Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Yosemite In Winter

I've been to Yosemite multiple times since moving here, but never before in the winter.  Last weekend, we fixed that!  However, rather than just showing up and driving around, S and I joined a photo-workshop run by the Aperture Academy in order to have a focal point for the trip (pun intended!)

With our usual consummate skill, we chose the very weekend on which California weather decided to drop the snow levels below 500 feet here in the Santa Cruz mountains, meaning that we'd be gone when the house would be a foot deep in the white stuff.  Fortunately, the forecast turned out to be a bit overblown and only a light dusting actually fell, which was a relief.  However, that was not the case in the Sierras where basically it snowed all day Thursday and most of Friday, the day we drove up to El Portal to join the group.

Fortunately, it was fine driving into El Portal along Highway 140 and no chains were required, largely just because you never get much above 2,500 feet along the way so the road tends to be open when others are not.  However, in the park itself (the Valley is another two thousand feet above that level) snow was falling fast - which was good!

Heading out early on Saturday revealed grey skies and snowy scenes.  Things cleared up progressively as the day went along and by Sunday morning it was clear blue and no cloud cover, but with plenty of the pretty white stuff

The above shot was taken around sunset on Saturday when, alas, El Capitan resolutely refused to clear up despite all the rest of the clouds hanging around Yosemite Valley melting away.  Bummer, because it sort of leaves the scene feeling a bit unbalanced in that what you want as a focus for the view was basically hidden.  Still, a classic winter view nonetheless.

Sunday was clear and cold .... and somewhat curtailed.  S took a nasty fall outside of the small church in Yosemite, spraining her ankle in the process.  Therefore, we packed up early and headed back home (she couldn't put weight on that leg at all, something that makes getting out and taking photos really hard!)

Would definitely recommend the Aperture Academy workshop series, and indeed this was the second one we have done with them (with another booked for May).  They have great instructors who are happy to help however you want them to, and having a large bus in which they transport everyone together makes the whole logistical problem of how to get the entire group from one location to the next a real breeze, especially in places like Yosemite.  Highly recommended - and thanks, guys, for a great trip!

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