6 Ways to Enjoy Winter in Yosemite

1. Ice Skating

Where: Curry Village Ice Rink in Yosemite Valley
When: November through February 29
How: Skate rentals available – and don’t forget the s’mores kits for the fire pit!

2. Skiing, Snowboarding and Snowtubing

Where: Badger Pass Ski Area
When: Mid-December through March
How: Lessons, rentals, and dining available

3. Chefs’ Holidays

Where: The Ahwahnee
When: January and February
How: Dine with famous chefs and attend cooking demos in an historic national park lodge

4. Ostrander Ski Hut or Glacier Point Ski Hut:

Where: Backcountry lodging along the Glacier Point Road
When: Mid-December through March
How: Not accessible by vehicle in winter, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski to Yosemite’s ski huts

5. Snowshoeing

Where: Badger Pass Ski Area
When: Every day when enough snow covers the ground, evenings during the full moon
How: Rent snowshoes at Badger Pass Ski Area on your own, join park rangers or Delaware North at Yosemite interpretive naturalists on guided walks (snowshoes included)

6. Camera Walks

Where: Yosemite Valley
When: Several days a week in winter, find the schedule in the Yosemite Guide
How: With instructors from the Ansel Adams Gallery

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When It Rains, It Spores! Mushrooms in Yosemite

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My name is Gena Wood. I work as a naturalist and historic guide for Delaware North at Yosemite. Part of my job is helping people understand the natural world (and hopefully fall more in love with it).  In my short time on this planet I’ve realized one of the most misunderstood (and feared) life forms is fungus. I’ve also realized one of the most of important and exciting life forms also happens to be fungus!

Now that rain (and snow!!) has started falling in Yosemite National Park we are not only seeing Yosemite Falls flowing again, we are seeing the  fungus among us: mushrooms!

What are mushrooms? Mushrooms are the fruiting body of mycelium, found underground. Imagine mycelium being the tree and the mushroom as the fruit growing on this tree. But don’t be fooled; mushrooms are not plants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Similarly to humans, mushrooms cannot make food from the sun. Mushrooms are often parasitic, breaking down plant material, like rotting wood. Mushrooms play a very important role ecologically as our decomposers, keeping our forests healthy. But that is not all! Most plants actually depend on that underground mycelium to help their roots get water and nutrients.

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Turkey Tails

Mushrooms wait until the right conditions to show their fruit, those conditions are usually from rain. The rain can be a promising sign for mushroom activity. Rain also helps mushrooms spread their spores. Spores are similar to seeds, helping the mushrooms disperse. Each species of mushroom has a different time of year you can find them, which makes mushroom hunting a year-round activity!

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Oyster Mushrooms growing on a dead Cottonwood, along the Merced River

Most mushrooms grow on rotting wood or in the soil. What they grow on is helpful for learning how to identify mushrooms. Identifying mushrooms can be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Many mushrooms are not edible, most of them won’t kill you either. If you aren’t 100% positive, then don’t eat them. Learning what mushrooms you can and cannot eat takes time and experience.

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Honey Mushrooms- found only on wood.

Walking around the woods to find mushrooms isn’t just for those who eat mushrooms, but also for those that appreciate their beauty. Many times I walk away empty handed after a mushroom hunt. I never walk away disappointed though. Some of the most beautiful mushrooms are just for looks. I am always amazed at the variety of colors, shapes, smells, and sizes.

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Yosemite Valley is full big things to look up at, sometimes you need a reminder to slow down and notice the small things. Have you noticed mushrooms growing in Yosemite?

All photos were taken in Yosemite Valley on December 9th and 10th by Gena Wood.

Though visitors are not allowed to take anything from Yosemite National Park, they are welcome to forage for mushrooms strictly for personal consumption – similar to fishing. However, we discourage any but the most knowledgeable from eating mushrooms foraged in the park.

The Four Seasons of Yosemite in Stained Glass

Tissiack Stained Glass at Yosemite Lodge 2014

“Tissiack” stained glass mural by Bill Poulson at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

Guests at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls this summer may have noticed Yosemite’s autumn splendor well before the season began. Taking the form of a large stained glass mural, “Tissiack” is a work of art created by stained glass artist Bill Poulson. Featuring Half Dome surrounded by the flora and fauna of fall in Yosemite, the mural measures 8 feet high by 14 feet long. Displayed in the windows of the Cliff Room at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, “Tissiack” (the Native American name for Half Dome), was replaced this week by “The Chief” featuring El Capitan and the full moon on a winter night in Yosemite Valley.

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Artist Bill Poulson installing the “Tissiack” mural.

Stained Galss Mural Yosemite Lodge 2014

The transition from fall to winter as the new mural is installed

Artist Bill Poulson, a California native, maintains a studio in the town of Arnold. Inspired by a trip to Yosemite in 1985, Poulson opened a studio the next year and the plans for the Yosemite Mural Project as the “4 Seasons of Yosemite” began to take shape. Two murals have been completed – fall and winter – and the design for spring is complete. Once the design and composition is completed, it can take up to two years to perfect the full-scale drawings along with the actual glass cutting and assembly.  There are over 2200 pieces of glass in “Tissiack”.  The murals are created in the traditional method of creating stained glass with leaded glass and copperfoil, reinforced with steel. “Tissiack” was completed in 1989 and the winter mural, “The Chief”, was completed in 2008. Poulson hopes to complete the spring mural in 2015. Until then, visitors can view “The Chief” for a view of winter in Yosemite that continues throughout the season. Look for the display in the courtyard of Yosemite Lodge at the Falls next to the gift shop.

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“The Chief” stained glass mural by Bill Poulson

For more information about artist Bill Poulson and the Yosemite Mural Project, visit his website: www.williampoulson.com