Last updated: September 9, 2012
Wolf Lichen and Snow
White Wolf area
These ornate, chartreuse, fuzzy-from-a-distance growths on branches and trunks of trees not only give a vibrant accent to a late season stroll through one of Yosemite's red fir/lodgepole pine forests. They also give some hints as to what one might expect if you were to stick around through the winter. Wolf lichen likes to grow on the trunks of trees where it can get a good hold, such as on thick and sturdy-barked red fir (bottom picture above). But you'll notice that it only starts a certain height above the ground…around White Wolf it's usually around eight or nine (or more) feet up from the ground. Turns out that it doesn't like to grow under the snow, so the height that you first see it on the trunk of a tree is a good indication of the average snow depth for an area (meaning eight or nine feet or more in a lot of areas near White Wolf)! The White Wolf Lodge closes this week, the campground closes next week, and the Tioga road will be closing at some point in the not too distant future as the snows set in and turn the high country into a very different world.