• Rainbow over Half Dome

    Yosemite

    National Park California

High Country Notebook

About This Blog

NOTE: This blog has been discontinued, however, future posts similar to these will appear in Yosemite Ranger Notes.

Ranger-naturalists have been interpreting Yosemite and its natural and cultural treasures for visitors since its early days as a park. In this blog, some of Yosemite's High Country Naturalists share recent observations from areas north of Yosemite Valley. Topics focused on in the blog are:

Wildlife and Other Sightings:

In Yosemite, especially in the high country, we have a unique opportunity to step beyond our cars and the chatter of our daily lives into the realm of the other than human world. The wilder life of animals, plants, fungi, rocks, and even air and water, is ever-changing and fascinating to pay closer attention to.

Roadside Naturalist:

With over 100 miles of paved roads within Yosemite National Park's boundaries, visitors can spend a great deal of time in their cars traveling around the park. Amid all of the grand scenery there are smaller natural wonders to appreciate as well. With a good eye and a few hints from us you can spot these things along the roadside, even while driving the speed limit. If you wish to stop, please do so only where parking is provided off the roadway.

Bird Monitoring and Research:

Yosemite National Park provides essential habitat for over 165 species of migrating, wintering, and breeding birds, in addition to nearly 100 species recorded as transient or vagrant. For nearly two decades, the breeding populations of songbirds in Yosemite have been studied in one of the longest continuous research projects in the Park. Each summer, from late May to early August, researchers work at bird banding stations throughout Yosemite. They collect valuable information about bird populations in Yosemite by capturing, banding, and then releasing birds following a strict scientific protocol. This year, this important work is being funded by the Yosemite Conservancy.

Wildflowers of White Wolf:

The White Wolf area is a botanically-diverse and simultaneously accessible part of the park. We'll give you a taste of what we see blooming throughout the summer. Please help protect the flowers and plants by not picking flowers and staying on trails to observe them.

Mather Musings:

The Mather District of Yosemite National Park includes such diverse areas as White Wolf, Hetch Hetchy, Crane Flat, May Lake, North Dome and Hodgdon Meadow. Here you'll find some collected thoughts of Ranger Naturalists working throughout this unique district.

This blog has moved!

December 06, 2012 Posted by: JT

This blog has been incorprated into Yosemite Ranger Notes.

 

See you next Season!

September 22, 2012 Posted by: Mather District Interpretive Staff

Thank you to all of you who have followed our High Country Notebook for its inaugural season. This will be our last post until the summer of 2013.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Long-tailed weasel

September 15, 2012 Posted by: KB - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

This solitary long-tailed weasel was seen on the trail at Lyell Canyon about five miles in from the Tioga Road. Check it out!

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: The End of the Season

September 15, 2012 Posted by: LM - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

For some rangers, specific plants may mark the nearing of the end of the season in the high country.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Balloons

September 15, 2012 Posted by: BW – Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Ever wonder what happened to that balloon you let go of that floated high into the sky? It may have landed in Yosemite.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Funnel-web Spider

September 15, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Ever seen a funnel-web spider?

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Fallen Green Cones of the Giant Sequoia

September 15, 2012 Posted by: MS - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Gusty winds recently caused many green giant sequoia cones to fall to the ground in the Tuolumne Grove and I noticed a Douglas squirrel carrying one away in its mouth. Learn more about how the tiny sequoia seeds disperse and germinate.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Jerusalem Cricket

September 15, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Take a peek at this unusual insect known as the Jerusalem cricket.

 

Roadside Naturalist: Fire Danger Signs

September 15, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

As visitors enter Yosemite National Park, they are confronted with large signs that describe the current fire danger level.

 

Mather Musings: Life and Death in the Mountains

September 15, 2012 Posted by: JF - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

A battle involving a wasp, a bee, and an ant....a grisly tug-o-war.

 

Mather Musings: Rockpiles

September 15, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Millions are drawn to Yosemite each year to enjoy stunning views of natural scenery. Some visitors create unnatural additions by stacking piles of small granite rocks.

 

Mather Musings: Wolf Lichen and Snow

September 08, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about these ornate, chartreuse, fuzzy-from-a-distance growths on branches and trunks of trees.

 

Roadside Naturalist: Effects of the Mono Winds

September 08, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Have you noticed a lot of downed trees near the Mono Pass Trailhead this past season? Dramatic evidence of the regional phenomenon known as the Mono Winds can be seen just off the Tioga road near this area.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Convergent Lady Beetle

September 08, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Did you know that convergent lady beetles are the most common “ladybug” in the United states but they got their name for their habit of congregating by the thousands in places like the Sierra Nevada high country for a long hibernation?

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Angulate Orbweaver

September 08, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

An angulate orbweaver has been making a home on the front porch of a ranger’s house in the Hogdgon Meadow employee housing area.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Marmot is returned to Yosemite!

September 08, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Marmot is returned to Yosemite after hitchhiking to San Jose.

 

Mather Musings: Illegal Fire Rings and Campsites

September 08, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Volunteers were busy in the high country this week on a wilderness restoration project near Tuolumne Meadows. The small crew was looking for illegal fire rings and campsites.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Yellowjackets

September 01, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Yellowjackets have become very common throughout the Hodgdon Meadow and Crane Flat Campgrounds.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - August 25, 2012

September 01, 2012 Posted by: BW and AH - Mather District Volunteer and Interpretive Rangers

Species (by family) seen blooming on August 25 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Monkeyflower Research

September 01, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Although we’re nearing the end of a lovely wildflower season in the high country, a few monkeyflowers, especially the primrose monkeyflower, are still hanging on. A woman named Kelly Carscadden has been engaged in some fascinating research. After bombarding her with a lot of questions, she agreed to send some pictures and write up some notes about her research to share here.

 

Mather Musings: Stop Looking At Your Feet – Lessons from the Alpine Mammal Survey, Part Two

September 01, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Hiking in Yosemite is a great way to see the park. More than 94% of this park is designated wilderness and there are many adventures and great views to be had. Hiking will take you off the road, but you still won’t see much of Yosemite if you are staring at your feet.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Flowers Seen Blooming this Season (full list)

September 01, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

This will be the last update for wildflowers along the Lukens Lake Trail for the season. About 70 different species of plants were seen blooming, identified and recorded between early July and late August, with quite a number of Aster Family members (and some others) not included for lack of time to key them out. At this point, most of the flowers have gone to fruit (and many into the stomachs of animals fattening up for the winter). Here is a list of all recorded species.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Blooming on the Trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake (selected photos)

September 01, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Blooming on the Trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake (selected photos)

 

Mather Musings: Lessons from the Alpine Mammal Study, Part One

August 25, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

As we travel through Yosemite National Park, most of us will be trying to fit in as much as we can. In a park the size of Yosemite, it can be overwhelming to try to see it all. Just the same, we will be rushing from one scenic vista to another in an effort to make our limited vacation time go further. There is another way to experience Yosemite, but you have to slow down.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - August 18, 2012

August 25, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Species (by family) seen blooming on August 18 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Roadside Naturalist: "Speeding Kills Bears" Signs

August 25, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about the important "Speeding Kills Bears" signs that you may see during your visit to Yosemite.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Coyote

August 25, 2012 Posted by: MS - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about recent sightings of coyotes near the Hodgdon Meadow Campground.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Black-backed Woodpecker and Pine Grosbeaks, and the American Lady Butterfly

August 25, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about these sightings from the middle fork of the Tuolumne River and near Lukens Lake.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Dark Night Skies & Sequoia Seedlings

August 25, 2012 Posted by: LM - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about dark night skies or giant sequoias from this high country naturalist's recent sightings.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Sooty Grouse and the Alpine Mammal Survey

August 25, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

A Sooty Grouse was spotted in the backcountry of Yosemite this week. Check it out! Also learn more about the Alpine Mammal Survey.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Robber Fly & Bumble Bee, plus the Tuolumne Area Butterfly Count

August 18, 2012 Posted by: BW – Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about the Tuolumne Area Butterfly Count and some other interesting naturalist sightings, including a dramatic interaction between a Robber Fly and a Bumble Bee!

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Dog Vomit Slime Mold

August 18, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Dog vomit slime mold is always an exciting find along the trail! Check it out....

 

Roadside Naturalist: Pearly Everlasting

August 18, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Dense clusters of white flowers can be seen right now along the side of the road between Crane Flat and White Wolf.

 

Mather Musings: Burls

August 18, 2012 Posted by: AS - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

A burl is a rounded growth on the trunk or branch of a tree. Learn more...

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - August 13, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Species (by family) seen blooming on August 13 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Bird Monitoring and Research: About the MAPS project in Yosemite

August 18, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Bird banding stations in Yosemite are cooperatively run by The Institute for Bird Populations and National Park Service personnel. They are part of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Program which include a continent-wide network of over 500 constant-effort mist netting stations. The Yosemite stations are some of the longest-running MAPS stations in the country!

 

Bird Monitoring and Research: July 31 - August 5, 2012

August 18, 2012 Posted by: Yosemite Bird Researchers and BW – Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

This is the last summer's bird monitoring and research update for 2012 as we are done with research for the summer. Check out the year-end tables.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: California Grey Squirrel, Ponderosa Pine, and Sugar Pine

August 11, 2012 Posted by: LM and BW – Mather District Interpretive Rangers

What a curious sight – a pile of shredded pine cones scattered throughout the forest floor in the Hodgdon Meadows Campground! Who are the culprits?

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Sierra Gentian, Crimson Columbine, and Giant Mountain Larkspur

August 11, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Although the wildflower season is coming to an end, there has been a nice variety of wildflowers still seen in and around the White Wolf area - check out these recent sightings!

 

Mather Musings: Quaking Aspen

August 11, 2012 Posted by: AS - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about this unique deciduous tree!

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - August 5, 2012

August 11, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Species (by family) seen blooming on August 5 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Butterflies & Moths, and Yellow-rumped Warbler

August 11, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Great week for sightings of butterflies and moths as well as a Yellow-rumped warbler!

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - July 29, 2012

August 04, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Species (by family) seen blooming on July 29 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Roadside Naturalist: A lot of great sightings from the past week!

August 04, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Check out these roadside sightings from the week of July 29 - Paintbrush, coneflowers, and more!

 

Roadside Naturalist: Scarlet Gilia, August 4, 2012

August 04, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

A member of the phlox family, these brightly colored flowers were blooming along the roadside this week.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Western Whiptail, Gilbert's Skink....

August 04, 2012 Posted by: PU - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Check out some great wildlife sightings from this week in the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Evening Primrose

August 04, 2012 Posted by: AS - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Check out this ranger's recent sightings in and around the northwest part of Yosemite.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Golden Digger Wasps & Feathers

August 04, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Learn about wasps visiting the Big Oak Flat area and about feathers you may see on the trails as birds begin to molt.

 

Bird Monitoring and Research: July 20-26, 2012

August 04, 2012 Posted by: Yosemite Bird Researchers and BW – Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

The numbers of birds processed are up by nearly 16% this year. This is probably due to a correlation between low snowpack levels and high avian productivity. Yosemite got about 30% of its average snowpack this year which means that bird populations should be having more offspring. We were definitely seeing this in the nets this period where 3 out of every 4 birds processed had hatched this year.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Monarch Butterfly

August 04, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

July 29, 2012: On the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake A monarch butterfly was dangling upside down from one of the few remaining Jeffrey Shooting Star flowers along the trail to Lukens Lake. A few others were spotted over the next couple of days flying around the White Wolf area.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Mule Deer

July 27, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about Mule deer (Odocoilus hermionus)

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Bighorn Sheep

July 27, 2012 Posted by: LM - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about a survey that was done to inventory the remaining populations of Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis) in the Sierra Nevada and the herd they sighted just outside the park boundaries to the Northeast.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - July 23, 2012

July 26, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Species (by family) seen blooming on July 23 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Sierra Ensatina

July 26, 2012 Posted by: PU - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

While turning a log in Hodgdon Meadow campground (for a bear foraging demonstration on a ranger-led program), a Sierra Ensatina salamander was revealed.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Sulphur Shelf Fungus

July 26, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn about Sulphur shelf fungus!

 

Bird Monitoring and Research: July 10-16, 2012

July 26, 2012 Posted by: Yosemite Bird Researchers and BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Birds are beginning to fledge at the middle elevations of Yosemite and most of the birds caught at Hodgdon Meadow and Crane Flat had recently hatched. This included twelve Anna’s Hummingbirds and many Nashville Warblers and Orange-crowned Warblers. The meadows at higher elevations should begin to increase in activity soon.

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Species List - July 15, 2012

July 26, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Species (by family) seen blooming on July 15 along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake. If you’re in the White Wolf area and see a flower in bloom along the trail that we don’t have listed, we would love to have your help in keeping our list as complete as possible. A great way to let us know of your find is to talk to a White Wolf ranger at one of our free ranger-guided programs listed in the Yosemite Guide newspaper.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Fringed Pine Sap

July 26, 2012 Posted by: LM - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Fringed Pine Sap is a sparingly occurring saprophyte in Yosemite, which grows at elevations of 1200-2450 meters in the dry forest humus in the mixed conifer and montane zones. Check it out!

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Long-stalked Starwort

July 26, 2012 Posted by: KA & AH - Tuolumne Meadows and Mather District Interpretive Rangers

Don't miss learning about this amazing and tiny little flower!

 

Wildflowers of White Wolf: Photo Series

July 26, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

The White Wolf/Lukens Lake area is a botanically-diverse and simultaneously accessible part of the park. Here’s a taste of what we see blooming along the trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake this week… Please help protect the flowers and plants by not picking flowers and staying on trails to observe them.

 

Mather Musings: Horsetail or Scouring Rush

July 19, 2012 Posted by: PU - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

You might be familiar with Yosemite’s Sequoia’s having a fossil lineage that goes back to the dinosaurs (80 million years ago), but there is a plant in Yosemite that has a lineage that goes back even further to the time when vertebrates were just starting to move onto land (300 million years ago!).

 

Mather Musings: What's Under Foot?

July 15, 2012 Posted by: AS - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Many interesting geologic features may be found in the High Country of Yosemite.

 

Mather Musings: "Snow Knee" Tree

July 15, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Check out this unique tree along the trail to North Dome from Porcupine Creek.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Coyote...Ravens...and Sierra Dome Spiders

July 15, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

The Hodgdon Meadow Campground sees plenty of visitors on a daily basis - learn more about regular visits from a coyote, a group of ravens, and the place where Sierra Dome Spiders make their homes.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Southern Alligator Lizard

July 15, 2012 Posted by: PU - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Learn more about alligator lizards with this recent sighting.

 

Roadside Naturalist: July 14 - 15, 2012

July 15, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Check out these roadside sightings on July 14-15, 2012 along the Big Oak Flat Road between the Big Oak Flat Entrance and Yosemite Valley.

 

Wildlife and Other Sightings: Mousetail Ivesia & Snowplant

July 15, 2012 Posted by: AH - Mather District Interpretive Ranger

Mousetail Ivesia is in full bloom on North Dome. Snowplant is also visible along the trail to North Dome.

 

Bird Monitoring and Research: Summer 2012

July 05, 2012 Posted by: Yosemite Bird Researchers

Each summer, from late May to early August, researchers work at bird banding stations throughout Yosemite. They collect valuable information about bird populations in Yosemite by capturing, banding, and then releasing birds following a strict scientific protocol. This year, this important work is being funded by the Yosemite Conservancy.

 

Did You Know?