Dan Wheeler Photography & Custom Framing | Yosemite Memorial Day Trip With The Family

Yosemite Memorial Day Trip With The Family

July 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I absolutely fell in love with Yosemite when I visited with my family a couple months ago, it rained for 2 out of 3 days we were there. I was able to see Yosemite with all of the different light and shadows it has to offer. The low lying blanket of fog, to the high layers of fog hugging the towering granite walls.

We camped at Yosemite pines campground about 45 minutes outside of the Yosemite National Park. I had done research on places that I wanted to visit and images I had planned I wanted to capture (but had no clue where they were only the names). I woke up at 3:30am and headed toward Yosemite Valley, it was dark and raining when I reached the entrance to the valley floor it was just getting to be dawn and I could make out the high granite cliffs and El Capitan was a towering sheer granite wall next I seen Upper Yosemite falls. I had no idea where I was going and there was not a soul to be found so I just kept driving, I new that the Merced River was straight ahead so I thought I would just park and head there and see what I find. 

After passing Curry Village I seen a sign for trail head parking, dawn was coming quick and I needed to find a shot. There was no sun to be found and the rain had stopped but the fog was thick and hung very low in the valley, you could not see the tops of the walls. I headed toward the Merced River and came to the cobble stone bridge that crosses over and Heads to Happy Isles Trail, John Muir Trail starts just past the bridge. I started walking down the river on the boulders that lined the river bed trying to find my shot. I turned around and there it was. The river was moving fast and the bridge off in the distance with the fog PERFECT!! Here was my first image to start my weekend in Yosemite.

After capturing the Merced River I started to hike back along the rocky shore to get back on the trail head. It started to rain pretty heavy at this point and being concerned about my gear I decided to head back toward the truck. I jumped in my truck and headed around the loop of the Yosemite Valley with the windshield wipers on I came to a huge meadow and I had to stop and take in this awesome view of a huge granite cliff face. 

It was about 6am at this point and I was hungry and wet and the wife and daughter were back at the campground. The drive back was completely different because now I can actually see the awesome views I missed in the dark heading in. I passed this waterfall on my left side and stopped at the next turn out and hiked back so I could get a shot of it. The view from the road was obstructed by the tree line so I climbed down the embankment to the Merced River. I found the spot I wanted so I set up the Tripod and found a lens cap for a Canon camera someone else had the same idea!! 

Day 2 Yosemite Valley Family Day

I decided to sleep in and head into the valley with the family after breakfast. It was a beautiful morning at the campground so we packed up and took off. The drive there changed drastically and became foggy and eventually a drizzle. We passed through a tunnel on the drive in and it opens up to the first real view of what is about to come, it is a beautiful site with the deep canyon with the Merced cutting through the middle with the steep walls on either side we had to stop and take it all in. 

After reaching the valley the first stop was to visit Bridal Veil Falls and do the short hike to the base. It is a very easy stroll through the sweet smell of the fresh pine trees. We stopped a few times to take some family pictures and let Madison get the sticks out of her shoes and play on the giant boulders that have found there way off the cliffs and onto the valley floor. We made it to the base and there is a pretty small gathering area with a lot of tourists not really my idea of fun. 

We hiked back to the truck and headed to the trail head parking that I visited the day before. We headed off to stop number 17 which is the Mirror Lake trail head and it is about a mile walk to get the trailhead and then another mile to the actual lake, Madison and Loretta did good but there was a little moaning because I guess there is a shuttle that could have taken us there I am a hiker so I forget these things. Once on the trailhead to Mirror Lake the hike is a gentle up hill stroll with bikes whizzing past and quite a few families with kids, it is one of the most popular hikes in the valley. Mirror lake isn’t really a lake at all it is a stream that runs through the valley below Half Dome and the water more less gathers there in the winter months and it does dry up considerably during the summer months. Mirror Lake is a very beautiful place to visit do to the calm clear water and the view of Half Dome is amazing you are basically standing directly below the face. We reached the lake and it was a perfect place to sit and relax after our 2 plus mile hike and eat lunch.

We headed back to the valley and wanted to check out Yosemite Village and pick up some souvenir’s. This time after reaching the road we opted for the free shuttle they offer, by this time it was really pouring rain and we had a nice packed bus to get on. We checked out the village store and the Ansel Adams Gallery my favorite of the 2 amazing prints in that place. The day was fun and by this time it was getting late we still had a hour drive back to the camp ground so we could get dinner ready. I wanted to get one last shot before heading back and that was of Tunnel View with the sun setting it was perfect timing. 

Day 3 Yosemite Valley 

Good morning Yosemite and good morning sunshine!!!! This morning Loretta & Madison decided to stay behind and enjoy the pool (the pool was closed I won’t get into that very sore subject). I arrived into the valley about 7am and it was a beautiful sunny day with bright blue skies and clouds here and there. I opted to park and take the shuttle to the places I wanted to see, I headed over to Cooks Valley and Sentinel Bridge. I had no idea where these places were but the shuttle is great and they let you know when to get off. This was my last day in the valley before packing up and heading home.

After spending a few hours in the valley I headed back to the campground to spend the final day with the family. This was my first time visiting Yosemite Valley and I fell in love!! I now know why Ansel Adams fell in love with this most majestic place it is so beautiful it takes your breath away, it really seems that you could visit this place over and over it will always be different due to the lighting and shadows the time of day. I started planning my next trip immediately and this time I was going to do it alone in the back country. 


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