The Best Of Yosemitelatest issue of AWAYN magazine
Chantel Marie Macrone Camp. North Dome in Yosemite
What can I say? This is truly a breathtaking trip. It'll steal your breath with the amazing sites. It'll also require a bit of breath and good old fashioned hard work to climb the falls. Spend the first night on the river above the falls: there's a great campsite with fire ring and tree coverage just about 300 feet from the river. Water is easily accessible from there for drinking, cooking, etc. What can be said other than WOW! I did not hike this from Yosemite Falls. I hiked it from the Porcupine Creek trailhead on Tioga Road. The first 3.5 miles or so is a simple walk in the Yosemite woods, which is beautiful in and of itself, but then suddenly you reach a clearing at the top of the hill and there is Half Dome staring at you through the trees. From there the trail scurries down some granite for another mile and you reach the plateau that is North Dome, some 7500 ft above Yosemite Valley. The views here are unmatched. If you get far enough out along North Dome you can see Half Dome in her entirety, from the base of the valley to the top, and you are seeing it from a unique angle. Just stoic and iconic. On a clear day like the day I hiked here, you can look to the right and see the entire Yosemite Valley below - the Merced River, El Cap, Nevada Falls. To the left is the immensity of Tenaya Canyon and Clouds Rest. The scale of the Valley is in full display and it was actually a little disorienting at first. Bring some food, plenty of water, a camera, and give yourself time to enjoy the moment. Once you are hanging out on North Dome it will be hard to pry yourself away. On the way back I also took the 0.6 mile detour and checked out Indian Rock, a unique granite structure with a 15ft tall archway. Worth the time to check it out and it provides you one last glimpse of Half Dome before you descend onto the backside of the hill. In my opinion North Dome is a "Cant Miss" hike in Yosemite. Its only moderately difficult - you lose about 560 ft getting there and are hiking at a higher altitude than most of us are used to. There are a few sections right near the dome that are a bit steep and rocky but nothing sketchy. For what you are going to experience when you arrive, it is a small effort for a maximum Yosemite moment!
There are not many natural hot springs have aren't controlled. This place is 100% natural. It is a little tricky to find the dirt road. If you are coming from downtown Bridgeport, you make a left before the ranger station. Just keep going straight down the paved road, up to the dirt path. Keep your faith and keep driving up till you reach a parking lot. -There is 1 pool next to the parking lot. We didn't get to sit in there. What I liked is it had carpet laid out for you to sunbath or recover from the heat. -Down the path located along a large rock are 4 tubs. Each one is a Goldilocks temperature, hot to luke warm. -Along the field are 3 mini pools just going slightly left of the four pools towards the valley. 2 that are connected. Just about 20 feet further is a very deep and dark pool. If you're brave, check that one out. I was too scared to go in. -- DIRECTIONS -- From 395 turn onto Jack Sawyer Road. It'll take ~5 minutes coming from Bridgeport. At the first fork turn left. The road will turn into a dirt road for ~1 mile it's pretty bumpy so drive carefully.. There's a couple forks but just look for the Travertine Hot Springs Signs (which aren't always at the forks you have to look farther sometimes). Eventually you'll reach a parking lot with a toilet. You can park anywhere along the side. From parking lot you will see one spring directly in front. Walk past this one to the left and there should be two rocks slightly blocking an entrance. Walk through these and follow the path and you'll be taken to the other 4 springs. Each of the springs vary in temperature.. one of them was just too hot to get into. The pools are a lot smaller than what I imagined but still very cool. You will just have to share the pools with the others. Definitely worth the trip out!
If you havent heard of Mead Nortton's work now it's time to get to know him! Unlike some sports photographers, Mead covers a wide range of sports. To give aspiring photographers an idea what it’s like to be a working adventure photographer, we interviewed Mead about his work, including what it’s like for him to shoot an event, some shooting tips for aspiring action photographers, and some travel horror stories.
Mead what first drew you to action photography?
I grew up loving sports- I played football competitively and made it to semi-pro level and realised that my athletic abilities would not take me any further but I didn’t want to give up living and interacting with athletes and sports so I turned to documenting sports and athletes with my camera.
How does a photographer get their foot in the door in the action sports photography industry?
As glamorous as it sounds, working as a professional photographer in the action sports industry is quite difficult. 90% of my time is spent in my office on my computer either editing images from my last shoot or emailing potential clients trying to land my next job. To be successful, you need to get your work seen by the decision makers and also you need to have access to good athletes to document.
As a professional photographer when you’re presented with a less than ideal situation, how do you find your subjects and produce images you would be happy with?
My main job as a photographer is not to capture an image with my camera, but to problem solve and when I am presented with less than ideal conditions then I think outside the box to come up a solution to capture an image that both I as an artist and my clients will be happy with. A key factor with that is understanding your camera and lighting equipment so that you don’t waste a lot of time experimenting with settings. Also by planning ahead knowing what kind of looks you are after for each shoot and knowing when the light will be the best for the location you will be shooting at then that also saves a lot of time. In saying that when shooting some sports like Surfing or Skiing, then you are also a bit at the mercy of Mother Nature and having a lot of patience is also a key factor in being a good photographer.
What equipment do you use to captures your footage? What are some of the challenges of using them?
I shoot with a wide range of cameras and have over 45 cameras that I have used in my career including a handbuilt 4x5 camera, pinhole 4x5 cameras (where the negatives are 4 inches by 5 inches), plastic holga medium format cameras, and digital cameras. My main cameras are Canon 5D mkIV which is great for me because it is more portable than the 1D series of cameras and the only reason I am a Canon shooter and not a Nikon shooter is that I started shooting on Canon cameras and have too many lenses to make the switch (If I had started out shooting Nikons, I would be a Nikon shooter). There is not real quality difference between the two brands. I also am using a Fuji XT2 mirrorless camera for when I want something smaller and more compact than my big DSLR Canon and have used that to photograph a 100km ultra run that I ran and documented from a runner’s point of view. I also have a collection of Go Pro cameras that I use as well.
What is the most memorable trip you have had in recent memory? What kind of hidden places did you get to explore?
Probably my biggest trip was my first trip to Nepal and Tibet. I spent six months in Nepal working as an English Teacher in a rural village on the trekking trail to Mt. Everest documenting the life of the students and teachers in the school and while I was there I got to climb a 6,000M mountain and attend a Buddhist festival in a remote village that no other Western visitor has attended and then I spent another month after that in Tibet where I hitchhiked to Nam-Tso Lake, the 3rd most visited holy site for Tibetan Buddhists and spent a week photographing the lake and pilgrims and also attended the Drigun-Til Buddhist Festival where I was one of three westerners in a sea of 15,000 Tibetans.
Any nightmare travel stories?
Nightmare travel stories- I guess it depends on what you consider nightmarish. I had dengue fever when I was in Thailand and spent a week in a hospital there and was almost not allowed to leave until I paid my bill in cash because the hospital would not accept my travel insurance. Only problem was that my wallet and passport were still in the hut I was staying in on a remote island 3 hours away. I finally convinced them to let me go back to the island and pay my bill to the doctor there.
Lost bags, delayed flights, double booked hotels are fairly standard stuff for me when travelling and which is why I always travel with all my camera gear on me and will miss a flight before I gate check any of my gear.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on their first adventure?
The two pieces of advice I have for anyone looking on heading out on an adventure is
1: Know/learn how to use your camera and what all the settings are on it. As good as the auto settings are getting on cameras, they can’t know if you are trying to freeze the action of a mountain biker or taking a nice calm landscape. As one of my photography teachers said, your brain is a much bigger and better computer than the little microchips put inside a camera.
2: Do your research before you go, know what the local customs are, what the rules are about where you can and can’t shoot and be sure to follow those rules and be flexible with your trip. A lot of times if I am just going on an exploratory trip somewhere I book the 1st night in a hotel and then I spend the first day in my new location to explore the area and figure out where I want to be based and I also always talk to the locals to find out their favourite places to visits, go to.
More ADVENTURES highlights
Elizabeth Abbe Roggers Pohono Trail
There is a nice area of campsites just over a small bridge somewhere about halfway between Taft point and Dewey point and very close to the McGurk trail. There was plenty of water in the stream nearby. Drive to the Tunnel View and park across the street from where the tour busses pull in. There is a trail heading up the hill. This trail is not paved, it is dirt and rock and a lot of uphill climbing so watch your footing. The sign says it is about .6 miles up to the Old Stagecoach Road but it feels longer. ONce you reach the old Stagecoach Road there is a sign that indicates a distance up the hill and continuing on the Pohono Trail and up to Glacier Point. We turned left and headed toward Artist's Point there is no sign for this destination. The road is better because it is mostly flatter and wider, some parts were previously paved, but that is broken away mostly. In addition, there are number of downed trees that you must duck under or crawl over. The view once you arrive is stunning. You can clearly see Bridal Veil Falls in the distance. A little ways past the point you come upon a creek with lots of big rocks for climbing on to relax, enjoy the view, and eat lunch if you packed one. It was lovely and quite private. Few people along this trail, makes it nice but hard to know if you're going the right way. We found that we had to back track a couple of times because we weren't sure where to go.
Absolutely incredible hike; might be my favorite anywhere. You're able to hike up alongside and get super close to two massive waterfalls, and the view at the top of both Vernal and Nevada Falls is amazing. The Silver Apron waterslide between Vernal and Nevada is awesome as well. Best time to go is late spring/early summer when the falls are at peak flow. I recommend hiking up the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Falls, then coming down the John Muir Trail part way for a spectacular view of Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and Nevada Falls. There is a spur trail at Clark Point on the JMT that takes you back down to the top of Vernal and the Mist Trail; this route is steeper and you'll get wet a second time, but the scenery is infinitely superior to the walk through the woods on the Muir Trail. The wet rock stairs of the Mist Trail were also not as slippery as I expected; the footing is surprisingly good if you step with care. Descending the paved sand-covered Muir Trail is more dangerous imo than the footing coming down the Mist. There's also a great overlook of Vernal from high above the falls on that Clark Point spur trail. However you go, this hike is an absolute must in Yosemite. It's crowded for a reason