It’s been a funny couple of days. I went to Bridalveil Fall yesterday, so called because when the wind blows the thin strip of water that falls from the top, 620 feet from where yours truly took the photo above, it is said to resemble the veil of a bride. So quite a literal naming, then. Apart from that, I visited the Yosemite Village, not really a village but a collection of shops for tourists where you can park your car and jump on a free bus that drops you off at various highlights on the valley floor. So that was what I decided to do on my last full day in Yosemite, drive to the valley and then spend the day bus hopping and taking my final pictures. Fate, however, had other plans.
I woke up at around five in the morning convinced that one of my neighbours was having a very noisy shower. Gradually, it dawned on me that it might, in fact, be raining. Reassuring myself that it would probably have stopped by the time I was planning to rise from my slumber at seven, I fell back to sleep.
At seven, my alarm rang and as I staggered out of bed I wondered if the rain still fell. It did, heavily. So heavily, in fact that I decided that instead of getting up I’d stay in bed for at least another hour. It didn’t seem like it was going to stop and my cameras are not waterproof.
When I finally did arise – around nine, if you must know but remember I am on holiday – the hotel was in a right flap. Assuming an annoying air of nochalance – annoying to my fellow guests, I imagined, who were stomping up and down the place in a very serious manner over something – I showered and strolled over to the main building. Two of the main roads to the north were closed due to the weather and the only other main road up from the south was closed because there were two accidents on it, presumably caused by careless numbnuts who didn’t perceive torrential rain on a narrow, twisting road as sufficient reason to reduce their speed.
So most of the smart ones shoveled down breakfast and headed to the Sun Room, the only room in the place with a wifi connection to advise loved ones and friends of the impending delay. One chap purchased some chains for his tyres and bravely headed off to the south, only to return fifteen minutes later saying his wheels had spun out on the nearest corner. Presumably on the mud cascading down from the hills into the road. He didn’t say, I’m only guessing but the rain was heavy.
Another man engaged the immensely patient receptionist in a long and weary discussion about what roads he and his wife could take out of th place if they were all blocked. She was very patient with him. She didn’t say ‘None, if they’re ALL blocked, you dumbass,’ though she was very clearly tempted.
A Thai man who was sitting next to me in the Sun Room asked me three times if I thought he could get his car out of there. I was very patient, too, though I was very tempted to shout, ‘How the hell do I know?’
Then it got worse. Heavy snow fell, inches deep, in just a few hours. People started fretting about been holed up for days. Somebody suggested we should draw straws to decide who would be eaten first if things got really bad. That was me. Nobody laughed. Except me.
I found myself sitting next to a really nice couple, Bruce and Allie Kotila, who were curious about my tablet. Along with my bluetooth keyboard and mouse, it gets lots of envious looks from people lugging laptops around. We chatted about lots of things, mostly photography and had a laugh. They were relaxed and charming company, both interesting people and great company. They treated me to lunch, bless them for what they called my ‘impromptu photography lessons’. We had a drink and dinner later in the evening, too. They were fun people.
By the time the snow abated it was too late to drive out anywhere and get some shots. The tours were not running, anyway and lots of the attractions were gated off as being unsafe. So I did what I always tell my students to do. I restricted myself – by necessity in this instance – to a small area around the hotel. After all, it is set in one of the most stunning landscapes in the world, so it wasn’t exactly a hardship and I got some photos I’m very proud of.
Yosemite is a place of stunning proportions, massive landscapes and at this time of year, rich colour. The sun played nicely with the clouds today, trees were edged with snow and a playful mist obliged me by teasing a snow covered mountain beyond some brown, green and gold foilage. I could have travelled miles and not been presented with such a beautiful scene. It was almost as if fate felt guilty at having stopped me twice from getting the shots I wanted – first in San Francisco and then here – and said ‘Have some snow, have some sun and I’m going to send you a jolly fine mist to add texture and swirl around a bit for interest.’
These photos were taken just across the road from the hotel in what is, as you can see, a quite beautiful setting. The picture below shows only one set of footprints, mine. I had this stunning vista all to myself for nearly three hours, until night fell. No one else saw it. I felt almost guilty. Almost.
Tomorrow, it’s a very long drive to Death Valley, one of the hottest places on the planet. Yeah, I know, funny isn’t it?
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