Friday, December 14, 2012

Physical Cliff

Our physical cliff is a combination of higher pitches and reduced horizontality...
A couple of inches of snow came to Yosemite Valley Wednesday night and it's staying on the ground, at least in the shady areas.
The skies are meant to be off and on cloudy/wet the next few days. This could make for a damp Christmas Bird Count this weekend, the 16th, but the birds aren't going anywhere so we'll count whatever we see. Contact our compiler at if you're interested in participating in this grand citizen science project. Yosemite's count has been tops in the nation more than once in recent years, for numbers of white-headed woodpeckers and Williamson's sapsuckers. We have superb woodpecker habitat in our diverse forests.

Light quantities of frazil ice have been observed flowing in Yosemite Creek the past couple of mornings. Overnight mist-ice accumulations on the wall of Upper Yosemite Fall has led to loud booms by mid-morning as huge flakes peel off in the sunshine and start accreting into the snowcone.
XC skiing at Badger Pass opens this weekend, on 12 inches of new snow. The slopes need a bit more depth, still. We've had plenty of storms but the snowline has been high, almost as if the climate were changing...

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Rains

Recent storms have ended our Indian Summer conditions here. The snowline remained high, and it's quite mild this week, but Glacier Point and Tioga Roads are closed to cars (probably until May).
The Merced River shot up from around 60 to just over 2000 cfs in Yosemite Valley during the latest wave of heavy precipitation. Our waterfalls have roared back to life after a long parched spell.

Leaves are off the deciduous trees now. At the same time, El Portal has a lush ground cover of brand new grass and forb growth. Newly sprouted lupines and cranesbill are already identifiable by their foliage, but we don't expect flowers for a few months.
I spent Saturday pursuing nothing but woodpeckers; we encountered six species between El Portal, Foresta and Crane Flat - a couple more hours of daylight might've turned up more of this interesting taxa. Acorn woodpeckers are very busy storing and sorting this year's crop. Did you know that they're in the same genus as the Lewis Woodpecker? The genus name Melanerpes translates as 'black creeper.'
The Conservancy's 2013 field institute courses are all now open for registration; you can find birding, wildflowers, geology, photography, family programs, art courses, backpack treks and no less than seven trips to Half Dome in the "Yosemite Outdoor Adventures" line-up. Yosemite has something to teach you...