John Muir Trail, Yosemite. Yosemite National Park, California. September 11, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
The John Muir Trail crosses Cathedral Pass near Cathedral Peak on a late-summer morning
Late in the season in the Sierra backcountry the population begins to change. During the high season of July through Labor Day, when passes are usually clear of snow and when people are in the middle of their summer vacations, the backcountry is filled with backpackers of all sorts, though quite a few are weekend visitors out of a few days. The through-hikers are there, but they are outnumbered by the other folks. After Labor Day things begin to change, and I have a sense that a greater percentage of the backpackers are of the “serious” sort — the people who are out for longer trips, who are covering greater mileage, and who may visit some of the more out-of-the-way locations. Our photography trip into the Yosemite backcountry was during this period, and out camp was on a section of the John Muir Trail, so quite a few of these “hard-core” hikers passed through. (I enjoy talking to them, since I’ve been across almost all of the trails they were traversing.)
One morning I got up, as we always do on these trips, before dawn. I gradually worked my way up through a rocky forest/meadow behind our camp, climbing toward a saddle not far above our location and photographing along the way. Shortly before the saddle I caught sight of an actual trail heading up there, and I quickly figured out that it was the portion of the JMT that ran past our lake. I arrived at the saddle before the sun had risen far enough to light the beautiful meadow that extended beyond it, but knowing that the light would soon slant across the pass I set up and picked some possible compositions. Here I made a conscious choice to “document” this bit of the JMT as it crossed the pass and headed off toward the distant peak, and right as the first light bit the trail I made a series of photographs.
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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email
All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.