A few weeks ago my day-trip buddy and I took a one day road trip up to Yosemite.
Not being a fan of Yosemite myself, it wasn’t the location that enticed me out of my pandemic stupor. It had been over a year since I had been out of Berkeley. We could have been on the highway to hell for all I cared, I just wanted to be OUT AND ABOUT! I wanted to be in nature, in the trees, out in the open air. I wanted to see something other than my street corner.
Left to my own devices, I would probably never go somewhere for just one day. I like to linger, to look, to absorb. I like to revisit my subjects with different light throughout the day. But my day-trip buddy has this thing for one-day trips, and I often tag along. And that also means that most of the images I get from these trips are taken in direct light, in the midday sun.
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My last trip through Yosemite was a nightmare. It was October 2016. It happened by chance to be the day that Alex Honnold attempted to free solo up El Capitan and aborted. It was the buzz of The Valley. At the time I had no idea who he was. Looking up that day, The Valley was beautiful. But taking it all in, it was noisy. It was jam packed – no parking spaces, bumper to bumper traffic on The Valley Loop, people yelling, honking horns, smoking cigarettes and leaving trash every where. I can’t say that going back up there was ever going to be high on my list of things to do.
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But this time it was mid-May and the reservation system was going to take affect the following week, so we thought what the heck, the worst thing that could happen would be that we would have a bad day.
We must have hit the road trip sweet spot, because the weather was beautiful, sunny, and clear. From the time we left the freeway and got on to Highway 120 the road was free and clear of traffic for the entire day. We had long stretches where we didn’t see other cars at all. Once we got into The Valley there was no traffic and ample parking. There was enough room for everybody. There was enough space in the meadow to feel ALONE with the landscape. And so much water falling over the cliffs! I’ve never experienced Yosemite like that. And I appreciated the landscape so much more.
This was the first day-trip after being vaxxed and marinated and with my new camera gear. It was definitely a practice session with the new camera, but we picked a place where making bad photographs is more work than making good ones! I got a few shots in 🙂
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Trip Details: I was picked up in Berkeley at 7am and dropped off at about 9:30 that night. So yes, you can do a Yosemite day trip from The Bay Area. Would I recommend it? Only if you have absolutely no way to stay up there for at least one night. The one day trip was exhausting and took me about three-days to really recover. That could have been due to my not building stamina during the pandemic.
Just know that it is a lot of driving, and into the sun in both directions.