Sunday, January 1, 2012
Sierra Sin Nevada
Yosemite does not notice as people replace old calendars with new ones today; there is no date on the park's schedule. It's only our transient culture that has the conceit that we've just entered something called 2012 this morning. Solstice, a week and a half ago, is a more significant transitional event for our mountains.
Our December was one of the driest on record. There are a few inches of snow in shady places, but Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road are both dry and open to vehicles. Being able to drive to Tuolumne Meadows and over Tioga Pass is most unusual for Christmas and New Year's.
Visitors have been very excited to ice skate on Tenaya (pictured), Tioga and Ellery Lakes, as well as those wilder lakes requiring a short hike. XC skiers are hiking in to stay at Ostrander Ski Hut but without skis. In Yosemite Valley, people are comfortable in shirt sleeves mid-day; it should be in the mid-50's this week.
The Merced River has continued to shrink in volume, during the time of year when it's typically rising. At Pohono Bridge the average for today is 102 cfs, but it's now flowing at 38 - the lowest its been since October of 2010. (1977 was drier; only 14 cfs trickled through on January 1.)
The Christmas Bird Count recorded a healthy 70 species, including both species of eagles and lots of other raptors. It's a good winter for varied thrushes here and our white-headed woodpecker sightings will again be at/near the most in the nation.