Yosemite National Park - Yosemite Valley
As my time in the valley came to a close, I headed back west, intent for the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Climbing upward from the valley base, angry cumulonimbus clouds began to quickly gather behind me. Approaching Tamarack Flat with haste, before my vision became hindered by a cloud city in the mountain timber, I was granted a view overlooking the western floor of this granite cathedral. Surveying east, the skies continued to darken, but the sun still sat on my shoulder, lighting the path carved by the Merced River for many millennia past, and leading my eyes outward toward its source, at distant Bridalveil Fall.
Yosemite National Park - Tioga Road
My search for an alpine meadow in summer bloom found many gardens already gone, scorched by the August heat. I had so looked forward to seeing the vibrant colors of Tuolumne Meadows, surrounded by granite walls and the open blue above. In my haste to lay eyes upon this storied landscape, I had missed the pastures closer to Tioga Pass. However, to find blossoming flowers in Yosemite, one discovers a spectacle with no end. Camping at White Wolf, I woke with the sun for a hike out to Harden Lake, where en route I came upon a quiet patch of earth, bursting with color, a splendid find in the early light. And upon return to Tioga’s mountain gate, I found the grand view I had sought, a delectable carpet of tiny flowers, yellow and white, unfurling across the open expanse, enclosed at distance by towering stone, and crowned by the cloudless sky.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest - McCloud Falls
It was a bright, hot morning, standing in the shadow of the McCloud River’s Middle Falls. The sun, just beginning to crest the wall of water, glinted off the smooth precipice above. This thunderous overflow now calm, after leaping forty feet down, was quite cool, seeming to soothe all ailments, before gathering in frothy white to rush ahead, swiftly running from its lonely winter on the looming mountain, still capped with snow. The escape route flowed westward, toward a summer respite in Lake Shasta, where this transient liquid will slowly dissipate back into clouds, beginning its cyclical journey once again.
Yosemite National Park - Trail of the Mist
After a hike of about a mile straight up, the trail marred by pavement and bipedal flocks, I found myself staring yet another mile upward, at the base of Vernal Fall. The tourist types all turned back at this point, seeing little was the chance for safe footing, as the trail name would suggest. On I went, the pools full of water to splash through became more frequent, while the saturating mist, ever increasing its gathering, floated through the air. Only the turbulent ivory of the descending cascade, and the emerald green of the lichen covered rocks, penetrated through the constant cloud of spattered water, which happily displayed a prismatic arch when struck by rays of the sun.
Yosemite National Park - Tenaya Lake
The Perseids streaked with majesty, and opposite horizon, the Milky Way, prostrated in its summer phase, began to gleam radiantly, as the moon, still a fortnight till full, set just to its right. Though the summer day had been hot, the chill of night spoke of winter, and the lake, so calm and motionless, glistened like ice. Staring out at this frozen plane, there reflected a stark contrasting form, the dark mirrored image of the nine hundred foot tall mound, Stately Pleasure Dome, only outdone by its imposing granite silhouette, from behind which Perseus made his ascent. As the sky grew ever darker, the distant light shone brilliantly from Sagittarius with his glowing purple band, galloping straight up from the west, while the Lodgepole Pine spires, lining the shores of Tenaya Lake, were jaggedly portrayed in jet black below.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Chandler Grove
Along the Coastal Range lives the Avenue of the Giants, where the ancient Redwoods seem to stretch infinitely toward the sky, ever reaching for the sun. In their shadows they greet those below with imaginative wisdom and speculative silence, cast in an air of cooling dampness. For all the grandeur of this encompassing ceiling, the sun still broke through, fragmenting rays of light across the carpet of ferns and strewn bark. But most impressive was the glow from the massive remains of uprooted monuments and charred logs that lay decaying on the forest floor, finishing their journey of existence as shelter and nutriment for little creatures and plants, in this final resting place, before returning from whence they came.