2011 Yosemite Valley Snowfall
My girlfriend, Carol, and I planned a winter photo shoot to Yosemite National Park in California. Please appreciate, we live in Indiana. Flatlanders. We wanted to get the infamous photos of El Capitan and Half Dome in the snow. We only had five days; two being travel.
It was dark when we arrived at Yosemite. I felt drained after a long day of travel. But energized at the same time. It began to snow.
Staying at Yosemite Lodge we arose at 4:30 am the next morning. Opening the door to look outside we gasped. Massive amounts of snow, and still snowing! Our vehicle was entirely covered.
Of course, no snow scrapper with the rental car, but we somehow managed to get the car cleaned of the feet of snow, in the dark, and started our drive around Yosemite Valley, not being able to see a thing, but the falling snow. Our plan was to be at Valley View by daybreak.
Arriving at our designation, we packing up our equipment and were so energized could hardly speak as we were blundering in the deep snow. The skies started lighting up, however with the snow falling so hard we could not see the mountains. Covering our cameras with ‘raincoats’ we worked diligently, and dangerously in the bottomless snow.
It continued to snow brutally, and I said to Carol we should go eat breakfast (was included in the room fee). Doing just that we tried to enjoy our meal, however, I was watching the sky persistently. “It is clearing, it is clearing, we better go, we better go.”
As we left the restaurant we saw our first glimpse of the mountains. Oh my, how picturesque it was. We took a few shots from there. People were starting to collect. “Hurry Carol, let’s go to Cook’s Meadow.” I said.
With hurdles we found a place to park. The skies were opening. You now could see the blue behind the white clouds. Tripods after tripods were coming to view as well. I never, never saw so many cameras, from small point to shoots to expensive box cameras. From young Asian men to elderly couples with every piece of equipment conceivable. Talking to one local man, stating we were from Indiana, he said that the valley had not received this much snow since the 30s and how timely we were.
And then it happened. Half Dome. Half Dome was showing face as it came through the clouds. It was one of the most captivating moments I could remember in my loving-nature lifetime. Shutter after shutter fired. Tripods were lined up like an infantry going to battle. Wide angle, zooming, and every imaginable shot I took, one after another. But stop, there was a problem with the widest-angle shot. Two people were in the meadow. “Darn, I wish they would move.” I thought to myself.
I packed up my tripod and starting walking down the meadow. A young man with his equipment was walking toward me Being juvenile I said to him, “Could you go down there and ask those people to move,” He countered agreeably, “ I was just down there and there are some good reflective shots”
I deliberated; in any case, I might as well do it too. And I went. There was indeed still water and a suitable reflective type shot. Away, I went to work.
It wasn’t long and I heard harsh words coming my way. “Get out of the picture!!!” from a distance. “Get out of the picture.” I heard again. “Marsha, get out of the picture.” Now how did they know my name? Carol. She was trying to protect me!
“Alright,” I thought to myself and I packed up.
Deciding I had enough of the enchanting scene, I walked some distance down the road to a creek we crossed getting to Cook’s Meadow. Oddly, the same man I teased early was there. “You know, you got me in trouble! I got yelled at.” “I figure it is everyone’s national park.” He reassured me. We talked about where we were each from. I was a bit surprised he was from Colorado, as I thought he had his own mountains! He was amazed I had traveled so far.
Carol and I had our full, astounding day of photography, ending on Sentinel Bridge, embracing our undersized spots against another wall of tripods; we awaited the sun to set on Half Dome. Stationed for hours as we chitchated with our tightly packed neighbors.
Arising very early again the next morning we packed up before daylight. The sky was silent. What next? What could be possibly better than yesterday? The moon! It shone brilliantly over the mountains. We stopped at a small reflective pond and the open mountaintops of Cathedral Rocks. Again we gasped.
First. We were first! It was so very cold. Carol and I could hardly get our hands and equipment to work. But worth every moment of it, as we were having the time of our lives.
Then it happened. One person. Two people. More and more came to OUR spot. I recalled what the man from Colorado told me that it was everyone’s park, and tired to relax. Carol scolded one chap getting right in front of us, “You can’t go there.” Another guy beside me, all wrapped in stocking hat and a face scarf and I started sharing about the cold, our styles of photographing, and more. Then he said, “You are the lady from Indiana!” I replied with stagger, “You are the one that got me in trouble!”
Marsha Williamson Mohr