As the stars began to appear the moon rose in the sky. At this altitude you can see the stars so well they don't have to compete with the bright moon to be seen. I was pleasantly surprised to spot the Andromeda Galaxy rising just above and to the left of Half Dome. Haze from a nearby wildfire filled the night time sky and concentrated in the valley below adding an orange hue to the normally white granite of Yosemite Valley casting an eerie light on the valley.

The fires this year have been harsh and massive and much of the fire season is left to go. The Rim Fire still burns on the north eastern side of Yosemite and I plan to head out to film it if I can see it tonight. Fires are a normal process for the Sierra forests but as with everything, moderation is best. This year was particularly dry and it will take literally hundreds of years for much of the burnt forests to recover. In the meantime other plants will flourish in the remains of the once dense forest. Still, the drive from San Francisco to Yosemite will not be the same wonderful trek through pristine forests.

© Darvin Atkeson

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app