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Fall on the summit of the Sierras creates a subtle palette of ochra, sienna, and umbers next to the deep forest greens beneath broken skies of a winter storm as it approaches. Patches of blue shine through as the sun casts shadows on the highest peaks of the Yosemite. I've always loved this view of the summit with its shrubs and grasses. Deep snowfall prevents the heartiest of pines from reaching any significant height. The browns of Fall colors atop the highest passes may not have held the bright colors of Fall that led us to film the Eastern Sierra but the captivating scenery never ceases to amaze. As you climb up the steep ravine and cliffs of Tioga Pass the jagged rocks slowly give way this serene view just prior to the eastern gate of Yosemite National Park. Once through the gate, the scenery changes dramatically once more as you begin to descend in to the forests above Tuolumne Meadows.

I've seen this panorama since I was a young child vacationing each year in Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows. It marked the highly anticipated beginning of our arrival in Yosemite and always marked the last bittersweet view of the High Sierra as we made our way back down the pass towards home in Southern California. I finally decided to take some pictures of this favorite location and the colors didn't let me down. Snow would begin to fall a few hours later closing the pass behind us as we made our way home to San Francisco.

The peak in the center, though it towers above the meadow, is just one of the lower ridges of the much larger Mt. Dana. Off the right of the image lays the eastern gate to Yosemite. Just off picture to the left, the High Sierra lays a small lake named Tioga. To capture the entire panorama I took 13 hand held images and stitched them together to create a detailed shot of about 176 Megapixels or at 300 DPI, 6.5 feet wide and 2 feet tall. The camera used is a Nikon D800E landscape camera with a 24x70mm f/2.8 lens. And though the golden hues look warm, I can attest that the temperatures were well below freezing at the time in strong winds. Burr!!!!

© Darvin Atkeson

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