Monthly Archives

May 2006

Photo of Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park

California, Landscape, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Nevada Falls is one of Yosemite’s most spectacular waterfalls but is only reached with some effort. A 3.5 mile hike (one-way) up the Mist Trail, which includes a good soaking while passing by Vernal Falls along the way, is required to reach the summit of Nevada Falls, including 1900′ of vertical ascent. Nevada Falls lies, along with Vernal Falls, in the joints of narrow Little Yosemite Valley, faults in the valley that form angles and walls as the glacier-formed valley descends from Yosemite’s backcountry down to the main valley floor. It is at the joints that Nevada and Vernal falls occur, both dropping over sheer granite walls into boulder-strewn riverbeds below. Above Nevada Falls the Merced River flows placidly, green and glassy through pine forests. In the last several hundred yards before the brink, the river slopes downward a bit and increases in speed, enough that when it reaches the brink it shoots out dramatically and thunders 600′ down to the huge boulders before racing through forests to Vernal Falls 1.5 miles downstream. The hike to Nevada Falls begins at the summit of Vernal Falls, a natural resting point for the hiker who has just finished the soaking wet, thigh-burner steps alongside Vernal and needs a breather to recover and dry off in the sun. Leaving Vernal behind, one hikes through brief switchbacks open to the sun (not hot yet, since you are still wet) then through trees that obscure Nevada Falls for a while. After a half-mile or so the trees begin to open up, yielding stunning views of Nevada ahead. The trail then moves to a series of switchbacks among granite boulders that pass alongside Nevada Falls, near enough that one really appreciates the power manifest in the enormous amounts of water barreling over the cliff. Finally the summit is achieved, offering broad views of Little Yosemite Valley below all the across to Glacier Point. A bridge over the Merced River is placed just before the Merced plunges over the falls, and wide granite aprons on either side of the river make for great picnic spots. For the descent to Vernal Falls and the valley, its best to take the alternate route back down via the John Muir trail as it has superb views of Nevada Falls with Half Dome and Liberty Cap rising above it.

Nevada Falls marks where the Merced River plummets almost 600 through a joint in the Little Yosemite Valley, shooting out from a sheer granite cliff and then down to a boulder pile far below, Yosemite National Park, California

Nevada Falls marks where the Merced River plummets almost 600 through a joint in the Little Yosemite Valley, shooting out from a sheer granite cliff and then down to a boulder pile far below.
Image ID: 16114
Location: Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Nevada Falls, with Liberty Cap (center) and Half Dome (left). Nevada Falls marks where the Merced River plummets almost 600 through a joint in the Little Yosemite Valley, shooting out from a sheer granite cliff and then down to a boulder pile far below, Yosemite National Park, California

Nevada Falls, with Liberty Cap (center) and Half Dome (left). Nevada Falls marks where the Merced River plummets almost 600 through a joint in the Little Yosemite Valley, shooting out from a sheer granite cliff and then down to a boulder pile far below.
Image ID: 16115
Location: Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Nevada Falls marks where the Merced River plummets almost 600 through a joint in the Little Yosemite Valley, shooting out from a sheer granite cliff and then down to a boulder pile far below, Yosemite National Park, California

Nevada Falls marks where the Merced River plummets almost 600 through a joint in the Little Yosemite Valley, shooting out from a sheer granite cliff and then down to a boulder pile far below.
Image ID: 16116
Location: Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Keywords: Nevada Falls, waterfall, Yosemite National Park<

Bridalveil Falls Rainbow

California, Landscape, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

During spring months with heavy water flow, it is easy to see a rainbow in Bridalveil Falls: just visit the falls a short while before sunset and watch as the colors climb up the plummeting water as the sun sinks behind you.

Bridalveil Falls with a rainbow forming in its spray, dropping 620 into Yosemite Valley, displaying peak water flow in spring months from deep snowpack and warm weather melt.  Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Bridalveil Falls with a rainbow forming in its spray, dropping 620 into Yosemite Valley, displaying peak water flow in spring months from deep snowpack and warm weather melt. Yosemite Valley.
Image ID: 16160
Location: Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Keywords: bridalveil falls, yosemite national park, photo, picture, image, waterfall, photograph.

Yosemite Falls Lunar Rainbow

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, California, Landscape, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

After getting word that the waterfalls in Yosemite are pouring at ginormous levels right now (due to a timely combination of last winter’s deep snowpack and recent warm weather), I blasted up to Yosemite Valley for a quickie. Indeed, all the falls were huge. As I drove into the Valley in the dark I could just see Bridalveil and Ribbon Falls going pretty good. A short while later I got a glimpse of Yosemite Falls, also raging. These were high flow levels I had seen in these falls only a few times before in my life, pretty special. I arrived just a few hours before the rising of the full moon Friday night hoping to see the famed “moonbow” of Yosemite Falls. When I got to the foot of Yosemite Falls about 10pm, I joined a small crowd of others who were also there to witness the lunar rainbow. Unfortunately, as I feared, the mist (re: rainstorm) at the foot of Yosemite Falls was so heavy there was no way to keep a camera dry; I was not about to get my gear out for a series of four-minute exposures, I take enough photos underwater as it is. There were a few guys giving it a try, so if they got anything perhaps they’ll publish their shots. Instead I spent the evening hiking around the valley, admiring the walls and falls in the moonlight from the relatively dry vantages of the meadows, a singular experience. At one point I was accompanied by a coyote hunting something (mice?) in one of meadows. We were surrounded by such quiet that I could hear his breathing and digging. It turns out that I did manage to obtain a lunar rainbow photo after all. Although I could not see it with my eyes at the time I took the photo below, the camera managed to capture the rainbow in the lower section of the falls (look hard, you’ll see it).

Upper Yosemite Falls and lunar rainbow, moonbow. A lunar rainbow (moonbow) can be seen to the left of Yosemite Falls, where the moon illuminates the spray of the falls, Yosemite National Park, California

Upper Yosemite Falls and lunar rainbow, moonbow. A lunar rainbow (moonbow) can be seen to the left of Yosemite Falls, where the moon illuminates the spray of the falls.
Image ID: 27751
Location: Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Yosemite Falls by moonlight, reflected in a springtime pool in Cooks Meadow. A lunar rainbow (moonbow) can be seen above the lower section of Yosemite Falls.  Star trails appear in the night sky. Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls by moonlight, reflected in a springtime pool in Cooks Meadow. A lunar rainbow (moonbow) can be seen above the lower section of Yosemite Falls. Star trails appear in the night sky. Yosemite Valley.
Image ID: 16093
Location: Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

I spent the next day on the Mist Trail. It was a spectacular day, warm and clear with lots of people enjoying the drenching spray and giddying heights of the Mist and Panorama trails alongside Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. I got some nice snaps.

Keywords: Yosemite falls, waterfall, yosemite national park, photo, picture, image, lunar, moon, night, photograph.

Photo of Fern Springs, Yosemite National Park

California, Landscape, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite

Fern Springs, near the entrance to Yosemite Valley, is a quietly running spring that crosses below the road and enters the Merced River. The small cascades offer a change of composition to the photographer looking for something to focus on aside from the towering granite walls and thundering waterfalls for which Yosemite is so well known.

Fern Springs, a small natural spring in Yosemite Valley near the Pohono Bridge, trickles quietly over rocks as it flows into the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

Fern Springs, a small natural spring in Yosemite Valley near the Pohono Bridge, trickles quietly over rocks as it flows into the Merced River.
Image ID: 12650
Location: Fern Springs, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Fern Springs, a small natural spring in Yosemite Valley near the Pohono Bridge, trickles quietly over rocks as it flows into the Merced River. Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Fern Springs, a small natural spring in Yosemite Valley near the Pohono Bridge, trickles quietly over rocks as it flows into the Merced River. Yosemite Valley.
Image ID: 16084
Location: Fern Springs, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Fern Springs, a small natural spring in Yosemite Valley near the Pohono Bridge, trickles quietly over rocks as it flows into the Merced River. Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Fern Springs, a small natural spring in Yosemite Valley near the Pohono Bridge, trickles quietly over rocks as it flows into the Merced River. Yosemite Valley.
Image ID: 16087
Location: Fern Springs, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Keywords: Fern Springs, Yosemite National Park, photo, picture, image, photograph.

Bobcat Photos

Photo of the Day

I recently had a chance to gather a few more bobcat photos in Mariposa, in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite. Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are found throughout North America from southern Canada to southern Mexico. In the United States population densities are much higher in the southeastern region than in the western states. Bobcats can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, semi-deserts, mountains, and brushland. They sleep in hidden dens, often in hollow trees, thickets, or rocky crevices.

Bobcat, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Lynx rufus

Bobcat, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15915
Species: Bobcat, Lynx rufus

Bobcat, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Lynx rufus

Bobcat, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15916
Species: Bobcat, Lynx rufus

Bobcat, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Lynx rufus

Bobcat, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15923
Species: Bobcat, Lynx rufus

I also photographed mountain lions on the same trip.

Keywords: bobcat, Lynx rufus

Photo of Paradise Falls, Mt. Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier, National Parks, Washington

Last summer we visited Mt. Rainier National Park for the first time. We timed our visit to coincide with the peak flower bloom in Paradise Meadows, and we were not disappointed. The weather was spectacular, hardly a cloud in the sky, and we enjoyed hiking and driving the route around the mountain. Mt. Rainier has countless streams, creeks and rivers, all of which have cascades and falls to photograph. Our favorite was Paradise Falls, appropriately, on Paradise Creek:

Paradise Falls tumble over rocks in Paradise Creek, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Paradise Falls tumble over rocks in Paradise Creek.
Image ID: 13867
Location: Paradise Creek, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA

Paradise Falls tumble over rocks in Paradise Creek, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Paradise Falls tumble over rocks in Paradise Creek.
Image ID: 13869
Location: Paradise Creek, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA

Paradise Falls tumble over rocks in Paradise Creek, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Paradise Falls tumble over rocks in Paradise Creek.
Image ID: 13868
Location: Paradise Creek, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, USA

More waterfall photos.

Keywords: Paradise Falls, Paradise creek, Mt. Rainier National Park, waterfall

Cougar Photos

Photo of the Day

Recently I had an opportunity to photograph cougars (Puma concolor) in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada, near Mariposa. Note: these are captive animals, not wild. Here are a few of the images:

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15791
Species: Mountain lion, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15792
Species: Mountain lion, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15793
Species: Mountain lion, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15794
Species: Mountain lion, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15802
Species: Mountain lion, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California, Puma concolor

Mountain lion, Sierra Nevada foothills, Mariposa, California.
Image ID: 15801
Species: Mountain lion, Puma concolor

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, once had the broadest distribution of all American terrestrial animals, ranging from Argentina to Alaska. Habitat destruction and hunting pressure have curtailed their numbers drastically, to the point that the eastern North American population is essentially wiped out with the exception of a small number of Florida panthers. They are now restricted primarily to mountainous, unpopulated areas, although urban sightings and contacts with people are increasing as habitat destruction continues.

See more cougar photos.