Yosemite | 2015 | 01

Ansel Adam is one of the essential landscape photographers in history, and his most well-known work was his collection of photos in Yosemite Nation Park. I've been dreaming visiting this magical place ever since I discovered his books. After Comic Con this year I had a bit of extra time, so my friends and I decided to do one day trip to Yosemite. Thankfully the Park does have a Car Tour, and it does reach almost all of the major sites in Yosemite.

Thought this was a tough summer for Yosemite National Park, as prayers go out for the two young boys who lost their life while camping in Yosemite. There were also reports of plague and wildfire across the park. So I am truly grateful our journey was harmless and we all got back safe and sound. 


Here's a little bio for Yosemite from Wiki
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in the central eastern portion of the U.S. state of California, commonly referred to as Northern California. The park, which is managed by the National Park Service, covers an area of 747,956 acres (1,168.681 sq mi; 302,687 ha; 3,026.87 km2) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite each year most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley. 


Our Journey begins the day after Comic Con. Here a little snippet of our drive up to the Yosemite. Traveling from LA from San Deigo was only two hours, but from LA to Yosemite was almost an 6 hours drive. Wish Kelly and Lauren would come with us, but Lauren was on her way to visit the Great White North, and Kelly had to go back home for School. 



Experiencing LA traffic for the first time was a bit overwhelming. No matter what time of the day there's always traffic. For such huge city, they need a better public transportation system to help with the traffic flow, plus driving in LA is especially expensive in term of gas. There's probably a reason Tesla was born out of Calfornia. We woke early that morning just to make sure we don't get bombard by traffic since we were on a very limited time schedule. 


The sunrise was beautiful! One of the Pro of living in Calfornia is the view; mountain ranges surround the city. During the Golden hour, the city shows its majestic colors and it's even more beautiful as we get out of the city. 



I finally got to taste the famous In-N-Out Burger this time, and it was ok-ish. I got the Double-Double plus the shake. The burger was good in term of freshness, but the taste seem kind of bland. The shake, on the other hand, was really good! probably the best shake I had in awhile. 


We rented the 2015 Jeep Discovery with a decent fuel efficiency, so we only needed to refuel twice for the entire trip to Yosemite. It's crucial to not overheat your car on the way since there were so many reports of people car's dying before they even got the park, probably due the high attitude. 



Originally Anthony and I were going to head home right after Comic Con, but surprisingly a lot of our friends were in Los Angles this summer, and one of them was our close buddy Xin. It was her idea to visit the park since this probably the only summer all of us happens to be in California. 

We decided to enter Yosemite from the East. Tioga pass (Route 120) serves as the Eastern Entering point for Yosemite and its runs through the entire Yosemite Valley. It's most efficient and scenic route to take if you are going to visit the park for only one day. Thankfully there was no road construction as we climb our way up to the mountain, or else we probably won't get the time to see everything.  

Our goal was at least see everything around Yosemite Valley which includes El Captain and the Yosemite Falls. Thought I wished we had more time to hike one of the trails that lead to the top of the mountains. 



We start driving at nearly 5 in the morning hoping that we can get to Yosemite around noon. Morning rush hour starts at around 6ish, so we were almost out of the city by that time. The weather was just perfect at around mid 70ish. Probably the one of most thing I miss about Calfornia is the perfect weather. 





As we finally got out of the city, it was like we are in the middle of nowhere. Seriously feel like one of those old western movies with people riding horses into the sunset. 


For the trip, I rented the Nikkor 24-70mm at F/2.8 for my Nikon D800. After I had got the compact NEX7 from my uncle I felt I almost abandon my full frame, so for this trip it was the first time using my D800 in awhile.  The Nikkor 24-70mm was the perfect lens for the job. The lens is crazy sharp even at f/2.8. The distortion is there at 24mm but its minimal and it's just simple fix in Lightroom. I also brought my little 50mm, but didn't get use much since the 24-70mm covers pretty much everything. 

I do want to invest in a zoom lens in the near future, and right now the 24-70mm is a very good possibility. Just recently Nikon came out with a new revision for the lens that includes VR stabilization. But the price is a bit steep, so I might wait for a bit and buy it used. 








We took U.S. 395 and drove straight through the dessert. On our phone it says there's a huge lake coming up but by the time we got there we realized the whole lake has been dried up. The drought is affecting everywhere in California. According to recent news, it's killing wild animals and plantation.










I took a lot of panoramic shots during this trip on my iPhone. It's crazy how easy the interface is to take one of these shots. I remember back then I had to stitch them together in Photoshop, and it will take a good an hour or two.  Hopefully, I will get one of them printed and framed.






Almost half of the drive was in the desert, and the landscape feel like we are on Mars. The U.S. Route 395 goes through not just California, but also Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. I believe the desert on our drive was the Mojave Desert that marks the borderline between California and Nevada.







After we drove through the little Ski Resort town called Mammoth Lake we were very close to the entrance of Yosemite. The view was gorgeous everywhere you look. It feels grand and epic. 








By the time we got to Tioga pass were on Elevation of near 10 thousand feet.  The pass mainly serves as the Eastern entry point for Yosemite National Park. The pass only open for 5 to 6 months during the year cause of the heavy snow during the winter season.  






Our eyes were just glued to the beautiful scenery, that we kept stopping for photos. As the drive up to the mountain, our little Jeep is clearly under stress. I am still not sure we got a all-wheel drive or rear wheel drive Jeep, mainly i thought all Jeeps are  all wheel drive. 




Yosemite is so big and on this one day trip I think we only saw 10 percent of the Park. Most scenery requires hiking and sometimes even camping.  




Our first stop was the Tenaya Lake that's located near the entrance of Yosemite. Tenaya Lake is an alpine lake in Yosemite National Park, located between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. 


Info from Wiki on the formation of the lake
Tenaya Lake was created by the Tenaya Glacier, which flowed out of the vast Tuolumne Ice Sheet and down to Yosemite Valley. This same glacier created Half Dome. The Tenaya Glacier was lightly loaded with debris, and did not leave a large amount of moraine material near Tenaya Lake.








After nearly 6 hours of driving, we finally got to Yosemite. But it also mark the beginning  of the two hours drive up the mountain. The traffic wasn't bad as we thought it will be. The pass for Yosemite allow you to stay for seven days is 30 dollars per vehicle. 


We got our first glimpse of Yosemite Valley right before we entered the Yosemite Tunnel. The Tunnel View is a scenic overlook on State Route 41 in Yosemite National Park. The view looks eastward into Yosemite Valley and includes surrounding features, such as the southwest face of El Capitan on the left, Half Dome on axis, and Bridalveil Fall on the right.




This mark the conclusion part one of my trip to Yosemite. In part two, we will cover the actual drive to Yosemite Valley. I got to witness the most beautiful sunset I've ever experienced in my lifetime that I almost cried. haha