We took a drive today to another part of Yosemite Park. On the way, we drove through the part of the park that was burned in the Rim fire last fall. The fire started on August 17 by a hunter’s illegal fire that went out of control and was the third largest wildfire in California’s history, having burned 257,314 acres. The fire was contained on Thursday, October 24. It was very sad to drive through the devastation and hard to believe a camp fire started it all. The first two pictures show some of the damage. A lot of the trees were not totally burned, they were just dead, orange and still standing. It was also interesting to see places where trees were not touched right next to trees that were. The second picture, shows how the fire only affected part of the forest in some spots.
The next four pictures are from Hetch Hetchy which is the name of a valley, a reservoir and a water system. Hetch Hetchy Valley lies in the northwestern part of Yosemite National Park. During the late 19th century, the valley was renowned for its natural beauty – often compared to that of Yosemite Valley and John Muir was instrumental in getting it protected as part of the national park.
Following the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which destroyed a large part of San Francisco’s water system, Congress passed the Raker Act in 1913 giving the city of San Francisco access to the valley. In 1923, the O’Shaugnessy Dam was completed on the Tuolumne River, flooding the entire valley creating the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The dam is 910 feet and the reservoir is 8 miles long and about 300 feet deep, holding 117 billion gallons of clean drinking water for 2.6 million people in San Francisco over 100 miles away. The dam also supplies 100% of the city of San Francisco’s energy needs with the clean hydro-electric power that is generated.
The last two pictures are from Mono Lake which is about 12 miles from the eastern border of Yosemite. It is a large, shallow saline soda lake, formed at least 760,000 years ago. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters, and provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds. We did not get to stay very long, but plan to come back next year when we start our drive to Alaska.