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Yosemite, Day 2

When we awoke the following day, Wednesday, the weather was clearing. As we drove out, planning to do our site seeing and then head to the wine country, we began to understand why so many people visit this national park . Remember that coyote? We would have never noticed him if it hadn't been so cloudy/foggy that the clearing was all you could see.

The meadow where we had seen the Coyote on the previous day.

With a highlight map as our guide, we headed towards one of the first recommended vantage points only to have to stop to see sights that had been right in front of us without our knowledge on the drive in on the previous day. We had stopped in a little parking lot on the previous day just before we arrived at Yosemite Village. Because of the clouds/snow/fog there was nothing to see. The photo below shows what a difference a day can make.

Yosemite Falls, Upper and Lower

As a hobby photographer, I have always admired the photographs of Yosemite taken by Ansel Adams. Actually visiting Yosemite Valley makes you appreciate what Adams could do and at the same time it makes you realize that he had, in Yosemite, a perfect subject for landscape photography. In fact, the subject is so good that seeing gives you the impression that a monkey with a cheap disposable camera would create at least one masterpiece per camera in this place. Of course, considering the quality of the photos taken with the disposables at our wedding reception, maybe we should have invited a few monkeys. But, to be fair, had they been drunk, their pictures probably wouldn't have been any better.

Cathedral Rocks, what you see when you get tired of looking at El Capitan and you turn around. Its reflection is in the Merced River.

If you do a web search for "El Capitan: Winter Sunrise" you will find one of Ansel Adams' most famous photographs. I'm fairly certain that I stood not far from where that photo was taken though my results aren't nearly as good. The man was one of the greatest after all. You get there by parking at a little "turnout" (an extend portion of shoulder so the gawkers can let those with somewhere to go pass by) and trudging through the snow toward the small crowd of photographers and tripods.

El Capitan. The largest granite monolith in the world.

Though the view of El Capitan from near the Merced River at "El Capitan Meadow" is impressive, the monolith looks much bigger from the large meadow a little further down the road. The size of this rock face is appreciated on the first glance, but then it is so big that your mind starts playing tricks on you by making it look closer (partly because you can't really take in the whole scene without gazing around), and thus smaller, though still huge. Photographs simply cannot convey its size. But to give you an idea, to capture its entire height in the background of a photo of Sherry from a  distance of about 1/2 mile away, I had to lay in the snow and shoot upwards at a 45 degree angle.

El Capitan is about 1/2 mile away in this photo. Notice the blue mini-van about 1/4 mile away.

You could not ask for a better day for photography than the day we drove out of Yosemite. Of course, two out of the three roads out of the park were closed, one due to snow and one due to a rockslide caused by the freeze. Luckily the open road was the quickest route to Marin County where we would be staying that night.

Winter wonderland in the upper elevations on the drive out. The accumulation at roadside was about

4 feet due to snow plows. The actual accumulation was bout 2-3 feet.