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Ode to the Lyell Glacier

February 15, 2013 Posted by: BW - Volunteer Interpreter

The news last week that the park's largest glacier has stagnated brings the effects of climate change in Yosemite to the forefront of our thoughts. This seems like an appropriate time to reflect on what glaciers mean to this place.

 Lyell Glacier as it appears today.

Lyell Glacier as it appears today.


Ode to the Lyell Glacier
They talk about you still, in the Valley of your ancestors.
They point to the rocks and speak of your power,
Of a time when you were a blanket of creation,
Sculpting the granite before you.
Now you have unraveled, your threads flowing down these hills to the sea.
Your remnant will lie in place on your high country bed,
Looking down on us.
Unmoving, stagnant, until your final day.
Mountain streams whisper of this fate,
But those voices will soon go silent.
What end will we write to your story? 
As you pass into legend.
"I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers…" Muir said.
But now we can only interpret your work
After our warmth has stolen your strength.
What have we lost when a glacier is merely an idea?

 Researchers on the Lyell Glacier assessing its current condition and status

Researchers on the Lyell Glacier assessing its current condition and status.

Ranger Notebook, BW




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Did You Know?

YLP Students in 2010

The Yosemite Leadership Program partners with UC Merced, to bring students to the park each summer for hands-on professional development through internships. Students work alongside scientists, educators, interpreters, business managers, and many other professionals of the NPS and park partner organizations. Some go on to become National Park Service rangers.