An astonishing event occurred in Yosemite National Park, Calif. where it appeared that a waterfall suddenly turned to fire and magma began to pour off the cliff of Horsetail Fall.
There is a relatively short time period that a person can see this natural wonder. In mid-February, if the winter weather is appropriate, the setting sun illuminates one of the lesser known waterfalls at just the right angle that it appears as if molten lava is flowing down stream and over the edge.
Every year since 1973, when the natural occurrence was first discovered by Galen Rowell, a number of photographers, nature enthusiasts and curious on-lookers hope to get a glimpse of the rare site.
Horsetail is so uniquely situated that I don't know of any other waterfall on earth that gets that kind of light, said Michael Frye, who wrote the book The Photographer's Guide to Yosemite, according to the Associated Press. How many are perched on a high open cliff? Most are in an alcove or canyon and won't get the sun setting behind it. Yosemite's special geography makes this fall distinctive.
Photographing the Horsetail Fall is very difficult. Astronomy, physics and geometry must be taken into account before a photographer can snap a picture. They must determine the degrees of earth's orbit relative to the sun and look for the lowest angle of light in order for the camera to properly capture the orange colors of the sunset reflecting off the waterfall, reported the Associated Press.
If you hit it at just the right time, it turns this amazing color of gold or red-orange, said Frye, a photo instructor with the Ansel Adams Gallery in the park.
It takes a little bit of luck and proper timing in order to properly view the lava. Horsetail Fall drains a small area of the El Capitan summit only in winter and spring when there is enough rain and snowfall. But experts said that it does not take a lot of water to light up the falls. The southwestern horizon must be completely clear. And it appears that it is clear enough during the same two weeks in February, when storm clouds haze the rays of the setting sun.
Park officials are hopeful that the lava will last through February 24, which is usually the last day of the year that it can be seen.
There's no comparison, and I've seen both, said park spokesman Scott Gediman, according to AP. The natural activities and occurrences in Yosemite are far more amazing and more valuable than the human-made ones - everything from a sunset to wildlife to rainbows at Vernal Fall. There are a lot of amazing things, and they're here year after year.