Winter Comes to Yosemite--and The Belt of Venus

Last weekend I hiked up to the Lake of the Domes in 55F weather, wearing shorts and t-shirt. Yesterday, gloves, hats and a few layers were required in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite as winter had definitley arrived. The recent storm had left a layer of snow that did not quite cover all of the peaks, leaving the mountains looking a bit like an unfinished painting.

Saddlebag Lake (photo by Beth Pratt)

Tuolumne Meadows (photo by Beth Pratt)

At sunset, a pink and purple hued sky appeared in the east over Tenaya Lake and Mount Conness, a vivid and rich color that seemed to vibrate above the white granite. I generally referred to it as alpenglow, but Steve Bumgardner, the Yosemite filmmaker, told me it was actually an atmospheric phenomena called The Belt of Venus. Next time you are watching the sunset, turn to the east and see if you can spot the backscattered red sunlight that causes the brownish to pink wedge in the sky named after the Roman goddess, Venus.

The Belt of Venus over Tenaya Lake (photo by Beth Pratt)