Autumn in Eden

Yellow flames on the valley floor.

I've posted before about a sublime trip I made to Yosemite National Park last fall to see a bit of fall colors and enjoy one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. I've since had a chance to put together a few images of the autumn shed lying on the floor of Eden, gathering in pools of rainwater and laying on the trails as though the Dutch master had come through and smudged the footpaths with daubs of his signature bright yellow. These images were gathered over two days as I hiked the valley floor trail, a 20-mile loop which takes one from the campgrounds all the way to the first bridge crossing the Merced along the loop road. The trail isn't far from the road at times, but is mercifully shielded by large pines before it finds another ridge to hug. This is no comparison for some of the more spectacular and remote hikes, but it affords views of the valley that are impossible by foot and is an extremely pleasant way to enjoy a leisurely hike.

At one point we crossed the valley floor and I saw a stand of aspen just a stone's throw from the Merced's sandy banks. I walked over and was pleased to find a little pond had formed from the previous rains, here I made one of my favorite images of the valley with Yosemite Falls off in the distance, its tumult giving counterpoint to the tranquility of this scene. With aspen's plumage atop, the glassy surface gave the perfect picture of fall.

Fall pool merced

We took several detours as well on these hikes to see some other spots along the valley floor, including the Awiyah trail toward mirror lake, now buried beneath a massive rockslide.

Boulders along the Merced
Ahwiyah point rock fall

It should have occurred to me as we had planned a little trip to Yosemite that we may see fall color, but I figured early November would have been too late. How poorly my memories of fall's midwestern timing served me. Cool and dramatic and clothed in plumes of yellow and orange, the trails were soft and empty. I can't imagine a better time to visit Eden.

Fall colors on the Yosemite valley floor
Sunburst through aspen
Maple leaves on the valley floor
Fall colors in the valley
Mushrooms on the valley floor
Color along the trail in Yosemite

The next morning a light show above Halfdome in blues, purples and reds, framed by the stately Ponderosa of a closed campground. A preview of more things yet to come:

Dawn above halfdome