Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Last Look at High Water in Yosemite...

Well, I finished culling through the, er, um, 227 pictures I took while at Yosemite during the high point of the spring runoff (the earlier posts started here). The Merced River spent a day or two at a bit more than 7,000 cubic feet per second, about three times normal for the date, and just above flood stage, enough to cover many valley meadows in a few inches of water. The late afternoon had us at Washburn Point, the less-known and less crowded viewpoint perched on the valley rim near Glacier Point. The view is almost indescribable...

Here, we are looking towards the headwaters of the Merced River, and this shot shows the famous plunge of the river over Vernal Fall (317 feet) and Nevada Fall (594 feet), along with the dome of Liberty Cap (center), and Half Dome on the left. From this perspective, one can see that Half Dome would better be called Two-Thirds Dome (I prefer the Native American name of Tis-sa-ack).

During the height of the ice ages, ice covered almost all the scene before us, except for the topmost part of Half Dome and the higher peaks in the far distance. As the ice flowed, it dropped over jointed sections of bedrock, and plucked the rocks in such a way as to form a series of stairsteps. These steps became the setting for two of the most spectacular waterfalls in Yosemite National Park.

A zoom shot is necessary to convey the size of these waterfalls and the volume of water that was flowing over the brink. Nevada, above, is further upstream and a bit longer of a hike. Vernal Fall is a relatively short hike from Happy Isles and is one of the most busiest trails in the entire park. At this time of year you will end up soaked if you take the lower trail (I wonder why they call it the Mist Falls trail?). Scale? Click on the photo below and realize there is a crowd of people on the right side of the brink. There is a guardrail, but it is terrifying to see how many people will go outside of it. This is one of the most deadly spots in the park, both to the ones that fall in the water, and to those who bravely try to save them from going over the edge...

This is one of the most beautiful places on our planet....
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