Friday, April 1, 2011

A New Spot (for me, at least) to see Half Dome from the Central Valley

Half Dome is one of the iconic peaks that surrounds Yosemite Valley, and is photographed millions of times every year. Although it is a prominent landmark from the floor of Yosemite Valley (it looms more than 4,000 feet above the valley), it can fade to an insignificant knob in a larger view that encompassess the Sierra Nevada crest that reaches another 5,000 feet higher.

As such, it has been a minor controversy about whether Half Dome can be seen from the floor of the Central Valley. The Yosemite Blog raised the issue a while back, and it seemed more or less settled that it could be seen from the valley floor along a narrow strip of land that runs through the Denair area. I caught a picture of my own from a spot near the corner of Keyes Road and Hickman Road north of Turlock in November of 2009 (it's at the bottom of this post). Just the same, I still see the occasional skeptic on the Internet who insists that all the pictures are photoshop fakes (as if I had any such skill...).

I was out and about today and found a new spot to view Half Dome from the floor of the Central Valley. I wasn't sure at first, but I took a highly zoomed shot, and checked it against a picture I took from above Bagby Grade on Highway 49 along the same visual line. If you compare the two, you can see the prominent peak of Clouds Rest on the skyline left of center, and the shadowed triangular face of Half Dome on the right.
If you want to see the same spot, you need to get to Turlock Road (County Road J17) between Oakdale Road and Highway 59 at the little village of Hopeton. You'll need a clear day! As noted above, this is the view from Keyes Road that I took a few years ago. The higher peaks behind were obscured at the time by some distant storm clouds (the whole sky was overcast, even though it appears blue in the photo).

Postscript: I just realized I posted this on April Fool's Day, but it isn't a prank! To see what kinds of things I do for April 1, check this, this, and this...