I left my vehicle in a roadside pullout and worked my way through a challenging section of forest.
On two occasions devious well placed sticks tried their best to trip me, the second attempt had me stumble and bang my right knee onto a fairly large fallen ponderosa pine (which saved me from falling further.) Out loud I complained, "Shit! Bet that's gonna leave a mark." (It did.)
The forest was dense and now offered up some useful shade. I stopped a good ten feet from the placidly undulating river. I shed my top layer, took a couple of small pulls from my water bottle while my heart rate slowly glided back into the comfort zone. With upstream to my right and downstream to my left I pondered my options as I made my first photograph of this morning's wander.
Yosemite Valley - Merced River Abstract_4589
I chose upstream.
My route kept me along and above the river for the most part, but there were occasional thickets or large fallen trees that were impassible or just uninviting, forcing me to veer off to the right in search of a way around. I had been on the move for over an hour. The morning was cool. There was frost on the grass and in the sand along the water. Hiking with 25 pounds of gear on my back warmed me nicely.
The clouds were still racing across the sky, but patches of blue were starting to become more present. At ground level, there was virtually no breeze at all. I felt certain that I was now on the backside of the storm.
Yosemite Valley - The Three Brothers_5285
I followed the river 10 minutes further until I came upon a small open meadow awash in the most inviting golden morning light. The meadow extended down towards the river ending just behind a rather pleasing looking small gravel beach that was still blanketed by shadows. All of a sudden I had thoughts of coffee and another decision to make. Meadow or beach?
I chose beach.
Sitting on the cool damp gravel and being out from under the burden of my pack felt fantastic. My first sip of strong, earthy black coffee brought out a gratifying Ahhhhhhh as I exhaled a faint breath of steam. Now with my arms slightly behind me, I leaned back, tilted my head back (you do that a lot in Yosemite Valley, (tilt your head back and look up)) I took in the amazing view before me. To my left was the majestic profile of El Capitan peeking out from behind fast moving low clouds. To my right, The Three Brothers stood tall and proud and for the moment were completely void of clouds.
Yosemite Valley - El Capitan, Clouds and Raven_5260
Another sip of coffee. Another Ahhhhhhh. Another puff of steamy breath.
Yosemite Valley - Merced River Abstract_4587
The river trickled peacefully as it passed by while making a gradual turn to the left. Just off of my beach I watched a small back eddy spilling over a rock. I could smell the wildness of the newly born water. The air was cool and damp and held a faint hint of cedar. Above, the clouds continued to reinvent themselves as they sauntered along the mountain tops. I felt so filled with life, completely aligned with the environment and totally at peace.
Yosemite Valley - Me and the Three Brothers_5272
That's me standing in the river looking for a new angle and a better composition. To my right is the edge of my gravel beach. A morning that I will always remember.