Dana Meadow, Kuna Crest. Yosemite National Park, California. August 8, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Dry summer grasses in Dana Meadow near Tioga Pass, forest leading to Kuna Crest
I think of this photograph as being, in some ways, very unremarkable. In a few other ways there are some things that are at least a bit unusual about it, though this probably isn’t obvious. The scene is one that is familiar to anyone who has driven over Tioga Pass between the eastern Sierra and Yosemite National Park and west side destinations. The Yosemite Sierra along this route is a very diverse place, but the large sub-alpine meadows surrounded by forest and higher peaks is very common and characteristic of the area. Sierra visitors are also probably familiar with the annual seasonal transition from lush, green meadows to drier, brown meadows.
So what is a bit unusual about this scene? For one thing, I shot it during more or less the midday hours. This is not typically when I photograph scenes like this one, but this daytime view is probably the sort of thing that we see most often when we are actually there in the range. The color of the meadow grass is also a bit unusual – not that this coloration occurs, but that it happened so early in the season this year. The almost complete absence of green in the meadow is more characteristic of a time several weeks later than this early August date, when typically we might see a combination of dry and lush. But this year has been anything but a typical one in the Sierra and in much of California. Last winter was extremely dry, and there was barely any precipitation after the new year started – and this was the second drought year in a row. The conditions in the Sierra, as seen here, are not unprecedented, but they are very unusual.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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