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Welcome!

Join me in my adventures in California, Yosemite and beyond! I've spent over twenty years in environmental leadership roles--and in two of the largest national parks, Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Through my work as the California Director for the National Wildlife Federation (my dream job), I'll enjoy sharing my encounters with wildlife and my explorations of California's beautiful landscapes with you--especially my favorite place on earth: Tuolumne Meadows and the High Sierra.

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"Life is a dog and then you die. No, no, life is a joyous dance through daffodils beneath cerulean blue skies. And then? I forget what happens next."                                        Edward Abbey

"Within National Parks is room--glorious room--room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve."   Enos Mills

"The animals of the planet are in desperate peril. Without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen."                                         Alice Walker

"I have never been in a natural place and felt that was a waste of time. I never have. And it's a relief. If I'm walking around a desert or whatever, every second is worthwhile.”                                           Viggo Mortensen

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Beth's Tweets
Must reads! Some good books I am reading or rereading.
  • Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (Speaker's Corner)
    Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (Speaker's Corner)
    by Larry J. Schweiger
  • The Golden Shore: California's Love Affair with the Sea
    The Golden Shore: California's Love Affair with the Sea
    by David Helvarg
  • Letters to a Young Scientist
    Letters to a Young Scientist
    by Edward O. Wilson
  • Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
    Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
    by Marc Reisner
  • The Future of Life
    The Future of Life
    by Edward O. Wilson
  • Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
    Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
    by Bill McKibben
  • Saving Homewaters: The Story of Montana's Streams and Rivers
    Saving Homewaters: The Story of Montana's Streams and Rivers
    by Gordon Sullivan
  • Pika: Life in the Rocks
    Pika: Life in the Rocks
    by Tannis Bill
  • The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One
    The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One
    by Sylvia Earle
  • Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone
    Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone
    by Douglas W. Smith, Gary Ferguson
  • Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History & Guide
    Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History & Guide
    by Thomas Turiano
  • The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies
    The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies
    by Richard Hamblyn
  • Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
    Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
    by James Hansen
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
    The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
    by Jon Stewart
  • The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean
    The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean
    by Susan Casey
  • Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe
    Jane Goodall: 50 Years at Gombe
    by Jane Goodall
  • The Wolverine Way
    The Wolverine Way
    by Douglas Chadwick
  • Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
    Wolf: The Lives of Jack London
    by James L. Haley
  • Gloryland
    Gloryland
    by Shelton Johnson
  • Faith of Cranes: Finding Hope and Family in Alaska
    Faith of Cranes: Finding Hope and Family in Alaska
    by Hank Lentfer
  • State of Change, A: Forgotten Landscapes of California
    State of Change, A: Forgotten Landscapes of California
    by Laura Cunningham
« California Wildlife Needs YOU! | Main | What a day in Yosemite! Tioga Pass, Tuolumne Meadows, Gaylor Peak and TWO Bald Eagles »
Monday
Dec192011

Walking across Tenaya Lake in Yosemite

Update: hear about my adventures and the story behind the dry December on KQED news. 

Tenaya Lake from the west shore (photo by Beth Pratt)

After hearing the news of Tioga Pass reopening on Friday afternoon, I knew I couldn’t resist the lure of seeing Tuolumne Meadows this late in the season. The road opening this late in the winter is a rarity—since 1980, it’s been open only three times in December and the latest date was December 11 (although it did reopen briefly in 1999 on January 1).

But the statistics don’t capture the magnificence of the sublime season in Tioga Country. I stood on the west shore of Tenaya Lake and listened as the ice shifted and broke—it sounded like whales singing (you can hear this music at the beginning of the video I posted in this entry). At the more solidly frozen eastern shore, I slid across the lake in my sneakers, accompanied by Paul, a resident of Crowley Lake, as he skated and yielded his hockey stick. We both agreed on the sheer awesomeness of being out here so late in the year. Touching one of the tops of the “ghost trees” peeking out of the ice of Tenaya Lake definitely ranked as one of the coolest nature moments of the year for me.

Driving to Tioga Pass, I gazed at my favorite mountain friends, Mt Conness, Mt Dana, Mt Gibbs, and Cathedral Peak—and also noticed their distinct lack of a winter coat. Last year the snowfall shattered a number of records, but so far this season winter seems slow to arrive. Although we need the snow and the water it brings (70% of our water in the west comes from snowpack), I am grateful into this rare glimpse at the winter world of Tuolumne and the Yosemite high country. So my request to Mother Nature (and the National Park Service) is to keep the pass open through the holidays, and then let it snow!

Ghost tree in the ice on Tenaya Lake (photo by Beth Pratt)

Playing hockey on Tenaya Lake (photo by Beth Pratt)

Tioga Lake (photo Beth Pratt)

Tuolumne Meadows from Pothole Dome (photo by Beth Pratt)Mt Conness from Saddlebag Lake Road (photo by Beth Pratt)

Ice bubbles on Tenaya Lake (photo by Beth Pratt)

Dana Meadows (photo by Beth Pratt)

Mammoth Peak and Dana Fork (photo by Beth Pratt)

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Reader Comments (1)

Wow! quite impressive. It reminds me of the time when I crossed Lake Zurich in 1962. We walked ten miles on the ice! The ice noise was spooky, especially at dusk!

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArthur the Kull Dude

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