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Notes on the Geography of The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017

Are there places that you decide never to visit again? Yosemite Valley may just make the list. You probably know why.

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The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 1

The classic view, from the parking lot at the east end of the Wawona Tunnel. Bridalveil Falls is in spate; paradoxically, drought (and bark beetles) have stressed and killed parts of the forest.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 2

Bridalveil is this full only briefly and then only after winters with unusually heavy snowfalls. The winter of 2016-17 qualified.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 3

Ephemeral falls were busy, including this one, Sentinel Falls.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 4

Another, Ribbon Fall.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 5

An unnamed trickle.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 6

Another iconic view, this time of Half Dome from Glacier Point but hinting at the snowpack along the Sierra crest.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 7

The camera has turned only slightly to the right to reveal Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, and the melting snow above.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 8

This is the start of the Merced River.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 9

It doesn't live up to its name.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 10

A victim.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 11

Across the valley, Yosemite Falls (on Yosemite Creek) were as full as they get.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 12

Large parts of the valley floor were correspondingly flooded.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 13

A wet edge.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 14

We're looking for something.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 15

See 'em (at least two)?

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 16

Power of the zoom.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 17

Nothing to it, or so they said once they were back down.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 18

For most visitors, this would do: it's the route up to Vernal Fall.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 19

This time of year the path is very wet, but what really bubbles up when you look at this? Why, an Ingmar Bergman movie, of course. It's not a comedy.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 20

Kids come from thousands of miles away and leave their own ephemeral trace.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 21

How do we, in congress assembled, cope with the crowds? Answer: we let private enterprise "operate" the park.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 22

What would the park's first guardian think of this? (The stone is in the small Yosemite cemetery, near a museum that lies low and attracts as little attention as it can.)

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 23

What would they think of it? You know who I mean: you see them standing on that overhang. (Without looking, can you remember whether John or Teddy was closer to the lip? I can't, but my guess is T.R.)

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 24

Maybe we're better now than we used to be. Chris Brown no longer dresses up in owl and turkey feathers, no longer does a little dance of his devising. It was a little scary for kids; I don't remember him offering any comforting words in English. Brown, who served in the U.S. Army in WW II and who performed as Chief Lemee, died in 1953.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 25

What would he make of the crowds in the park today?

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 26

We can talk about it over a campfire. Trouble is, we have to buy the firewood, and we wouldn't dream of using the dying local trees. We buy wood that comes certified as compliant with a hundred rules.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 27

Meanwhile, the dying forest is hauled off to sawmills.

The Western United States: Yosemite Valley, Spring 2017 picture 28

Still and still: it's a treasure.


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