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Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge

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avatar Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 18, 2010 12:19PM
I was in the valley last weekend 7/10-11. I've been meaning for some time to check out Sunnyside Bench trail and see how far up towards Fern Ledge I could get.

I didn't get anywhere near Fern Ledge, in fact I never left Sunnyside Bench trail, but I did get all the way across to the top of Lower Yosemite Fall. As you can see in these videos you can get awfully close, suicidally close I'd say.

To get to the trail I rode the shuttle bus and got off at the Lower Yosemite Fall stop. I started the walk up to the bridge. You get to a junction where left takes you to the Lower Yosemite Falls bridge, and right goes up hill along the Valley Loop trail. I went uphill on the trail passing NPS employee residential housing on the right. You're in forest the entire time. You get past the housing and reach a couple of stock trails "Government Stock Only" heading down to the stables. As you reach the top of the hill and the trail flattens out you'll see the stables downslope on the right. You come out of the forest and have a creek gully and boulder tumble upslope on the left. Head uphill between the creek gully and boulder tumble. You should quickly find a climbers usage trail that'll be pretty clear the whole way across the bench to the top of the falls. I found the trail pretty easy to follow and safe for the most part. If you run into any trails going up stick with the lower one. The trail skirts the cliff face and is fairly exposed in a few places, so be careful and don't slip or else!

Slide Show of Photos

First good spot looking down at the precipice




Another video from the first good spot looking down at the precipice




I managed to work my way up the slabs up the gully to get a better look at the first upstream pool.




A few traverses across the slabs and grass spots took me a bit farther down/closer to the water.




Afterwards I just wanted to cool off. The breeze coming off the lower falls at the bridge was close and seemed like a nice spot. I sat there watching the tourists. Can you see the rope hanging off of Lost Arrow? The railing at Yosemite Point?


avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 19, 2010 07:15AM
THANKS!

Very very cool.

Can you detail (w/map perhaps) of where exactly Oh-My-Gosh Lookout/railing is?
(maybe draw in your route too please)

Yosemite Creek looked way down this weekend. Looks like you hit it at a really nice time.
(and it was HOT even at 8K+)

Thanks again. Great shots
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 19, 2010 10:02AM
Quote
bill-e-g

Can you detail (w/map perhaps) of where exactly Oh-My-Gosh Lookout/railing is?
(maybe draw in your route too please)

Thanks again. Great shots

Isn't Oh-My-Gosh Lookout the (unsigned, of course) viewpoint that's just off the (upper) Yosemite Falls trail? The short spur trail to this lookout branches down from the main trail about 50 yards before the metal gate at the end of the traverse from Columbia Rock to the final set of switchbacks (if heading up-trail) . There is fairly obvious rockwork along the trail, which ends at a small lookout with a railing that overlooks the lower falls.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 19, 2010 10:31AM
Ok, The videos are now 'public' on youtube so everyone can see them.

There are 4 railings with amazing views on the Upper Yosemite Falls trail.
) Columbia Rock
) Oh-My-Gosh ( I've always called it Lower Falls overlook but I recently came across this name )
) Upper Falls overlook
) Yosemite Point

Columbia Rock and Yosemite Point are right on the trail and pretty obvious. The other two much less so.

You may think you've gotten to the Upper Falls overlook, but if you haven't leaned over a railing and looked at Yosemite Creek going over an edge into open air then you've missed it.
Slideshow of the Upper Falls area/Overlook

If you think you're there and don't see a railing, look to the left toward Half Dome, Lost Arrow, and Yosemite Point. Look for a trail that goes down the slabs.

Oh-My-Gosh is at the end of an unmarked trail spur off of Upper Yosemite Falls trail. As you're hiking up the trail you come around a left turn corner in the trail and get your first view of Upper Yosemite Falls. Turn around and start walking downtrail. As you go right around the corner, look downslope on your left. You'll see a rocky trail going down.
Slideshow of Oh-My-Gosh

I haven't managed to capture this entire view in a single photo. It's just too BIG!
I don't know why NPS hides this spot. Although it is pretty small. They may not want crowds for safety reasons.

I thought the hike was pretty easy. But I also think I hit it at a good time. A month ago the slabs above Lower Falls precipice would have been covered in water and slick as ice. I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere as near as I was able to this trip. The meadows would have been slick marshes.
I also think I stuck with the easy part of the trail. I didn't head up the slabs towards Fern Ledge. If people talk about how dangerous it is, or have died up there, I think it's much more likely they're talking about the slabs above Sunnyside Bench. I was only on class 1 or 2, the slabs above are class 3 or 4.

On the other hand you always have to be carefull and know your own limits. It's SSSSOOOO easy to die in Yosemite!

I'm making it seem easy. For another perspective read Fern Ledge: John Muir's Yosemite Falls



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2010 10:38AM by qumqats.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 19, 2010 10:57AM
Thanks!

Yup. Walked by that darn lookout quite a number of times. The other 3 are fairly obvious.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 19, 2011 07:58AM
I think you can only capture this view if you do a panorama. This image was taken in June but it was a cloudy day. My friend made a special bracket to clamp to the railing so the camera could look down without getting the railing in the image but it wasn't optimum. We hope to get it right on a sunny day in 2012.





Panoramic Images - http://panoramas.aa6g.org/
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 19, 2011 09:12AM
That's a nice shot!

I took a vertical panorama, in camera, from that point in 2010. Barely got both the upper and lower falls and just a smidge of the railing in the lower left corner.
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 10:04AM
Quote
Calaveras
I think you can only capture this view if you do a panorama. This image was taken in June but it was a cloudy day. My friend made a special bracket to clamp to the railing so the camera could look down without getting the railing in the image but it wasn't optimum. We hope to get it right on a sunny day in 2012.

Good shot. Should have done some darker exposures of the sky so you could either mask them in, or do an HDR.
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 11:30AM
Quote
hotrod4x5
Quote
Calaveras
I think you can only capture this view if you do a panorama. This image was taken in June but it was a cloudy day. My friend made a special bracket to clamp to the railing so the camera could look down without getting the railing in the image but it wasn't optimum. We hope to get it right on a sunny day in 2012.

Good shot. Should have done some darker exposures of the sky so you could either mask them in, or do an HDR.

ACK! NO HDR!!!! NO. H. D. R.!!!!!!!!!!
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 11:45AM
This could have benefited from a controlled moderate application of HDR. A good HDR shot is one where you don't notice that it's HDR.

In this case the best solution would be to get a good sunny day shot to begin with . . . however! . . . you don't always have a choice, you shoot what's there when you're there.

The problem with trying to capture this location is that it's too deep. The lower portion of this photo is badly distorted and I'm not sure there's any way around it. The view isn't too bad width wise, but it's very tall! You're looking almost straight down at the bottom of the falls and the cascades to the bridge.

Never the less . . GOOD WORK!!
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 12:47PM
HDR, when done RIGHT is not detectable. I am not a fan of cartoon HDR, but this shot has a blown out sky and HDR could have brought that back.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 07:34PM
I think it is debatable whether HDR is really necessary with a modern digital camera. There are other techniques to deal with the shadow areas.

1) Shoot RAW so you have access to the full bit depth of the camera. Then when you stretch the shadow areas it will be less noisy and less posterized.

2) If #1 is not good enough, shoot multiple exposures and stack them. We do this routinely in astrophotography to reduce noise and recover faint details. Shoot 8 or 16 identical frames in deep shadow areas and use Apply Image in Photoshop to average them. This will give you 2.8 or 4 times reduction in noise. PS only allows averaging 2 frames at a time so you need a power of 2 frames to do it. Astrophotography has special software that allows averaging any number of frames. I've done 100+ frames for very faint objects.

3) If #1 and #2 are still not enough, then you can use Noise Ninja to reduce the noise.

I'm sure HDR is great if you're shooting just one frame, but it must be a real pain if you're shooting a 40 frame panorama. It seems to me that it would be much easier to click off 8 frames in the few places that need it and spend a few extra minutes stacking those frames before assembling the panorama.



Panoramic Images - http://panoramas.aa6g.org/
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 03:32PM
Quote
qumqats
This could have benefited from a controlled moderate application of HDR. A good HDR shot is one where you don't notice that it's HDR.

In this case the best solution would be to get a good sunny day shot to begin with . . . however! . . . you don't always have a choice, you shoot what's there when you're there.

The problem with trying to capture this location is that it's too deep. The lower portion of this photo is badly distorted and I'm not sure there's any way around it. The view isn't too bad width wise, but it's very tall! You're looking almost straight down at the bottom of the falls and the cascades to the bridge.

Never the less . . GOOD WORK!!

Actually, a better solution would have been to have a day with a lot of puffy white clouds. Just plain blue is about as much to work with as the just plain gray that's shown here.

And badly distorted? Where? The bridge at lower falls, for example, looks fine to me.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 04:23PM
Okay, a couple of comments. The sky is not blown out. HDR would have made no difference. The sky was uniform diffused white. There was no detail to be had. Second, yes the bottom is distorted. It has to do with the way Photoshop assembles the images. I'm not sure what to do about that. I commented above that we plan to go back next year when the falls are good on a sunny day. We will also have a modified bracket that allows the camera to hang farther over the railing and maybe get more of the scene below to reduce the distortion.

This is most difficult panoramic spot I've tried to shoot because of the vertical nature of the scene. I didn't put much time into this image because I knew it wasn't optimum. Sometimes you have to visit these spots 2 or 3 times to get just what you want. Other times it comes out great on the first try. You'll find much better images on my web site.

Here are two images from this past Tuesday. I haven't formatted them for my web site yet. These were taken from the bluff above Upper Cathedral Lake at about 10,050'. It's not the ridge that lies between Cathedral Peak and Echo Peaks but about half way up to that spot. Both of these images are tiny versions of the actual images. The Cathedral Peak image is just about perfect for a 40" x 30" print at 300 dpi and the wide pan would make a 94" x 25" print at 300 dpi.







Panoramic Images - http://panoramas.aa6g.org/
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 22, 2011 12:17AM
Quote
Calaveras
Okay, a couple of comments. The sky is not blown out. HDR would have made no difference. The sky was uniform diffused white. There was no detail to be had. Second, yes the bottom is distorted. It has to do with the way Photoshop assembles the images. I'm not sure what to do about that.


By any chance, have you ever played around with Microsoft's Photosynth? http://photosynth.net/


avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 22, 2011 07:39AM
Quote
plawrence

By any chance, have you ever played around with Microsoft's Photosynth? http://photosynth.net/



No. Although I have Windows 7 running under Parallels on my iMac, I only run a few programs that I absolutely have to.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 07:17PM
Quote
qumqats
HDR. HDR HDR.

OK, OK. WTF is HDR????



Old Dude
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 07:33PM
Quote
mrcondron
Quote
qumqats
HDR. HDR HDR.

OK, OK. WTF is HDR????


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging

(Funny... Condron doesn't sound Polish. Got changed coming through Ellis? Marmot )



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/2011 07:41PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 07:47PM
Quote
szalkowski
Quote
mrcondron
Quote
qumqats
HDR. HDR HDR.

OK, OK. WTF is HDR????


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging

(Funny... Condron doesn't sound Polish. Got changed coming through Ellis? Marmot )

I was forced to google HDR. In the old days I used 5254 film and this HRD crap wasn't a problem.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 08:36PM
Quote
mrcondron
I used 5254 film

I just might cry.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 20, 2011 08:35PM
Quote
mrcondron
Quote
qumqats
HDR. HDR HDR.

OK, OK. WTF is HDR????

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 24, 2011 08:52AM
It's 6 or 7 years since I last did upper Yose Falls. I found the stairs down to the overlook but, at least when I was there, the first part consisted of very narrow stairs directly next to the Creek with no railing on either side (there was, of course, a rock face to the left (as you descended) but nothing you could get much of a grip on). That kind of freaked me out and, after trying to go down on my butt, I got too shaky and turned around I see railing in your pictures...is that new or does the railing start a bit further down the stairs? (I know the railing down at the overlook itself was there at the time since my wife managed to get down there but I'm talking about the railing when you first come around the bend and are walking parallel to the Creek).
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 19, 2010 08:10AM
Great videos, thanks for sharing. Any particular reason you have them unlisted? No one besides us and whoever else you give the link to will be able to see them. I am sure lots of Yosemite lovers would like to see these.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
July 19, 2010 08:27AM
Just a note: Sunnyside Bench has seen a very large number of fatalities over the years.
I presume that it's the location of a fatality earlier this year too.

Take a look in "Death in Yosemite" book, it's listed numerous times.

(what is a simple walk for qumquats may be the hike of their life for others... )

Know your own limits... yadda yadda yadda
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 17, 2011 09:19PM
Excellent vids of YF, thanks.
Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 21, 2011 06:47AM
Of course, HDR is next to impossible when doing a multi image panorama. As far as this image, don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful perspective and pano. I hate plain white, over cast skies, but even with those, there is detail that can be had. The reason I said it was blown out was because when I look at the ridgeline of Halfdome and the immediate area, there seems to be some edge bleed going on.
avatar Re: Sunnyside Bench Hike: trail description and videos from the edge
October 22, 2011 06:02AM
Quote
hotrod4x5
Of course, HDR is next to impossible when doing a multi image panorama. . . . snip . . .

hogwash!!

Of course it's NOT impossible!

It might be more difficult, but with the right setup and software it's quite easy.
I do it all the time with my spherical panoramics, 6 sets of 3. They stitch together quite easily in PtGUI. I've just started using Autopano, but I imagine it's just as easy.
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