Young Lake, Mount Conness. Yosemite National Park. September 11, 2007. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Cloud shadows race across the landscape on a summer day near the Sierra crest below Mount Conness
This is an older photograph, made eight years ago back in 2007 on a late-season solo backpack trip into the Yosemite back-country. A week or so after the Labor Day holiday, the crowds almost disappear from the park’s high country, and everything seems to sort of slow down as the summer comes to and end and the inevitable signs of impending autumn remind us that summer is over and winter is not that far away. I think that this can be the most beautiful time of year in the Sierra, especially on a day with beautiful, warm autumn-like light, golden brown meadows, blue sky, comfortable temperatures, solitude, and perhaps a few passing clouds.
There is a story about how I found myself in this high spot overlooking this lake and the mountains beyond. That morning I had been poking around near by bivy sack camp when I saw someone napping in the lakeside meadow. It turned out to be a backcountry ranger. I made some wise-guy remark (intended entirely in jest, and he took it that way) about the challenges of the ranger’s life, and we got to talking. For him, this late season period was a time to slow down a bit and enjoy his own solitude. As we talked he pointed up towards a rocky saddle above the lake and pointed out what, in retrospect, should have been obvious to me — there was a well-used cross-country route through the saddle. So I decide to depart the lake via this alternative route, and when I reached the top of the climb and looked back I saw this spectacular Sierra panorama.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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