Thursday, July 14, 2011
Blazing stars and Clarkia are still in bloom in El Portal, buckeye flowers are gone and leaves are browning. Yosemite Valley has spicebush, cow parsnip, Draperia, Gray's lupine and azalea in bloom. Birds have gotten quiet, ducklings and merglets are nearly full grown. The Merced River is still running at 400% of normal flow for mid-July, but the top of Table Rock is partly above water and the Valley has been opened to rafting/floating.
Utilities challenges persist in Tuolumne Meadows, but NPS hopes to activate the septic and water systems tomorrow. If they work this means that employees can move in up there and that facilities can open up. The campground is supposed to open Friday night, the Visitor Center should open Saturday and the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge plans to open on Monday the 18th. It'll be a short season, with many facilities starting to shut down after Labor Day, in just 7-8 weeks.
Flowers are pretty good at the 7-8000' level now, with bright Sierra pride pentstemon lighting up the roadcuts. Lots of snow and high water persist along Tuolumne trails. Hikers should plan on covering fewer miles than on dry ground. The waterfalls in the Valley are still quite impressive.