Red-breasted sapsucker in Yosemite

May 6, 2015

I really like this close-up of a woodpecker; from Twitter.

Wonder how long birds live? Red-breasted sapsuckers can live at least 7 years! Photo by Ann & Rob Simpson #Yosemite

Wonder how long birds live? Red-breasted sapsuckers can live at least 7 years! Photo by Ann & Rob Simpson #Yosemite


Yosemite Park’s Dawn Wall climbers: They made it!

January 15, 2015

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on January 14 completed their free-climb ascent of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park — labeled the toughest free climb in the world.

Wow. Just wow.

The path up, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan.  San Francisco Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard, on a photo by Nate Ptacek/Patagonia

The path up, the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. San Francisco Chronicle graphic by John Blanchard, on a photo by Nate Ptacek/Patagonia

This interactive piece at the New York Times should give the proper sense of awe for what they’ve done. (If you’re a climber, you may want to get some more technical reports from YosemiteBigWall.com, who contributed to that interactive presentation.)

PBS’s Newshour had among the best reports:


Climbing the Dawn Wall in Yosemite — a little spot of light

January 13, 2015

NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson posted this photo on her Twitter feed, a shot from NBC photographer Scot Kilian:

@HallieJackson:  Incredible shot from NBC's Scott Kilian: that tiny dot of light on side of #DawnWall is where the climbers slept.

@HallieJackson: Incredible shot from NBC’s Scott Kilian: that tiny dot of light on side of #DawnWall is where the climbers slept.

It’s a long exposure, enough that the stars brighten the black sky, but not quite so much that the stars become streaks on the photo.  Long enough that the lights used by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson register on the CMOS (I’m assuming no film here).

Incredibly, their tents are pitched upon the rock, where mountain goats and cliff-dwelling birds fear to tread. It’s very much a vertical sheet of almost smooth rock.

And it’s a great photo.  In these particularly troubled times, any light shining on human cooperation to achieve great things becomes a beacon.

More: 

 


Yosemite Nature Notes: Ghost towns

January 13, 2015

Up on the Tioga Pass, Dana Village, Bennettville and the abandoned Golden Crown Mine tell part of the story of the 1890s gold rush in the Sierra Nevada.

Mining in California, okay. Mining at 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada, and staying there all winter?

Great history, geography, and explanation that every U.S. history student should know, about gold rushes, about boom towns, about mining entrepreneurs and investors, about failed enterprises and about the aftermath.

Published on Nov 19, 2014

Sitting on the crest of the Sierra Nevada, Tioga Pass is a gateway to Yosemite’s past. In 1880, a gold and silver rush erupted here, and miners flocked to Tioga Hill in droves.

Today, the ghosts of these miners work can be seen in the stone walls of Dana Village, rusty machinery at Bennettville, and the log cabins of the Golden Crown Mine. Even today’s popular Tioga Road was once a simple wagon road built to access the wealth of minerals that were never found.

It’s another great production by Steven Bumgardner, featuring two National Park Service rangers, Yenyen Chan and Greg Stock.

More:

Tioga Road.  Travelers who took this photo made the drive in a large RV -- so you can do it, too.  Photo from stillhowlynntravels

Tioga Road. Travelers who took this photo made the drive in a large RV — so you can do it, too. Photo from stillhowlyntravels

Map showing how to get to Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (at the eastern end of the red line).  Map from Undiscovered-Yosemite.com.

Map showing how to get to Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park (at the eastern end of the red line). Map from Undiscovered-Yosemite.com.


Fallen Monarch: A Yosemite tree that dwarfs an entire mounted cavalry

August 13, 2014

Yosemite National Park, Facebook site:    About forty members of U.S. 6th Cavalry, Troop F, shown mounted on, or standing beside their horses, and lined up atop and beside the Fallen Monarch tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite, 1899.

Yosemite National Park, Facebook site: About forty members of U.S. 6th Cavalry, Troop F, shown mounted on, or standing beside their horses, and lined up atop and beside the Fallen Monarch tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite, 1899.

Giant sequoia trees can be found only in the United States, and only in or near the Sierra Mountains in California. 

How massive are they?  The tree above, with the 6th Cavalry’s F Troop posing on and around it with their horses, is 26 feet in diameter at its base, where it fell, and 285 feet long,   Redwood doesn’t rot like other woods.  The tree is still there, today, looking much like it did 115 years ago (Comments on Yosemite NP photo).

The Fallen Monarch, in Mariposa Grove, in 1907:

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove of Yosemite NP, in 1907, with a stage coach and team of six horses posing on top.

Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove of Yosemite NP, in 1907, with a stage coach and team of six horses posing on top.

When did the tree fall?  Hundreds of years ago, perhaps?

More:

Yosemite NP Nature Notes 11: Big Trees


You should visit Yosemite National Park in winter

January 11, 2014

Here’s why, another video from the good people at Yosemite National Park:

Any of the National Parks is special, in winter.  What is your snow and cold experience in them?

More:

Winter photo of the Yosemite Valley, by Q T Luong -- a key photo used by the Ken Burns group in their series of films on the National Parks.

Winter photo of the Yosemite Valley, by Q T Luong — a key photo used by the Ken Burns group in their series of films on the National Parks.


‘The water is awake, and alive!’ Yosemite Falls

December 30, 2013

I love the poetic descriptions, from geologists!

From Yosemite National Park’s “Nature Notes”:

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2009

Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, and is a powerful presence in Yosemite Valley. From winter ice to spring flood to autumn dryness, this magnificent waterfall is a dynamic force of nature.

There’s even a resurrection story for the falls. Maybe Emily Dickinson was on to something about finding religion in nature.

More:

National Park Service photo of Upper Yosemite Falls

National Park Service photo of Upper Yosemite Falls

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and n...

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (left) and nature preservationist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club , on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park in 1903. In the background: Upper and lower Yosemite Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

73,117

Yosemite NP’s Rim Fire time-lapse

September 18, 2013

USDA/Flickr photo via Mother Jones: A National Park Service fire crew builds a sprinkler system around a grove of sequoias. USDA/Flickr

USDA/Flickr photo via Mother Jones: A National Park Service fire crew builds a sprinkler system around a grove of sequoias. USDA/Flickr

It’s a rolling tragedy, in time-lapse.  Fire always offers a chance at beauty, if we don’t think about the destruction the fire wreaks.

A lot of cameras around Yosemite, and some were set to do time-lapse photos of the recent Rim Fire.  One hopes there is some academic value to these films, perhaps in demonstrating how the diurnal rhythms of the atmosphere changes the behavior of fire (notice how smoke often changes directions at sunset, and then at sunrise, and back again).

All that smoke.  Much of it was living plant material just a few weeks ago, and we watch it turned to tiny particles and gases, and spread by the winds.

More information from the filmmakers and posters:

Published on Aug 28, 2013

Time-lapse photography shows various perspectives of the 2013 Rim Fire, as viewed from Yosemite National Park. The first part of this video is from the Crane Flat Helibase. The fire [was]  . . .burning in wilderness and  . . . not immediately threatening visitors or employees. The second half of the video is from Glacier Point, showing Yosemite Valley, and how little the smoke from the fire has impacted the Valley.

In this next piece, you’ll see footage of fire fighting operations, including a back-burn, and helicoptering of supplies to firefighters on the front lines.  It’s the non-time-lapse version, with wildtrack sound.

Published on Sep 7, 2013

Fire crews in Yosemite conducted firing operations along the Tioga Road this week to provide a buffer of protection from the Rim Fire. As you can see in this video, the fire mostly burns debris on the forest floor rather than the trees. It’s only when the forest floor accumulates too much debris or too many young trees that a small fire like this gets hot enough to torch mature trees and spread from treetop to treetop.

Later in the video, we give you a behind-the-scenes peek at Yosemite’s Helicopter 551 ferrying supplies from the Crane Flat helibase.

The timelapse, from August, has over a million-and-a-half views on YouTube; the non-timelapse, a few weeks later, has fewer than 6,000 views, as I write this.  Time-lapse is very popular.

More:


What rocks Yosemite? Granite

July 7, 2013

Yosemite’s Nature Notes #20 (I’m behind):  A short film discussing the astonishing manifestations of granite in Yosemite National Park.

English: El Capitan in Yosemite National Park ...

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park viewed from the Valley Floor — one of the more famous granite formations in the Park. Wikipedia image

The film is simply named, “Granite.”  Steven Bumgardner produced the film.

Yosemite’s chief formations are granite, an igneous rock.  Much of the terrain was carved in the granite by glaciers and glaciation — so what Yosemite shows is how fire and ice combine to make rock, to make rock formations, and to make rocks of astonishing beauty.

(This is not a place to bolster creationist ideas.  This is real science, looking at God’s handiwork first hand.)

A North Carolina university makes field trips to Yosemite?  I’d love to take that class!

Watching this film, you get a sense of how important it can be to the education of our children to travel in the summers, to take vacations to our National Parks, and to places like Yosemite.

Where are you taking your kids this summer?  Kids, where are you going?

Enjoy it.  Geology lessons are often fun, and this one, on film, is more fun than most.

More:

Close-up of granite from Yosemite National Par...

Close-up of granite from Yosemite National Park, valley of the Merced River – Wikipedia image


Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls at its fiery best

February 26, 2013

Photo Tweeted from the National Park Service:

Bethany Gediman photo of Horsetail Falls, Yosemite NP, glowing orange

Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. It’s a small waterfall that many people don’t notice, but it has gained popularity as more and more people have noticed it can glow orange during sunset in mid to late February. The most popular place to see Horsetail Fall seemingly afire is El Capitan picnic area, west of Yosemite Lodge and east of El Capitan (see map below). The “firefall” effect generally happens during the second half of February. A clear sky is necessary for the waterfall to glow orange. Photo: Bethany Gediman, NPS

People living close to National Parks are lucky to do so; people who work in them luckier still, in the lifetime sweepstakes for seeing breathtaking sites.  NPS employee (Ranger?) Bethany Gediman caught this image of Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park.

Be sure to see the video of Yosemite Nature Notes No. 14, posted here earlier. It shows Horsetail at sunset in full glory.  Great photography.

How to get there:

Map to Horsetail Falls, Yosemite NP

Map of Yosemite National Park, showing Horsetail Falls and hiking trail to get to viewpoint in the photograph.

More:


Night skies at Yosemite, in time-lapse

September 6, 2012

Yosemite National Park, watching stars, with time-lapse photography.  The only way life gets better than this is to go there and film it yourself.  Yosemite Nature Notes 19.

Description from Nature Notes:

Yosemite’s vast acreage and remote location protect some of the darkest night skies in the country. Astronomers, photographers and city dwellers flock to the park to take advantage of this unique opportunity to view planets, stars, and galaxies.

Producer is Steven M. Bumgardner, and it features, inter alia, an interview with Shawn Reeder, whose time-lapse work I’ve highlighted before.

For classroom use, some topics and questions to pursue:

  • For geography, where is Yosemite N.P.?  Flying commercially, which airport is the best to get to the park?

    President Teddy Roosevelt and conservationist John Muir at Overhanging Rock, Glacier Point, Yosemite

    President Teddy Roosevelt and conservationist John Muir pose at Overhanging Rock at the top of Glacier Point, near which the men camped in a hollow and awoke to five inches of snow in 1903. National Park Service image

  • Map reading and orientation:  In the time-lapse sequences, you can frequently see lights streaking across the sky.  Those are commercial airliners — can you tell what airport they are headed to, or from?  Can you tell which ones are coming, which going?
  • Science:  What star formations do you see in these photographs that you can see from your house?  What star formations are not visible from your house?
  • Government:  Who signs the checks that pay the rangers pictured in the film?  For which agency do the work, in which branch of which government?
  • People in the film discuss light pollution from nearby cities.  Is there an agency in the federal government who has jurisdiction over light pollution?  How about an  agency in the state government?  What are the rules on light pollution for cities around Yosemite?
  • Can you identify the landmarks, the cliffs, rocks, mountains and rivers, portrayed in the film?  (Students might use a USGS topographical map, California state tourist promotion maps and websites, National Park Service databases, Google Earth, Google,  and a wide variety of other sources.
  • Who was president of the U.S. when Yosemite was set aside as a National Park, and what were the controversies surrounding it?
  • Who was John Muir?  Who was Frederick Law Olmsted?  What were their roles in the history of Yosemite?
  • Who lived in Yosemite, if anyone, before the Spanish missions were established in California?  When were the missions established?  How did the U.S. gain possession of the Yosemite Valley?

Another stunning time-lapse study of Yosemite, from Shawn Reeder

July 31, 2012

Clearly I need to intern with Shawn Reeder.  His piece on Yosemite shows the natural objects of beauty in their best lights, over and over:  “Yosemite Range of Light.”

Reeder and his project were described at the Sierra Club website:

The two-year project, Yosemite Range of Light, uses nearly 7,000 high-resolution still photos to create an inspiring vision of light and granite, capturing rolling cloud formations and the rainbow-lit waterfalls of Yosemite.

Reeder first came to Yosemite after winning a local waiter contest where he grew up in Maryland. First prize was a trip to Napa Valley wine-country, but the 18-year-old convinced the prize committee to offer a change of venue. Choosing Yosemite as his destination instead, he brought along his best friend, who happened to have a camera. . . .

“I came out for a week and I did my first backpacking trip ever. We hiked to the top of Half Dome via the cables, which was an incredible experience. We hiked the whole South-Rim Trail from Glacier Point to Tunnel View. It to

More:

English: Panorama of view of Yosemite Valley i...

Panorama of view of Yosemite Valley including Half Dome and Diving Board as seen from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Yosemite time-lapse tour

July 25, 2012

From Project Yosemite, a series of cool time-lapses, from one of the coolest spots on Earth, Yosemite National Park.

Details on the film, and how to track down the artists and see more, from Project Yosemite’s Vimeo site:

A collaborative project by Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty. What started as an idea turned into an ongoing adventure to timelapse Yosemite in an extreme way.

We were complete strangers before it all started, but after we met on Vimeo our idea came into sight, and then began the challenge to make numerous trips to YNP where we would capture the beautiful landscape it offers for visitors every year.

We invite you to watch our video in hopes you’ll witness Yosemite like never before.

Project Yosemite

Yosemite HD

This video is a collaboration between Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty. All timelapses were shot on the Canon 5D Mark II with a variety of Canon L and Zeiss CP.2 Lenses.

Project Yosemite Website: projectyose.com
Facebook Page: facebook.com/projectyose
Contact info: info@projectyose.com

Thanks to Dynamic Perception for their motion controlled dolly and continued support!

Dynamic Perception Website: dynamicperception.com

Track: Outro
Album: Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Artist: M83
Site: ilovem83.com
Publishing: emimusicpub.com
Licensing: bankrobbermusic.com

This whole project has been an amazing experience. The two of us became friends through Vimeo and explored a shared interest in timelapsing Yosemite National Park over an extended period of time. We’d like to expand this idea to other locations and would appreciate any suggestions for a future project.

Project Yosemite was featured as a main story on Yosemite National Park’s Spring Newsletter.: yosemitepark.com/timelapse-sprnews-2012.aspx

To view this in 2K, visit: youtu.be/OwFbjJasW3E
Be sure to change the quality settings to ‘Original’.

Twitter:
twitter.com/#!/SheldonNeill
twitter.com/#!/delehanty

Facebook:
facebook.com/sheldon.neill
facebook.com/delehanty

Behind The Scenes: vimeo.com/35223326
By Dalton Runberg

Our hearts go out to the families of Markus Praxmarer who lost his life while climbing Half Dome on September 19th, 2011 and Ranger Ryan Hiller, who was crushed by a tree January 22nd 2012. They will be missed. (A photo of Ranger Ryan Hiller can be found to the right, above the statistics counter)

Generalized geologic map of the Yosemite area....

Generalized geologic map of the Yosemite area. (USGS image) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yosemite National Park is spectacular, and much photographed than other great natural places of beauty.  How much does it benefit from being in California, closer to many people with good cameras and great photographic skills, to an extent that more distant, spectacular parks like Glacier N.P., Yellowstone N.P and Big Bend N.P. do not benefit? How does that affect management of the parks? How does that affect how people view their own local adventure areas?

Will Project Yosemite be back with more?

More:


Yosemite NP warning good worldwide: Watch out for running water

April 7, 2012

Our Scout Troop readies for two summer camp excursions this summer, and Kathryn and I hope to get out somewhere not drought stricken for at least a weekend.  Generally we tack on a whitewater river run on the Scout trips, if we can find a good one for reasonable price.  Safety instructions always include the solid order to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times.  We have a few adult leaders trained in Safety Afloat, and we work to have the Scouts up to “swimmer” or “lifesaver” ability for the trips.

It’s a good idea to review all the rules for safety near water in the great outdoors.

The good video crew at Yosemite National Park posted this dramatic video story — please watch, and heed the warnings.  Doesn’t matter how well you swim, if you get pinned underwater by a powerful flow — and they are all powerful — you’re in trouble.  This story has a happy ending with chastened hikers who learned uncharted short cuts may not be a good idea.  For nearly a score of people in Yosemite NP the turnout was not wonderful, in the last ten years.

In Texas, drownings take about a hundred lives a year, averaging 81 child drownings each year:  “An average of 81 children drowned each year since DFPS [Department of Family Protective Services] began tracking these deaths in 2005. DFPS identified 76 water fatalities in 2005, 70 in 2006, 63 in 2007, 82 in 2008, 113 in 2009 and 84 in 2010, and 79 in 2011 as of August 31, 2011.”  [If you can find figures including adult drownings, please let us know in the comments.]

Please watch, and pass along to anyone you know who will be hiking this year.

Text from the filmmakers:

Sixteen people died in Yosemite’s rivers and creeks between 2002 and 2011. Water in Yosemite is more dangerous than it looks, and stories like Matthew’s are a common occurrence.

Go outside, have great fun, see America.  Be careful when you do.


Sky islands in Yosemite National Park

September 19, 2011

Nature Notes #16 from the good people at Yosemite National Park:  Sky Islands.

Throughout the Sierra Nevada, high flat plateaus are found at elevations around twelve and thirteen thousand feet. These isolated sky islands are the home to unique plant communities that are found nowhere else.


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