July 2006: Capturing the changing seasons

I've been to Yosemite National Park many times. In fact I spent two summers working in the park. While summer is a warm and sunny, it's also time of daunting traffic and crowds. Fall, on the other hand, is often quiet, cool, and full of splashes of yellow and red. It's also a time when the parks four-footed residents reappear.


On a stunning Fall day, the view from Happy Isles Bridge of the Merced River.

The Sunrise trail

Half Dome from Mirror Meadow (formerly Mirror Lake).

The "diving board," an overhanging ledge on Half Dome's face.

Half Dome's east shoulder.

A peak of the peak through the valley forest.

Splashes of fall colors among the trees.

Small maples over the forest floor.

Splashes of red, too.

Evidence of Fall's arrival along the trails.

Light on the leaves.

Late-afternoon color on the Valley floor.

Yellow lighting up the darkening forest.

A mix of the ephemeral and the perpetual.

Walking up the Snow Creek Trail, along the northeast rim of the Valley. It can be a blazingly hot and dry hike in the summer but pleasant in the Fall.

The view into Tenaya Canon, a rugged and potentially dangerous place.

Trickles of water shine on shear granite walls.

Walls of solid granite sculpted by thousands of years of ice and weather.

Clouds Rest is the highest point on the east wall. A narrow path allows hikers across.

A land of stunning light and shadows.

Fall paints the lower slopes of Half Dome.

Hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls

Vernal Falls, a 318-foot vertical drop over a granite wall.

The Mist Trail skirts along to the right. It can require careful walking up water slicked steps of rock.

In the Fall, a relative trickle of water.

At the base, water splashes on broken granite.

A pool in the shadows.

Water cascading over stone.

At the top of Vernal Falls, a sunny and popular place for lunch.

Despite a metal fence, more than a few of the foolhardy have been swept over the edge when the water is high.

Pretty pools upstream of the falls.

Emerald Pool; in the background, Liberty Cap (right) and Mt. Broderick (left) hide the west side of Half Dome.

The footbridge crossing the Merced starts the climb to the top of Nevada Falls.

Thousands of years of water appear to have barely dented granite.

View of Nevada Falls from the switchbacks.

Top of the falls—about a 2,000-foot climb from the valley floor. Liberty Cap tops out at 7076 feet. It's another 1,800 feet to the top of Half Dome.

The top edge of Nevada Falls; a slight cut though the hard rock.

To the east of the falls, the Merced passes through Little Yosemite Valley. The nearby campground was a favorite for bears.

One leg of the trail loops to the south of the falls and eventually back to the valley. Liberty Cap anchors the north side of Nevada Falls. To the left, Half Dome looms over Mt. Broderick.

To the left of the falls, a view of the trail's many switchbacks through fallen rock, squeezed between Liberty Cap and the falls.

The smooth granite walls of Mt. Broderick.

Mt. Broderick's east shoulder.

The south leg of the trail provides fabulous views of the falls.

Top of the Nevada Falls—with a few people perched on the edge.

There's always a few that tempt fate.

End of the day; Half Dome in alpine glow and the valley in dusk.

The "diving board" in evening light.

Dinner in the campground. With Fall, the temperature drops rapidly at night.

Fall is a good time to see the permanent residents of the valley: Deer, coyotes, raccoons, and the occasional bear.

Yosemite Falls walk

This year, after a long and dry summer, Yosemite Falls dried out completely.

The upper falls, high and dry. The upper falls is a 1,430-foot drop; the middle falls drop 675 feet; the lower falls stand only 320 feet.

Lost Arrow: a freestanding pillar of rock to the right of the falls.

The less-impressive lower falls, also dry.

When dry, the lower falls make an interesting scramble.

The hidden pool at the base of the lower falls.

Hardy wildflowers still blooming in fall.

The Merced River rolls quietly through the Yosemite Valley.

Mist blowing off the top of Bridalveil Falls.

The massive walls of El Capitan. Fall is a favorite time for climbing.