In our explorations of Yosemite, we saw our share of crowds in the typical spots. The DSLR revolution has put a LOT of good cameras in a lot of hands, it's both inspiring and scary to think of all the amazing images that are being created everyday...I'm sure there's a lot of crap too, but that's just the way it is in a democratic photographic world, where the playing field is leveled by the low cost of quality tools. It's a good thing; now the real determining factors to making good images is your own drive to learn and practice and develop your vision. Sometimes this drive may require you to go where the others aren't, to get a fresh perspective, a scene that you can't just pull up to in a car (although there's about a million amazing pictures you can get from your car WINDOW in Yosemite).
That was our thinking when we embarked to Sierra Point, a formerly popular vista overlooking the Happy Isles and John Muir Trails. According to the website we used to find the route, it used to be a well maintained trail till a rockslide took out a section some time ago. One ranger told us outright when we mentioned it that we "would never find it." I plugged in several way points in my GPS unit to help us find the trail, especially the point at which you leave the main paved trail to head up the side of the mountain. We found that point fairly easily and set off right up thru a massive boulder field, which, it turns out, was well marked with rock cairns and a discernible trail. In fact, the whole trail was really easy to follow and it seemed that it was often hiked. Nevertheless, we saw no one else on our Sierra Point hike, nor did anyone else appear at the Point itself as we held it down for three or so hours, shooting timelapses and stills with the Canon 5Dmk2 and 7D, taking naps, eating sardine bagel sandwiches.
Below us, looking like the were a mile away (but probably only 1000 ft), we could see everyone else hiking up the trail we had left, hiking up to Vernal and Nevada Falls. We could see both from our vantage, as well as Illilouette Falls and the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls in the opposite direction. Needless to say, we were happy with ourselves. Looking back, it does make some sense that we didn't see anyone else...the trail, though easy to follow, was not an easy hike. Quite brutally steep, in fact, which can suck both ways for different reasons.
The posted shot is a basic stitched panoramic from the old railing viewpoint. It's a bit misleading, being that its made up enough shots to cover about 200 degrees of view. They have to be warped and compressed together a bit to make an image that isn't completely distorted around the center. This makes it look as if you could take in that whole scene just facing in that direction, which was not the case; The evidence is in the shot, the railing on the left and right corners is actually the same piece, in fact the right side end is at a full 90 degree angle to the left side piece that faces out to the valley...it's hard to imagine, so here's a shot that may help.
Pete on the right side there has his hand on the railing that's on the right end of the posted panoramic, and Brian on the far left is standing in the junction that's on the left side of the panoramic. Doesn't do it justice.