Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘yosemite’

Yosemite Interlude

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite on Vimeo.

I meant to already have a post up about the second garden I visited on the Garden Conservancy tour, but I ended up taking a trip to Tuolumne Meadows before I got a chance. Tuolumne was of course awesome, and it will probably be a little while before my attention fully turns back to Bay Area gardens and posting resumes.

— Update 8/29 — I haven’t been closely following the news about the rim fire, it kind of depresses me, but here’s a video of it. Sadly it’s a bit more relevant than the one above.

Save Sugar Pine Bridge?

The National Park Service has released its new plan for Yosemite. In 1987, Congress designated the Merced and the Tuolumne as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and now after years of study the park has put together a plan to comply. I’ve been reading through some of the plan, trying to understand the details, but I haven’t made a lot of headway, and the plan is only open for public comment until the 18th. The report is here with links to a summary and information about commenting.

From what I’ve read, a lot of the proposals make sense. For instance, the proposed expansion of Camp 4 is desperately needed. During the high season, people start lining up hours before sunrise and by 6AM there’s a line of people in sleeping bags waiting for the kiosk to open, essentially camping out in hopes of getting a campsite. I don’t even try to get a site any more. So that proposal is easy to support.

Proposed development in the west end of the valley, near El Cap Meadow, is more of a concern. I LOVE El Cap Meadow, in large part because it is one of the less developed parts of the valley. I would be sad to see it change. I haven’t read deep enough into the plan to find out the details of what is planned. The Access Fund, a climbing advocacy group, has a form letter that more or less represents my point of view until I get a chance to find out a bit more.

I also wish I knew more about the proposal to remove Sugar Pine bridge, the stone-clad bridge near Curry Village. According to the report, the bridge impedes the river’s flow during high water. You can kind of see in these Library of Congress photos that the abutments are out in the flow of the river.

I wish I was going to have a chance to read more about that before the comment period ends. If anyone know or finds any substantial info, please let me know. Sugar Pine is probably not the single most iconic of the Yosemite bridges, but as a group the stone bridges are quite wonderful. There aren’t a lot of stone bridges in California. It would be shame for one of them to go.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

‘…a trail which was almost like a symphony, stopping, moving, looking, listening, and so on. I wanted to make this… but not to make it clear that there was a designer here… I wanted to leave it to the point that people would assume that it had always been that way.’ Lawrence Halprin

Along with the north coast, I went to Yosemite several times in the last couple months. Absolutely amazing place, as the millions of people who visit annually can all attest. I used to be bothered by the crowds, but I’ve learned to navigate the park and appreciate it without feeling bothered by them. Bringing my bicycle with me has helped immeasurably. The Valley’s a beautiful, flat place to ride around in, and a bicycle is the key to avoiding the daily traffic jams. (The park service really needs to figure out a way to get people parking outside the valley and just using bikes and shuttle buses inside. I’m skeptical it will ever happen, but I can dream, right?) Climbing has also helped me love the valley. Obviously because the climbing is so incredible, but also because I’ve ended up spending long periods of time sitting and staring at the views. And not just on the climbs. Most days I would meet up with my climbing partner at the bicycle parking at Lower Yosemite Falls, and while I waited for him, I started to really appreciate the effect that the view of the falls has for people.

Yosemite Falls

It’s the tallest falls in North America, 2,425 feet, and probably the single most viewed and photographed in the world. Lawrence Halprin redesigned the approach trail and picnic area a few years ago, and there is a lot of stonework done by the same company that did all of the stonework at Stern Grove. I don’t really remember what the approach was like before the redesign and the only ‘before photo I’ve seen is a glimpse in the video I linked above, but I remember a parking lot and a lot of crumbling asphalt. I’m pretty sure the framed view of the falls was already cleared, but possibly with the trees starting to grow back in and obscure the view again, and with a bathroom in the foreground instead of the dramatic allée. The redesign took out the parking area, made the trail into a loop, and rehabbed a lot of degraded habitat areas. It upgraded the materials and it channeled people’s movement so they would hit the key viewpoints without trampling on the vegetation or eroding the banks of the creek. And the work was done with enough subtlety and transparency that, as Halprin was hoping, most people probably don’t realize that their experience was crafted by a designer.

Yosemite Falls Approach

There’s a summary of the project here.

Yosemite Falls Approach Trail

Time Lapse Yosemite

People in Yosemite: A TimeLapse Study from Steven M. Bumgardner on Vimeo.

“I’ve lived and worked in National Parks for almost 20 years, and as much as I love landscape photography, I also like looking at the human footprint and the human experience in our national parks.” Bumgardner

This showed up on the Daily Dish just before I left town, so folks might have seen this already, but it merits posting anyways, among other reasons because the rock climbing at 2:30 is on the Stately Pleasure Dome in the Tenaya Lake area, which I posted about last fall. Very cool to see a time lapse of climbs I’ve done. Yosemite must be the most photographed valley in the world, but as far as I’m concerned there can never be too much Yosemite photography. I like that this collection focuses on the multitudes of people in the park, a significant part of the Yosemite experience; if you want to enjoy the valley, you have to come to terms with how many other people want to enjoy it, too.

— Update 7/13 — A recent link I felt like keeping track of, a map of the rock that makes up El Capitan, and more info from the map project.