Yosemite – blog 20

I take back all I thought about Nevada – I like it!  Even quieter roads than Utah, looks like the Flow Country, has clownish motels and has a few birds too.  As I left Nevada, with a touch of sadness, but quite quickly as it was on a long downhill straight off the White Mountain Peak on Route 6, I had to smile.  On a white round water tower type of thing was written ‘Missing you already’ which I thought was a nice touch.  Underneath in less well crafted letters was an extra message ‘Jeff Welch is a rat’.  In the rear view mirror, as I sped downhill, I could see that the same message was displayed to people entering Nevada from California.  There must be a story behind that.

Entering Yosemite from the east, as I did, was very impressive.  You travel uphill for miles with granite peaks around and in front.  It’s rather special.  I was enjoying it so much that I’d forgotten that I wasn’t already in the National Park when I came to the entrance and showed my annual pass.  The camper van in front of me had Alaska plates! And I’ve picked up Washington, Arizona and Montana too.

Later in the evening I visited the Yosemite Valley when lots of people had gone.  In the cool of the evening it was awe-inspiring.  I wasn’t sure whether to look at the Bridalveil Falls or El Capitan – so I alternated looking at both (and occasionally glancing up at the swifts to see if they were black – they looked black but I wasn’t sure they were Black).  I preferred the massive rock-face to the waterfall but both were special – and so was the pygmy owl being mobbed by American robins in the tree behind me.

Half Dome was shining in the evening sun and this was the other side of it from the one I saw as I passed over by the Tuolumne Meadows Road.

All this was great but I was also interested in the next door valley – the Hetch Hetchy valley where two of the heroes of US conservation, John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, disagreed over the fate of the valley (which is in the National Park).

Muir lost and so did the valley as it was dammed and flooded and provides water for San Francisco about 180 miles away.  The arguments still rage about whether it should have happened and about whether the dam should be removed and the valley restored to a second Yosemite.  That would be one heck of a restoration project.

I couldn’t comment on this issue (not here anyway) but it got me thinking about which have been our, UK, largest mistakes of this sort and could we possibly rectify them? Any thoughts?

More from Yosemite tomorrow.  Maybe bears – or lack of them.





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8 Replies to “Yosemite – blog 20”

  1. We did a trip, 18 months ago, from Vegas through Nevada and Arizona. We hired a huge Dodge vehicle and found as you have remarked, the roads empty and the desert scenery breathtaking.
    I saw several birds but I wasn't clever enough to identify them. I did see a chipmonk though.
    One thing struck us was how charming the people were. The moment they heard the English accent, there followed a broad smile and an almost embarrassing willingness to help.
    I envy you Mark. You are clearly having a wonderful trip.

  2. "Nevada...looks like the Flow Country" - but a wee bit drier!
    Hard to say what the UK's largest mistakes have been - plenty of candidates! Drainage of the fens? Elimination of wolves, bears, beavers? Election of George Osborne?

  3. Hi MArk
    Yosemite had a profound affect on me as a youngster and fuelled a passion for special landscapes.
    Memories of its blue skies, crisp air, pine scent and vast, stoic views instantly lift my spirits, many years later. Thank you!!
    A truly awe-inspiring place. Enjoy ever minute of your trip, M.

  4. While mulling over your question of big mistakes in land use (lots of candidates) i couldn't help feeling very sorry for Jeff Welch, his rodentlike deeds are now well known across the UK (and indeed the world) as well as in a small corner of the US!

    The only way your loyal readers will be able to show their appreciation for this blogging feast will be to buy industrial volumes of the PP book for Christmas and birthday presents.

  5. Hang about the parking lots in Yosemite for a day or two and I'm sure you will see all 50 licence plates. Although Hawaii might be a problem, there's bound to be one eventually!

  6. How about Kielder Reservoir, built primarily to supply the Teeside steelworks with water. But most of the steelworks closed before the Reservoir was officially opened. Many years later Siemens opened a semi-conductor factory in North Tyneside, briefly boosting demand for water in the region, but was only open for a short period. So the north-east is never likely to suffer a water shortage, and may in time end up exporting water to the south. I only started getting out to that area after the damn was built, so I never knew the Kielder valley as it was. Shame.

  7. My best memory of Yosemite was using the 'log cabin loo's' in the valley, sitting down and reading the notice on the back of the door that said 'watch out for the bears'!!! Ummmm...
    Your description of Utah has given me a longing to see it - I didn't really need a reason to go back to the States as I so want to return to the Outer Banks.
    I think you could have had a 100 travelling companions if you had wanted them!!!

  8. Cow Green Reservoir (lots of great plants lost), afforesting the Flow Country, spoiling the Cairngorms with ski developments are just three that come to a tired mind - but clearly putting in a Tory (dominated) Government is proving really disastrous for the environment on all sorts of fronts - the latest being the badger cull (Labour's motion against it was defeated today).
    My wildlife trust (Derbyshire) has just decided to vaccinate badgers locally and launched an appeal to raise the money to do it.


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