Tag Archives: ridge

Trees, Glaciated Ridge

Trees, Glaciated Ridge
A small group of trees in morning light atop a glaciated Sierra Nevada ridge.

Trees, Glaciated Ridge. Yosemite National Park, California. July 15, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small group of trees in morning light atop a glaciated Sierra Nevada ridge.

This photograph includes many of the things that say “Yosemite” to me: the broken granite ridge of glaciated granite, the bluish morning haze, the small group of trees with space between them, ridges receding into the distance. Other things say “Sierra Nevada” to me, but these seem closely connected to the high country of this particular part of the Sierra.

This is a location that I (and, no doubt, quite a few others) have photographed many times, in a variety of conditions of light, atmosphere, weather, and time of year. I almost always stop here when I cross the Sierra through the park. On this morning I wasn’t making a stop while in transit to another place — this area was my destination. I had several photographs in mind when I arrived, ranging from more distant landscape to intimate scenes of glacial erratics and granite slabs. I knew that if I walked a short distance up hill and climbed a small hill that I could get a higher vantage point and look back at these trees and across this ridge and the morning light illuminated them from behind.


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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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Eroded Ridge and Valley

Eroded Ridge and Valley
Eroded ridge and valley in the Waterpocket Fold area, Utah

Eroded Ridge and Valley. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Eroded ridge and valley in the Waterpocket Fold area, Utah

This landscape could hardly be more different from the landscape in yesterday’s photograph. The earlier photograph was of Drake’s Estero, at the Point Reyes National Seashore, made on a day that was almost entirely foggy until a brief interval of filtered sun illuminated the blue waters of the estuary, a bit of green on a peninsula, and distant sky and water. None of those things are found in this photograph.

This landscape from Capitol Reef National Park is austere, arid, and quite rugged. It has a special beauty, but it is not a beauty with soft edges, misty skies, and water. Here the land is laid bare, seeming from a distance to be devoid of plant life. (Once inside this landscape, it turns out to be a bit more alive than it might seem.) Geology and the effects of time are visible in these places with their colored layers of rock, deeply cut valleys, and rugged erosion forms. Here gullies lie below rocky ridges, and two valleys come together in a flat area laced by stream beds.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Bavarian Alps, Berchtesgaden National Park

Bavarian Alps, Berchtesgaden National Park
The Bavarian Alps rise above Königsee in Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

Bavarian Alps, Berchtesgaden National Park. Königsee, Bavaria, Germany. July 14, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The Bavarian Alps rise above Königsee in Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany

Over the course of a summer week in 2013 we had a lot of opportunities to gaze at these Bavarian Alps. We spent a week with family in the Berchtesgaden area, staying in a big farm-house with views across a bucolic valley and into the mountains as they rose to the summit of the Watzmann, the second-highest peak in Germany. We did the “tourist thing” and rode the electric boats up the Königsee Lake between high ridges, and on one memorable day we visited Jennerbahn, took the tram to the top, and spent the rest of the day descending alpine valleys on foot — with a mid-hike stop for snacks and a beer!

During our stay I think I got a sense of how these mountains are different from my “home range” of the Sierra Nevada — though I would need a much longer stay and more hiking to get to know them well. Because they are built from different sorts of rock, the shapes of the peaks are often quite different. The tall rugged peaks also rise almost directly from relative lowlands — for example, a short hike took us from the lake to the base of a huge cliff at Die Eiskapelle, a place that felt thoroughly alpine. In the Sierra we have kept vast stretches of the range relatively wild, isolated from human structures to the point that one can imagine that he/she is in a fully wild place. In the alps there are huts, and you can stop for a beer in the middle of an afternoon hike! The ridges and valley in this photograph rise from the shoreline of the Königsee.


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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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Timberline Creek and Mesa, Evening

Timberline Creek and Mesa, Evening
Timberline Creek and Mesa, Evening

Timberline Creek and Mesa, Evening. Sequoia National Park, California. August 1, 2010. © Copyright 2010 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Evening light on high ridges and timberline creek in the upper reaches of the Kern River drainage, Sierra Nevada

This is a favorite location in the southern Sierra, where the John Muir Trail finally arrives at a creek and small trees after crossing over a very high pass perhaps four miles to the north — and thus at the end of what is typically an entire day spent near or above timberline. I love that very high country, but after working my way over a very high pass and doing a long walk, there is almost nothing as pleasing as coming to a camp with green meadows and trees and a gently flowing stream.

Because this spot is on the JMT, it isn’t surprising that I’ve been there a few times, on various trips that have taken me across this section of the Sierra backcountry. In fact, I’ve been there enough times to now remember specific camp sites and to even know where to wander off to find a good view in the evening. The massive peak in this photograph is an iconic sight in this area. High above plateaus that are at or above 11,000′, it is topped by a huge plateau at an even higher elevation, an unusual feature at an elevation where things are more typically rugged, rocky, and perhaps nearly inaccessible.


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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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Ellery Lake Moonrise, Autumn

Ellery Lake Moonrise, Autumn
Ellery Lake Moonrise, Autumn

Ellery Lake Moonrise, Autumn. Sierra Nevada, California. October 9, 2011. © Copyright 2011 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

I’ll say good bye to 2014 with a few sunset photographs this week. Recently I had reasons to go back through over a decades worth of photographs, including many that I have not shared. While this is certainly work, it is also occasionally a source of wonderful surprises — as seeing the older photographs triggers memories of photographic adventures that I haven’t thought about for a while and as I “discover” photographs that have sat in the raw file archives for many years. They get left there for a range of reasons. Sometimes I just didn’t yet “see” them the right way at the time I made them, or in other cases I got busy before I finished working my way thoroughly through a set of images and I moved on too soon. (This may be yet another reason to be conservative when it comes to deleting “unneeded” files!)

This photograph came from the very end of several days of photographing fall color in the eastern Sierra. It was a special few days, as there was light snow and wonderful color for most of the time I was there, and these conditions had me shooting around the clock, from before sunrise until it was too dark to make more photographs. On this final day I did some shooting in the eastern Sierra near Lee Vining in the late afternoon and finally decided that I was finished and that it was time to start back home through Yosemite. In the early evening light I headed up Lee Vining Canyon toward Tioga Pass, and as I drove by Ellery Lake I found these lovely conditions: new snow on the ground, golden hour light on the peaks and reflected in the surface of the lake, a nearly full moon rising above the shoulder of the high peaks, into blue sky slightly streaked with thing lines of clouds, and the complex symmetries of curving ridges. I couldn’t have asked for a better benediction to mark the final photographs of this trip.

The autumn mood rises over recent snow on ridges above Ellery Lake near the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park


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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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Alpine Meadow, Artist Point

Alpine Meadow, Artist Point
Alpine Meadow, Artist Point

Alpine Meadow, Artist Point. North Cascades National Park, Washington. August 28, 2010. © Copyright 2010 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Alpine meadow and mountains, Artist Point, North Cascades

Back in 2010 my brother Richard, who is a long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest, treated me to a trip up into the Cascades at Artist Point. We got lucky and had a day of largely clear skies, with the only clouds being the beautiful sort that catch the sun and allow beams of light to sweep across the landscape — not the other kind of Pacific Northwest clouds that sock things in and drizzle all day!

As a long time Sierra guy, I’m always amazed at how different things are in the Cascades and other Pacific Northwest mountains. The Sierra are, of course, mostly dry mountains. Yes, we get snow in the winter, runoff in the spring, and a few thunderstorms in the summer, but backpacking is mostly a dry weather thing and we are used to the sound of dry sand and rock beneath our boots. But here in the Cascades there are glaciers and ice caps, and the lush green plants grow right up to the snow line. On this visit we had only enough time to spend an afternoon wandering slowly around the Artist Point area, but I came back with a set of photographs that I like a great deal.


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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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Morning Reflection, Granite Ridge

Morning Reflection, Granite Ridge
Morning Reflection, Granite Ridge

Morning Reflection, Granite Ridge. Yosemite National Park, California. September 15, 2010. © Copyright 2010 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Morning light on shattered granite ridge reflected in a subalpine Lake

This is another older photograph, made on a late-season solo backpacking trip into the Yosemite backcountry back in 2010 for the purpose of making photographs. This time of year is my favorite in the High Sierra — beautiful weather, fewer visitors, no mosquitos, lovely light. In addition, and perhaps related to some of those other factors, this time of year seems slower and more relaxed.

I hiked in to this group of lakes on the first day, setting up camp late in the day. Over the course of several days I explored this lake carefully and also visited two higher lakes in this group, along with some surrounding high country. I’ve been to this place enough times now that I’ve begun to know its ins and outs, including alternate routes between places, the best times for particular sorts of light and so forth. I made this photograph in the early morning, while on a walk around the edge of the lake. The light was softened by some high clouds, and the surface of the lake was still mirror smooth.


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.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.