Sunday, June 19, 2011
Tioga Road has opened, but summer has not really arrived in the park's high country yet. Tuolumne Meadows is a lake, Tenaya Lake is mostly iced over (with renewed freezing and new ice last night), snow covers a good portion of the terrain above 6000' (north-facing slopes are mostly snow) and meltwater is filling every trail. Skiers still have time to enjoy the slopes near Ellery Lake, False White, Mt. Conness, Mt. Hoffmann, Mt. Dana and more. Backpackers are going to struggle for a while to find trails, to make distance over snow, to avoid wet feet in all the runoff. No facilities are yet open along the Tioga corridor, including TPR, Saddlebag Lake road, White Wolf or anything in Tuolumne Meadows.
Half Dome cables go up this week for those with permits. Walked the west valley loop on Saturday; flowers are looking good: iris in El Cap and Bridalveil Meadows, yellow violets, white Nemophila, Arnica, Senecio, Alumroot, thimbleberry, Linanthus, larkspur near the base of Bridalveil Fall, creek dogwood, Azalea (smells SO good), globe gilia, blue dicks, golden brodeia, silverleaf lotus, Indian paintbrush, pussypaws, catchfly, and more. We saw no snowplants on the loop. One sow bear with two cubs near El Cap's Nose. Slackliners working their art over the icy Merced at El Cap Bridge. Ribbon Creek is running very high in several channels. Birdsong is still plenty active: grosbeak, tanager, Wilsons and yellow warbler, Cassins and warbling vireo, creeper, song sparrow, spotted towhee, etc.
Hotter days are coming this week and the river may hit another peak above flood stage. It is unusual to have such a late peak, such a high peak, and for the river to hover close to the flood level for two weeks like this. What next in this atypical spring/summer transition?