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Trip Report - Yosemite, Mammoth and Death Valley (August 2017)

It was great to get back to California this month and to do a road trip from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, taking in Yosemite, Mammoth, and Death Valley along the way. All three of these areas offer a lifetime of exploration, sadly I only had three days, but it was certainly a great opportunity to get a taster of some locations to return to and luckily due to the weather I managed to also get some great shots.

So let's start with Yosemite, which is one of those magical locations. On this visit, which was my first since seriously upgrading my photography equipment, a forest fire in the area created some really moody skies, as you will see. It was a fascinating effect and despite it being mid-afternoon when I got to the bulk of the main points, the smoky scene was creating near sunset like conditions, with cloud illuminating from the sun and filtered streams of light flooding in, not to mention a little rain shower creating a double rainbow, this visit really had it all! Starting in the valley, before driving up to the lookout for Half Dome and taking in the Valley Vista point, it was a bit of a whistle-stop day but here are a quick selection of my images:

So, Yosemite was a fantastic experience, but there were more good locations to come! I had two days left to get to Vegas for an event but the last real spot before there was Mammoth, so I booked in there for two nights and enjoyed the mountain scenery, took the cable car up to 14,000 ft and took a good walk, scrambling a little harder than normal to breath in the thinner air. With it being summertime, the road out of the Park was open (it typically doesn’t open until May or June), I was able to drive out of the park to the East and over to Mammoth. The scenery you pass on the way is truly amazing.

Settling into Mammoth, it was really nice to have village and the fun things to do there available, I even had time to go to a mountain driving range at the golf course! The weather was again really interesting, with moody clouds and rain showers adding some interest.

Another location near to Mammoth is Mono Lake, which is another very different landscape, surrounded by of all these huge mountain peaks. The 750,000 year old lake is a lake with a very high salt content and is best known for its “Tufa Towers,” large and jagged stone structures which protrude from the lake and the areas near to the lake. Here are some shots:

The last location on this trip was Death Valley, and in the middle of August it certainly lived up to its reputation as the hottest place on earth, with the temperature hitting 44 degrees centigrade, about 118 Fahrenheit! Needless to say, I didn't really take a lot of pictures as it was just too hot, but the drive was really an experience, with the long, long roads making their way through the mountain pass and down into Vegas where I ended the trip. 

Lastly, I was also able to get some fantastic panoramic shots, to really try to capture the scale - one even took 23 bracketed shots, all stitched together, which amounts to a whopping 19858 × 5598 pixels!

There was so much on this short trip to enjoy and so much still left to discover in these areas, I can’t wait to go back. I hope you enjoy these pictures!