Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tioga Open All Year

Of course, Tioga Road is closed to vehicles through the winter, but visitors are using it all through the snowy season on skis and snowshoes. The high country isn't closed, it's just inaccessible to an invention that wasn't allowed into the park until 1913. The route opens to cars tomorrow, predictably early due to the unusually light snowpack. Here's what the Sierra high country looked like after fresh snow late last week.

Several of us witnessed a 2-minute avalanche of snow sluicing to the bottom of Tenaya Canyon from Clouds Rest yesterday.

While Yosemite Falls looks might hearty at the moment, the river is running below average again, and some observers believe that we've already passed peak runoff, several weeks early. Sentinel Creek is just now trickling as far as Southside Drive, and Ribbon Creek flows nicely to the river. Wosky Pond has a tiny bit of water in it. Eagle Creek and all channels of Indian Creek are dry at Valley level.

In the Valley, dogwoods are glorious right now, Senecio is in bloom already. Mule deer bucks have new antlers starting to grow. Snowplants have been up for weeks and are abundant in Mariposa Grove now.

Western Tanagers arrived in the Valley last week and are adding to the incessant soundtrack of spring. In addition to public birdwalks from the Yosemite Art Center 3 days a week, the Conservancy has a suite of truly terrific birding field seminars spread through the year; valuable for beginners or veterans.

The park is making big plans for celebrating the 150th anniversary of its federal protection on June 30; even Galen Clark is planning to attend. He'll be at LeConte Lodge to start their season of great presentations this Friday night.