Scenic USA - California

Tracing the Footstep of Ansel Adams
(Lower Merced River)

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Lower Merced River - Redbud Picnic Site, CA

Photo by Paul Petersen
Lands End Photograpy
Inset photo by Ian Parker

     Ansel Adams, born a gifted child in 1902, went on to excel in just about all his life's endeavors. With a passion for music, Adams became a renowned pianist, as well as a dedicated husband and father, writer and humanitarian. To most Americans that recognize the Ansel Adams name, he was a legendary photographer. Toting sixty pounds of photography equipment, including a 30 pound large format camera, Adams photographed Glacier National Park and Sequoia National Monument, but will be forever linked with Yosemite National Park. Producing images for over a half century, the Adams signature photographs include intimate details, and some of the best examples of composition and contrast. Whether it was a close up of nature or a dramatic mountain scene, Adams set the standards in black and white photography.
     Beginning at 8000 feet elevation in California's Clark Range, the Merced River heads in a westerly direction over two distinct branches. From Merced Lake, the northern river continues through Little Yosemite Valley and begins to drop at what is often called the Giant Staircase. The river cuts through granite on its way to a 595 foot high Nevada Falls. The next plunge is the beautiful 317 foot Vernal Falls, Merced River - Yosemite Valley, California the final step of this staircase before the Merced approaches Yosemite Valley. The more famous north fork then flows through Yosemite Valley at a much slower pace. The National Park Service recently released its new management plan allowing paddlers into the Merced as it passes through Yosemite Valley. After securing a permit, 45 boaters per day will be able to run the entire length of Yosemite Valley, enjoying the incredible scenery just as sightseers on foot or horseback.
     In this Yosemite scene, where the Wild and Scenic Merced River plunges toward the plains, this enterprising photographer retraces the steps of Ansel Adams. This section of the Merced west of the park, with its killer Class IV and V+ rapids creates an Adams style study in contrast. Yosemite's ponderosa pine forest, with its deep dark shadows, gives the gleaming white rapids a place on center stage. Here on the Merced, kayaker's terms bad eddy, punching a hole, a swim, pour-over and high flume, will continue to stir the viewer's imagination on this remarkable Yosemite scene.

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