Friday, February 19, 2016

Otters and Waters

The river otters (at least 3) that had been in El Portal for a couple of months, are now being seen in Yosemite Valley. Our natural 'firefall' has suddenly made national news, though Horsetail Fall has been putting on its bright February sunset displays for millennia. Conservancy naturalist, MRoss reports 15-16 species of wildflowers in bloom along Foresta Road above El Portal. Bobcat sightings seem to have increased in the Valley recently. Swifts have emerged on some warm days to feed on airborne insects over the canyon. Many of us felt a couple of earthquakes on the 16th; they were a 4.8 and a 4.3 magnitude, 16km deep, on the east side of the Sierra, NW of Big Pine.

Our snowfall has been near average at this point in the season; it's been warm here for two weeks, so there's been a lot of snowpack consolidation and melting. The Merced River is flowing at better than 150% of average. Sentinel, Ribbon and Royal Arch Falls are very healthy now. We are all hoping that there'll be another couple stormy months yet.

The Valley has been incredibly busy this winter, with holiday weekends featuring hour-long entrance gate waits, crawling traffic, and parking very hard to find. The road to Badger Pass had to be closed last weekend, as there was nowhere for cars to go. Is it pent up excitement that we finally have a real winter? Will this spring/summer be extra crowded because we'll have more (enduring) waterfall flow than we've seen in five years?