Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Yosemite Blog Reports High Water in Yosemite Valley This Weekend

According to a post at Yosemite blog, the weather service is forecasting that high levels of spring runoff water in the Merced River may cause some flooding in Yosemite Valley this weekend. Before you panic, a bit of flooding in wet years is a normal thing and is part of the natural life cycle of meadows there. And, if you are a photographer, this can provide some very special photographic opportunities.

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June 3, 2010 Posted by | News, Sierra Nevada, Yosemite | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A few day hikes in the Tuolumne Meadows area

In an online discussion group I read and post to someone asked about hikes in the Tuolumne Meadows region of Yosemite. They were going to be there for only one day, and wondered what some of the options might be. Since I wrote up a reply and posted it to that discussion group, I figured I might as well share it here as well. Here goes…

You’re talking about MY country now! ;-)

There are, of course, a ton of interesting day hikes in the Tioga/Tuolumne region. Which one is right for you depends a lot on how much time you’ll have, your preferences for terrain and other features, what time of day you are there, and so forth. I’ll just mention a few to get you started.

1. If you are only there for a very brief time, a minimal hike is simply to hike out across the meadow to the Soda Springs area. You’ll enjoy this more if you do it in the morning or late in the day. This is an easy and essentially flat walk – and there are several alternate routes – that takes you across the meadow and the river and into the edge of the forested areas.

2. Another short walk can take you to the the bridge across the Tuolumne on the John Muir Trail as it starts up Lyell Canyon. You can start this at any of the parking areas along the spur road to Tuolumne Lodge, though I think the route from the main campground is more scenic.

3. To get just a _bit_ more flavor of the backcountry, you could hike the one mile trail to May Lake and its high sierra camp set beneath Mt. Hoffman. (This is not all the way up to Tuolumne – e.g. it is further west along the Tioga Pass road.

4. The relatively short hike from the back of the Tuolumne Campground to Elizabeth Lake is scenic and gets you to a wonderful, meadow-surrounded sub-alpine lake. There is plenty to explore there.

5. If you want to get to a high place with great panoramic views of Tuolumne and the surrounding peaks (especially the Cathedral range) the hike to the top of Lembert Dome is a classic. Some find sections at the top a bit exposed for comfort, but it is not really dangerous at all – hundreds of people climb it every day. I prefer to start this hike from the “dog lake trail” parking lot between the wilderness permit station and Tuolumne Lodge.

6. To quickly get to true high sierra terrain, the hike from the Tioga Pass entrance station to the Gaylor Lake Basin can’t be beat. The route is short but steep. There are tremendous views of 13,000+ Mt. Dana across the meadow, and the basin itself has plenty to explore. You can even visit the remains of the old mining site at the head of the basin.

7. If you have a good half day, the hike out to Mono Pass is spectacular. You’ll get all the way to the Sierra crest on foot, you’ll travel through wonderful alpine terrain, you’ll get to see more historic remnants of log cabins near the pass. If you are a very aggressive hiker you can work nearby Parker Pass and/or Spillway Lake into your hike as well.

8. Another classic day hike – of roughly the same length at the Mono Pass hike but at somewhat lower elevation – takes you from T-Meadow to Cathedral Lakes.

There are more… many more.

Enjoy.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just back from Tuolumne…

… and I want to say that Saturday is a good day to be leaving Yosemite! :-)

As I left via the northern route around midday today, the line waiting to get into the park was half a mile long! Where do they put all these people?!

July 11, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A photo at Yosemite Blog

I somehow forgot the mention this, but Yosemite Blog pointed to one of my recent dogwood photographs from Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Blog is a great source of current information about the Valle and the Park – they are in my RSS reader!

You can see much more of my photography at my photography blog.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick note about Tioga Pass and other interesting things

I posted a few times during recent weeks concerning the opening date for Tioga Pass – something that many of us look forward to every spring. Tioga Pass Road did open the middle of last week, and we “west siders” once again have a more efficient (and quite stunning!) route to the east side.

(The pass opened about one day earlier than I estimated it would – I was expecting a Thursday opening. If you are interested in more information about when this route is likely to open and close, there is a history of opening and closing dates on the web.)

Of course, a lot of people are going to be very pleased that the pass opened in time for the Memorial Holiday weekend – not only the travelers who want to cross it but also the businesses on the east side that rely on the traffic. (I’ve been to Lee Vining in the winter when the only access is via a long drive from anywhere else – and things can be very quiet over there.)

As to my plans… a variety of factors are going to keep me from traveling this weekend. I’ll stay right here in the SF Bay Area and I won’t even have much opportunity to get out on the trail or do photography – lot’s of other things to take care of. But I can’t complain. It won’t be too many more weeks until my annual period of “gainful unemployment” as a college faculty member begins, and at that point I’ll try to more than make up for the stay-at-home Memorial Holiday weekend.

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glacier Point Road Opening Delayed

This is certainly no surprise, given the “interesting” weather this weekend – and I guessed earlier that this might happen – but according to a number of sources, including the NPS itself, the opening of Glacier Point Road, originally scheduled for yesterday, has been delayed until this coming Monday, May 4 due to weather concerns.

Some might wonder whether the weather could delay the opening of Tioga Pass Road. My guess is “no.” First, they generally seem to open the road near the end of a week, if memory serves, so there must be some leeway about the actual opening day. Second, it is not at all unusual to get a bit of “shoulder season” (fall and spring) snow that melts quickly in a day or two. The only fly in the ointment here is that this damp weather could last into the first half of next week. If that happens, I suppose that it is possible that road clearing work might be delayed – but my hunch is that this won’t end up being the case.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yosemite Spring Progress Report

Several thing define the progress from winter to summer in Yosemite, both in the Valley and in the high country. Edie Howe (of The Little Red Tent) posted two indicators this evening. First, she reports that the recent warm weather may have jump-started the dogwood blossoms – it will be interesting to follow this since some had speculated that the bloom would be delayed this season. Maybe not. She also posts a web cam photo of the Tioga Pass entrance kiosk… showing that plows have made it to that point from the east.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting for Sierra Summer?

There is a progress report from Yosemite National Park covering the prospective opening date for the Glacier Point Road and progress on clearing Tioga Pass Road:

Tioga Road Plowing Update for April 20:

Start: Crane Flat
End: 7 miles past Crane Flat (just beyond South Fork bridge)
Miles plowed today: 7 miles
Average snow depth: 4 feet

The Glacier Point Road tentatively may open on Friday, May 1, conditions permitting.

The Mariposa Grove Road tentatively may open on Friday, April 17, conditions permitting.

I love to engage in the sport of predicting when Tioga Pass Road might actually open. I don’t have the sources that some people have so I really have to guess. My guess is sometime around the middle of May if conditions stay more or less on track. Sometime close to that date I hope to enjoy fish tacos in Lee Vining while overlooking Mono Lake, and perhaps stop at Latte Da for an espresso afterwards. (You can view a historical record of opening dates online.)

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, News, Sierra Nevada | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring in Death Valley

I spent about four days in the Death Valley National Park area last week, doing photography in familiar and new places. This has become something of a spring break tradition over the past few years. (Photography from the trip has started appearing at my photography web site and will continue to do so for the next week or so.)

On the final day of this trip I was more or less run out of the park by a huge dust storm. I’ve experienced several of these in the past, but this one pretty much takes the cake. Due to a lucky turn of events in the morning I was able to exit the park faster than I might have otherwise.

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. so that I could head to my planned photography location well before dawn. My plan was to shoot until mid-morning and then swing back through the campground at Stovepipe Wells to strike camp before heading out of the park later in the day. But because I got up quickly I found myself with a few extra minutes, and I changed plans and struck my camp in the dark before heading off for photography. I was very glad about this a few hours later!

Before dawn I arrived at the iconic Zabriskie Point. I hadn’t necessarily planned to shoot there, but I thought there might be some interesting clouds on this morning, and that can make for something very special at Zabriskie. Turned out that the clouds did not materialize, but despite this development and the tremendously windy conditions I managed to spend a productive couple of hours shooting. As I finished up I noticed that a few scattered clouds were developing over the ridges to the west, east, and north – but this was more or less in the forecast.

As I drove back up the Valley toward Stovepipe Wells the clouds began to get a bit thicker… and I noticed a very ominous haze around the summit of Tucki Mountain above Stovepipe Wells, a haze that I recognize as the warning sign of a dust storm. (I’ve experienced two in the past, so I have at least a bit of experience with them.) As I continued on up the Valley it became apparent that there was a huge, thick, dark cloud of nasty looking dust all the way across the Valley before Stovepipe, and just before the road turned left to head west across the Valley I drove into it.

It immediately became twilight dark, strong winds buffeted the car forcing me to slow to 45 mph or so, and the sand was streaming across the roadway. Visibility became quite bad as I passed the Mesquite Dunes area and at Stovepipe Wells it was dark and no one appeared to be outside. I was very glad that I had packed up earlier – it would have been a real mess trying to strike my tent and pack the car in this meteorological awfulness!

The photo below shows the beginnings of the dust storm across the Valley near Tucki Mountain, with one final glimpse of blue sky showing through.

Dust Storm, Death Valley

April 5, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What's Happening in the Yosemite High Country?

I always look forward to reading the Tuolumne Meadows Winter Report from the rangers who spend the off-season generally keeping an eye on this part of the high country. There is a summary at Yosemite blog right now.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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