With this week’s look #InsideYosemite
, we want to introduce Ranger Erik Westerlund. Ranger Erik is not just one of our field interpreters, leading hundreds of ranger walks every year on topics ranging from trees to bees to the reason for the breeze, he is also a passionate and creative person who injects appreciation into every interaction he has. He leads a crew of volunteers all year long whom are never uncertain of his gratitude and respect for them, and he has a way of teaching and inspiring while also always making the listener feel like they asked exactly the right question, or brought up a vitally important concept. Erik provides other employees, volunteers, and park visitors alike with new inspiration on a daily basis, and we are so lucky to have him here.
Thanks, Ranger Erik!
Chiura Obata was a Japanese fine artist who moved to America in as a young adult in 1903, originally planning on continuing on to Paris, but instead remaining in California as an illustrator and a designer.
In 1927, Obata spent a summer creating art while traveling across Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. This represented Obata's first foray into creating art for western audiences, and he was soon renowned for his artwork in Japan as well as America.
The experience he had with Yosemite stayed with Obata, through his harrowing experiences with institutionalized racism, being the victim through the years of continually denied citizenship, gun violence, and eventually, incarceration in internment camps during World War II. Despite this, he still managed to start art schools at both camps.
In his later life, after racial tensions from the war had subsided and he was released from internment, Obata returned to a career as an art professor at UC Berkeley, where he eventually retired as a professor emeritus. He led art classes with the Sierra Club, and effectively brought Japanese art techniques and ideas to America.
His paintings of Yosemite have moved countless people. His story may be even more influential, of his continued drive to create art, promote peace, and interpret the beauty of the world, even in times of great injustice.
Learn more about Chiura Obata with our new 'Inside Our Collections' blog post:
The ski touring in the high country has been beautiful this Valentine's Day week, and love was in the air as winter rangers began hearing the mating calls of mountain chickadees and brown creepers (possibly in part due to the warm temperatures.) For those who may want to adventure up to higher elevations in the park to get some skiing in, check out our winter rangers' most recent blog post to read about high country snow and avalanche conditions:
We're excited to announce that the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will reopen on Friday, June 15, 2018, following a restoration project. With support from @yosemiteconservancy
, we have improved natural hydrology and constructed an accessible boardwalk and welcome plaza, among many other changes to enhance the experience of park visitors.
Splashes of soft, golden light are welcome on these chilly days, illuminating pieces of the world that may not be appreciated otherwise, causing them to become radiant and impossible to overlook. It is as if the movement of sunlight over the land is persuading us to appreciate the minutia of our world.
The snow that came through Yosemite in mid-January brought beauty and stillness to every reach of the park, from ther highest elevations (that we get to see in our winter rangers' updates each week!) to the Hetch Hetchy Valley, one of the lowest elevation regions of the park. Hetch Hetchy Valley is a hidden jewel, lying in the north-western quadrant of the park, surrounded by wilderness and flanked by Poopenaut Valley and the ferocious Tuolumne River.
Gold meadows, cold skies. Peaks powdered with snow overlook the evergreen of the valley. Dry flowers provide bedding and food to deer mice and ground squirrels.
The Sierra is magnificent from any perspective.
[Landscape photos taken Jan 29.]
*HORSETAIL FALL UPDATE*
Horsetail Fall remains dry, with little to no precipitation in the forecast. Beginning Monday, February 12, entering the viewing area on Northside Drive by car requires a permit (no permit is required for pedestrians). Find all the details at:
or web search "Yosemite Horsetail Falls" and navigate to our park page on viewing the fall.
At dusk, when fog rolls into the Valley, all of the lights and noises of the age are muted. It is as though there is nothing but you and the granite, the encroaching darkness, and immersion in whatever force or journey brought you here to witness this stillness.
We're having another very dry year. The February 1 snow survey results are in, and the Merced River drainage snowpack is 16% of average and the Tuolumne River drainage is 25% of average. (This is similar to February 2014 and 2015.) Nevertheless, the winter rangers are reporting great skiing conditions around Tuolumne Meadows. Read more from their latest update: https://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/tuolumne-winter-conditions-update-for-february-7-2018.htm
Hetch Hetchy came alive with clouds last month, and the day passed by in silent reverie with a spectacular sunset over the Tuolumne river and Poopenaut Valley. The trails of Hetch Hetchy bring us closer to understanding how we feel personally about being human, and how we chose to live on and interact with our wild and inspiring home.
These days are crisp: The air is still cool as it leaves your lungs, waking you up and moving blood to the tips of your fingers and nose. Granite and gray, furrowed bark reflect heat back into the winter air, maintaining the chill of the deep valley.