Monday, November 15, 2010
Walked up northwest from Foresta to Little Nellie Falls on Saturday - very crowded - with foliage color, blue sky, deer and bear tracks, a few birds (including a surprise solo horned lark!), and millions of springtails. There were some puddles in ruts on the Coulterville Road from the prior weekend's rain. On the surface of the sunlit puddles were rafts of millions and millions of the tiny gray insects, too small to break the surface tension, even when massed this way. They were hopping continuously, there were dispersed individuals on the muddy road surface, but the party was all afloat. Hard to comprehend but wonderful to observe.
Sunday's saunter took us from Chinquapin out the old logging rail grade southeast to the Alder Creek watershed. It is unusual to be able to stroll on the horizontal for mile after mile above 6000' in the Sierra, but here's a pleasant legacy of commercial forestry. From the 1907 railroad that came to El Portal, steep (up to 78%!) inclines were built up the south side canyon wall in 1912 and the north side canyon wall by 1924. It's hard to imagine the costly labor of hundreds of people creating this access for extracting sugar pine from what is now peaceful forest. There's a bit of patchy snow, which held tracks of coyote, deer, bear and squirrel. Aspens in Bishop Meadow are bare now, the black oaks and dogwoods still have a bit of color hanging on.
Glacier Point and Tioga Roads are still closed, though the weather will determine whether this is a closure for the whole season or not. A La Nina season is expected, which could go either way for wet/dry.
A new speed record for ascending the Nose Route on El Capitan was established over the weekend: just under two hours, 37 minutes. Human springtails?