Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from a Winter Wonderland!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! As is my tradition, I offer up once again a very big Christmas tree, the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park. The tree is so large (268 feet high, 40 feet across at the base) that it took three pictures for me to capture it.
The tree was declared by Calvin Coolidge in 1926 to be the nation's Christmas Tree. At an early ceremony, park superintendent Colonel John White said ""We are gathered here around a tree that is worthy of representing the spirit of America on Christmas Day. That spirit is best expressed in the plain things of life, the love of the family circle, the simple life of the out-of-doors. The tree is a pillar that is a testimony that things of the spirit transcend those of the flesh." I don't have a shot of the General Grant all dressed in snow, so here is another Sequoia after a surprise storm during an April trip.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not actually there, and there's no snow where I'm at, but it could happen. Temps in Seattle are in the thirties, and there is precipitation coming down. Instead, I'm offering up some scenes of some of my favorite holiday haunts, Yosemite Valley. Mrs. Geotripper and I try to get up there every year about this time, and it may yet happen this year too. Snow is a magical thing in California, a source of wonderment and beauty. We aren't really all that familiar with it, especially over the last five years!
Bridalveil Falls under ice
This is turning out to be a season of hope, as the Sierra snowpack has reached 100% of normal for the first time in years. The El NiƱo weather pattern, the strongest ever recorded, has not yet exerted itself, but the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean have already added some oomph to the storms we've already. In 1997, we were hit with a series of incredibly warm storms that caused record flooding. We find ourselves hoping for a more measured series of storms that could fill our reservoirs without flooding.
Upper Yosemite Falls with a rainbow
In the meantime, please enjoy these wintertime scenes from my treasured spot on the planet. Yosemite Valley is a place born of fire and ice, the "fire" from below that melted the crust into magmas that eventually became the granitic rocks, and the ice that helped to shape the stunning valley (the Merced River did most of the deepening of the canyon, while the ice sculpted the walls into their unique shapes and patterns).
Sentinel Rock in icy conditions
Yosemite Valley is just seven square miles (seven very famous square miles) in a park that has more than a thousand square miles. The park provides protection for the headwaters of the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers, both of which have carved spectacular gorges out of the granitic rock. Much of the park is roadless wilderness, but paved highways explore the Tuolumne Meadows and Glacier Point regions.
The Cathedral Rocks
Yosemite Valley, though, is a true treasure, with a striking combination of vertical cliffs, high waterfalls, quiet meadows (if you catch the right moment), and flowing rivers. I visit whenever I can, never once taking this incredible place for granted. It's one of the greatest gifts that nature has provided us.
El Capitan
I want to thank all of my readers, new and old, for your attention and kind comments over the last seven years that I've been blogging. I've always enjoyed hearing from you, and appreciate getting to know my new friends from all over the world. I wish a wondrous season to you all!

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