The moment the sun rises like a stage curtain, washing the whole of Yosemite in warm light and casting dramatic long shadows, you know this is going to be a good video. And then it goes beyond the typical timelapse stuff, following a mounted ranger as he starts his day, peeking over the shoulders of artists as they paint iconic landmarks and checking in with the quirky postal "maestro" at the Tuolumne Meadows Post Office, who resupplies hungry, foot-weary PCT hikers who've come 947 miles to see this. There's a father-son climb of Cathedral Peak, a helicopter rescue on Half Dome and a behind-the-scenes look at the Ahwahnee's buzzing, clinking upscale dining room. There's even a Red Bull-worthy flight with hang glider pilots as they ride thermals bird-like over the valley ("God's church," as one pilot says, paraphrasing John Muir). And all of it, unbelievably, happens in a single day.
The video, captured by 30 photographer-filmmakers on June 26, 2012, is the latest installment of Yosemite Nature Notes, a series produced by former park ranger Steven "Yosemite Steve" Bumgardner. Its 15 minutes tell a deeply human story of one of America's greatest wild, natural places, and does an awesome job of weaving the two seemingly-at-odds storylines together in a way that reflects what the whole National Parks system represents: Humanity and nature as codependents working together for mutual preservation. Set your computer for full-screen, HD mode and let 'er rip.