A pika running over my foot, misguided frog mating, and other lurid tales from a hike in Yosemite

Snowpack comparison of Gaylor Lakes (photo by Beth Pratt)“Bully!” as Teddy Roosevelt would have exclaimed, seems the most appropriate way to describe my perfect day hiking in Yosemite last week. I wandered for an afternoon in the Gaylor Lakes basin (Tioga Country is my favorite place on earth), marveling over the abundant, late season snowpack that still covered most of the region while enjoying the constant melody of running water that accompanied me during my hike. Yosemite is usually alive with water in the spring, but this display of turbulent creeks and roaring waterfalls is unusual for late July.

I also counted myself lucky with wildlife sightings, although I am still adjusting to being forced to downgrade my expectations in the Sierra after having just returned from three years of living in Yellowstone where I encountered charismatic mega-fauna on a daily basis. I miss the wolves, but I’ve had no better wildlife encounter than on this hike when a pika—an animal I cherish seeing in the high country—ran over my foot. My friend, the naturalist Jack Laws, who I have often scrambled up boulders with in the high country searching for these remarkable creatures, claimed when I related the story to him that it was the pika’s way of welcoming me back to the Sierra.

I’ve shared some photos from my bully day below in a slideshow, along with some videos as well. For more photos, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s California Facebook page.