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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Day 53: Yosemite Valley from North Dome (7/27/15)

Today I did an *awesome* hike to North Dome...and although I'm 99% sure Bierstadt was never here, I'm happy I hiked up. For one thing it was my longest hike on this trip with all my paint gear at about 8.5 miles, and I didn't die, so that was an accomplishment. I started at about, or above, 8,000 feet so the elevation gain wasn't too bad. The view from the top was spectacular. I face Half Dome and the range I saw yesterday from Olmsted Point. You could see the same view from slightly higher, lower, or any direction, and there is something new and magical about it all over again. Light and time of day make a difference too...Half Dome, for example, when I first got to the top of North Dome was in shadow; when I left, the sheer face was lit and the colors were totally changed. I am not keen enough yet to really think about how the light will affect what I want to paint and what time of day would be the best to see a certain view, etc, etc, but it's all worked out pretty well just by luck.

The granite mountains, as I've said before, are incredibly unique and different compared to what I've seen on this trip (but maybe if I'd seen them first, I'd be going on like this about the's all relative). They have ribbon like lines bending and flowing across with sparse trees at the top. Half Dome is RIGHT there, staring down North Dome. There is a legend that a husband and wife were traveling, and the wife drank up all the water from the river leaving it empty when her husband came to drink. He got super mad and hit her, and she threw a basket of acorns at him in retaliation. They were both turned to stone, with the basket, for their evilness. I can't remember for sure is which mountain is which. I think Half Dome is the woman and the dark marks in the rock on the sheer face of the mountain are her tears, and North Dome is the man with Basket Dome at his feet from when she threw the basket at him. So there are several lessons here...don't drink all the water if traveling with a companion, and never resort to physical violence when upset or you will be turned to stone and outdoor enthusiasts will climb all over you every summer.

I maybe should have painted Half Dome since it was such a great view, but there was also a fantastic view of the valley. I found a a perfect granite rock chair made just for my bum and easel. I saw a little spotted lizard and some large ants as I worked. John Muir described in detail how the ants bit him when he was a sheep herder in the Sierras...maybe these ants don't bite, but now I have The Fear. I need to listen to more Annie Dillard and her admiration of insects to balance the scales. Anyway, the view I painted is saturated in blue. All the mountains here are very blue and gray. The Rockies in Rocky Mountain National Park had a warmer, pinker saturation and the Tetons were very blue, with a more jagged ridge line and crevasses. These Sierra mountains have smoother faces, with more subtle textures and are dotted with trees. The cast shadows are bigger and more distinct, with a dark blue gray color. There isn't any snow...I could only see two or three very small spots in the distance from where I painted. No clouds in the sky either which is a welcome change from almost daily afternoon storms in Yellowstone. Well actually I did see one tiny cloud in the sky today and exclaimed, "a cloud!"

Doing this hike made me think more about more serious backpacking, and how to best integrate art into that experience. I think making paintings from my sketches back at home will help me realize what information I need to make a painting from sketches, notes, and memories. I saw a French family backpacking. Each kid, probably all under ten, was carrying a backpack and bedroll based on their size. It was very cool to see. I never thought about backpacking with kids, but I'm sure many people haven't thought about riding centuries on tandems with their kids like my parents did. Anyway, it's fantastic to see kids and families outside enjoying this beautiful landscape.

View from the trail.
Climbing higher and higher...
I made it to North Dome, across from Half Dome. Incredible!
To the left of Half Dome, the magnificent landscape continues.
People were here! I know in Alaska they're called inukshuks (no clue on the spelling). Anyone know if they have a different name or history here?
Yosemite Valley from North Dome.
Hardly does the view justice...
Basket Dome is on the left.
Valley View from North Dome
Valley View from North Dome
Another view of the valley...#sorryimnotsorry for the millions of photos from this hike.
Such beautiful blues from the trees and rocks in the distance!
Arguably the best view of Half Dome, a bit down from the top of North Dome.
I made my own little rocky stack pile Emily-was-here thing.
Little rock guy has a great view of the valley.
The granite rocks are fascinating! Very uniquely shaped mountains.
This tree has mastered the splits.
Basket Dome.
The valley, again. It's just such a good view!
Another panorama from closer to Basket Dome.
Very steep...
Selfie with Half Dome!
How neat are these rock faces?!
You're telling me I have to hike back up?
Lovely view in the forest on my hike back.
A naturally occurring buffalo mount.


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