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.

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: 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: 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.


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.


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.


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.


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...


Mather Musings: Quaking Aspen

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

Learn more about this unique deciduous tree!


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.


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!).


Last updated: August 6, 2012

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