After 37 miles of hard trails winding through Yosemite backcountry, getting pinned down in a sudden blizzard, and dodging windblown towering trees under cover of night, we descended into Yosemite Valley. As we proceeded down the Four Mile Trail early on our last morning, we passed from freshly falling snow, to sleet, and finally through to heavy rains. The further we went down, the more soaked we became, but at the bottom of it all awaited a site that would burn itself into my memory banks. Clouds beginning to clear, the sunlight pierced through the veil and valley mist illuminating the main falls in the distance. While my two friends were attempting to hitch us a ride back to our car, I lingered in a moment of exhaustion, peace, and clarity.
Backpacking through rain, mud, and dense fog was merely a test to see if we were worthy enough to make it to Sykes Hot Springs in the Central Coast area of California. We passed the test, and the weather began to clear as we settled in for a long relaxing soak. On the return trek, I captured this shot of the fog moving into the valleys below. The scent of rain-soaked pine and sage hung in the air and filled our lungs with each breath as we made our way slowly back home.
TAFT POINT BEFORE THE STORM
Taft Point in the winter is really only accessible via closed off roads, or backcountry trails. It is isolated, it is breathtaking, and completely worth the effort. The evening of our last full day backpacking through the upper levels of Yosemite took us through this miraculous view point. We arrived to first have the view cloaked in a thick mist rendering my camera useless for a moment, but then in a matter of minutes, the weather had dissipated. In what only I can describe as Yosemite rewarding us for our efforts, the view overlooking the valley below was crystal clear. Our jaws collectively hit the granite we stood on as we watched the sun slowly pass underneath the thick layer of clouds along the eastern horizon. Once the sun had set, the moment was over, and the skies unleashed a flurry of winds and snow that battered us back into the cover of the forest.
I’ve always been fascinated with life, and what it means weather human or not. I took this shot and with the intent of processing it as a B&W photograph, because to me it illustrated something so simple, singular, content, and alive. I just loved the tonality and the texture of the water meeting the edge of the tide pool, and having taken this on the second major outing with my first DSLR I was incredibly inspired. I have come a ways since this photography, but looking back on me wading and wandering through the tides pools of Montaña de Oro still feels me with immeasurable joy.
THROUGH FIRE AND SMOKE
The year of 2017 proved to be filled with fires ravaging North America. On a week long trip through Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, we experienced some of the heaviest blankets of smoke that stretched over entire states. I was saddened to see such devastation, but even through the looming smoke winding through the granite peaks, the Grand Tetons showed that their magnificence could not be overshadowed. As the deepening sun fell into the East, I witnessed some of the most magical beams of fading sunlight cascade through the rigid summits and becoming engulfed in the haze before reaching the ground. It was both sobering and beautiful.