Yosemite Blizzard

A few groups of hikers were rescued in Yosemite this morning after a blizzard snowed them in. SFGate: Three groups of missing hikers rescued. Sadly, two men scaling El Capitan weren't as lucky.

Yosemite Photos

Here are 16 photos from my trip—Yosemite Oct. 2004.

Half Dome (click for more)

Jake's Yosemite Photos

My friend Jake just let me know that he was in Yosemite this last weekend too. He posted some great photos from his trip.


I just got back from a quick trip to one of my favorite places, Yosemite National Park. Not only was I in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, I was away from politics, TV, and the web—and it was good. I have a mountain of photos to sift through, and I'll be posting some. I couldn't decide which one to post first, so I just grabbed the first photo I took on the drive into Yosemite Valley.

Photo of a meadow and trees

meadow and trees

El Capitan

el capitan

El Capitan is a huge wall of granite in Yosemite Valley. This weekend we hiked a little ways up from the valley floor so we could get a better look at it. Beyond the view of El Capitan looking up, we had a great view across the valley:

yosemite valley view

As we were enjoying the view and studying the giant rock, I saw something unusual but had an idea what it might be. Some binoculars confirmed it: it wasn't a bird or a strange rock formation, there were people climbing the sheer face. We kept tabs on their progress for a few hours, as we could see them from anywhere on that end of the valley. It was windy at times when we were surrounded by trees, and I can't imagine what it must have been like for them exposed on a cliff face.

el capitan climbers

We eventually left, so we didn't get a chance to see much of their descent. But at times they were swinging what seemed like fifty feet back and forth as they descended. To get a feel for what their view and ascent must have been like, check out the photos that go along with this article. crazy. (I think the climbers we saw were on a different path.)

Photo of Half Dome

half dome
half dome

Yosemite in summer

skp and I made a quick trip to Yosemite this weekend and I was amazed at what a difference a few months makes. I was just there in June, and it feels like a completely different park; different colors, different smells, and a different enjoyment. The waterfalls have almost completely dried up. There is no Yosemite Falls right now, and the Merced River has slowed from a raging torrent to a glassy calm.

Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Falls in Spring

Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite "Falls" in Summer

The grasses are all long with lots of yellow, orange, and brown. The air is dusty and dry. It's a complete change from the springtime park that is practically bursting at the seams with water and life. This summertime Yosemite is less fantastic, but more peaceful.

Yosemite Flower

We spent all day today walking around the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove. They are simply incredible—not only for their size, but their time. They live for thousands of years. Being around them forces me to think about time and the environment in a different way.

Mariposa Grove Museum
Mariposa Grove Museum

I have a camping trip planned there in a month or so, and I hope it'll be enough time from now that I'll get to see yet another side of Yosemite.

When you enter Yosemite, a ranger gives you a map and some other papers. One of the papers is bright yellow with bold letters: "This is active bear country!" Sometimes you'll see a large grey tube on the side of a road with a sign that says "bear trap." (a picture.) At each campsite they provide bear lockers to store your food. If you happen to leave a cooler lying around outside of a bear locker, the park rangers will confiscate it. (I found that out the hard way on my first trip to Yosemite.) These are the motions you go through when camping at Yosemite, and it's just part of the routine. Even though these bear signs and warnings are all around, it wasn't the first thing on my mind when going for a hike...until now.

The Snow Creek Trail is on the North end of the valley, and is the steepest ascent to the high country. We didn't see anyone else on the trail. (Even hiking the length of the valley to Yosemite Falls once above this initial climb, we only saw two backpackers.) The first part of the trail is switchback after switchback after switchback. About 2/3rds of the way up, with Preston in the lead, he yelled down to Chief and me, "Bear!" We all froze.

I could hear the bear rustling in the bushes, but I couldn't see it. I tried to remember everything I had casually read about what to do when you see a bear. A fuzzy algorithm appeared: if (grizzly) {play dead?} elseif (black bear) {make a lot of noise?} I couldn't remember which went with which. I calmly yelled up anyway, "What kind is it?" Preston yelled down, "It's a brown bear." That didn't help too much. Then I worked out another algorithm: startled bear = bad. I yelled up again, "Does it know we're here?" Chief said, "I think so." I was looking for an escape route, and trying to figure out the best way to go. Should I run uphill? Down the trail? We all stayed frozen. Then I had a good look at the bear as it made its way across Chief's path. I yelled up, "It's coming down Chief!" He stayed still and got an even better look at the bear as it crossed the trail about eight feet away from him. The bear made its way down across the switchbacks and through the bushes.

We regrouped a ways up the trail and tried to remember what we were supposed to do. My adrenaline was flowing, and I wasn't so cool under the pressure. I think Preston, on the other hand, got a close-up picture of the bear. With the flash!

After seeing the size of a bear, and being with one in an uncontrolled environment, I'll read those bear warnings and safety tips with a heightened awareness.

Camped in Yosemite the past couple of days and went on some spectacular hikes. I didn't take as many pictures this time around, because I was focused on surviving the trek. I survived, but I'm going to be feeling yesterday's hike for a few days. What an amazing place.

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Yosemite Falls and Half Dome

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