Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) are striking and elegant visitors to the Valley's rivers and streams. Like beautiful, winged snapping turtles, they hunt with swift lunges of their long neck and bladelike bill. But even so equipped, they face a dilemma: herons that crouch on the shore catch fish more often, but their catches are small fry compared to the elusive, heftier fish found in deeper water. Most herons live dangerously, preferring to wade out on long, stilt-like legs in hopes of a square meal. (Not too square, though…they’ve been known to choke on overlarge fish.) This photo was taken this morning on the Merced River, near Happy Isles.
The patterns of life begin small, but repeated a million times over they shape Yosemite's grand vistas just as much as the glaciers that carved the land. Over millennia, tiny lichen conquering bare rock are replaced by patches of moss, blades of grass, and fronds of ferns, and eventually trunks of woody plants in immeasurable abundance until we use the words "meadow," "forest," "tundra" as collective nouns.
The Half Dome cables will be opening for the season this Friday, May 11! The daily permit lottery will begin tomorrow, May 9. The trail will be wet and icy in places and visitors planning to ascend Half Dome should prepare for wet and cool hiking conditions.
Read more here: https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/news/half-dome-cables-in-yosemite-national-park-will-be-in-place-for-visitors-on-may-11-2018-daily-lottery-for-permits-will-open-wednesday-may-9-2018.htm
Join us in welcoming our two newest four-hoofed team members: wild mustangs trained by inmates as part of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Wild Horse Program. Drifter and Sandman will continue their training with park rangers in Yosemite, and eventually assist with park operations including traffic management, search and rescue, and the Mounted Patrol. The geldings were adopted through a partnership program between the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department and the BLM to help find homes for the thousands of wild horses currently in holding facilities. Best wishes to Drifter and Sandman for a successful career in Yosemite!
There are about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in our observable universe.
Yosemite provides a place from which to observe the universe at many scales: In one afternoon, we may be transfixed by the scarlet buds on a snow plant or on the movement of one red legged frog, only to seamlessly shift our gaze upward and be floored by the miles of sweeping granite monoliths stretching out above us. As the stars come out and we begin to glimpse about 2,500 of the septillion visible stars, the reality of the vastness of beauty in the universe begins to sink in.
How incredible it is that, thanks to generations of determined minds working in pursuit of science, we live in an age where we have accumulated so much knowledge, while still having so much left to learn about everything from the our planet's smallest organisms to the movements of planets and stars.
On a clear morning in February with temperatures hovering a few degrees above freezing, a hiker headed out from Hetch Hetchy to spend a night in the wilderness. That overnight trip turned into a six-day ordeal when trail conditions, disorientation, and injury conspired to strand him in the snow-covered backcountry. However, good judgement, risk avoidance, and a certain amount of luck gave this story a happy ending.
Read the latest installment of the Search and Rescue blog for the full story (and a few tips to avoid meeting our search and rescue team on your next hike): https://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/lost-at-hetch-hetchy.htm
Nothing like a sunny day on the banks of the Merced for a little feather grooming!
But mallard wings—like blue morpho butterflies and the blue sky itself—aren’t REALLY blue. Instead of having a pigment that reflects blue light and absorbs all other wavelengths (how we perceive most colors), microscopic structures in wing feathers interfere with visible light and scatter blue back towards our eyes, hiding the dark pigment underneath. Why? Well, some scientists speculate that since iridescent colors look different depending on distance and direction, they might help flocks of duck coordinate flight together.
Turns out, bears like an easy stroll through the woods just as much as we do! GPS data collected by Yosemite’s bear team shows an adult male bear following hiking trails up past Vernal and Nevada Falls. The more time bears spend around people, the more likely they are to associate them with high-calorie food…after all, wouldn’t you go for a sandwich over a handful of grubs?
Hikers in the Sierra Nevada have the responsibility of always staying within arm’s reach of their food and packs, carrying bear-resistant canisters on overnight trips, and giving wildlife lots of space.
Quick—how many living things do you see in this photo?
If you guessed one or two, think again! Lichens are not organisms themselves, but entire communities of different species: a fungus that forms the main structure, a single-celled plant or bacteria that feeds the fungus through photosynthesis, and yet another species of yeast-like fungus, which probably helps defend the trio from predators and microbes.
Because lichens have no protective “skin” and pollutants absorbed through the water or air can easily damage any of the organisms, they make great environmental indicators. Without a complicated piece of equipment, you can measure air quality just by taking stock of the local lichens!
Wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina) was used by many American Indians to produce a bright yellow dye. Today, scientists are studying whether its antibiotic properties can be used to treat some kinds of staph infections.
Whether you’re liken’ ‘em or not, there’s more to tree fuzz than meets the eye!
Yosemite has been full of captivating overcast days this year.
On these days, a chill seeps into your bones, activated by the breath of wind through dry leaves and shivering evergreen branches. The sky itself seems to seep down through the mountaintops, obscuring the shapes of the world. The valley is steeped in shadow, and pockets of light become beacons in the dusky atmosphere, encouraging the intrepid to continue on into the fog, to experience the power of clouds and cold stone. #YosemiteNationalPark
What do the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have in common with Yosemite National Park? They’re all designated World Heritage Sites! The US nominated Yosemite to this elite catalog of globally significant sites for its extraordinary natural beauty, waterfalls, unique geologic formations, and biodiversity. In 1984, UNESCO added it to the list. We are proud to be the stewards of our shared natural heritage in Yosemite. WildLink, which introduces underserved California youth to the outdoors, is one of many programs passing this heritage from one generation to the next.
Check out other World Heritage Sites in the US: https://www.recreation.gov/marketing.do?goto=acm%2FExplore_Go_Lists%2Fworld-heritage-sites-in-the-united-states.htm