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.
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.
Bridalveil is this full only briefly and then only after winters with unusually heavy snowfalls. The winter of 2016-17 qualified.
Ephemeral falls were busy, including this one, Sentinel Falls.
Another, Ribbon Fall.
An unnamed trickle.
Another iconic view, this time of Half Dome from Glacier Point but hinting at the snowpack along the Sierra crest.
The camera has turned only slightly to the right to reveal Nevada Fall, Vernal Fall, and the melting snow above.
This is the start of the Merced River.
It doesn't live up to its name.
Across the valley, Yosemite Falls (on Yosemite Creek) were as full as they get.
Large parts of the valley floor were correspondingly flooded.
A wet edge.
We're looking for something.
See 'em (at least two)?
Power of the zoom.
Nothing to it, or so they said once they were back down.
For most visitors, this would do: it's the route up to Vernal Fall.
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.
Kids come from thousands of miles away and leave their own ephemeral trace.
How do we, in congress assembled, cope with the crowds? Answer: we let private enterprise "operate" the park.
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.)
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.)
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.
What would he make of the crowds in the park today?
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.
Meanwhile, the dying forest is hauled off to sawmills.
Still and still: it's a treasure.
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