A year ago this month I got to fulfill a long-time dream: my brother Jared and I spent three days and two nights backpacking in Yosemite National Park, culminating in a climb to the top of famed Half Dome. I’ve intended ever since to celebrate the occasion with some artwork but, the tyranny of the urgent being such as it is, only within the last few days have I been able (prompted both by the anniversary and a bit of a lull in paying work) to produce the first of what I hope will eventually be several pieces on the subject.
This illustration was executed on scratchboard with watercolor. The view is toward the west-facing mouth of the valley as seen from the lower end of the Wawona Tunnel. There are three different roads that lead into the valley, but this one, which connects to Hwy. 41 towards Oakhurst and Fresno, provides the most spectacular and dramatic view all the way up the length of the valley. Take this route into the park, and you’re just driving along through wooded hillsides and then, all of a sudden you turn a corner, there’s a break in the trees, and there it is—and you realize that all the paintings and photographs you’ve ever seen of it haven’t even come within fifty miles of preparing you for the arresting beauty and overpowering immensity of what is presented to you at that moment. El Capitan thrusts its enormous bulk straight up into the sky, Bridalveil Fall thunders, and Half Dome, that most peculiarly-shaped mountain, transfixes your gaze, beckons, and looms large, even from a distance of seven miles.