Sunday, May 12, 2013

Signs of Summer

Cool, wet weather a week ago brought the river level down from above average to below average.  Now the unusual heat has brought it back toward a more typical volume again, a bit below 2000 cfs at Pohono Bridge.  I could be wrong, but the peak flow of the Merced and tributaries may have passed already - 3 weeks earlier than average.  We expect a long and active fire season this year.
The Valley has been humid and green lately.  Oaks and maples are all but fully leafed out.  Dogwood blooms light the forest from within. A cloudburst the afternoon of the 9th caused local flooding and felt like an August monsoon storm.
Otherwise the waters are retreating.  Sentinel and Ribbon Falls are noticably smaller than a week or two ago. Staircase, Horsetail and Royal Arch are just dribbles.  Eagle Creek and Horsetail Creek haven't flowed on the surface of the Valley floor at all this year.  Wosky Pond is no more than 15m across at any point. 
Orioles, vireos, warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, peewees, and robins sing with energy in the mixed oak/conifer canopies throughout the Valley.  White-throated and Vaux's Swifts have been seen and heard on the Monday/Thursday Conservany birdwalks lately.  A rare yellow-headed blackbird has been observed calmly feeding in Yosemite Village for several days recently. 
Tioga Road opened this weekend; snow cover is obviously light in the high country.  There was a fatal accident at Vernal Fall last week.  Weekends in the Valley are busy now, but weekdays will be relatively calm until more schools get out.
Some of the Conservancy's upcoming courses are full, but there's still space in a one-day, mid-June geology adventure with the wonderful Greg Stock, our Park Geologist.  Some of our Half Dome trips still have space available this summer, too.  Summer seems to be upon us now.