Yosemite: The Rim Fire

Map of fire area

Map of fire area

Yosemite National Park; for some a haven for rock climbing, trekking and camping. It is known for its stunning granite landscapes and it's famous "Tunnel View" but for me Yosemite is mostly about two things, Ansel Adams and the Half Dome (which I failed to climb last time I was there).

Covering around 800,000 acres, the park consists of an abundance of vegetation and wildlife, spectacular waterfalls, giant Sequoia trees that date hundreds and thousands of years, and plays host to approx. 3.7m visitors a year. Yosemite was also integral to America's National Park development; it is steeped in both history and beauty.

In August 2013, a fire raged. The "Rim Fire" named after the location it was suspected to have started, burned through 257,314 acres, took 2 months to completely contain, using 3800 firefighters. It destroyed 98 outbuildings and 11 residences. There was approx. a 60 mile dead zone, and 280 square miles of chard, singed, and burnt plantation. The overall cost to area: $127million. And a human hand caused it all.

2014, and not surprisingly the signs of the fire still remain. Fires are not uncommon for this area, however they are usually controlled, used to rejuvenate not too destroy. A hunter with an illegal fire that got out of control caused the “Rim Fire”, his name remains undisclosed, and it has been promised the punishment will be severe. When asked how much trouble he was in, " a lot " was the reply from the spokesman. The Park will, with help, return to life. Some vegetation has already begun to grow from the ashes, slowly.

But for now it's a sad sight, one that is a gigantic reminder of the fragility of the beauty on this planet. And how we should respect and encourage to protect the land that we are lucky to share.

The story behind the photo...

They say there is always a story behind a photo or that you should never judge a photo without knowing the conditions that the photographer faced to get it.....so here is my story on the night shot of the Grand Canyon Horse Shoe Bend.  

We were due to arrive in Flagstaff around 3pm on Tuesday and we were going to drive on up to the Grand Canyon's "Horse Shoe Bend" soon after. This is a spot I have had on my radar for a while now, however on the way to Flagstaff from Las Vegas we came across the Hoover Dam (stop #1), then on Route 66 we came across an amazing store with old cars/pumps/signs (stop #2), finally at the end of Route 66 where we had to join the freeway again there was a family run diner (stop #3) which meant that we pulled into Flagstaff after the sunset-which was, of course outstanding! 

So next (and only/last) day in Grand Canyon, then a "quick" 2hr 30min drive out of the park and up to the Horse Shoe. Now, it would seem that people in the park weren't keen on talking about the Horse Shoe, we wonder if this has anything to do with it falling outside park grounds and being free...... It is also spectacular! That aside, we were 20mins away when we came across a blocked road, the road we needed and it diverted us onto another, 20mins on that into the middle of no where, with no one around and the GPS lost we came across a gas station only to find the diversion was 45 miles back the way we came and then a further 45 miles on that road to the Horse Shoe, not good. Just an FYI there was no diversion signs at the diversion junction except an old sheet blowing in the wind so not surprised we missed it. It ended up being about 4 hours+ to do a 2 hour 30 min drive.

We park up grab our coats, run up the hill, down the hill, through the sand, past the remaining folks walking back to their cars and arrive on the patterned rocks looking down into that glorious Colorado River. I set my tripod in the rapidly fast fading light, try to focus, try to not fall of an edge I cannot see..... Move location, manual focus, 10 long exposure attempts before we can no longer see anything at all and I'm using the camera LCD screen as a torch..... and that was all I got. 

It's not perfect, it's not how I wanted to shoot this place or see it, but sometimes that's all you get, just half a chance and on the plus side there isn't actually too many night shots of this majestic place and I got a mean and moody looking view of it.