Saturday, November 2, 2013
The Way it Was Today: Yosemite Valley in November
Our first stop was to visit the Tunnel View, a spot just a few hundred feet below where the valley was first discovered by Europeans in 1851. There was trouble between American settlers and the local Native Americans, so a militia had been raised to search them out. Their medical officer Lafayette Bunnell was entranced with the valley and wrote a glowing account of its beauty.
I seemed to be concentrating on Half Dome a lot today. We had arrived in a large bus, and buses aren't allowed to park in many parts of the valley, so we toured on the free trams with appointments to meet at several locations. I elected to walk between points, and had a few new angles with which to view the iconic chunk of granitic rock (granodiorite, to be specific).
Despite the appearance, the dome is not really in half. It might be more properly called Three-Quarter Dome, although I prefer the Native American name of Tis-sa-ack. The south east flank is a classic exfoliation dome, shaped by the slabbing off of the corners and edges in response to the release of pressure as the rock was exposed by erosion. The steep northwest face is a joint surface that was exploited by glaciers that flowed beneath the face of the dome.