Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration

Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration

August 25, 2016 marked the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. The Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration was one for the ages. Arrangements were made for an historic event when Superintendent Don Neubacher and his staff developed a brilliant idea from a very creative Yosemite community member.  Les Marsden composed “Our Nation’s Nature” to be performed by the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra in a special concert at Glacier Point in honor of four significant park anniversaries. This once in a lifetime event culminated the last of those four special commemorations.

Special Celebration in Yosemite National Park with Historic Glacier Point Concert 

By John P. DeGrazio

Yosemite NPS Centennial CelebrationAs a Yosemite National Park Centennial Ambassador, it has been my honor to help promote the Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration by sharing photos throughout the park this year. Les Marsden also happens to be a very close friend of mine. We both volunteer for an organization called the Yosemite Gateway Partners, and his idea was conceptualized at one of our meetings. Les and I are both honorary ambassadors so we went on a couple of adventures this month to share some photos of Yosemite during the celebration.

Yosemite Adventures

Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration

Our first adventure was a late afternoon exploration of Sentinel Dome. The wind was whipping and very few people remained, but it did not stop us from admiring the beautiful landscape. We marveled at all the surrounding majesty. Les had not been up on a peak in a few years so he gleefully bounced from rock to rock in utter amazement.

Yosemite NPS Centennial CelebrationSharing Yosemite with visitors has been very rewarding for me, and I relish every opportunity, especially with friends.

Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration

Yosemite NPS Centennial CelebrationOn the day of the concert, I was slightly fearful I may miss the opportunity to witness history. My day began at 5 am at the trailhead for Half Dome. Fourteen hours were allotted for the 16 mile hike which hopefully would end in time for an hour drive up to the concert at Glacier Point.

The Half Dome journey began innocently enough as we made our way to the cables under clear skies. Unfortunately, our luck turned. Clouds enveloped the dome and we were hit by a brief shower as the group crested the Sub Dome.

Yosemite NPS Centennial CelebrationThere was some thunder in the distance so we were in a holding pattern. The rain did not last more than ten minutes, and we were able to make a summit attempt when the wind shifted to push the clouds away from us. Blue skies reappeared and we happily squeezed through the window. This dramatic landscape greeted us on our very short stay at the top.

Luckily, the return trip to Yosemite Valley was uncomplicated. I arrived at Glacier Point as the concert began. The collective euphoria of the crowd was obvious. The orchestra performed passionately as the notes echoed off the granite walls. I sat in wonder when the night sky darkened the stage. My eyes were fixed on the stars as the music continued. The event was a transformative experience that every member of the audience will remember forever.Yosemite NPS Centennial Celebration

NPS 100

Yosemite NPS Centennial CelebrationAugust 25th arrived and Yosemite celebrated with a final ceremony in Yosemite Valley. Author Terry Tempest Williams graced the crowd of predominantly NPS staff and local partners of the park. Her eloquence was captivating, and she shared several poignant moments that allowed the audience several reflective moments. Ranger Gabriel was also a speaker this day, and his words were very inspirational.

Yosemite NPS Centennial CelebrationLes and I took one more opportunity to adventure when the ceremony ended. Fittingly, we found ourselves on the Mist Trail at Vernal Fall. Our month had ended the way it began. We were two visitors admiring this magnificent park on an historic day.

 

Yosemite Stewardship Outreach REI

“Fostering Yosemite Stewardship in the Digital Age” REI Store Scheduled Presentations

By John P. DeGrazio

Yosemite Stewardship Outreach REI“Fostering Yosemite Stewardship in the Digital Age” is the topic of discussion for a schedule of speaking engagements at California Bay Area REI stores. I will encourage the use of technology as a tool to promote responsible wilderness enjoyment. Yosemite Stewardship Outreach REI is a program I have developed in partnership with REI, and I am announcing my speaking engagements in September and October 2016. I will also schedule future dates at other REI stores.

Yosemite Stewardship Outreach REI

I was honored to be named a Yosemite National Park Centennial Ambassador in 2016. My duties include sharing my love for Yosemite on a daily basis with audiences ranging from social media followers to participants in volunteer organizations where I donate my time. Included in these audiences are the hundreds of guests I welcome to the park in my day job as a wilderness hiking guide. As an outdoor photographer, I share a photo a day from my YExplore Yosemite Instagram and Facebook accounts. I also wanted to contribute something more meaningful to honor the NPS centennial anniversary. Anniversary coordinator Kristen Kosick suggested that ambassadors could schedule speaking engagements during the yearlong celebration.

I began to further develop a program created in 2015 and enhanced the presentation with photographs and case studies from my experiences in the wilderness. After approaching REI about the program, they enthusiastically accepted my proposal. It is a thrill to announce I will be speaking at REI stores throughout the California Bay Area. Below is my confirmed schedule with a link to register through the REI website.

Yosemite Stewardship Outreach REI

Half Dome Stewardship

I will be spending the second half of my presentation discussing the appeal of hiking Half Dome. This iconic Yosemite landmark that draws thousands each year who wish to reach its summit. My presentation will help you prepare for this hike. It will also encourage you to think of all the other outdoor enthusiasts around you during this shared experience.

As someone who has led over 100 summits of Half Dome, I hope to inspire you to instill ethical practices on your hike. They will ideally help you enjoy the experience in the safest manner possible. This will benefit everyone with whom your share the trail and the infamous cables. I believe that is very important.

Yosemite Stewardship Outreach REI

With over two decades of wilderness experience, John P. DeGrazio has transformed from a weekend warrior recreationalist into a seasoned guide, naturalist, wildland steward, and Yosemite National Park Centennial Ambassador. Join him to discuss the importance of stewardship while he shares ideas of how all visitors can protect our public lands. While many traditionalists scoff at the notion of using technology in nature, John embraces the idea and will share many ways to use technology to enhance your enjoyment outdoors and as a tool for conservation.

Join him as he shares stories and photos of hikes, climbs, camping trips, and wildlife encounters while weaving Leave No Trace ethics to offer best practices for those who find themselves in nature for the first time. He will also share insights into the use of social media to encourage positive change for those who join the #FindYourPark movement, #getoutside, & create their own #REI1440PROJECT.

Here is the YExplore John P. DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador Bio Page.

John’s YExplore Photo Gallery

Can O Peaches Adventure Blog

John P. DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador NPS Page

 

July 2016 Yosemite Instagram Monthly Review

July 2016 Yosemite InstagramThis is the July 2016 Yosemite Instagram Monthly Review. July was one of the most heavily visited months in Yosemite National Park history. This year, we are on pace to shatter record visitation to Yosemite with some estimates over 4.5 million visitors. July was also a time to leave Yosemite Valley and head for the high country of the Eastern Sierra. Our guided Yosemite backpack trips were able to take advantage of the reduced crowds and spectacular scenery of the Yosemite backcountry.

In July we also said goodbye to our trusted intern Chase Daftary who spent a few weeks with us snapping photos and making videos. He had to return to Florida State University, but he vowed to be back. Chase expertly handled several Instagram takeovers for the YExplore feed in July, and we promise you will see more of his brilliant work in the future.

Here are our most popular photos from the YExplore July 2016 Yosemite Instagram page with 200 likes or more. There are many more on our feed where we have reached 2283 followers. Please follow and share with other IGers to help us build our Instagram audience @yexplore.

July 2016 Yosemite Instagram

All photos taken on an iPhone 6s for July 2016 Yosemite Instagram

Why can’t the world be all wildflowers, waterfalls, & rainbows? #yosemite #findyourpark #yosemiteambassador #yexplore

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Photos & Videos Courtesy of  http://instagram.com/yexplore

Photographing with a camera phone was once frowned upon as a lazy way out of making an image. With advancing technology, these phones are becoming more integral in everyday “outdoor” life. I am currently using the iPhone 6s with an 12 megapixel camera and will share the world of Yosemite through my phone. – John P. DeGrazio

YExplore Media Buzz

YExplore Featured in NPR Podcast & Nationally Syndicated Blogs

By John P. DeGrazio

YExplore Media Buzz Cathedral Peak

YExplore Media Buzz

The travel industry is all about building relationships. Over the years, we have developed several with our guests, writers, and other partners who experience Yosemite on our tours. Recently, we have been featured in some media stories about visiting Yosemite National Park and are very thankful for the recognition as one of the industry leaders for providing custom guided Yosemite hiking tours. Below are links to all three articles that have generated a YExplore Media Buzz. One is an NPR podcast from my very special friend Tom Wilmer, and the other two were on nationally syndicated blogs.

Last week I received a note from Cari Morgan, a writer from the O.A.R.S. Adventure Company, our partner for seven years. Cari “wrote a guest post for the National Park Foundation blog that mentions YExplore.” Cari has written several articles featuring YExplore, and we believe that is the product of us providing exceptional services for their guests in our partnership for multi-sport trips on the Tuolumne River and in Yosemite National Park. We ran one of these trips just last week and the photos of Cathedral Peak are from that multi-day expedition called the Yosemite and Tuolumne Hiker.

Another form of YExplore Media Buzz came from my good friend Tom Wilmer who is the author of an NPR podcast called “Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer” which is a Lowell Thomas Award winning show broadcast from KCBX FM Central Coast Radio in California. Tom and I are good friends and members of OWAC, the Outdoor Writers Association of California. He and I sat down for this interview “Discover Yosemite National Park with YExplore guided hikes” at our spring conference in May 2016 in Placer County, CA. It was great catching up with Tom during that interview and it was funny because we ended it at least three different times. We began to chat at every cut when a new revelation was made that Tom had to include in the interview. Tom is a kind man with a soothing voice whose “journeys” are a true joy to give a listen. You may subscribe to his podcasts on iTunes or via RSS.

Finally, I received a call from Richard Varr, a well-rounded freelance writer, photographer and videographer with more than 25 years writing experience. His blog is titled “Richard Varr’s Travel Blog, Notes from a travel writer” Richard recently made a trip into Yosemite and included some of the quotes from our interview in his story titled “Yosemite National Park: Granite Peaks, Towering Waterfalls and Lazy Meadows“.

I really enjoy speaking with writers and podcasters, especially when the initial interview develops into a lasting relationship. We always welcome YExplore Media Buzz as we continue to provide memorable experiences for Yosemite visitors.

YExplore Media Buzz Cathedral Peak

June 2016 Yosemite Instagram Month in Review

Olmsted June 2016 Yosemite InstagramThis is the June 2016 Yosemite Instagram Month in Review. Yosemite National Park was an exciting place to be in June. Just ask President Obama and the First Family who visited on Father’s Day Weekend. I was honored to be invited to that event, and those photos will be coming shortly.

Waterfalls continued to highlight Yosemite visits and many trails that highlight them like the Panorama Trail became more accessible. The Tioga Road also provides access to some of the most amazing views in Yosemite.

In June we also ascended Half Dome with some great groups including our friends Wizz, Christian, and Peter which was a memorable trip. The Half Dome hike is definitely one that can be more manageable when you share the experience with family and close friends. Yosemite’s Mist Trail dazzled hikers and always provides a much needed cool shower from Vernal Fall at the end of a long long day.

Here are some of the most popular photos from our June 2016 Yosemite Instagram with 190 likes or more. There are many more on our feed where we have reached 2222 followers. Please follow and share with other IGers to help us build our Instagram audience @yexplore.

June 2016 Yosemite Instagram

All photos taken on an iPhone 6s

So many unique views along the Panorama Trail like this one of Half Dome & Illilouette Fall. #yosemite

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

‪My name is John DeGrazio & I am posting #‎330pushups‬ for #22kill on the summit of of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. I am doing push-ups in an attempt to raise awareness on the fact that 22 AMERICAN VETERANS will commit suicide today! I was nominated by Kurt Wolken. Today, I am nominating Spencer McDonough @spencermcsuhdude. If you accept, copy and paste this to each video. Everyone has a purpose! Continue to find emotional and physical strength you never thought existed. Please help spread the word that Veteran suicide is NOT the answer. A new video will be posted each day for the next 22 days, each with someone new being challenged. -Take a video of yourself executing 22 push-ups to your ability level. -Post the video to Facebook and other social media by using hashtags above. -Tally your push-ups (I.e. A group of four people in the video doing push-ups would like ‪#‎88pushups‬ for ‪#‎22kill‬ -Call out your friends, family, battle buddies, shipmates, anyone… The sky is the limit. The goal is to raise awareness for our service members who are battling this demon. This is a very important issue that our veterans deal with on a daily basis. Not all have dealt with these conditions first hand but all of us have known someone that has. This is in honor of the ones we lost too soon.

A video posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Half Dome Portrait from the Panorama Trail, Yosemite National Park

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Ain’t no mountain high enough. Ain’t no valley low enough. Ain’t no river wide enough..

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Photos & Videos Courtesy of  http://instagram.com/yexplore

Photographing with a camera phone was once frowned upon as a lazy way out of making an image. With advancing technology, these phones are becoming more integral in everyday “outdoor” life. I am currently using the iPhone 6s with an 12 megapixel camera and will share the world of Yosemite through my phone. – John P. DeGrazio

Nobody Beats the Wizz

A Can O Peaches with CW, Kenny, & Wizz

By John P. DeGrazio

Nobody Beats the Wizz
Brotherly Love by John P. DeGrazio

Nobody Beats the Wizz

I stood with an outreached hand, “Great to meet you this morning. My name is John”.  The response was an extra firm handshake, a smile that lit the parking lot in the predawn hour of 5 am, and one word, “Wizz”. I finished making my introductions with Ken and Christian, then came back to the stocky former champion wrestler with the already magnetic personality. “I have ‘Richard’ on my sheet” I explained. Again, he flashed his pearly whites and said “Just call me Wizz”. Wizz it was. Of course, I immediately thought of the Seinfeld episode and whispered to myself “Nobody Beats the Wizz”.

For the next five plus hours, Wizz struggled his way up the 7.5 mile stretch of the Half Dome path. He lost his breath on the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall, bowed his head more than once on the Nevada Fall track, and then amazingly caught his second wind on the Beach. The Beach is a one mile stretch of flat sandy trail from the top of Nevada Fall to Little Yosemite Valley campground. Then, as if he was directed by sheer will and adrenaline, he powered his way through the next 3 miles which seemed to have taken its toll on his previously injured foot. Yet, every time I turned around, the smile was still there feeding energy and encouragement to the entire group.

Our team spent those hours sharing stories about, among other things, how the name Wizz was born. One of his early jobs was in the mail room at the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco. He had a Muir-like talent for maximizing efficiency and made several suggestions that were immediately adopted and developed into procedures for operation. Hence, the name Wiz kid was earned. Later it was just shortened to Wizz.

When we reached the base of the Sub Dome, I looked in Wizz’s eyes and asked him what he wanted to do. He shot me a look of dejection and decided it was best for the team if he stayed and rested while his brother Christian and their friend Kenny went for the summit. I sometimes try to add a little motivation but read him clearly at that point. We all knew what he said was true; however, I told him there’s no failure for making it up 4,000 feet and sitting at the base of a mountain less than 1% of all Yosemite visitors would ever dream of approaching. The smile reappeared, and we were on our way.

CW (that was Christian’s nickname) and Kenny were motivated to make the summit and were champions of the cables. CW was actually short for CW on Fire, and he brought fire and enthusiasm all day. Kenny was more reserved but no less determined to achieve this goal. The friends proudly posed for photos on the peak, and we all enjoyed our peaches and dark chocolate which was a gift from CW. Nearly an hour was spent on top, but our success was only a footnote to this story.

Yosemite-HalfDome-WCWKS-YExplore-DeGrazio-JUN2016-17We returned to the base of Sub Dome to see the ranger chatting with hikers. Wizz suddenly reappeared to give his little brother a BIG bear hug. His smile was infectious as always. Christian shared some of the harrowing details of our descent and seemed to momentarily collapse on the shoulder of his older brother during a period of healthy laughter. It was a cathartic release that I was able to magically capture before taking a photo for their dad with a “Happy Fathers Day” sign. It was obvious from the moment we met that Christian adored his older brother and relied on him as a source of positive energy and strength. This series of images was the realest portrayal of brotherhood I have ever witnessed.

Yosemite-HalfDome-WCWKS-YExplore-DeGrazio-JUN2016-18In that brief instant I thought of my own brothers and our missed opportunities in an uneven childhood. Witnessing these two men sharing that genuine moment of love and joy was my can o peaches and reaffirmed my earlier assertion that “Nobody Beats the Wizz!”

 

 

 

May 2016 Yosemite Instagram Month in Review

Bear May 2016 Yosemite InstagramYosemite National Park continued to sparkle in May. The waterfalls kept booming and vernal reflection pools were everywhere. In our May 2016 Yosemite Instagram photos I was able to represent the lush green Valley and sprinkled in some black and white images. I also shot a couple of videos which became instantly popular, including my first black (blonde) bear sighting of the year. We noticed the bear on the opposite bank of the Tenaya Creek. It was on the other side of the trail so you can imagine our surprise to see it pop out right in front of a gathering crowd of hikers. The bear seemed nonplussed by the onlookers as it grubbed on a few different logs and attacked a beehive full of honey.

Here are some of the most popular photos from our May 2016 Yosemite Instagram with 175 likes or more. There are many more on our feed where we are quickly approaching 2000 followers. Please follow and share with other instagrammers to help us build our Instagram audience @yexplore.

May 2016 Yosemite Instagram

All photos taken on an iPhone 6s

Calm before the storm. Merced River, Yosemite National Park

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Never let a little weather spoil a great adventure.

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Sensational sounds of spring in Yosemite Valley #yosemitefalls #springintoyosemite #yosemiteliveview #yexplore

A video posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Photos & Videos Courtesy of  http://instagram.com/yexplore

Photographing with a camera phone was once frowned upon as a lazy way out of making an image. With advancing technology, these phones are becoming more integral in everyday “outdoor” life. I am currently using the iPhone 6s with an 12 megapixel camera and will share the world of Yosemite through my phone.

John P. DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador of the Week

John P. DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador

Half Dome Snake Dike DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador
John P. DeGrazio Approaching the Snake Dike route for his 100th ascent of Half Dome. Photo by Gabriel Mange

Yosemite National Park named me, John P. DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador in 2016 to help celebrate the National Park Service Centennial. Since then, I have been sharing photos, stories, and social media posts to help promote the 100 year anniversary of the National Park Service. Yesterday, I received another honor from Yosemite. They named me the Yosemite Ambassador of the Week on their Instagram and Facebook pages.

What is really exciting is this announcement came ahead of National Park Week that begins tomorrow. From April 16-24, everyone can celebrate the National Parks Centennial with free admission into every national park. There will also be an Earth Day celebration of the legacy of John Muir in Yosemite Valley next weekend. REI is planning some activities in Yosemite Valley Saturday April 23, and I plan to attend with my family.

You can click on the link below to visit the Yosemite National Park Facebook Page for more information about the celebration.

I was selected as a Yosemite National Park Ambassador for my volunteer work with the Yosemite Gateway Partners Organization where I am currently serving as president. Yosemite Gateway Partners is a partnership of government agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes, individuals and businesses that acknowledge the interdependence of Yosemite National Park and the surrounding communities, and collaborate on and address issues of regional importance to create sustainable cultural, natural and economic prosperity.

So if you see me in Yosemite, please stop me to say hello. I’d love to share a little bit about the park with you. I am also excited to announce I have also created a speaking series program titled “Fostering Yosemite Stewardship in the Digital Age”. This is part of the National Park Centennial Celebration, and I will speak at venues across California about planning responsible adventures in Yosemite and beyond beginning in June. Some locations will be at the Mt. Sage Ecosummit in June and REI Bay Area stores beginning in July. More information will follow soon, and I will create an events page for those who follow this blog.

Here is the YExplore John P. DeGrazio Yosemite Ambassador Bio Page.

February 2016 Yosemite Instagram Month in Review

Yosemite Mirror Lake Reflection JAN2016
Mt. Watkins reflecting in Mirror Lake by John P. DeGrazio

February 2016 was a day longer this year which meant we all got an extra day of adventure. It was also the warmest February on record. Due to rapid snow melt, January snow turned into fuller than expected February waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. Here are some of the most popular photos from our February 2016 Yosemite Instagram with 140 likes or more. There are many more on our feed so please follow and share to help us build our audience @yexplore.

February 2016 Yosemite Instagram Month in Review

All photos taken on an iPhone 6s

 

I think I got one that may work #yosemite #horsetailfall #firefall #yexplore #iphone #noedits

A photo posted by YExplore Yosemite Adventures (@yexplore) on

Courtesy of http://instagram.com/yexplore

Photographing with a camera phone was once frowned upon as a lazy way out of making an image. With advancing technology, these phones are becoming more integral in everyday “outdoor” life. I am currently using the iPhone 6s with an 12 megapixel camera and will share the world of Yosemite through my phone.

Horsetail Fall Firefall 2016

Yosemite Horsetail Fall Waterfall Magic 

Yosemite-Horsetail-Fall-YExplore-DeGrazio-FEB2016
Horsetail Fall Firefall by John P. DeGrazio

I’ve never been known to be avant-garde. My fashion sense on the trails leaves a little to be desired, but that’s a topic for a different day. When it comes to photography, it seems I also have a lot of catching up to do, especially if you talk to my good friend and mentor, Walter Flint. I just purchased a Gitzo Mountaineering Carbon Fiber Tripod as an upgrade to my previous and much heavier starter tripod. That pleased Walter who is hard to impress. The Gitzo is very light and it fits very well on my Mindshift Gear Horizon backpack. I mention these two products because a tripod is essential for capturing a photo of Horsetail Fall, and my backpack was imperative for bringing my gear to the location from where I was shooting. The Horizon is very well designed and easily fit my camera, both lenses, and the aforementioned tripod.

I recently had a conversation with another friend, Steven Bumgardner, who many in the Twitterverse refer to as Yosemite Steve. Steve and I were sharing the story of our Twitter bromance in Yosemite Valley last week with a couple of his friends. We laughed about meeting each other on the Upper Yosemite Fall trail while I was leading a couple to the top. We both made eye contact and immediately knew who the other one was. There are so many stories like that, but I will get back to the point. I mentioned that I finally got a photo of Horsetail Fall that I am going to release. His response was “Horsetail Fall is so last week”. We all laughed while I explained that in an effort to stay up with the times, I had the YExplore website redesigned and could not make any Can O Peaches blog posts for three weeks. Anyway, here we are with the soft launch of a new cutting edge design and my first post which will share my story of this capture of the “firefall effect” on Horsetail Fall.

Many in Yosemite know this has been a wonderful year for rain and snow which means the waterfalls have come alive after 4 very dismal years of drought. You can hear thunderous waterfalls booming in every corner of Yosemite Valley right now, and it is such a welcome phenomenon. Speaking of which, Horsetail Fall “firefall” is one that occurs typically for two weeks in February during a period of optimal light at sunset. A convergence of several elements need to converge in order capture an image of the magical firefall effect.

I was in the Valley on February 20th for a tour so I decided to sit through tons of traffic to try to shoot the falls. This was from a new location that did not yield a positive result. Beggars can’t be choosers that close to sunset. I knew I wanted to try again, especially since I saw so many real (spectacular) and improvised (not so spectacular) images on my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds. I decided to go back on the 24th.

Horsetail Fall

When I arrived in the Valley on the 24th, I had some spare time so I naturally decided to hike. I have always wanted to photograph the Horsetail Fall from a spot that will remain nameless and actually heard some internet chatter that it was yielding positive results this year. Once I arrived at the spot, I wondered if I could move a little west to get a better angle. I soon found myself scrambling up some rocks and farther away from the trail. “How do I get down from here” and “You better not lose the trail at sunset” were my two most prevalent thoughts. I found a perfect perch atop a stable rock and set up my tripod. Then I waited. The beauty of this story is I waited alone. There wasn’t a soul around me so I was able to relish listening to the crash of Yosemite Falls from across the Valley and watch the magic happen.

Yosemite-Horsetail-Sunset-iPhone-YExplore-DeGrazio
iPhone image of sun setting on Horsetail Fall by John P. DeGrazio

I started taking some test images on my camera and even took out my iPhone for a couple of snaps as the light changed. Then the show really began. The light became an intense orange, and although I didn’t have the most optimal angle to shoot, I believed I was in the perfect place at the perfect time. The glowing mist danced as molten lava poured down the eastern flank of El Capitan. It was a breathtakingly transcendent moment. As the light left El Capitan, the lava flows were more impressive. I stood astonished and frozen for minutes with a smile as wide as Yosemite Valley until this magical occurrence expired. Time stood still, and I was entranced for what seemed like an eternity.

Coming to, I realized I needed to focus on route finding back to my main trail. My senses were heightened, and I easily navigated my way back to the path. I ran back to my Jeep, but it honestly felt like I was floating as I remained in a euphoric state. At that moment, I did not care if I made a good image. Although it is a great feeling to capture the event with a photograph, I was more impressed with the experience. In years to come, I will be able to look at this photo and use it as a trigger point to the emotional release I felt as I experienced total solitude in Yosemite Valley. I just pinched myself  as the words I just typed began to resonate.