Waterfall Wednesday. Due to the winter drought, Firefall did not occured this year and if it did it is forever changed due to the rock fall.
February 25, 2017 Entry:
Every year in the second half of the month of February, when the last light at sunset is filtered by the surrounding monoliths of Yosemite Valley into a narrow beam of light that projects onto Horsetail Falls on the side of El Capitan, for just 10 minutes Firefalls is revealed.
For this nature lightshow to happen, three conditions have to perfectly occur simultaneously.
First, there has to be sufficient snowpack on top of El Capitan.
Second, the temperature on top of the mountain should be just above freezing so as to melt the snowpack to create a waterfall since there is no basin or reservoir on top of El Capitan.
Third, the sky in front of the sun at sunset has to be clear of any clouds or haze.
This past saturday was the last weekend of February and for some reason in my gut feeling I felt I will be able to witness this natural phenomenon if I could just get there. So off I drove for 8 hours to get to Yosemite.
It was a beautiful sunny day at Yosemite and clear blue skies with interesting but minimal cloud formation all day. I stake my location early so as to get the best available spot. Crowds of photographers as far as Europe soon showed up. Everyone was civil and it became a lively group.
The sun was illuminating the face of El Cap for the rest of the afternoon, however, 30 minutes to sunset, banks of clouds started moving overhead and the sunlight on El Cap faded away. Everyone was in a state of tension and anticipation, because there were numerous occasions in these 2 weeks that it's either hazy, raining so hard, or a "rogue" cloud was at the wrong place at the right time. After 10 minutes of no illumination, people were starting to pack up and leave. I was just at peace knowing in my gut that this amazing phenomenon has to and will happen. I kept looking through my view finder using my zoom lens to see any signs of illumination. Then, I saw an intense yellow coloration at the bottom of the falls and it was steadily light up the whole length of the falls until it turned reddish.