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More Big Surf

Following the spindrift (and big surf) photos from Friday, I rented a Sigma 150-600mm lens and headed back out on Saturday.  This weekend’s giant surf (forecast to peak at 18 feet on some surf breaks in San Diego) was supposed to peak Saturday afternoon.  I visited Windansea, Bird Rock, and then Sunset Cliffs–all with mid-sized messy waves and zero surfers–and then, as the afternoon waned, decided to head back to La Jolla Shores just really because I couldn’t figure out what else to do.  It looked like the big surf event was a non-event.

Man, was I wrong!  It was going off at the Shores.  I’m not a great judge of surf height, but I’d guess that the bigger waves were more than double overhead.  Looking across at the Point La Jolla, it looked like Boomer was also going off.  In fact, you could see a SD Lifeguard PWC out patrolling the shoulders of the breakers.

I stuck with one break at the north end of the La Jolla Shores beach that had a half-dozen or so surfers on it.  The sets were huge.  Too big, I think for the surfers, as no one attempted any rides at all the first 20 minutes or so that I was there.  And throughout, I never saw anyone take the biggest sets–so as you look at the surfer shots below, imagine that these were the smaller waves that they were riding!

A surfer does a flip off the backside of a wave at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Giant wave crashing behind a surfer at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Surfer inside a barrel at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

How big is that wave? Surfer drops in on a big set at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Waves and surfers stacked up at La Jolla Shores. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Sunlight off the ocean

 

Seaplane approaching Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, California, USA.

 

Rain approaches surfers off La Jolla Shores, California, USA.

 

Stormy skies and light beams off La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Tree at Windansea beach in La Jolla, California, USA.

Spindrift

A passing conversation with a San Diego Lifeguard this morning:

John, “I love the spray coming off the top of the waves in the wind this morning!”

Lifeguard, “Spindrift?  Yeah.”

John, quietly to himself, “Wait, spindrift is something other than a street name??”

February 17, 2017:  Big, clean surf.  Winds gusting to 50 MPH.  Spindrift!

Three surf barrels in a row, with spindrift above, near Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California, USA

 

Breaking wave and spindrift near Scripps Pier. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Surfer in a barrel on a very windy day (with spindrift) near Scripps Pier. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

A surfer inside a breaking wave with spindrift above. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Surfers near Scripps Pier on a very windy day, with spindrift. La Jolla, California, USA.

Snowstorms in Yosemite Valley

El Capitan peeks out through falling snow. Yosemite National Park.

I love Yosemite National Park in winter.  There’s room to breathe… and park, and camp, and turn around without hitting a hundred tourists!  And it is so, so indescribably beautiful during snowstorms.  Almost all of my trips to Yosemite over the years have been in winter.  Fortunately the girls (not the eldest girl, who hates nature at this point, but the two younger girls) have also come to love Yosemite during snowstorms.  Thanksgiving 2015 there was a big snowstorm forecast for the Valley, so we threw everyone in the car and headed up.  Didn’t make it before the storm, thus the whole drive in on 41 was a slow but beautiful, tire-chain thumping, hours-long slog through nighttime blizzard.  Had an absolutely fabulous time playing in the snow and the girls have been begging since to do it again.

Fast forward to January 2017, which was a very, very wet month for Yosemite–between giant snowfalls (some of which made it down to the Valley floor) and torrential rains that flooded the Valley and caused the park to be evacuated.  By January 17th, there were several big snowfalls forecast to make it down to the Valley floor (many Sierra snowfalls will dump feet of snow at higher elevations but just rain the the Valley–which sits at just 4,000 feet and is somewhat thermally insulated by cloud cover topping the granite walls of the valley), so we made reservations for a 4-day weekend at the Lodge and started checking our snow gear.

We were not disappointed!  The weekend teetered between rain and snow.  Both Saturday and Monday mornings we awoke to 8-12 inches of new snow covering everything.  Sunday it rained all day–but without really melting much of the previous snowfall.  Monday was one of those absolutely classic Yosemite days with a clearing winter storm.  I would have killed to stay through Monday and catch more of the clearing skies (as local Michael Frye did), but I had a 2 PM flight out of Fresno to catch for work.  As it was, I stopped so many times on the drive out of the park to take photos… and it took me forever to get the snow chains on that morning… that we pulled up in front of the Fresno Airport just 20 minutes before my flight was to depart.  Miraculously, I made it!

Below are some of my early culls from an amazing number of “keepers” from that weekend.

El Capitan peeks out through falling snow. Yosemite National Park.

 

Flooded field and trees during a heavy snowstorm. Yosemite National Park.

 

The Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a heavy winter snowstorm.

 

Yosemite Valley Chapel during a winter snowstorm

 

Upper Yosemite Falls looms in the snowfall above broken ice in flooded Cook’s Meadow. Yosemite National Park.

 

Pre-sunrise Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a winter morning snowstorm.

 

A lovely photography mistake!  Pre-sunrise on the bridge across the Merced near Yosemite Valley Chapel.

 

Slabs of ice in a frozen flooded section of Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park.

 

Bridalveil Falls during a heavy winter snowstorm. Yosemite National Park.

 

Upper Yosemite Falls in a winter snowstorm

 

A stand of trees during a heavy winter snowstorm in Yosemite National Park.

 

Sentinel Rock overlooks icy flooded wetlands in Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park.

 

Yosemite National Park during a snowstorm

 

El Capitan looms through the falling snow over the Merced River in Yosemite National Park.

 

Bridalveil Falls during a snowstorm. Yosemite National Park.

 

Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park

 

Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park

 

Granite peaks peaking through clouds above Yosemite Valley

 

Footbridge over the Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a winter snowstorm.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra

The photographer gets the tables turned on him.

The photographer gets the tables turned on him.

Most years in late September or early October, you can find me at least one long weekend up in the Eastern Sierra along Highway 395 between Bishop and June Lake Loop for fall color. That part of the Eastern Sierra is full of alpine lakes and creeks running down from the Sierras into the valley below. The lakes and creeks tend to be surrounded by aspen trees whose leaves turn the most lovely yellows and oranges in fall. In recent years, my two younger daughters have come along… and it’s getting to be more and more of a battle between my middle daughter and me for the camera. The girl needs her own camera, I think!

My younger daughters enjoy a walk in the woods near Bishop Creek.

My younger daughters enjoy a walk in the woods near Bishop Creek.

This year, conditions at higher elevations were beautifully at peak color and we were all set to head up the last couple days of September, but a final weather forecast check the night before showed nightly wind gusts in the 30-40 MPH range for the long weekend. I don’t know if you’ve ever camped in high winds, but it is not fun! So we delayed a week and prayed that the winds wouldn’t strip all the leaves that had already turned color off the trees. As we found out a week later, the winds had come that weekend and all the aspens at higher elevation were bare. Conditions at middle elevations were a weird mix… a few spots had great color, some spots were past peak with burnt oranges and yellows, and much hadn’t turned yet at all. In our time there, we explored both forks of Bishop Creek (and all three lakes) plus McGee Creek. We didn’t make it up to June Lake Loop, but my guess from the creeks closer to Mammoth is that it might have been nice.

Below are some of my better shots from this Mother Nature-challenged year.

Grove of aspens in different stages of color around a waterfall on the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

Grove of aspens in different stages of color around Mist Falls on the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

View of Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell, California, from Highway 168 up to Lake Sabrina.

View of Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell, California, from Highway 168 up to Lake Sabrina.

Mixed yellows and greens in a stand of aspens just turning color.

Mixed yellows and greens in a stand of aspens just turning color.

A road in the autumn woods near Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell.

A road in the autumn woods near Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell.

Aspen woods in fall.

Aspen woods in fall.

A sunny glade of aspens in fall.

A sunny glade of aspens in fall.

Fall color along McGee Creek.

Fall color along McGee Creek.

Fall leaves swirl in a small pool in a creek near Aspendell.

Fall leaves swirl in a small pool in a creek near Aspendell.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra at McGee Creek.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra at McGee Creek.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra near Aspendell.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra near Aspendell.

A path in autumn woods.

A path in autumn woods.

A deer in the woods along a the walking path at Carindal Village Resort in Aspendell.

A deer in the woods along a the walking path at Carindal Village Resort in Aspendell.

Aspens in fall.

Aspens in fall. Eastern Sierras.

Aspens turn color along Bishop Creek.

Aspens turn color along Bishop Creek.

A yellow leaf stuck on a stick along some rapids in McGee Creek.

A yellow leaf stuck on a stick along some rapids in McGee Creek.

A small grove of just-past-peek aspens, all in orange, just outside of Aspendell.

A small grove of just-past-peek aspens, all in orange, just outside of Aspendell.