Fine Art Photography from the Ocean to the Mountains... and all the Desert in between

Yosemite and Half Dome trip report

Stacy and I went to Yosemite to hike Half Dome this past May.  This trip has been on Stacy's bucket list for a long time, apparently, so she planned out the trip and told me to pack my bags because "we're going".

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I don't really need to have my arm twisted too hard to head to YOSEMITE!!! 

So... I was all in.  Best part was: I didn't have to do much of the planning since this was her trip.  I basically just had to make sure my batteries were charged.  Awesome.

We arrived at the park, with incredibly good fortune, on Sunday afternoon (after a very long drive around to the park entrance because Tioga Pass was still closed) to slip into one of the final few available campsites left in the park. 

I'm simply amazed at how often this happens to us.  We must be doing something right because we are definitely being looked after.  Time and again we get 'the last spot' or close to it.

We spent the afternoon and evening in our little campsite drinking good craft beer, listening to music, entertaining inquiries from fellow campers about our awesome adventure van - the Voodoo Lady - and, most importantly, getting our big backpacks ready for the hike up to Little Yosemite with plans for a Wednesday push up to the summit of Half Dome.

We were finally ready by bedtime!

Just as evening kissed the campground good night we had our bags stashed in the bear cans and we were nestled into the comfy covers of our queen bed in the back of the van. 

You don't sleep as good anywhere as you do when you're breathing in fresh, cool mountain air. 

At least, we don't!

With an incredible evening of rest behind us we set out to do the hike up to Little Yosemite which would also act as our base camp for 3 nights before heading back to the valley floor.

We shouldered our way-too-heavy backpacks and headed up the mist trail to Vernal Falls.  This first waterfall is ONE HECK OF A HIKE on its own - let alone with a 40+ lb backpack!  It was hard.  But we did it! 

Stacy heading up Vernal Falls

After that grueling effort we had the hike to the top of Nevada Falls to look forward to.  Almost as hard, but maybe harder because by then we had weary legs from the Vernal Falls climb.  

When we finally rolled into camp at Little Yosemite that afternoon I just wanted to collapse.  I was absolutely exhausted.  The bag was too heavy and I am not in good enough shape for that kind of effort.  But... I did it - so maybe I am in *good enough* shape.

And then it rained.

Literally just seconds after we got the tent pitched.  And thank god, too.  Because we just crawled into the tent and passed out from exhaustion for an hour or so until it stopped raining at dinner time.  

Half Dome Cables

The next day was summit day!

We woke up to good weather, packed our day bags and off we went.  The approach to Half Dome is pretty strenuous, up a big part of the monolith called "sub-dome".  And then there's the climb up Half Dome, itself!  It is legitimately steep!  Maybe greater than 45 degrees in some sections.  

Don't let go or you might slip and fall.  To your death. Yikes!  

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We visited with the marmot that resides at the base of Half Dome and cursed out the chipmunk who ate through our bag to get to the orange energy chews (I hope the caffeine made him think twice about doing that again).  We shared a small bottle of Jack Daniels Honey at the top to celebrate our ascent and took several "hero shots".  

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Then it was time to head DOWN.

Now... going down is a whole different story than going up.  It's a little scarier because, facing downward, you actually get to see what you could be falling down if you did slip.  It's a LOT more intimidating than heading up.  

It was steep!  Steeper in some sections than in the video!  

And... to be honest... we don't feel like we ever need to do it again.  Glad to have DONE it!  But now... time for something else.

 

The next day we went on a day hike up the Merced river from Little Yosemite and this is where I got really into some abstract photography! 

A couple years ago a big wildfire had come through that same area and much of the forest we hiked through was just dead, black tree trunks.  No leaves, no nothing.  There was verdant, green vegetation on the ground, but everything above about 2 feet from the forest floor was just black charcoal. 

But what a fascinating subject!

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I tried really hard to capture the mood of the burnt forest and how I felt being in it.  This is an abstract shot of Stacy hiking the trail through the burnt trees.  I call it "Babe in the Woods".

Aeon Jones abstract of burnt forest

I took a lot (A LOT) of photos like the one above.  The scene was spooky, kind of eerie but beautiful in its own way and absolutely mesmerizing photographically.  This image is one of my favorite ones and will be released as a print - once I come up with a name for it.  

You have a name for it?  Drop it in the comments section!

The trail upriver from Little Yosemite, even aside from the mesmerizing burnt forest was just as incredible!  It actually begs more exploration and we're already considering heading back next May.

 Stacy (@funfergi on Instagram) hiking up the Merced River

Stacy (@funfergi on Instagram) hiking up the Merced River

Our last couple of days in the park had us drinking beer by the river, doing short day hikes to waterfalls, scouting future photos, celebrating the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team win a playoff game (Go Knights Go!), more sunrise and sunset photography (of course!) and wildlife watching. 

We saw two bears, a bunch of deer and rodents and Stacy saw a young coyote pup while I was in El Capitan Meadow shooting sunset.  

It was a great trip - and one that I don't think I'll ever forget.  

I leave you with a final photo of Stacy and I as we exited the park.  

the JonesZ in Yose

This blog post was of a new style for me.  I don't normally share personal photos but I had such a good time on this trip I wanted to share it with you.

If you think this is the format I should follow going forward... Please let me know!  And, if you think I should stick with the way I was doing it... let me know that, too!

Thank you for reading,

 Aeon & Stacy.  aka: the JonesZ