One of the things I’ve been doing leading up to this trip is figure out what I want to accomplish while I’m on the road. Yosemite is one of those places you can just point the camera in random directions and press the shutter and end up with good images, but a little thought and planning can leverage that time and push forward other initiatives as well.
In previous trips I’ve focused more on the grand imagery of the park, classic shots and classic locations. This trip I want to try to spend more time looking at Yosemite on a smaller scale — the trees, not the forest, so to speak.
All of this is open to change based on weather and opportunity, but here’s my current thinking. I’m looking to spend three nights there, with a Â room in Mariposa. I could have gotten a room at Wawona (and I like that hotel) but I’d rather spend the money other ways, so I’ll drive a bit more and spend a lot less. Â Yosemite Lodge at the falls was full, as was Yosemite View Lodge at El Portal, and Cedar lodge had rooms but for a bit less money, it seemed to make sense to stay in Mariposa. Â Because the hotel situation looks opretty busy, I expect the park to be fairly busy, unlike my stays in February and March when most of the visitors are up at Badger Pass, but far from the crowds you get after Memorial Day.
Day 0 is driving in; I’m considering doing a birding trip through San Benito county to get into central valley, and arriving later in the day. It would be a good excuse to show up with a cold dinner and hang out at tunnel view, weather cooperating. Or down somewhere on the meadows looking for opportunities for classic landscapes.
Day 1 is the first full day. Expectation is to get up rather early and get out on the road to Hetch Hetchy, exploring the Mather and Foresta areas. An early start gives me a better shot at wildlife, get there before other folks are up and around, and that area should be quiet in any event, so the wildlife won’t be driven out of site by the crowds. That’s an area Ic an look for mountain quail and cassin’s finch and interesting woodpeckers, also good opportunities for mule deer and coyote. If I get lucky, maybe fox, maybe bobcat. we’ll see. but the trick is to get out there early for the mammals, explore hetch hetchy, slow trip back looking for birds, Â and be back on the valley floor for a late lunch. The afternoon and evening is for exploring the valley floor.
Day 2, I go out the other direction. don’t need to start as early, but I want to explore big trees. On the way back, I want to try to do some photography of the Wawona Inn and see what happens. When I’m done, again it’s on the valley floor.
Day 3, hopefully a pre-dawn start and onto the valley floor for early wildlife. I expect to spend most of the morning exploring Happy Isles area. I’m not sure my knee’s going to let me go out to Mirror Lake, but if I can, I will.
Things I specifically want to shoot include the chapel, the Ahwannee, Wawona Inn, and exploring around the Merced River. Instead of the iconic vista landscapes, I want to focus more on smaller, intimate ones, do more work with the macro lens, and work a lot more in the 70-120mm range. I’m hoping for blooming dogwood, but we’ll see what I have when I get there. Â I’ve got half a dozen birds on my list (the two above, white-faced woodpecker, pileated, mountain chickadee, and golden crowned kinglet) plus wahtever is in the area for spring. Bears are always on the list is opportunity safely arrives, but I’m hoping I can find a bobcat and I’m fairly confident I’ll find coyotes. Mule deer are a given…
And of course, as soon as I get there, I’m sure this will change… And of course, it’s waterfall season there, and I’d be an idiot to ignore them. But I don’t want to just go take new versions of the images I’ve already taken…