The sugar maple in Old Yosemite Village is at its peak color. Our native deciduous oaks, maples and especially dogbane are also colorful now. The Merced is below average at 18 cfs, but will be starting its annual rise tonight. We hope that Yosemite Falls will return to visible flow this weekend.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Bucks have lost their velvet. Dogwoods sport bright red berries. The river dropped to 30 cfs (and bumped up a bit from recent high country precip). There were hints of snow in/above Tuolumne. Indian hemp is turning its brightest yellow, but oaks, maples and cottonwoods are still green. Lower down, the poison oak is nearly bare now.
Lyell 'Glacier' continues to shrink away; last winter's roughly normal snowfall did not grow the ice much. Our bighorn sheep herds are doing well. The past 2+ weeks have shown a steady sequence of small, shallow earthquakes beneath the southern Clark Range. Our fire season has been minimal; one lightning fire started 12 June near Chilnualna Lake and has crept through only about 300 acres in 3 months- the kind of low-intensity fire we need more of.
Traffic flow in the Valley is exciting at the moment, with construction on the road and parking in the Yosemite Village day parking area. If you come for a visit between now and next spring, you'll find some disruptions to driving and parking, but the end result should be a nice improvement. Also in the spring, Mariposa Grove will reopen to the public - great changes are taking place there, too.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Tanagers, grosbeaks and vireos fill the canopies with song. Mallard ducklings are paddling the quiet waters already. Flickers and hairies are in/out of nest cavities now. Bears are active at most elevations.
Pent up interest in real winter (after 4 dry years), in serious waterfalls, promotion of the NPS centennial, and likely some other factors have boosted visitation to levels that are at times uncomfortable. As of late April we were up a shocking 40% over last year, making some park staff concerned about the coming summertime crowds. Weekends have featured mile-long entrance gate lines, slow crawls through Valley gridlock, full parking lots and much disappointment all around. During this busy past week, however, I did three all-day hikes in the park and saw not one single person the whole time, just bears, flowers and peaks.
It is not hard to avoid the congestion if you start early and seek out remote routes. Leave your car in a gateway town and take the YARTS bus to the Valley. For good reason, the world wants to and deserves to see Yosemite. It's amazing 12 months a year, every year.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Despite green spring conditions down low, there's still abundant snow above 7000 feet. With yesterday's overcast numerous snow worms were observed on the surface at our ski area at Monroe Meadows. These are not a mythical creature; they're relatives of the better-known (though still mysterious) ice worms of Alaska (Mesenchytraeus). Like the ice worms, our winter annelids are seldom seen atop the snow.
March 28th marks the 202nd birthday of Guardian Galen Clark. Mr. Clark will again be appearing to share his tale at the Yosemite Theater this spring starting on April 7.
Friday, March 4, 2016
Those facility names/logos did change with the arrival of our new concessioner this week. Many people seem not to realize that this names trademark situation is not over yet. Temporary signs have been put in place, and there are several legal proceedings underway that will finalize a determination at some future point. Whatever the outcome, it's my hope that people will focus on the real Yosemite, rather than on the transient resort infrastructure or the names of these facilities. Our national park and the experiences it offers are treasures belong to us and that can never be taken away.
Friday, February 19, 2016
The Valley has been incredibly busy this winter, with holiday weekends featuring hour-long entrance gate waits, crawling traffic, and parking very hard to find. The road to Badger Pass had to be closed last weekend, as there was nowhere for cars to go. Is it pent up excitement that we finally have a real winter? Will this spring/summer be extra crowded because we'll have more (enduring) waterfall flow than we've seen in five years?
Friday, January 15, 2016
Even Yosemite Falls, North Dome and giant sequoia trees had different names (many) over the millennia.
Can you picture Yosemite Valley in 1925? In 1925 there was no such thing as The Ahwahnee Hotel - and Yosemite was still grand. Neither John Muir nor Galen Clark ever imagined such a hotel but Yosemite moved them nonetheless. Now there is such a hotel, and its traditional name appears to be changing. The hotel will really be the same - so will Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge, Badger Pass and Wawona Hotel (which reverts to an earlier name), whatever they're called.
Not neglecting the importance of labels and traditions, I genuinely feel that Yosemite won't be changed. Have amenities distracted us from what the national park and the land truly are? Rocks and trees, water and seasons, won't be a whit less wonderful. Jays and oaks won't care, bears and domes won't be diminished if we re-label a hotel. People will come from around the world to experience this landscape. They will marvel at the park's terrain and heritage, but won't miss the luxurious Stoneman Hotel, stopping at Oh My! Point or browsing Jorgensen's Studio. Kudos to NPS for not spending $51m of public money (or letting Aramark spend this, which their customers will have to make up), but black marks on NPS/Interior solicitors for allowing this difficulty to develop, starting in 1988. Let's remember that our structures and names are transient, but nature's beauty endures (and changes) no matter what we do.