Thursday, January 23, 2014


Remarkable aridity and mild temperatures continue in the Sierra and California. Badger Pass (Badger Grass?) Ski Area is closed, the Valley Stables have opened. We've been in and out of Red Flag Warnings (fire danger) since late December. The Merced River has flatlined at around 20 cfs (at Pohono Bridge) whereas the average flow for late January is almost seven times that!

Incense cedar pollen is flying now, producing allergic responses in some locals and visitors. Indian Paintbrush was reported in bloom above El Portal but it's too dry for most flowers to emerge. There are only a couple waterfall buttercups blooming near Ned's Gulch where there were hundreds a year ago. Bears are still active in the Valley (as some can be every other winter in recent years); I saw one yesterday. Surprisingly a trace of snow is accumulating in the high country at this moment.

For Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, I roamed the site of Camp A. E. Wood, where African-American troopers were stationed for the summers of 1899, 1903 and 1904. These Buffalo Soldiers patrolled Yosemite National Park from this base in Wawona. Among their many accomplishments was the 1904 establishment of what's believed to be the first formal interpretive facility in the entire national park system: the Yosemite Arboretum. Boundary changes the next year removed the Arboretum from Army stewardship and this promising start at educating and inspiring visitors was abandoned. Very faint remnants of the Buffalo Soldiers' interpretive work can still be discerned.

Here's another valuable interpretive effort from long ago: Yosemite Nature Notes, the precursor of this blog and of Steve's excellent video series. What creative efforts of ours will be abandoned or sustained for the next hundred years?