In mid-winter, the sun never reaches over the south rim of the valley. Snowdrifts pile up at the base of the cliffs. Trees on the south side of the valley that are frosted with an overnight snow can remain coated with ice all day. Directly across the Merced River from El Capitan is a wide meadow covered with young cedars. When the morning sun reflects off the bronze-colored granite wall of El Capitan, it casts a golden glow across the meadow and lights the snow-frosted cedars. It’s a magical place for a few days each winter. In mid-winter, ice-covered ponds on the meadows become fantasies of crystals and reflections in the early morning when the rising sun bounces off canyon walls. You will find the same reflections at the end of the day, but the ice will have melted. In the morning, the trees are wearing a coat of fresh snow. The sky is usually clear and intensely blue. I like to start my day in Yosemite on the valley meadows and end it on the valley overlooks.
Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.