Horsetail Falls, Yosemite Valley
Published February 15, 2009
In Yosemite, once a year for a few weeks at sunset the last light of the day slides between the mountains and makes water look like fire. It doesn’t happen every year, only when there has been enough snowfall in the upper elevations early in the winter. Then there has to be break in the winter freeze — a period of weather warm enough to melt that snow pack; this brings Horsetail Falls into existence. If that happens and if there are not clouds obscuring the sun for the 20 minutes that it hits the right spot, magic happens. And for the lucky few who are in the right spot to see it, it’s something they never forget. It lures photographers back year after year. Some have been making the trek for 30 years. Maybe their photos don’t look much different from anyone else’s, or maybe they do catch a little wind or cloud action that makes their photo stand out, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s a thrill just to see it. It’s worth making the trip up to Yosemite on the off chance that conditions are right this year — worth fighting for a parking place, jostling other people, trudging through snow drifts with tripod and camera, all the while hoping the clouds will part at the right time — just for a few minutes of that magical light.
I’m heading up to Yosemite tomorrow to see if I get lucky this year.
In the mean time here are some of the images I took there last year. Horsetail Falls is on the opposite side of El Capitan that I showed yesterday. I swear the wind kept blowing the water vapor around, and along with the shape of the rock, I kept seeing a heart. Silly maybe, but true.