EditYosemite

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