Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Y is for Yosemite - images of America

High in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, (also known as the High Sierra, The Sierras and assorted other names just to confuse the tourists!) way above the gauzy blanket of hazy, smoggy air in the valley below, is Yosemite National Park.
The beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountain range extends around 400 miles north to south (about 650km - the distance between Melbourne and Canberra) and rises from between 5000 to 14,000+ feet (1500 - 4300 metres).
Australia's Great Dividing Range in comparison, is a string of mountains and hills which extends around 3000 kilometres (1,900 miles) from the northern part of Victoria up through New South Wales and into northern Queensland and includes the bulk of the snowy peaks in Australia, aptly named The Australian Alps.
The highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, is in part of the Alps called The Snowy Mountains, and boasts a height of 2228 metres, which is more or less where the Sierras begin, so there's quite a difference! Feeling woozy and lightheaded with altitude is something we rarely need to think about!
The famous photographer Ansel Adams spent much of his artistic life in Yosemite, shooting fabulous black and white images. He remained deeply involved in the area throughout his life and found it a place of beauty and inspiration. He's described in the history of the park as a bit of an agitator and became an advocate for extending the National Parks in the US.
National parks are often under threat and cutbacks are all too common both in the US and Australia. Mining and logging interests see them as an untapped resource and sadly in NSW, Australia, hunters have been granted access at a cost to the taxpayer of $19 million. You really have to wonder at that decision.

However, back to the beautiful Yosemite National Park and Ansel Adams. In 1980 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom:
"Drawn to the beauty of nature's monuments  he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution  It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans."
Not only talented, but visionary as well!
I was fascinated by the colour of the water in the Merced River which runs through the valley. Crystal clear and a vivid candy-apple green. Small clumps of ice had broken off the banks upstream and floated lazily along, eventually melting and being incorporated into the surrounding water.
The same colour in an Australian river would mean that the water is toxic and there'd be signs around warning you not to eat any surviving fish or use the water in any way. Here it looks fresh and very inviting, though no doubt a bit chilly! I couldn't help but think of the drink marketed as Mountain Dew and wondered if the toxic looking liquid in the bottle was in some way a tribute to this pristine water.

National Parks Service - Yosemite
More on Ansel Adams
Shooting in National Parks NSW
Hunting "incident"



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. interesting comparisons between the States and Aus, which I hadn't realised or thought about. Johannesburg is at about the same height - 2,250 metres ..

That candy green looking water is amazing ... further north where the glacial melt is in the waters it is a turquoisy talcomy colour .. not clear but full of ice-moraine residue ..

Great photos - thank you ... cheers Hilary

Liza said...

Maybe I'll get out west someday! My Aussie sister and friends will be traveling to Yosemite this summer. There is something skewed about that...the Aussies will get there before the Yanks in the family!

Sue Travers said...

Hilary, I hadn't thought of the colour of the water having something to do with ice melt, though it's obvious now you mention it. (I'll see if I can find some info)

Liza, I had to laugh! Your experience is so typical, but I bet you've been places they haven't :)
Sadly, we can never get to all the places we'd like to see.



Emily richardson said...
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Emily richardson said...
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