One “must” for your to-do list if you hit Yosemite is Tunnel View overlook – less than a 10 minute drive from the toll gate at the east entrance of the park. It’s the viewpoint that looks east across the valley, allowing you the spectacular iconic vista that you classically see on Yosemite postcards and posters. It’s just outside the east entrance of the Wawona Tunnel, and allows you a breathtaking view of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall (although the latter was more of a trickle this time of year!). If you happened to have enetered Yosemite via the south entrance at Wawona, this would actually be the first view of the valley that you’d see when you emerged from the tunnel.
We decided to head there at sunrise on our first morning. Well, I say “we”, but it was more like “I”. Thankfully Mark loves traveling, and strangely enjoys my camera habit (or at least the end result), so he doesn’t put up too much resistance. And in fact he has increasingly started scoping out photo opportunities, and suggesting things for me to photograph, which I find kind of cute! Lately he also keeps talking about wanting to market “our” photographs, starting up a travel business, etc etc. I wish he’d put that kind of dreamwave energy into doing laundry or clearing up all the piles of stuff that he randomly leaves around the house, or even loading the dishwasher every now and then. But that’s for another post…….
I’d spoken to one of the park rangers the previous afternoon when we arrived, and he’d suggested that Tunnel View would be the best place to catch sunrise images. So we were all set for sunrise at 07:12 next day.
It was lovely seeing the changing colors in the valley that occurred over about an hour or so. It was probably mid-morning sometime before the sun finally rose high enough above the rocks to actually be seen itself, but naturally we didn’t wait that long. But I did manage to stick around for an hour or so to capture different stages of the sunlight over the valley.
At one point Mark commented that he wished he’d brought his book along. So I persuaded him to head into the car to read the guide book and figure out where we’d be going next. So that kept him entertained as I hung out with my tripod and the other numerous photography peeps who were also gathered at Tunnel View for the same reason. I was the only Caucasian there, and I seemed to be the only person using Canon gear. The other guys were all Nikon-wielding Japanese tourists. I wonder if any Japanese photographers actually prefer Canon gear? Anyway, I digress again……
After about an hour and a half, Mark had finished eating all the snacks we had in the car, and was clearly done reading the guide book. And other than waiting on the sun peeping over the rocks, which clearly wasn’t going to happen for a couple more hours, I was content that I’d caught some nice changes in the stages of first light in the valley. I did smile sweetly and remind Mark that it was a small price to pay in return for all the hours of American football that I have to endure. And I have to admit, he was really patient waiting on me. But eventually I got his squeaky voiced “We go now”, which is usually code for “Final warning – I’m done”. So we packed up and headed on with our day!
I found my experiences in Yosemite to be similar to those I had in the Grand Canyon – words like spellbinding, magnificence, grandeur, and beauty all spring to mind. It’s breathtaking to be there and take in the scenery, and at some point, the next amazing scene that you witness almost becomes expected. I had to purposefully keep myself in check, and remind myself that all of this wasn’t “normal and everyday” for me! Seeing photos of these spectacles just doesn’t cut it – you simply have to be there for yourself to truly take in and appreciate their splendor.
And I didn’t want to be guilty of taking any of it for granted.