zScapes Ramble On
Winter Wunderland

Winter is a transformative season for all the senses. The snow hides the fine contours of the landscape while accentuating the shapes, it brings a soft hush to the land, the air is clean and crisp. One of my favorites times to head into the park, especially after a snowstorm. Enjoy the white-covered world!
2024 Winter Storm Chase
It has been a few years since I ventured into Yosemite in the winter time, partly work commitments, family travel and timing. This year is also tight, however, a February front look to be a good opportunity, just needed to time it right. So I picked a day and off I went. Unfortunately, timing was off and I was a day early, so missed some spectacular snow covered scenes. Actually was heading out as the main storm blew in and lucky for me my Acura RDX was up to the challenge and got me home safely, passing over 30 stranded vehicles! A few keepers.
2021 Winter Storm Chasing
Finally, a decent snow year with two Atmospheric Rivers to get Yosemite into her winter coat. And it just happened that a perfect window opened on my birthday. And off I went. I timed my arrival to take advantage of the strong Waxing Gibbous moon with a Sun illumination of 88%. The park was empty, crisp and clear and ideal for nite photography, if you can get the focus right. The morning awoke with bluebird skies and valley misting. What a treat after nine months since my last visit. Enjoy the magic carpet ride!
2020 Winter Storm Chasing
The snow pattern this year was all over the place. Early storms rushed through and then in the middle of it all, a warm and dry spell. I thought mother nature was going skunk me and then in late February and March the temps dropped and the storm door opened up. While it did not create any massive snow drops, when two soft storms rolled in back to back it was time to strike. Gathered the gear, thankfully most was kitted up, checked conditions and off I went keeping an eye on restrictions from Covid-19 that were developing. Day before, all concessions in the park had been closed, however, the park remained open. I was heading in on my own, fully self-sufficient, and was intent on practicing social distancing. Left at 4am and to my surprise was in an empty park by 8am covered in a fresh sprinkle of white powder. I could have seen no more than 20 vehicles while I was there for about 5 hours. Nothing like having a jewel of this grandeur to yourself.
2019 Winter Storm Chasing
For the last few years I had not been in Yosemite during winter time, but with a series of powerful storms passing through I could not pass up the opportunity. My first attempt ended up aborting, as the park closed just as I got to the El Portal entrance. A long round trip that day. As luck would have it, just a few days later another storm, and this time my timing was spot on! Park had closed for a short time but opened up as drove in and was as pristine as I have ever seen. As is my goal, I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy.
Sierra Skies 2019
2016 Winter & Firefall
The new year started out with a grand promise of real winter conditions for the Yosemite Conversancy workshop, but mother nature had other plans. However, the old adage about one door closing and the other opening came to pass. Firefall, which has eluded us for many years, decided to reveal herself and it was nice treat.
2015 February vs December
Wow !!! Another no snow year for the Yosemite Conservancy Winter workshop. At least it didn't rain like last year. What a difference 10 months make as is evident by the images below. The first two are from February and the rest are December. Enjoy
2014 Winter & Firefall
No such luck this year. Neither winter nor the firefall showed themselves. Not a good start to the rain year. When will it end ????
2013 Winter & Firefall
December snow held on thru January, assisted by cold temps that kept the melt to a minimum and created an opportunity to explore the icy side of the park. February Firefall unfortunately was not blessed with ideal conditions, just a pencil thin glimpse at what could be.
2012 Winter & Firefall
See Seasons 2012
2011 Firefall
Another year, another Firefall attempt. Winter had been waxing and waning but was in full force this week, with a resulting explosion of white crystal and raw beauty that produced a magical feel. Yosemite Valley was at her peak! One scene after another with glimpses below. Alas, the Firefall was elusive but I was able to get a nice shot of Horsetail Falls for my Collections and I found a new spot away from the crowds.

off particular note, the Mule Deer Doe & Fawn image was selected by the G2 Gallery for a showing of Yosemite scenes in October of 2015, along with a Bobcat image.
2010 Firefall (Lemonade)
February is a fickle time of year in the mountains and this year lived up to that reputation. Just a few weeks earlier there was so much snow that trees were toppling over from the weight of the white stuff. However, when Betsey and I arrived for this weekend, the valley floor was devoid of any significant snow depth, but at least the peaks that surrounded us were trying their best. Looking for that elusive " firefall explosion" from the outflow of Horsetail Falls as the setting sun shines through the canyon on it. The conditions have to be just right, and for the time I was there it was not to be!
2009 Firefall
February should have changed places with January! The winter weather I was looking for on the January trip showed up in February. And for the February trip we needed a clear night sky that eluded us at the last moment. The blue skies that greeted me when I arrived slowly clouded over, and when we needed the sun's angle to illuminate Horsetail Falls, a light horizon cloud cover spoiled the day. Horsetail Falls is an ephemeral waterfall that requires a convergence of natural conditions in February to display what looks like a firefall. But unlike practices of years past, this is powered by the sun, fed by a water basin on top of El Cap and needs a clear horizon for the sun to slot into Yosemite canyon and light up El Cap.

Yosemite Association sponsored a two day trip to capture this elusive event with John Sensor in the lead, but the fickle gods of the Sierra said it was not to be. YNP actually rolled out the blacktop carpet for photographers to be positioned at one of the better angles, by plowing a portion of North Drive to ease access into a picnic area due East from the base of El Cap. When we arrived the parking lot was overflowing with enthusiastic photographers, but even with the throngs there was plenty of room for all to spread out. Just did not make for a quiet setting. However, for anyone who has spent time in the Sierra, you better have a backup plan and what better backup then the Yosemite Valley in winter. Hope you enjoy this next step of pics.
2009 Winter
January is not a month that most people think about Yosemite, unless you are skiing at Badger Pass. But it can be a glorious time of the year with a fresh blanket of snow, no summer hordes and a dose of serenity. Being active all year, the Yosemite Association has several winter photography trips in their schedule that are well worth your time, if you are inclined to spend hours out in the park and can weather the cold. For those brave enough, the rewards are plenty but you may have to look at the glass half full, especially with the Sierra Nevada wielding her unpredictable ways. And in January she did not disappoint, with 3 days of rain and misty conditions all around. Oh well, the old saying about lemons was most appropriate, as we were making lemonade all weekend long. Here are some pictures that hopefully convey the effort.
May our paths & errands meet

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zScapes Adventures
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