Sentinel of Tuolumne Peak

I am about to announce the details of a 2022 calendar that is available to purchase. Since this is my first calendar, I chose some of my favorite photos from the past 10 years with a focus on California vistas.

Creating a calendar has been a great learning experience for me. This is the first time I have committed to printing a collection of photos. In preparing the images, I printed each one at home and had to make various edits to get them to look as good on paper as I thought they looked on a computer screen.

Another fun aspect of creating this calendar was going through my archives, re-living past experiences, and re-editing photos with my current improved skills.

For this post, I would like to share the story behind one photo in the calendar, the Sentinel of Tuolumne (below), taken on August 3, 2012 just before sunset.

Sentinel of Tuolumne Peak, Yosemite National Park (Prints Available)

To get to Tuolumne Peak you start at the May Lake trailhead in Yosemite National Park. The first two miles are on a trail, but after that the rest of the route is cross-country up the open, rocky slope of the mountain. For climbers, it would probably be considered class 2, a steep walk or scramble.

On August 2, 2012 I made my first trip to the peak with a couple of friends that had been there before and offered to take me to lead the way. I loved that most of the way was off trail. Once on the peak, the views were stunning. I must have looked around for where I might camp if I wanted to spend the night, because that is what I did a few days later.

Edge on Tuolumne Peak – August 2, 2012

On the following day we headed to Olmsted Point at for sunset and hiked up the glacier-polished granite slabs near the turn-out. We didn’t have to walk far to have tremendous views.

Granite Slabs – near Olmsted Point

Looking north, we had a clear view of Tuolumne Peak and the cross-country route in the distance.

Tuolumne Peak’s Anvil – Tuolumne Peak is the high prominence on the right. August 3, 2012

A few days later, on August 6, the weather looked good and I decided to hike up to the peak on my own and spend the night so I could be in place to roll out of my sleeping bag and take photos at sunset and sunrise. The Sentinel of Tuolumne Peak was taken just as the sun was setting at 7:53 PM, with the landscape glowing gold. There was probably a fire some place, not too distant, that added wisps of smoke to the sparse clouds.

The next photo was taken after sunset, at 8:22 PM. The landscape was still reflecting the beautiful colors of sunset. I think the peak in the center background is Mount Hoffman, another great peak to climb in Yosemite. There is a trail all the way to the top of that one.

Serrated Ridges – Mount Hoffman, Yosemite National Park, August 6, 2012 (Prints Available)
Backcountry view of northern Yosemite National Park from Tuolumne Peak, August 6, 2012
Looking toward the Grand Canyon of Tuolumne

I didn’t get any photos overnight, but I remember being amazed at seeing the lights of the Central California Valley far to the west. The following morning I was up well before sunrise. I took some sunrise photos, but they’re not worth sharing. Below you can see the flat section of the peak where I was able to set up camp.

Tuolumne Peak Camp, August 7, 2012 at 5:39 AM
Camp Chair, 6:50 AM
Central Yosemite, August 7, 2012

As I started down from the peak I captured the shot above. May Lake is on the right with Half Dome behind it. Tenaya Lake is on the left. The Clark Range is near the center on the horizon.

The last photo here is a view looking back at the cross-country route to the peak.

Cross-Country Route to the Peak, August 7, 2012

To see more from this adventure, click here.

On the High Sierra Route

In August I returned to the Ansel Adams Wilderness for a 3-night/4-day backpacking loop, visiting several high lakes along the Sierra Crest. My favorite Milky Way shot of the previous trip was slightly blurred and I wanted to do better. I returned to the same location for the first night. For the photo below, I took a series of 12 shots for the sky at 11pm. After that, I went back to sleep until 1:30am, at which time I took another shot as the rising crescent moon cast its soft light on the landscape.

Skyway

The second day took us on cross-country route over two passes and into a wonderful glacial valley filled with cascading waterfalls and late-season flowers.

Morning Bouquet

One of the highlights of the 3rd day was climbing down a challenging pass. Another was approaching this high lake-filled basin (pictured below).

On the Trail

Before leaving on our 4th day, I ventured around the lake looking for photo opportunities. The picture below is a four-photo hand-held panorama stitch.

Granite Peak Reflections

I have many more photos from this trip. Click here to see them.