Last Month in Yosemite: September 2017
A monthly recap of what we saw, heard and did in the park. Here's what happened in September...
See ya, summer!
The first snow of the season fell on September 20—the last full day before the autumn equinox, and, coincidentally, the same day we published a post highlighting our Instagram fans' views of summer in the Sierra. The extra-early flakes added some beautiful, if short-lived, wintry style to the view from our High Sierra webcam (see below), and prompted the temporary closures of Tioga and Glacier Point roads. Time will tell if the snow will pile high enough to meet last season's record totals, but in the meantime, remember to keep an eye on our webcams, check current park conditions (online, and by calling 209-372-0200), and be prepared to follow chain requirements.
Off the clock, on the trail
Sometimes, it's okay to take work home with you—especially if your work (and for some of us, home) is Yosemite! Our team has been taking advantage of weekends and vacations to venture out into the Yosemite backcountry, spending quality time with the place we all work hard to protect.
Recent destinations include Mono Pass, Cathedral Peak, Mount Conness and Clouds Rest. A few folks headed out with our naturalists for guided Outdoor Adventures, including a multi-day trek that culminated with ascending the Half Dome cables.
Welcome back, C's!
Toward the end of the month, the two California Conservation Corps backcountry crews wrapped up their season on the trails. Our project coordinator stopped by to say hello and snap some "after" portraits of the crew members, who spent weeks camping in the wilderness, learning from park experts (and one another), and restoring trails in the Merced and Tuolumne watersheds. They covered dozens of miles of trails, from Virginia Canyon and McCabe Lakes to Mono Meadow and the popular Panorama Trail.
This September marked one year since Yosemite added Ackerson Meadow to its western edge. The previously privately owned meadow was aquired and donated to the park through a collaborative effort by the Trust for Public Land, the National Park Service, and the Conservancy.
Thanks to a 2017 grant funded by our donors, scientists have been able to study the meadow this summer, with the goal of learning more about the plants and animals found there. So far, they've...
- identified about 50 bird species, including song sparrows and red-winged blackbirds;
- used remote cameras to capture images of bears, bobcats, mountain lions and other mammals;
- recorded echolocation calls from eight species of bats;
- conducted environmental DNA surveys to test for presence of yellow- and red-legged frogs;
- spotted western pond turtles in meadow streams; and
- found 37 acres of rare plants, including pansy monkeyflowers, as well as several acres of invasive plants.
Drawing from Nature
As part of our annual art programs in the park, science illustrator Sean Edgerton spent a week volunteering and sharing his expertise during outdoor drawing classes in Yosemite Valley. He posted some great shots from his class on Instagram (@thepenandthepangolin)—not a bad view for a day of art in the park. If you missed this year's nature drawing class (or loved it so much you want to come back for more), you're in luck! Stay tuned for our 2018 art calendar, which will include more opportunities to learn from Sean, and from a fellow alum of CSU Monterey Bay's renowned science illustration program.
Coming up on our calendars: The final weeks of arts in the park for the 2017 season; more opportunities for our guides to share their passion for the park, including through autumn photography and a day of woodpecker-watching; and the fast-approaching holiday season! If you're doing some early shopping, check out our bookstore (online, or in the park) to find gifts that give back to Yosemite.
We'll wrap it up with a beautiful late-September sunrise from Glacier Point, captured by our Yosemite Theater guru, Carolyn Botell:
See you in the park, and thanks for reading!