If "Eat, Pray and Love" are what Elizabeth Gilbert discovered in her travels across countries "Hike, Drive & Photograph" are what I have gradually fallen in love with in my slow progress travelling through the great North American National Park System
2011 trip to Zion NP (Utah) was a stunner but ended on a bad note as I damaged my camera irreparably while doing the signature Zion "Narrows" hike and lost all my pictures...perhaps a sign of the year to follow, more in line with Elizabeth's own personal experience. But this year (2012) my 4 days trip to California's Jewel among the Sierra's was the near perfect trip...incredible daily mountain drives, beautiful trails & hiking and gorgeous vistas that begged to be photographed
My first morning was spent in Mariposa grove, on the southern boundary of Yosemite. The gentle giants of the grove, Sequoia trees older than a thousand years, greeted me into their realm...
Yosemite Falls, at 740m, is the highest waterfall in the North American continent. The sight from Yosemite valley, can take your breath away
The entire area of Yosemite N.P is perhaps close to the size of US state of Rhode Island, but some of the most gorgeous sights are in and around a small radius of the oft visited Yosemite valley.
Mirror Lake, in the Tenaya canyon, not far from Yosemite Valley, has one of the park's most beautiful reflections on a lake, that of North & Half domes
My daily 40-45km drive in the mornings from the outskirts of Yosemite park, into the valley, were photo-ops in themselves, the stunning Sierras, glowing in mystical grandeur
This trip coming in the midst of a year of personal maelstrom, was perhaps something that fate had designed for me, to divert my mind away for a short while from the subliminality of the world of humans to the sublimeness of mother nature...
As I stood by the Merced river, alone on a beautiful morning, with El Capitan on one side and Bridal Veil Falls on the other...an overwhelming sense of peace enveloped me in its embrace and I forgot the war I was fighting...
Even now, during times of mental turmoil & stress, I look at this picture and it calms me down...
On the 3rd day, I decided to check out Tioga Pass, California's highest motorable road. The vistas from some of the viewing points were epic, like this one
Tioga Pass leads to the nearby Tuolumne county and the serene Tuolumne Meadows. Surrounded by the Sierra mountain range, this quiet little place is another haven of peace, for the weary traveller...
Just sit down by one of its murmuring brooks and you are guaranteed to be transported to another world, a much more peaceful world
Centrepiece of the entire park, the verdant Yosemite valley, with its vibrant greenery, is a photog's dream...
One of the most iconic sights within the park, is that of Half Dome in the soft light during sunset, with Merced river in the foreground
It was perhaps such dreamy sights as these that made Yosemite park, Ansel Adam's (that legend among nature photographers) favorite dwelling grounds
It was here in the mid 1900's that Ansel Adams took some of his most famous photographs in black and white that has inspired a generation of nature photographers
Lower Yosemite falls, from the busy "bridge" viewpoint, is another must see on any traveller's itinerary
Took off again beyond the boundaries of Yosemite, to nearby Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and Wapama Falls, within its boundaries
Hetch Hetchy is the primary water source for the San Francisco Bay area. Fed by the Tuolumne river and created by the O'Shaughnessy Dam, the borders of the reservoir harbour some beautiful falls within them, worth the hikes
Once at the reservoir, I couldn't help but wonder...this is the water that feeds & sustains the brains of the likes of Mark Zukerberg, Steve Jobs (RIP) at one time, Larry Ellison...and a host of other celebrities
As the last day of my trip came on, I headed back to Yosemite valley, one more time, to take in another iconic panoramic shot of the valley, from Tunnel View point, in the evening
This is one of the few places where the triad jewels of the park - Half Dome, El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls, can be seen, all together
The morning of my flight back, I decided to do one last round of Glacier point, to capture Half Dome's silhouette against the rising sun
Waking up at ~3am, I drove about 20-30km on sharp winding mountain roads, in pitch darkness, to Glacier point. And was rewarded with this last parting shot...
This entire trip was almost a spur of the moment decision, to go and detox my mind after a difficult personal year. And the experience was unforgettable
As I look back at these pictures, I feel like giving renewed respect to mother nature, for her awesomeness...and helping a little earthling, like me, cling on and continue, in his life's battles