Gray’s Lupine (Lupinus grayi)

An erect bloom visually intersected with the diagonal lines of a fallen, decomposing tree.


Gray’s lupine (named after botanist Asa Gray)

In a recent post of a different Lupine, I noted that  nearly 35% of all known Lupine species in California are growing inside Yosemite National Park. This was another specimen observed during our visit there at the end of May, 2017.

Considering the weight of the backpack I wear to tote around my camera equipment, snacks for myself and the children, drinking water, first-aid kit supplies, and other sundry items, I don’t also carry plant field guide books, too. It would just slow me down.

What I do is search through reference materials when I return home from the exploration, after  I have taken the time to process the images.  Since I don’t touch or eat the plants, just photograph them, it seems the best compromise.

While I was looking to identify this and several other wildflowers from the time I was in California, I discovered a useful website produced by the The California Native Plant Society.

There are so many people visiting Yosemite that it can be hard to remember it is a wild place. Nature is constantly on a march through its own activity and evolution. For example, while I was writing this, news came on the radio about a rockfall that took place the day prior. An apartment-sized hunk of rock fell off of the stone monolith named, El Capitan, a destination enjoyed by rock climbers in the park. Unfortunately, this resulted in a fatality and life-threatening injury to park visitors. We only periodically get reminders about the dangers that really exist in national parks–as beautiful as they are, but thankfully, these are few and far between.

Below is the news release from the NPS Yosemite site.

The page with links to NPS news releases went down after I copied and pasted the text below.

My condolences to the family of the victim of the rockfall, identified as Andrew Foster of Wales. He was 32 years old. His wife is undergoing medical treatment in an area hospital.

Date: September 28, 2017

One fatality, one injury, and all people accounted for
A series of rockfalls occurred yesterday afternoon from the Southeast face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Seven rockfalls occurred over a four-hour time span, with the initial rockfall happening at 1:52 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time.

A preliminary estimate for the cumulative volume of all seven rockfalls is about 16,000 cubic feet (450 cubic meters), or about 1,300 tons. The irregular “sheet” of rock that fell is estimated to be 130 feet tall, 65 feet wide, and 3-10 feet thick. The source point is about 650 feet above the base of El Capitan, or about 1,800 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley (which is at 4,000 feet in elevation).

After the initial rockfall, Yosemite National Park Rangers and the Search and Rescue team entered the area looking for people at the base of the rockfall. Two people were found, resulting in one fatality and a serious injury. The victims, a couple visiting the park from Great Britain, were in the park to rock climb but were not climbing at the time of the initial rockfall. The male was found deceased and the female was flown out of the park with serious injuries. The National Park Service is working with the Consulate to notify family members. Until family notifications are completed, the names of the victims are not being released. All other people in the area have been accounted for and search efforts have been concluded.

Rockfalls are a common occurrence in Yosemite Valley and the park records about 80 rockfalls per year; though many more rockfalls go unreported. The rockfall from El Capitan was similar in size and extent compared with other rockfalls throughout the park, though it is not typical that that there were victims.

It has been 18 years since the last rockfall-related fatality in Yosemite National Park. In that incident, rock climber Peter Terbush was killed by a rockfall from Glacier Point June 13 1999. There have now been 16 fatalities and more than 100 injuries from rockfalls since park records began in 1857.
Yosemite National Park remains open and visitor services are not affected by the rockfalls.

Last updated: September 28, 2017



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