Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Yosemite National Park In May - Part 1: Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Shay Locomotive #10 - Fish Camp, California
Back in May my family and I made a weekend trip to Yosemite National Park to celebrate my birthday and Mother's Day. From our house it is a five-hour drive to Yosemite Valley, so we woke up early in the morning on May 10th and began our journey to one of the most majestic landscapes in America.

The first stop on our trip was the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, which is in Fish Camp just outside of the park along California Highway 41. This is a narrow-gauge excursion railroad that operates two Shay-type steam locomotives. The first train was scheduled to depart at 11 AM and we arrived about an hour before that.

There is a small gift shop next to the tracks--this is where our reserved tickets were waiting. It didn't seem like tickets had to be purchased in advance as there were plenty of empty seats. I'm not sure if it is like this all of the time. There is also a small museum (basically a barely organized collection of old stuff) and a gold-panning area (which costs extra) on the grounds.
Connecting Cars - Fish Camp, California
We spent most of the hour watching the crew add cars to the train. The locomotive would back up, add a couple of cars, then pull forward past a switch, then back up again and get a few more cars off of a different track, then pull forward again. Steam locomotives are quite animated, so that provided us with plenty of entertainment.

There are two types of train cars that the railroad uses and which you can choose between to ride: an open-air logging car and a more traditional covered coach. The logging car seemed pretty cool because they used two large trees--one on each side--to construct the seating. Since we have three young children we thought the security of the coach was preferable.

The train took us on a narrated two mile journey through the Sierra National Forest. It slowly twisted down through some beautiful mountain scenery to a water station, where water was added to the locomotive. Everyone had a chance to get off the train and explore for about 15 minutes before it was time to leave. The narration was both informative and funny.
Pipes & Steam - Fish Camp, California
The roundtrip took one hour to complete. The kids had a blast! The scenery was wonderful and the location peaceful. Overall it was a great stop. It was most definitely worth our time and the cost of the tickets.

There are a bunch of picnic tables next to the gift shop. We enjoyed eating lunch (that we had packed)  before continuing into Yosemite National Park. While we were setting things up, a large tree branch fell off a tall tree and onto the next bench over, hitting with a loud thud. It was frightening! Thankfully no one was hurt. We watched the second train, which departed at 12:30, head down the tracks and disappear into the forest.

Photography was a bit challenging. The midday light was harsh. Shadows were deep and highlights were bright--there was so much contrast! I used a Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 40mm AF-S DX f/2.8G Micro lens attached. The photographs were post-processed using Alien Skin Exposure 7 software.

Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7
Boy Waiting To Board - Fish Camp, California
Roesch Family Waiting To Board - Fish Camp, California
Exposed Threads - Fish Camp, California
Rails Into The Woods - Fish Camp, California
Mom & Son Riding The Rails - Fish Camp, California
Three Young Riders - Fish Camp, California
Water Replenishment - Fish Camp, California
The Sierra National Forest - Fish Camp, California
Young & Old - Fish Camp, California
The Conductor - Fish Camp, California

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