Friday, September 23, 2011


Happy, Balanced Equinox.
The Yosemite Facelift is underway and there are hundreds of volunteers deployed all over the park to clean it up. It's a very impressive endeavor, started by Yosemite Climbing Association and successfully grown into a significant success story.
Tony Carlstrom reports observing a California ground squirrel wrestle, subdue and kill a chipmunk atop Sentinel Dome on Tuesday. The chipmunk's body was then dragged off by the squirrel. This kind of gruesome aggression is not something we generally expect from those little snack-beggars. I have observed California ground squirrels feeding on road-killed squirrels in Yosemite Valley.
Rangers at Hodgdon Meadow watched a mountain lion kill a mule deer buck a few days ago. Local bucks are still in velvet but have full grown racks. Lions generally prefer easier prey than large adults males approaching rutting season.
Red columbine still in bloom in the "Ice Cut" on the JMT near Nevada Fall, along with waterfall buttercups.
Afternoon clouds massing from the crest toward the west these past few days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Equinox approach

Autumnal equinox arrives Friday, then it's already October at the end of next week. We had 5 days of afternoon monsoons a week ago, a fun change of season, but summer's heat is not done yet. Mts. Dana and Gibbs were quite snow-covered a week ago; Conness is pictured. Hail had piled up at the 8000' level along Tioga Road. A cloudburst in Yosemite Valley left big puddles that haven't evaporated yet, and lots of runoff debris in small channels everywhere. A torrent coming down the Indian Creek fan went into some NPS houses at the edge of Yosemite Creek. The river gauge shows nice spikes from the series of rainy afternoons.
As it has been for most of the past 9 months, the Merced is running above average: at 129 cfs this morning; the average is 32 cfs for today. Yosemite Falls looks like it does in some Julys; not big, but much more than the usual September dribble.
Lessingia's purple blooms on the Valley floor are even visible from Glacier Point. Bears are still finding ripe apples on trees (lots at McAuley Ranch) but it's a weak mast year for acorns in some spots. Migrating raptors are being seen regularly now. A ring-necked snake was seen near Foresta on the weekend.
Another Half Dome fatality yesterday; this time a climber whose rope broke after he pulled a block onto it. Crowds are absent from the Valley most days, though weekends are still relatively busy. Our visitors from other countries stand out more now.