Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Farewell to Spring

Despite recent warmth, the Merced River has started to decline in volume already; it's running just below average (while the average is still ascending). We are excited to have our new webcam up, showing you Upper Yosemite Falls so you can keep visual tabs on the flows. We expect that by September this year it'll just be the 'Yosemite Wall' webcam.
Indian, Sentinel, Royal Arch and Ribbon Creeks all still run to the river. Eagle Creek has shrunk back from Northside Drive.
The high country along Tioga Road still has snow, lots of soggy trails, no new greenery - it's too early for dry, comfortable hiking that won't leave considerable impacts. People tend to hike outside wet trailbeds, creating new trails and crushing plants as they're trying to get started. Things will be drier in June and it'll be easier to LNT.
Yosemite Valley is alive with birdsong; yesterday's birdwalk included black-headed grosbeaks (plentiful and loud), western tanager, yellow, yellow-rumped, and black-throated gray warblers, Cassin's vireo, white-throated swift, flicker, oriole, Anna's hummingbird displaying in front of the Visitor Center, and more.
In the El Portal area the Clarkia (Farewell-to-Spring) is in bloom, as is buckeye, Ceanothus, and elderberry. Most of the grass and forbs have gone to seed and are browning. The dogwoods in the Valley are glorious right now.
Check out the eclipse of the sun on Sunday at sunset. We were not sure that Yosemite would be a good place from which to observe this spectacle because good western views from places like the Glacier Point Road might not yet be accessible; this year they are. Crane Flat Fire Lookout and Sentinel Dome will be prime spots.
For more enjoyment of the earth sciences: there's still space in our one-day geology course on June 16. Park geologist Greg Stock is a marvelous communicator and will clarify all those questions you have about Yosemite's origins.