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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Firefall 

For decades until 1968, visitors to Yosemite Valley could witness the Firefall, in which a stream of glowing embers was pushed off the soaring heights of Glacier Point into the valley below. This fiery cascade of thousands of feet would be seen by huge groups of onlookers, who would gather in the meadows below to watch the glowing spectacle of light. During the event down at Camp Curry, the audience would gather in front of a piano and sing "Indian Love Call," with the performers. A caller on stage would shout up to Glacier Point, some thirty-two hundred feet above the camp, “Hello Glacier Point!” and from Glacier Point the fire-builder would call back, “Hello Camp Curry!” and the caller would respond with “Let the fire fall!” The fire builder far above would then tumble the embers over the point, creating the Firefall.

The park service discontinued this practice in 1968 for a number of reasons, the foremost being that it attracted so many spectators that the meadows were getting trampled and damaged, and also because the park service was leaning toward wilderness values and returning the park to a more natural state.

But while the Firefall may no longer be seen, a natural firefall occurs every late winter and spring near El Capitan. From the immense heights of this 3000-foot granite monolith falls the wispy, magical Horse Tail Falls. At sunset at certain times during the spring melt off, this ethereal waterfall catches the fiery rays of the setting sun and glows an enrapturing orange and red.
I hiked beneath the falls to see them at sunset, and while they did indeed glow with the silver light of the sun, clouds swept in before sunset, obscuring the alpen glow that causes the falls to glow with fiery colors. Next time. Next time.

posted 4:24 PM

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poopenauts? 

While hiking in Hetch Hetchy Valley, I came across the traihead for Poopenaut Valley. I've heard of Jason and the Argonauts and their search for the Golden Fleece. But I've not heard of the Poopenauts, and their proximity to the drinking water of San Francisco makes me leery.

posted 8:58 PM

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Visit To Hetch Hetchy 

Hetch Hetchy has been called the sister valley to Yosemite, and it's no wonder why. Though I've been to Yosemite National Park many times, I've never visited this valley located on the north side of the park. With its tremendous granite edifices, domes and roaring waterfalls, it is indeed a sister to the magnificent Yosemite Valley.
After the earthquake of 1906, water supplies in San Francisco were pushed to the limit. A solution was proposed to dam Hetch Hetchy for a reservoir. The dam had many opponents, including John Muir.

The battle to save Hetch Hetchy was lost, and the valley dammed in 1923. Not only does it now provide drinking water for San Francisco, but it also provides renewable energy in the form of hydro-electric power.

I hiked along the edge of the reservoir to Tueeulala Falls. The sun sparkled in the cascade of water.
I sat out on a boulder among blooming manzanita bushes, and an Anna's hummingbird came by, its scarlet head and green iridescent body gleaming in the sun.
Plant border bugs, with their black bodies and striking orange lines, climbed all over the ground, hunting for leaf matter to eat.

posted 2:05 PM

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yosemite National Park In Snow 

I'm currently visiting the magnificent Yosemite National Park to snowshoe, hike, write and watch wildlife. The day of my arrival had deep blue skies with a few clouds hanging high over the stunning valley.

Water from spring run-off made Bridalveil Falls roar down from its hanging valley.
El Capitan, the tallest free-standing cliff in the world, towered above the valley, clouds hanging over its top.
Yosemite Falls thundered from down into the valley, casting off clouds of mist in its wake.
It was gorgeous.

posted 8:32 PM

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