YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK; INSPIRED BY ANSEL

It only took me 27 years to make it to Yosemite National Park. Well…to be clear, I have been to the High Sierras before on a college backpacking trip but it wasn’t technically in Yosemite Valley… so this past weekend was my first official time inside this vast and beautiful national park.

I spent the weekend with my cousins hiking, taking in the views, chatting around the campfire, sleeping in tents in 30 degree weather and basking in the sunlight and glory of nature. It was perfect, refreshing and invigorating.

As someone with a passion for photography, it’s impossible to be in Yosemite Valley and not think of the iconic photographer, environmentalist and overall game changer - Ansel Adams. His photography is displayed in every hikers mountain cabin, in museums, photography schools, and nature exhibits all over the world. He is so iconic that they even named a part of Yosemite after him, the “Ansel Adams Wilderness” to be exact. Well, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the breath and depth he captured in his early 1900s black and white photography…so here is my best attempt to follow in his footsteps.

EL CAPITAN as shot by ANSEL ADAMS captured in 1952.   Ansel Adams made this image around 1952 with an 8" x 10" view camera. El Capitan is the largest exposed granite face in the world, drawing climbers from around the globe. Thanks to Adams' work, it's also a magnet for photographers and this image has long been a favorite of the Adams family. During his career, he took many images of El Capitan's dramatic face, notably one of his first known photographs taken in 1916 on his first trip to Yosemite . Using a Kodak #1 Box Brownie, he offered an early hint at the visualization that would later become his hallmark, framing the pale granite face with leafy trees in the foreground to downplay the overwhelming size of El Capitan. After that early photograph, Ansel Adams returned to El Capitan over and again photographing it in every time, season, and light he could.

EL CAPITAN as shot by ANSEL ADAMS captured in 1952.

Ansel Adams made this image around 1952 with an 8" x 10" view camera. El Capitan is the largest exposed granite face in the world, drawing climbers from around the globe. Thanks to Adams' work, it's also a magnet for photographers and this image has long been a favorite of the Adams family. During his career, he took many images of El Capitan's dramatic face, notably one of his first known photographs taken in 1916 on his first trip to Yosemite . Using a Kodak #1 Box Brownie, he offered an early hint at the visualization that would later become his hallmark, framing the pale granite face with leafy trees in the foreground to downplay the overwhelming size of El Capitan. After that early photograph, Ansel Adams returned to El Capitan over and again photographing it in every time, season, and light he could.



And here are some of my shots…

The steps at Glacier Point -  We left LA in the wee hours on Friday morning, arriving at the entrance to Yosemite National Park mid afternoon. After entering the park, we drove another hour and a half or so up the winding mountain roads to our first destination - Glacier Point.

The steps at Glacier Point - We left LA in the wee hours on Friday morning, arriving at the entrance to Yosemite National Park mid afternoon. After entering the park, we drove another hour and a half or so up the winding mountain roads to our first destination - Glacier Point.

Cousin crew -  I went on this trip with my two cousins, Kristi and Kacie, our good friend Mel, Kacie’s boyfriend Russell, and Russell’s cousin John. Cousins, friends, family…the best kind of crew to be with! Here’s John looking out at Glacier Point.

Cousin crew - I went on this trip with my two cousins, Kristi and Kacie, our good friend Mel, Kacie’s boyfriend Russell, and Russell’s cousin John. Cousins, friends, family…the best kind of crew to be with! Here’s John looking out at Glacier Point.

Cool couple -  There happened to be a couple taking Wedding photos at Glacier Point and I had to sneak in a few shots of them. The girl was walking around in normal hiking clothes + hiking boots and when they found a spot she would throw on her dress over her clothes and change real quick. Talk about low maintenance! I am sure their photos turned out amazing!

Cool couple - There happened to be a couple taking Wedding photos at Glacier Point and I had to sneak in a few shots of them. The girl was walking around in normal hiking clothes + hiking boots and when they found a spot she would throw on her dress over her clothes and change real quick. Talk about low maintenance! I am sure their photos turned out amazing!

Perfect sunset-  We initially arrived at Glacier Point around 4pm and decided to stay until sunset. Because we arrived so early we were able to find a perfect view spot of Half Dome and see everything clearly despite the large crowds that gather. The sun set, the sky turned a purple haze, and the coolest part of all was how the shadows engulf the whole base of Half Dome and leave the peak of it soaked in the sunlight until the very last ounce of light falls behind the horizon. Epic.

Perfect sunset- We initially arrived at Glacier Point around 4pm and decided to stay until sunset. Because we arrived so early we were able to find a perfect view spot of Half Dome and see everything clearly despite the large crowds that gather. The sun set, the sky turned a purple haze, and the coolest part of all was how the shadows engulf the whole base of Half Dome and leave the peak of it soaked in the sunlight until the very last ounce of light falls behind the horizon. Epic.

Sunset spectators -  As we parked at Glacier Point I looked over to my cousins and said, “Ok, let’s see how many languages we can hear” …and although this was kind of a joke at how touristy places like this are…it was quite fascinating to see so many people from so many different places all gathered to watch the sunset. I forsure heard Korean, German, Spanish, English, Japanese, and the wildcard that counts although it is still English…Australian!! haha!

Sunset spectators - As we parked at Glacier Point I looked over to my cousins and said, “Ok, let’s see how many languages we can hear” …and although this was kind of a joke at how touristy places like this are…it was quite fascinating to see so many people from so many different places all gathered to watch the sunset. I forsure heard Korean, German, Spanish, English, Japanese, and the wildcard that counts although it is still English…Australian!! haha!

Worth it -  sitting up top, watching the sky turn crazy colors of purple haze, wrapped up in my puffy jacket, with no care in the world…man. that’s the life! At this moment I declared that the 6+ hour drive up the winding mounting was absolutely worth it. No matter how the rest of our weekend went…it was already worth it.

Worth it - sitting up top, watching the sky turn crazy colors of purple haze, wrapped up in my puffy jacket, with no care in the world…man. that’s the life! At this moment I declared that the 6+ hour drive up the winding mounting was absolutely worth it. No matter how the rest of our weekend went…it was already worth it.

Into the valley -  Yosemite being the valley that it is… makes for quite a unique driving situation. Basically, everything in the valley resides on the “Yosemite Valley Loop Trail” which shoots you one way in and one way out. This makes things pretty simple and easy to follow, and I began to understand why I saw so many bikes! It’s totally possible to ride your bike all around this valley loop trail to different trailheads, view points, and campsites. Awesome.

Into the valley - Yosemite being the valley that it is… makes for quite a unique driving situation. Basically, everything in the valley resides on the “Yosemite Valley Loop Trail” which shoots you one way in and one way out. This makes things pretty simple and easy to follow, and I began to understand why I saw so many bikes! It’s totally possible to ride your bike all around this valley loop trail to different trailheads, view points, and campsites. Awesome.

Vernal Falls -  On Saturday we decided to do one longer hike…up to Vernal Falls, the Emerald pools, and if we were feeling up to it…Nevada falls. The weather was PERFECT and the views all the way up and down were spectacular. We made it up the steep path on the Mist trail and I took this shot at the top near the Emerald Pools.

Vernal Falls - On Saturday we decided to do one longer hike…up to Vernal Falls, the Emerald pools, and if we were feeling up to it…Nevada falls. The weather was PERFECT and the views all the way up and down were spectacular. We made it up the steep path on the Mist trail and I took this shot at the top near the Emerald Pools.

Hello EL CAP -  Now, after FREE SOLO won an oscar the whole world turned it’s attention to the giant slab of granite in Yosemite, EL CAPITAN. Thank to Alex Honnold and his daring attempt up this thing with no ropes or safety gear, we mere mortals can now gaze upon this rock in astonishment that indeed…people have climbed this. Seeing El Cap for the first time in real life was incredible. It is massive and beautiful. We cruised on over to see it just at the sun was passing the climbers sleeping on the wall at the top, leaving us with a pretty mystical feeling as we realized those tiny bodies we saw in tents handing off the wall would be sleeping there all night. Wow.

Hello EL CAP - Now, after FREE SOLO won an oscar the whole world turned it’s attention to the giant slab of granite in Yosemite, EL CAPITAN. Thank to Alex Honnold and his daring attempt up this thing with no ropes or safety gear, we mere mortals can now gaze upon this rock in astonishment that indeed…people have climbed this. Seeing El Cap for the first time in real life was incredible. It is massive and beautiful. We cruised on over to see it just at the sun was passing the climbers sleeping on the wall at the top, leaving us with a pretty mystical feeling as we realized those tiny bodies we saw in tents handing off the wall would be sleeping there all night. Wow.

The best way to wake up -  One of the things I love most about camping is how everything is stripped down to it’s simplest form, thus making everything seem even better than it could at home. Take for example, OATMEAL. I rarely eat oatmeal at home but tell me why a pack of oats eaten in 35degree weather while camping taste like the greatest thing to ever exist?!!! And thanks to this awesome cousin crew…we served up some pretty awesome meals - ramen, beef and veggie tacos, smoores, and a big brunch of eggs, bacon, veggies, and toast our last morning. YUMMMMMMMM.

The best way to wake up - One of the things I love most about camping is how everything is stripped down to it’s simplest form, thus making everything seem even better than it could at home. Take for example, OATMEAL. I rarely eat oatmeal at home but tell me why a pack of oats eaten in 35degree weather while camping taste like the greatest thing to ever exist?!!! And thanks to this awesome cousin crew…we served up some pretty awesome meals - ramen, beef and veggie tacos, smoores, and a big brunch of eggs, bacon, veggies, and toast our last morning. YUMMMMMMMM.

Valley View -  on the drive out of the valley, there is a small parking lot on the side of the road that you can pull over in to see what is famously known as “valley view”. This spot was so peaceful. The reflection of El Cap in the water and the stillness of nature all around…so good.

Valley View - on the drive out of the valley, there is a small parking lot on the side of the road that you can pull over in to see what is famously known as “valley view”. This spot was so peaceful. The reflection of El Cap in the water and the stillness of nature all around…so good.

Tunnel View -  this is quite possibly the most iconic view of Yosemite Valley. El Capitan on the left…Half Dome tucked far back on the right hand side…and the valley displayed beautifully below. We were lucky to catch this view on the way out and it took my breath away.   Yosemite far exceeded my expectations and I am already dreaming of my next trip back!

Tunnel View - this is quite possibly the most iconic view of Yosemite Valley. El Capitan on the left…Half Dome tucked far back on the right hand side…and the valley displayed beautifully below. We were lucky to catch this view on the way out and it took my breath away.

Yosemite far exceeded my expectations and I am already dreaming of my next trip back!