Hiking Upper Yosemite Fall Trail

Copyright © Deborah Zajac. All Rights Reserved

                                                                                                                                         Dogwood blossoms gracing the Merced River

For my birthday this year the only thing I wanted was to hike up Upper Yosemite Fall Trail to the base of the Upper Yosemite Fall to see if there was a rainbow up there, and with luck I’d see some Dogwoods that I had heard were blooming in the valley.  I asked Heman if he could go with me. Lucky me, he freed up his calendar enabling us to spend the day together hiking.

We left home just after 6AM with a coffee stop in Gilroy, and a lunch stop in Mariposa. Then we drove straight into Yosemite Valley. We started our hike just before noon, and went to Lower Yosemite Falls first. I thought the trail head to the Upper falls was near there, but turned out I was wrong it’s a lot closer to the Lodge. So we hiked over to the trail head extending our hike.

The weather was gorgeous, but for hiking it was on the warm side at 75º. We were shedding layers soon after we started the ascent up Upper Yosemite Fall Trail.

Neither one of us had ever hiked this particular trail before, nor did I have any idea what to expect. I thought we’d be up and down in about 4 hours.

After hiking this trail I read it described as the “the mother of all Stairmaster workouts.” That is a very accurate description! This trail is very, very rugged. 90% of the way up it’s very rocky. For my friends who have hiked Mission Peak this hike is like the last 300ft of the trail to the Pole. That rocky and steep all the way up. There is a nice flat part of the trail at a ridge line once you make it up to the base of Upper Yosemite Fall, but it’s too short. You’re climbing and picking your way though the rocks again all too soon.

                                                                                                                                Wanting a photo of the rugged trail I stopped to take this shot as these two passed me heading down.

There were 4 streams running down the mountain and trail that we traversed. There was no way to keep your shoes from being wet. If you didn’t have waterproof shoes you had wet feet. Fear of slippery rocks kept the pace slow too.

Below the base of Upper Yosemite Fall at a look out spot aptly called “Oh, my gosh! Point” one gets a great view of all 3 falls; Upper, Middle, and Lower cascading down the mountain, and when I got there I saw a double rainbow! I lost my sunglasses to the mountain here. My Hobie’s came unhooked from my shoulder harness and went flying over the cliff face. I’ll miss those glasses, but it was the only mishap of the whole day so I won’t complain… too much. From here we hiked up to view the base of Upper Yosemite Falls. You get a little wet here. It felt nice and cool on this warm afternoon.

                                                                                                                                         Oh my gosh! Point with the double rainbow.

                                                                                                                                        This is a little higher than Oh my gosh! Point. Right at the base of the falls.

                                                                                                                                       View of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley from Upper Yosemite Trail 5,413ft elevation

We continued to climb higher than the base of Upper Yosemite Fall for another hour. After we reached the hour more mark we took stock of our situation. To make it all the way to the top of the mountain it would have taken another hour of climbing and from here the terrain gets rougher. I was nearly out of water, and we were beginning to get hungry. I had brought along a little treat for us both, 2 mini chocolate cupcakes that I purchased at the coffee shop in the morning, but they were really mini, and were totally empty of good calories. It was after 3PM; we’d been climbing for more than 3 hours by then, and we knew the trip down would be slow since the terrain was so rough and rugged. We decided to head down.

Half Dome, Upper Yosemite Fall, and the top of the rainbow. The highest point I went.

I didn’t think I’d need my poles. Was I ever wrong… I really could have used them to help pull myself up the huge rocks, and coming down they would have helped ease the pressure on my knees. One does a lot heavy landing coming down from this trail as so many of the rocks are big so the steps down are hard in the sense that you’re landing hard on your feet.

Biggest surprise of the hike. How crowded this trail was! For a Thurs. in early May the park was very busy. This trail is Single track all the way so passing and being passed was tight. I was stunned that this trail was so popular.

I’m counting this hike as a “strengthening hike” for my training to Cloud’s Rest. I definitely worked harder than I thought I would.

The views of the valley, and falls are spectacular! It’s worth the effort. Take plenty of water, snacks, and your trekking poles.

This was a birthday I won’t soon forget.

Hiking Stats

Hike elevation at start 3,772 ft

Hike elevation at End 5,413 ft

Total elevation climbed 2,119 ft

Average Speed 2.4 mph

Total Miles hiked 6.63m

Total time: 5h40m

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 17-35mm & Nikkor 70-300mmVR| Induro C213 tripod

Copyright © Deborah Zajac. All Rights Reserved.

Twitpic plans to sell your images so it can profit!

A story in TechCrunch EU highlights a blowup over the ToS (Terms of Service) of Twitpic the photo sharing app for Twitter that many people use to share breaking news images from their phone…

Read the whole thing-


H/T Borrowlenses.com

A Mother’s Day Hike

Stepping up my game last week I added a longer trail to my training routine. I hiked up the PG&E trail in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Reserve in Santa Clara County.

This trail is called the PG&E trail because huge power-towers run up the canyon that the trail follows.   The last time I hiked up this trail was back in the 1990’s it was mid summer and hot. I was also very out of shape. I didn’t make it up 1 mile.  I hoped My Mother’s Day hike would be the opposite of that hike. My goal was to try to make it up to Vista Point at the top of the PG&E trail; a 4 mile hike. The day was perfect for hiking. It was overcast, and cool, with a breeze.

I made it to the first ridge after some steep climbing. The view up here is nice. The clouds were above the mountains and the breeze blew out the fog. I could see Hoover Tower at Stanford University, and in the far distance I could make out San Francisco’s skyline.

There were wildflowers lining the trail. I saw Wild Radish; Parsley, Thistle was everywhere, ivy, wild berries; Poison Oak; buttercups; bindweed; Monkey flower; and under the canopy there was wild Iris! It was the first time I’ve seen it anywhere this year.

Climbing higher Blue Dicks, and Clover were abundant.  This week was the week for a variety of wildflowers along this trail.  I’ve made it a lot farther than the last time I hiked here. Here I can see Vista Point. There’s no stopping me now the goal is in sight. There are the power-towers that the trail is named for. The last one is my goal.

I made it! 4 miles to this point in 2 hours. Here’s the view looking down the canyon, and out to the valley below. I was feeling really good.

Rather than turn around and head down the way I’d come up I followed the ridge on Upper Meadow trail where I saw more wildflowers then I turned down Upper Wildcat Canyon Trail then caught the Farm Bypass Trail then Canyon trail where I saw these sweet Globe Lilies.

…and a little further down I was following Permanente Creek, and had to stop to photograph this little spill over fall.

Finally I connected to the PG&E trail again and headed down to the parking lot. My legs were tired, but I felt great. Baby Girl treated me to lunch for Mother’s Day after this hike.  It’s not often I can say the day was perfect, but this Mother’s Day was.

Total hike 9.3 miles

Total elevation gain 1800 ft.

Total time 4 hours

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 17-35mm lens, Induro C213 tripod

All photographs are Copyright © Deborah M. Zajac. All Rights Reserved

Nikon D800 delayed until October 2011

Nikon Rumors reports the D700 replacement is rumored to be announced in October 2011. The delay due to the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. This is a better outlook than I had hoped for. I’ve been looking forward to this upgrade for awhile now. Read the whole thing here:


H/T Nikon Rumors

D5R a Nikon Concept Camera w/ a twist


This Nikon D5R camera is a designer’s concept created by Ned Mulka. The idea is to include the mirror, prism and sensor into a rotating element that can reduce the camera size and weight.

Senior thesis design project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
H/T Nikon Rumors

Feeling Blue

Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.

Sundial Bridge, Redding,California

The first time I photographed this bridge at night was in 2009, but I only had my monopod with me at the time so, the image wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. I’ve wanted to get up here to do another Night image since then. I love this period of Twilight and am so happy to have had another opportunity to photograph this bridge in this special time of day.

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm| f8| 4.0 sec.| ISO 200| Manual Mode| Tripod|Remote Release Cable

For the Historians:

The Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay crosses the Sacramento River in the heart of Redding, California. Opened July 4, 2004, the bridge links the north and south campuses of Turtle Bay Exploration Park and serves as a new downtown entrance for Redding’s extensive Sacramento River Trail system.

The bridge celebrates human creativity and ingenuity, important themes of the 300 acre Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The steel, glass, and granite span evokes a sense of weightlessness and the translucent, non-skid decking provides for spectacular viewing at night. The bridge is also environmentally sensitive to its river setting. The tall pylon and cable stays allow the bridge to avoid the nearby salmon-spawning habitat there are no supports in the water while encouraging public appreciation for the river. Plazas are situated at both ends of the bridge for public use; the north-side plaza stretches to the water allowing patrons to sit at the river’s edge.

In addition to being a functional work of art, the Sundial Bridge is a technical marvel as well. The cable-stayed structure has an inclined, 217 foot pylon constructed of 580 tons of steel. The deck is made up of 200 tons of glass and granite and is supported by more than 4,300 feet of cable. The structure is stabilized by a steel truss, and rests on a foundation of more than 115 tons of steel and 1,900 cubic yards of concrete. The McConnell Foundation, a private, independent foundation established in Redding in 1964, funded the majority of the bridge’s $23 million cost.

World renowned Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava conceived the Sundial Bridge’s unusual design, his first free-standing bridge in the United States. Calatrava has built bridges, airports, rail terminals, stadiums, and other structures around the world. His notable designs include the new PATH transportation terminal at the World Trade Center site in New York City and several projects at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, including the main stadium where opening and closing ceremonies were held.

~Turtle Bay Exploration Park

More to come…

A morning hike in Uvas Canyon

Myself and the Cheeky Monkey hiked in Uvas Canyon County Park this morning. To stretch out my legs, and continue training for a hike up to Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite this summer.

We picked the Alec Canyon Trail with a side trip up to Triple Falls.  The trail is steep in places, and there were a few fallen trees blocking the trail as we climbed higher. We had to crouch so low to get under one tree our backpacks got caught. I’ll feel that tomorrow in my quads I’m sure!

We saw a Common Star Lily about a mile up the trail. I don’t think it’s very common. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this wildflower!

Other wildflowers we spotted along the trail were; Wild lilac, Monkey Flower, Thistle, I think I spotted some Trillium, Miner’s lettuce, and Leafystem Coreopsis that a Variable Checkerspot was warming up on. I used my Canon 500 D close up filter to try and get a good shot of him. I really do need to spend some more time playing with this. It’s neat, but does require some practice. The Depth of Field is very shallow as you can see on the butterfly, but I did manage a good close up the Leafystem Coreopsis.

Up at Triple Falls I worked a couple of areas, and nearly ended up in the creek when I slid down the embankment while on my way down to the photograph closer to the creek. The soil was loser than I thought it was.Thankfully it was a soft landing.

There wasn’t much color down where I was so I pulled myself back up the embankment after taking several shots of a little fall and pool. I moved over to photograph Triple Falls. It doesn’t look that big at first, but then you get to the observation fence and Whoa! It’s pretty high. It must fall 35 feet at least, but I liked the base the best today and the way it cascaded down a huge boulder.

After we left Triple Falls we headed back up to the end of Alec Canyon Trail. There were groves of Redwood trees, and the sound of the water cascading down the mountain, and chirping bird were lovely.  I tried to mimic one bird. I can do a Finch fairly well. We hiked up past the end of the trail deep into the canopy and found ourselves right on the creek, and to our delight there were lots of beautiful moss covered rocks and little spill overs to photograph. We worked this area for quite a while. I chose to use my B+W 3 stop Neutral Density filter today because it wasn’t too bright under the canopy, and I knew with that light it would be enough to slow down the shutter speed to get the look I was going for.

It was the first time I’d been to these sections of the park. I am looking forward to returning to them again in the future.

The hike details:

Total miles 3.54

Elevation gain: 900 ft

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 17-35mm & Nikkor 80-200mm| Canon 500D close up filter| B+W 3 Stop ND filter| Handheld and Tripod

All Photos are Copyright © 2011 Deborah M. Zajac.  All Rights Reserved.