Travel Northern California: Day 2, Yosemite

[To read previous posts in this series, click here]

Travel Photography

Stanislaus River

Morning rises in California, and so do I. Like a kid on Christmas morning, my excitement and anticipation for the day’s adventures was abounding as I hastily packed up my backpack and camera gear to begin the journey to the southern entrance. My thought is that we will come up through Sierra National Forest and begin the day in Mariposa Grove.

We just have to traverse another 110 miles first. All while ascending and descending canyon roads. With 6,000 foot drop offs. A little detail I didn’t consider when plotting out our road map for the day. For a girl who gets easily car sick, this turned out to be one of the hardest parts of all of California for me.

click images to enlarge

click images to enlarge

California Canyons Photo

California Canyons 3 Photo

Several winding roads later and it just seemed to happen all at once and out of nowhere. We were now inside Sierra National Forest.

There’s no quite good way to describe seeing the frosty light stream through those dark, tall canopies. Such a contrast to the way the light streams through the canopies in NY. In our forests, the light is more scattered and golden. Here, in these ancient woods, there is so much space between the top of the canopies and the ground, so much darkness to transcend, that the light is this grey, almost fog-like stream of light that filters through in few select spots.

One of the most irritating things about traveling through the National Forests, at least these particular forests, is that people drive so fast on those roads for some reason. There seems to be a real disconnect between slowing down your pace to take in the reverence of your surrounding contrasted with being in a rush to get to the next point. This was really distracting for me and bothered me to my core (It’s one thing if you have somewhere to be, but now it’s like *I* have somewhere to be…and that’s to get out of your way).

Travel Photography and conservation photographer

click images to enlarge for best viewing

But never mind all of that. We just arrived at Mariposa Grove. The ancient of ancients. The largest trees by volume on this planet. It is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, two of which are the largest 30 trees in the world. THE WORLD. The oldest tree in the grove, the Grizzly Giant, is estimated to be around 1,800 years old. To put things into perspective, this particular tree was a sapling during the 3rd century…you know, when emperors were still ruling the world and the Mayans were at the height of civilization in their people’s history.

This tree!?! Such a crazy thing to fathom.

conservation photographer

The Grizzly Giant, Sequoia | click image to enlarge

How about adding myself in for a size reference? Grizzly Kelley vs. Grizzly Giant, if you will. 

conservation photographer

click images to enlarge for best viewing

You got issues if you don’t stop in your tracks and reflect when standing under him. All of them for that matter. They each seem to have their own style, their own personality. Some look like they could come right out of a Dr. Sues book with their base looking like leg stumps that will at any moment uproot and start teetering through the forest.

Mariposa Grove 2 Photo

Mariposa Grove 3 Photo

Even those that have fallen over remain for many more years to come.

Mariposa Grove 4 Photo


I don’t understand the fascination with being able to walk/drive through a tree–but when in Rome.

Mariposa Grove 5 Photo

It was still early in the morning while we were here, the mule deer came down the hillside and were grazing in and out of the pockets of light.

Mule Deer in Yosemite Photo


As if I can’t see her hiding behind the big tree…

Mule Deer in Yosemite 2 Photo


Mariposa Grove 6 Photo

I hate to give away a spoiler before I have shared the whole California trip, but my time in Mariposa Grove was my most cherished. The day is not over, however.

To be continued…



Stay tuned for more of the story of our exploration of California.


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