Yosemite Valley - Seasonal Ponds


Yosemite Valley - El Capitan Reflected in a Seasonal Pond

Like the golden leaves of autumn, the fragile snowflakes of winter, or the booming thunderstorms of summer the seasonal ponds of spring add a special sense of drama and wonderment to the precious environment that is Yosemite.

My initial discovery of this seasonal pond was purely by accident. I was simply out wandering, looking for new and more unique vantage points from within the Valley to photograph. I had no idea that it was there. I was walking slowly and as quietly as I could just inside of the tree line that borders the outer edge of a meadow. I was following a deer that was a dozen paces or so ahead of me and a good 100 feet away in the shadows of the tree line on the opposite side of the meadow. Occasionally the deer stopped, dropped its head, nibbled some grass, looked back over its shoulder, then continued its unhurried walk. Eventually it veered left and disappeared into the forest.

Shortly after that the tree line opened up into another small meadow. The north end of the meadow was still encased in shadow and to my surprise it also contained a very large depression that was still full of water from melted snow and recent rain. I smiled with excitement because I already saw some reflections and understood the potential.

The closer I got, the better the reflections got. The closer I got, the soggier the ground got. The closer I got, the faster my heart beat. The closer I got, the bigger my smile got.

The last twenty feet or so before the pond actually became a pond was very murky, soggy and slippery. Luckily, I was wearing my mid-calf water proof and insulated boots so the soggy ground was not much of a deterrent and I was able to walk out into the pond and position myself for a few good compositions. I visited this location multiple times on this trip taking advantage of different light and skies. I created the photograph above on my second visit here.

I find it interesting to think about all the gifts that this seasonal pond provides, like: It serves as an additional watering hole for all sorts of local critters and nearby trees and other flora. It is also a breeding ground and nursery for at least one family of mallard ducks (I saw a mama mallard escorting a brood of 9 chicks through the tall grasses just a few feet out into the water.) It will eventually become a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes (which also provide some helpful benefits to the immediate ecosystem. Mosquitoes are food sources for many species of insect eaters like birds, bats and dragonflies. Another benefit of the mosquito is that they are pollinators. So, next time you look at a beautiful display of wildflowers in a meadow you might have a few mosquitoes to thank.) Another gift of this seasonal pond is the surprise it provides unsuspecting wanderers like me. I cannot describe how delighted I was with this discovery.

As I sit here looking at these photographs and write these words, I can't help but wonder, what does this scene look like now? Surely it looks different. Probably very different. I guess it is possible that all of the water and reflection potential is already gone. All of this makes me feel even more blessed that I was able to witness and experience it as I did.

Yosemite Valley - Cathedral Rocks and Surrounding Forest

This is the same seasonal pond as pictured above on the morning I discovered it. I was standing in a different location with the Cathedral Rocks as my main subject. Two minutes after I made this photograph the winds off of the leading edge of an approaching storm turned the beautiful mirror like water into water that reminded me of crumbled up wrapping paper. I would return :)

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