Yosemite and Gaylor Peak

Yosemite National Park and Gaylor Peak Photographs July 31, 2017

Gaylor Peak (11,004′) and the Granite Lakes are easily reached from the parking area at the east entrance to Yosemite National Park: Park, then start walking uphill on the trail. There may not be an better way into the Yosemite High Country than along this route.

Treeless, or nearly treeless alpine areas look a great deal like Arctic tundra, making this a fine way to see why many of us are fighting to save the beautiful Arctic, even if you cannot get there to see it for yourself. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)  has taken the utterly immoral and environmentally catastrophic position of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. This is part of the Republican tax break for millionaires bill expected to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President next week (late December 2017). The Senator has claimed that sacrificing one of the last pristine areas on earth is justified by the opportunity to “create new wealth.”

This depends, of course, on your definition of wealth, in this case a zero sum game in which more wealth for some means less wealth for others. More baseline (copyrighted) photographs follow documenting what it looked like before Murkowski and her ilk completed the destructive sequence of destroying the livability of the planet through increased carbon pollution.

View from Gaylor Peak summit

View from Gaylor Peak summit

Lake at base of Gaylor Peak

Lake at base of Gaylor Peak

Corn lily at base of Gaylor Peak

Corn lily at base of Gaylor Peak

Gaylor Peak west face

Gaylor Peak west face

Area around Granite Lakes

Area around Granite Lakes

Granite Lakes Basin

Granite Lakes Basin

Wildflower garden above Granite Lakes

Wildflower garden above Granite Lakes

Wildflower garden closer view

Wildflower garden closer view

Down valley from Granite Lakes

Down valley from Granite Lakes

Another view, Granite Lakes Basin

Another view, Granite Lakes Basin

Another down valley view from Granite Lakes

Another down valley view from Granite Lakes

Frog in tiny pool in treeless area between the peak and Granite Lakes

Frog in tiny pool in treeless area between the peak and Granite Lakes

Yosemite and Dana Plateau

Yosemite National Park and Dana Plateau Photographs July 29, 2017

It seems that the GOP (Grand Old Pederast) party had a bad night this week. Now that this latest outrage is sort of passed, time to go back to the world of beauty. The Dana Plateau sits on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park, a high mesa, the top of which somehow  escaped glaciation. A moderately stressful hike to get up there on the trail; Bob Hare and I took the scenic route (no trail) but saw (while still below the Plateau) some remarkably wonderful areas.

All that is missing from the Dana Plateau itself are remnant populations of Pleistocene megafauna seemingly appropriate for this Lost World. Choosing which of my photos to include here a difficult choice.

The route up; Dana Plateau on the left. Follow the obvious arroyo route to the mesa either in the arroyo itself or on the adjacent trail if it is not snowbound.

Flower meadow below Dana Plateau

First view after the climb up

The flat rocks tundra, scoured not by ice but by time and wind

At the edge

Climbing area “Third Pillar of Dana”

 

The author at the edge; Bob at a farther edge

More edge

Bob at the edge

Alpine flower bouquet

Another alpine flower bouquet–there were many of these

 

Yosemite Dome Photographs

Yosemite National Park and Dome Photographs July 28, 2017

For insight into the current political climate, take a look back at the year 2000 Ridley Scott movie, Gladiator. See if Emperor Commodus (d. 192 CE) reminds you of anyone in today’s less than stellar set of politicians.

Then, to make yourself feel better, check out this entry of my 2017 Yosemite photographs taken along the Tioga Road during an off-trail climb  north above Cathedral Creek with Bob Hare, seeking a view southwest toward Cathedral Peak. Destination was a dome visited by John Muir in 1901at 37° 53´44.06 N x 119°24´45.16 W.

Yosemite and Mono Pass

Yosemite National Park and Mono Pass Photographs July 27, 2017

The Mono Pass trailhead is located within Yosemite National Park a few miles south of the Tioga Pass entrance. Pristine and wonderful. Unlike some other places.

There are now millions of climate change refugees worldwide, including thousands in the United States who have lost everything to floods, hurricanes or firestorms. Climate experts have indicated that such disasters are more likely than not to continue.

This is one in a series showing places around Yosemite National Park that have, so far, escaped catastrophic events. Consider them as baseline documentation before inevitable future changes. Photos were taken summer 2017 on hiking/photography expedition with naturalist Bob Hare.

Photo copyright 2017 David L. Witt

Heading southeast and up towards top of Mono Pass

 

Lake at top of Mono Pass

 

East South East and down from Mono Pass into Bloody Canyon

 

Mono Lake in the distance

 

Looking up to Snow fields in Bloody Canyon–zig-zagged through the rocks to get around them

 

Lake in Bloody Canyon, named “Red Lake” by John Muir

 

Crimson Columbine/Aquilegia formosa  and Potentilla species in Bloody Canyon

 

Globe Penstemon/Penstemon globosus in Bloody Canyon

 

Glacial Tarn in Bloody Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Mountain Heather/Phyllodoce breweri

 

View down to Mono Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upper Bloody Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upper Bloody Canyon

 

Bob documenting old cabins just west of Mono Pass

 

 

Eclipse Views from New Mexico

Eclipse Views from New Mexico August 21 2017

While I did not travel north to see  this year’s eclipse, I did travel uphill into the forest above Taos, New Mexico for views into the sky and onto the ground.

Top photo: bottom center shows moon creating sun crescent.

Next photo shows lens flare opticalfall.

Remaining photos shows endless iterations of crescent sun as filtered through branches of Pinus edulis trees.

Photos copyright David L. Witt

New Exhibition at Seton Gallery

“echoes” exhibition opens at the Seton Gallery of the Academy for the Love of Learning with a (free) reception on Sunday August 13 at 2:00 pm. The show features images of 1932 paintings by “Kiowa Five” artist Jack Hokeah used to decorate a historic building at Seton Village. The Academy is located 20 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, on Seton Village Road, accessed via the Old Las Vegas Highway.

Ernest Thompson Seton commissioned a series of 12 large murals plus many smaller ones from the highly regarded Native American painter Jack Hokeah. Time and rugged weather has destroyed much of Hokeah’s work. This exhibition documents Hokeah’s extraordinary talent through photographs of his paintings in their original and current (quickly disappearing) form.

Included in the afternoon programming will be a performance by Dancing EarthTM Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations.

Why Trump is like Nasal Congestion

dsc_8391     Send Trump to the North Pole—it’s warmer there.

It’s beginning to look a lot less like Christmas up north. Mid-month December temperatures at the North Pole have risen 50° F above average to just below freezing—nighttime temperatures in Taos are colder. During summer, parts of the Arctic are warmer than Taos.

Time to start panicking?

Meanwhile: Hysteria reigns in North Carolina over who gets to use which bathroom. “Liberal” media (MSNBC, Huff Post, etc.) continue giving Trump more of the free publicity they used to propel him into the White House. The Obama administration slams Russia for providing armaments to Syria used to kill civilians there while at the same time providing armaments to Saudi Arabia used to kill civilians in Yemen. Democrats blame (among others) the Russians for costing them the election—easier to blame foreigners than there own stupidity (e.g., they really should have won).

From the Radical Natural History perspective, it is clear that negative media about Trump misses an important point. He is not a cause of our problems, but a symptom. Think of him as nasal congestion, an outcome of the corruption of the common cold, not the cause. It is the deeper virus-like corruption of a world civilization—that can tolerate, ignore, or even benefit from (in the very short term) the cataclysm of rising temperatures and species extinction—which has not the slightest compunction about producing Trump and his illiberal companions.

Time to start panicking, or past the time when we should have done so?

The Environmental Movement Betrayed Part II

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The outcome of the December 19, 2016 election is another disaster for environmentalists. Beginning in November, environmental advocacy organizations have made their usual response: a plea for more money.

The appeal for funds has become an end in and of itself rather than a means to an end. Environmental organizations will raise more money in reaction to the complete take-over of government by a single political party, but species extinction and climate heating will continue as before on an ever accelerating path.

As long as fund raising remains the goal, radical naturalists and well-meaning environmentalists alike will continue to lose wild-nature one piece at a time until it is gone.

We should instead see fund raising only as a means, and direct action (with results) as an end.

Here are a few things we can do now:

  • Admit that as goes the occupation regime in Washington, D.C., so goes the environment (nothing but disaster ahead without our concentrated opposition).
  • Reject the prevailing trend that partisanship must trump patriotism.
  • Accept that acting to save our environment from destruction and the agents that intend to bring that destruction about, is an act of urgent patriotism.
  • Agree that doing violence in doing so is not answer (we don’t want to become like them)
  • Pay attention to the “unpresidented” intervention by a foreign government in choosing the current leadership in Washington. React in the following way:
  • Call the election result what it is—illegitimate. Become an election denier, a Dearther (for the dearth of information provided by intelligence agencies and others that might have changed the election result).
  • Shame Democratic politicians into not attending the inaugural on January 20 (nothing else will get their attention). If they attend, they will validate the fraudulent election result.
  • Demand the appointment of an Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate, without restrictions, the actions of a foreign government in influencing the election.
  • Demand the appointment of a second Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate the actions of the FBI over its political intervention in the election.
  • Demand an immediate disclosure of all tax and business records by the new elected and appointed officials regarding their financial ties to foreign governments.
  • Stop referring to fascist (euphemism: “alt-right”) propaganda as “fake news.” The word to use instead: lies.

While raising money to support specific environmental causes is necessary, emphasizing money is not the answer—in that direction lays despair and hopelessness. Our opponents will always raise more.

Our usual defensive/reactive posture must be replaced by its opposite. We must fight to save nature (or itself and for our own self-interest) and create awareness that what we do in the world, destruction or preservation, is the very definition of morality.

Writing on the Wall photo by David L. Witt