Oct 29, 2007

Sentinel Dome, Jeffrey Pine in Yosemite

Yosemite Valley in the Fall

Last night I returned from my first visit to Yosemite. I went up with Cristin and a group of Googlers, ate dinner in the dark atop Glacier Point, spent the night in a tent on the valley floor, and then hiked Sentinel Dome. Cristin took this amazing photo (and several others) from the valley of the mountain formation that I think was called "Three Brothers". The entire trip was memorable, but I'll write a little more detail about Sentinel Dome, as it is a little less of the "been there done that" story.
Jeffrey Pine on Sentinel Dome in Yosemite

Yosemite's Sentinel Dome is the second highest point in the main Yosemite Valley (Update: I had said the park, but this is untrue as an astute reader pointed out), other than Half Dome. While Half Dome gets hundreds of visitors daily, we hiked the far easier trail to Sentinel Dome and saw maybe a half dozen people on the trail total. It is definitely not a popular spot despite the fact that it has a 360 degree view of the valley, and a short 2 mile (one way) hike from the parking lot. It is considered by some to be the best place in the continental US to see the night stars. It is also from here that Ansel Adams took one his most famous photograph of the Sentinel Dome Jeffrey Pine. It has since become one of the most photographed trees in the country.

Jeffrey Pine on Sentinel Dome in Yosemite

The left image is Ansel Adams' photo, the right image was one taken in 2002. In the intervening years, there was a severe drought. Visitors to Sentinel Dome hauled buckets of water to the dome to water the tree, to no avail. The right picture is the tree after the drought. Some time in August 2003, the tree fell over in the wind. The image above of myself and Pedro is what it looks like today, just a log really. Sad, in fact there is some pocketknife carving on the side you can't see in the image. Still, it is quite a sight on top of the bare granite that is Sentinel Dome.

I have to wonder why this trail isn't more popular. It seems like one of Yosemite's rare secrets.


Ambitious said...

You said:
"Yosemite's Sentinel Dome is the second highest point in the park, other than Half Dome."

Mt. Lyell is the highest point in the park. Did you mean above the valley?

Sentinel Dome is one of my favorite places for a long drive and short hike.

I think it's rarely visited because most folks go for the grand view at Glacier Point instead; It offers paved walking paths, and a shorter distance from the parking lot to the final pay off of the view.

Last August I took the time to drive up there after work to photograph the lunar eclipse. I'm hoping I can do the same next February for the eclipse of the rising moon, but I doubt I'll be able to due to snow.

I hope you enjoyed your trip, and I look forward to reading your blog in the future.


Greg said...

You are right, I meant the valley. I corrected the post.

In other news, the photo at the top of this post was featured as Photo of the Day at Yosemite Blog. I sent in the photo, and was incorrectly credited with taking it, when in reality my fiance took it.

Ambitious said...

Yes, I saw the photo on Yosemite Blog. Your fiance has a good eye! It's a good shot.

I am one of the contributors on Yosemite Blog. Would you like me to let Loyd know your fiance's name so he can correct it there?


Greg said...

I'd love it. Her name is Cristin McCain.

Shane said...

Nice write up. We recently hiked Sentinel Dome and I agree that its wonderful. I took a bunch of photos but one of my favorites is this shot looking towards Half Dome from Sentinel Dome.