Some strange white stuff fell in Yosemite Valley Tuesday night.
Skies started to clear late Tuesday evening, and it looked like there was a decent chance of seeing an interesting sunrise Wednesday morning, so I set my alarm for 4:15 a.m. (it hurts to even write that number), and made the drive up from Mariposa to the valley.
Before leaving home I checked the Yosemite road-and-weather phone line. It said that Highway 140 and Yosemite Valley were R2 – chains or four-wheel drive required. That usually means a substantial snowfall, so I brought my high-top snow boots in case I had to wade through six inches or more. But when I got to the valley I found only and inch or two of snow on the ground. I’m not complaining though, because that’s more than we’ve had all winter, and that’s the perfect amount to add a delicate coating to the tree branches.
But the trees would have to wait. There was mist on the valley floor, and clouds above, so the sunrise held some promise. I went to a spot near Tunnel View to wait, and shortly after sunrise the clouds started to light up. It turned into a beautiful sunrise, with, at times, three layers of fluff: high, broken clouds, ground-hugging fog, and mid-level mist wrapped around the cliffs.
After awhile the sun got too high, and the light too harsh, so I drove down into the valley in search of snow-covered dogwoods. There weren’t many dogwoods in full bloom in the west end of the valley, so I headed east to the Ahwahnee Hotel. There I found more dogwoods with white, rather than green, blossoms. And as often happens, the temperature was slightly colder in the eastern end of the valley, allowing the snow to stick to the branches better.
It was a really beautiful morning. We had to wait a long time for snow, but it was worth the wait. You’ll find some of my Tunnel View and dogwood photos above and below.
And even though it was a weekday, the number of tripods around the valley suggests that many photographers must have called in sick just to photograph the snowfall. If you were there, please post a link to your images in the comments – I’d love to see them. I promise not to tell your boss. 🙂
— Michael Frye
Related Post: Early Dogwoods
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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.