Words & Photography by Emanuel Hahn
Recently I was in San Francisco for a wedding and on a whim, I posted on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in doing a quick trip to Yosemite. Two of my friends (David and Melody) were down and we quickly worked out the logistics.
Yosemite was one of those places I had heard about but couldn’t quite envision in my head. The first thing that struck me was the name Yosemite, which literally means “those who kill”. I knew that Yosemite had a special, almost spiritual, place in the hearts of Californians, and wanted to find out why for myself.
The trip was eventful – On the first night, David and I were driving down from Glacier Point towards the Valley when it started to snow, in June! We prayed that we would clear the snow before it got too heavy but alas we saw the snow slowly starting to pile up on the road. The snow got heavier and our visibility was reduced to barely 10 feet ahead of us. We saw cars ahead of us skidding off the road and we just hoped that we would not be like them. However, it was not meant to be: our car started skidding of the road and soon our back wheels were stuck off the road and we couldn’t get back on. We were blocking about 15 cars behind us and soon a ranger came over to tell us to stay put and that snowplows and a towtruck (for us) would be on their way.
After 6 hours, the snowplows finally arrived and cleared the roads. The tow truck arrived soon after and brought us to down to the garage in the Valley. We then drove another 3 hours back to our Airbnb, which we discovered was in the middle of an off-the-map dirt road. We arrived at 6am and immediately passed out.
The next day, our friend Melody drove down from San Francisco and joined us at Yosemite. The weather proved to be much friendlier (in the high 70s F) and the rest of the trip was much more enjoyable. The highlight of the trip was sunset at Glacier Point, which provides an incredible view of Half Dome and the rest of the Valley. The way the light at sunset hits the peaks provides for very interesting photos.
The overall experience of being there was sublime. When I witnessed the grandeur of El Capitan and Half Dome, I was speechless. I felt tiny and powerless in comparison to the vastness and scale of sheer rock I was standing in front of, even if it was from a viewing deck. I understood why Yosemite was so special even though there had been other more visually pleasing national parks I had been to. There’s something about the enduring solidity of the mountains that reminds us of our own fragility and transient lives.
Film | Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Ektar 100
Camera | Canon A-1
Lab | The Color House
Emanuel Hahn is a commercial and editorial photographer specializing in portraiture based in Brooklyn, NY. As a third-culture kid that grew up in Korea, Singapore and Cambodia, Emanuel is fascinated by the stories rich in cultural experiences and travel.