Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Spring Day in...Oh, Yosemite, you are such a tease!

Part of Upper Yosemite Falls
I was writing the other day about our slightly out-of-the-ordinary spring storm that brought us some much needed rain in the Great Valley. The next day, we had our spring field trip to Yosemite Valley, our chance to investigate the spectacularly exposed interior of California's Mesozoic magmatic arc and evidence of the work of Pleistocene glaciers. Oh, and a chance to see some spring wildflowers and greenery on the valley floor. The reality was a bit different!
Half of El Capitan
The valley's iconic features, the high cliffs and leaping waterfalls, were playing hide and seek with the tattered remnants of Friday's storm. Fresh snow covered the green shoots in the meadows. Yosemite was not what we were expecting!
It's not that we were disappointed. The view from the Wawona Tunnel was spectacular, even if most the rocky cliffs had "half" for a prefix: Half El Capitan, Half Sentinel Rock, One-third Cathedral Rocks, and No Dome...
 Bridalveil Fall and the adjacent Leaning Tower were as wonderful as always.
Knowing how dry this year has been, it was comforting to see that a bit more water would be available as runoff in the next few weeks. There have been precious few storms this year. Tioga Pass was still open in January! Walking across a frozen Tenaya Lake in a T-shirt in January was a bizarre experience.
While I was taking a picture of the meadow, a pair of ravens snuck up behind me, looking maybe for a treat. I think they weren't quite ready for this snowstorm either...

There may have been snow and clouds, but it just seemed to add to the mystery of this magical place. We were able to see most of the outcrops we were looking for, and even a partial Yosemite is one of the most unique places on planet Earth. The picture below shows my students and their first encounter with this special place. Many of them had never been to Yosemite Valley before. Moments like this are one of many reasons that I love teaching.


Carlyn said...

Hello, just wanted to say that I love reading your blog. I have never been outside my own country but you have inspired me to come visit America one day and see all the lovely natural landscapes.

Gaelyn said...

Yosemite couldn't disappoint on almost any day. Of course, that's half the fun of working at a park, seeing it different everyday. Your students are very fortunate.

bamboo investment said...

Looks gorgeous. As a Brit living on a crowded island, we really don't have quite the wildness and sheer height of the mountains you have in the States.