When It Rains, It Spores! Mushrooms in Yosemite

Boletes

My name is Gena Wood. I work as a naturalist and historic guide for Delaware North at Yosemite. Part of my job is helping people understand the natural world (and hopefully fall more in love with it).  In my short time on this planet I’ve realized one of the most misunderstood (and feared) life forms is fungus. I’ve also realized one of the most of important and exciting life forms also happens to be fungus!

Now that rain (and snow!!) has started falling in Yosemite National Park we are not only seeing Yosemite Falls flowing again, we are seeing the  fungus among us: mushrooms!

What are mushrooms? Mushrooms are the fruiting body of mycelium, found underground. Imagine mycelium being the tree and the mushroom as the fruit growing on this tree. But don’t be fooled; mushrooms are not plants.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Similarly to humans, mushrooms cannot make food from the sun. Mushrooms are often parasitic, breaking down plant material, like rotting wood. Mushrooms play a very important role ecologically as our decomposers, keeping our forests healthy. But that is not all! Most plants actually depend on that underground mycelium to help their roots get water and nutrients.

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Turkey Tails

Mushrooms wait until the right conditions to show their fruit, those conditions are usually from rain. The rain can be a promising sign for mushroom activity. Rain also helps mushrooms spread their spores. Spores are similar to seeds, helping the mushrooms disperse. Each species of mushroom has a different time of year you can find them, which makes mushroom hunting a year-round activity!

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Oyster Mushrooms growing on a dead Cottonwood, along the Merced River

Most mushrooms grow on rotting wood or in the soil. What they grow on is helpful for learning how to identify mushrooms. Identifying mushrooms can be a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Many mushrooms are not edible, most of them won’t kill you either. If you aren’t 100% positive, then don’t eat them. Learning what mushrooms you can and cannot eat takes time and experience.

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Honey Mushrooms- found only on wood.

Walking around the woods to find mushrooms isn’t just for those who eat mushrooms, but also for those that appreciate their beauty. Many times I walk away empty handed after a mushroom hunt. I never walk away disappointed though. Some of the most beautiful mushrooms are just for looks. I am always amazed at the variety of colors, shapes, smells, and sizes.

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Yosemite Valley is full big things to look up at, sometimes you need a reminder to slow down and notice the small things. Have you noticed mushrooms growing in Yosemite?

All photos were taken in Yosemite Valley on December 9th and 10th by Gena Wood.

Though visitors are not allowed to take anything from Yosemite National Park, they are welcome to forage for mushrooms strictly for personal consumption – similar to fishing. However, we discourage any but the most knowledgeable from eating mushrooms foraged in the park.

The Four Seasons of Yosemite in Stained Glass

Tissiack Stained Glass at Yosemite Lodge 2014

“Tissiack” stained glass mural by Bill Poulson at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls

Guests at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls this summer may have noticed Yosemite’s autumn splendor well before the season began. Taking the form of a large stained glass mural, “Tissiack” is a work of art created by stained glass artist Bill Poulson. Featuring Half Dome surrounded by the flora and fauna of fall in Yosemite, the mural measures 8 feet high by 14 feet long. Displayed in the windows of the Cliff Room at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, “Tissiack” (the Native American name for Half Dome), was replaced this week by “The Chief” featuring El Capitan and the full moon on a winter night in Yosemite Valley.

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Artist Bill Poulson installing the “Tissiack” mural.

Stained Galss Mural Yosemite Lodge 2014

The transition from fall to winter as the new mural is installed

Artist Bill Poulson, a California native, maintains a studio in the town of Arnold. Inspired by a trip to Yosemite in 1985, Poulson opened a studio the next year and the plans for the Yosemite Mural Project as the “4 Seasons of Yosemite” began to take shape. Two murals have been completed – fall and winter – and the design for spring is complete. Once the design and composition is completed, it can take up to two years to perfect the full-scale drawings along with the actual glass cutting and assembly.  There are over 2200 pieces of glass in “Tissiack”.  The murals are created in the traditional method of creating stained glass with leaded glass and copperfoil, reinforced with steel. “Tissiack” was completed in 1989 and the winter mural, “The Chief”, was completed in 2008. Poulson hopes to complete the spring mural in 2015. Until then, visitors can view “The Chief” for a view of winter in Yosemite that continues throughout the season. Look for the display in the courtyard of Yosemite Lodge at the Falls next to the gift shop.

Winter Bill Poulson

“The Chief” stained glass mural by Bill Poulson

For more information about artist Bill Poulson and the Yosemite Mural Project, visit his website: www.williampoulson.com

 

Favorite Yosemite Spots: Mirror Lake

Morning at #MirrorLake in #YosemiteValley. #Yosemite #California #NationalParks

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

As part of an ongoing series, we’ll feature the favorite places of Yosemite community members and park visitors. Mirror Lake, at the base of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley is a favorite spot of Gena Wood, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley. Gena spends a lot of her time climbing, cycling, and hiking. Mirror Lake is one place that always draws her back for more.

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: Mount Watkins reflected in Mirror Lake. Photo by Kenny Karst.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

“I never thought I would find myself saying that Mirror Lake is my favorite spot…at first. With each return visit I find myself in a trance. I am mesmerized by the rock faces around me. I am fascinated by the constant change you can watch happen throughout the year. I always want to go back.

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After work I ride my bicycle up the steep hill to the top, knowing the reward will come not only when I make it to the top but also when I get to ride down the hill. As I huff and I puff my way up that hill, I just know it will be worth it. When I make it to the top, it is worth it. I feel at peace. I am surrounded by Mount Watkins, Half Dome, Washington’s Column and North Dome

I stare up at Half Dome with a view unlike any other. I think about the hikers who’ve made it up the cables. The climbers who have made it up the sheer vertical face. I am inspired.  I feel small; There is something bigger out there. As the sun begins to set people start to make their way down the hill. California Quail make a run for it, out of the willows and across the rocks. Deer search for food. The setting sun makes Half Dome glow. Alpenglow swallows the mountains around me. I am left alone, engulfed in happiness. This is home.”

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: A perfect reflection in perfectly named Mirror Lake. #YosemiteValley

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

The name Mirror Lake is truly a misnomer. Mirror Lake is actually overflow water from Tenaya Creek. As Tenaya Creek becomes drier, Mirror Lake follows suit. During the spring and early summer, Mirror Lake appears to be a lake, reflecting the granite surrounding it. When dry, Mirror Lake still gives reflections, personal reflections, a place take in the beauty around you. Regardless of the season, Mirror Lake is great place to explore. 

Snow in Yosemite: Badger Pass Ski Area in Pictures

As California’s original ski resort, Badger Pass Ski Area has been a favorite winter activity in Yosemite National Park for generations of families. We invite you to enjoy some of our favorite Badger Pass photos, all taken by long-time Yosemite resident and acclaimed photographer Chris Falkenstein.

Badger Pass

One of the many beautiful clear days at Badger Pass.

At the Top

Skiers get ready to take to the mountain.

Snowy Day

The base of the mountain on a snowy day.

Grooming

A groomer prepares the runs.

Ringing the Bell

Chuck Carter, head of Yosemite’s Winter Sports School, rings the ski school bell.

Racing

Snowboarders participate in a race at Badger Pass

Ranger Station in Snow

The ranger station after a big snow.

Day Lodge

The Day Lodge

Sunset at Badger Pass

Sunset at Badger Pass

The History of Ice Skating in Yosemite

ice rink sign

historic ice rink 1933With its lofty location in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Yosemite National Park has always been a popular venue for winter sports. Today you can ski, snowboard, snow tube, snowshoe and cross-country ski at Badger Pass Ski Area and ice skate at the Curry Village Ice Rink. But both Badger Pass Ski Area and the Curry Village Ice Rink are some of the oldest facilities in Yosemite with a storied history. Though ice skating on the Merced River had always been a popular winter activity in Yosemite Valley when the ice was solid enough, the first ice skating rink in Yosemite National Park was built in 1929 in reaction to the news that Yosemite was being considered as the location for the 1932 Winter Olympics. As the coldest area in Yosemite Valley with little direct sun in winter, the ice rink was naturally located at Curry Village. The original 60,000 square foot rink was built where the Curry Village parking lot – both paved and dirt – stands today. Ice skating was taking place in this same spot before the construction of a formal rink by flooding the parking lot with water each night that was then ready for skating by morning. Once established, the Curry Village Ice Rink was considered the premier ice skating center in California with its stunning natural setting and the support of the Yosemite Winter Club.

historic hockey

Hockey: Oakland American Legion vs. the Yosemite Winter Club

Not only was the rink used by park visitors, but also hosted speed skating races, figure skating exhibitions, curling, hockey games and winter carnivals. The first “Fancy Ice Skating Carnival” took place in 1928, the year the Yosemite Winter Club was founded. In 1931, the San Joaquin Valley Sierra Winter Sports Carnival also employed the Curry Village Ice Rink with curling matches and a tug of war competition on the ice. By 1933, the annual California State Figure Skating Championship took place in Yosemite entertaining grandstands filled with onlookers as colored glass candle holders set into the snowbanks surrounding the rink created a festive atmosphere. Hockey was a popular rink sport throughout the 1930s, and players included professional teams and collegiate exhibitions.

ice rinkMoved from its original location, the current ice rink at the Curry Village Recreation Center was built in the 1970s at the location of the former Curry Village Garage – a structure that was destroyed by an arson fire. Often cited as one of the world’s best ice rinks by travel magazines, today’s rink includes a skate rental program, a large warming hut for skaters to stow their boots and a fire pit to warm their toes. From November to early March, Delaware North at Yosemite operates the ice rink with a staff that maintains safety for skaters and the condition of the ice with a zamboni. Curry Village Ice Rink is open daily for several day and evening skating sessions, conditions permitting.

$10.50 per adult, per session
$10.00 per child, per session
$4.00 for skate rental

For more on the history of ice skating in Yosemite see “Magic Yosemite Winters” by Gene Rose.

Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite

Happy Weekend! #kennyslunchtimewalk #Yosemite #yosemitevalley #california

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

Are you familiar with Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite? If you have an Instagram account, you can find a collection of breathtaking Yosemite photos by searching with hashtag #kennyslunchtimewalk. If you are not an Instagrammer, you can see some of the photos on our Pinterest board, “Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in Yosemite“. But what exactly is Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk and who is Kenny?

Kenny Karst is the Integrated Marketing Manager for DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite. He has lived and worked in Yosemite Valley for thirteen years and he also happens to be a professional sports photographer. In the spring of 2014, Kenny began sharing photos from his daily lunch walk with us to post on the DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Instagram account and we called them “Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite”. It’s enough that Kenny’s photos of his daily walks in Yosemite Valley are stunning, but soon enough, followers began asking, “Who is Kenny?” To answer that question, we hosted a giveaway on Facebook: Lunch With Kenny in Yosemite. The randomly selected winner from 140 applicants won a free night’s stay in Yosemite lodging by choosing Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and lunch with Kenny in the Ahwahnee Dining Room.

kenny campaign banner

Today, contest winner Deb and her son Derek participated in Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk prior to having lunch at The Ahwahnee. Viewing Yosemite in all of its fall glory, Kenny guided Deb and Derek down the bike path toward Mirror Lake and Backpackers Campground on the east end of Yosemite Valley. After walking and photographing the sunny fall morning, all three headed for the famous Ahwahnee Dining Room.

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: dogwood leaves in fall are some of Yosemite Valley's best fall color.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

Deb & Derek 102714 SQ

Deb had this to say about her experience: “Thank you so much for the wonderful walk and lunch! Derek and I were honored to be your first “Kenny’s Walk” recipients. We saw parts of Yosemite that were completely new to us, and the weather was gorgeous. Lunch at the Ahwahanee ‎was delicious, and “Kenny’s Special” dessert was the crowning touch! Best of all, we learned so much from Kenny about Yosemite. It’s also the first time we’ve stayed at Yosemite Lodge, and it’s been thrilling to experience the Valley Floor in a whole new way.”

Though Kenny uses professional equipment for his sports photography, he uses his iPhone 5s for his lunchtime walk photos. He uses Photoshop to minimally process the photos before they get posted to Instagram and shared on Facebook and Twitter. Kenny is also an accomplished musician who plays the trombone in local bands like The Groove Orphans. Kenny’s adult daughter, Renee, also lives and works in Yosemite Valley and you may have seen her contributions to social media, such as an amazing video of a bobcat at Curry Village. Kenny’s favorite spot in Yosemite is Tuolumne Meadows, and he is an avid kayaker who loves to kayak High Sierra lakes like Tenaya Lake in Yosemite. Kenny is a person who loves Yosemite and is lucky enough to live and work in one of America’s most treasured places.

Learning to Share: An Interview with Nell Newman and Jesse Cool from Session 5 of Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite

shareThe remarkable cookbook, Share, gathers together the stories of women in war-torn countries as it explains how food connects people in each country. Interwoven within these stories are recipes from the book’s collaborators, people such as Paul McCartney, Meryl Streep, and Judi Dench.

In January 2015 at Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite, two of the book’s collaborators will be joining us – Nell Newman, daughter of Paul Newman and head of Newman’s Own Organics, and Jesse Cool of Flea Street Café in Menlo Park. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Nell and Jesse about their experiences working on this cookbook.

How did you get involved with the Share cookbook?

Jesse: I was approached by Lauri Pastrone, the woman who conceived the book and made Share happen through her work with a group of amazing women. Also, I have always had a draw to Africa. Most of my reading for years was about despair turned to hope and love in the midst of the worst of the worst. After meeting Lauri, I sponsored two women in Rwanda and then joined a trip with Lauri and others to go and cook in Rwanda and meet one of the women I sponsored (a few photos in the book are the women I cooked with). You can actually read the story on page 212 of Share.

Nell: My dear friend Jesse Cool asked me if I had recipe to donate to this wonderful book she was helping put together to support the Women for Women International Project, which supports women in war-torn countries.

What does the Share cookbook mean to you?

Jesse: It means love, beauty, joy in the midst of pain and dark injustice, generosity, local and global care for women, and families in need.

Nell: The Share cookbook is a perfect example of how together we can make a change; through food, education, and love for humanity.

What did you learn from collaborating on this project?

Jesse: I met amazingly generous women who are real and care without attachment. It took my personal and businesses beyond my decades of being a local girl to stretch out and reach out to our abundance on a more global level. It helped me and my staff attach more deeply to our own beautiful life and learn how to give to those who have less.

What is your favorite recipe in the cookbook?

Jesse: Well, honestly it is Nell’s olive oil cake. I make it and serve it in the summer with berries and in winter with honey crème fraiche. The first time I had it, Lauri made it for me and I had to take a few slices home to eat as a midnight snake. I love Nell, so it meant even more that it is her recipe and so good. It holds up well for days, and is so yummy.

Any hints about what you’ll be preparing for Chefs’ Holidays in Yosemite this year?

Jesse: In my recipe, I tried to offer something that I felt was more African in feel…that is how I came up with the pork stew.

Nell: I’m definitely making my Orange Scented Almond Olive Oil Cake

Are you excited about coming to Yosemite? Why?

Jesse: My kids have always known Yosemite as their summer and winter and whenever-we-can-steal-a-day-away place to go. We say that it remains the most beautifully moving place on the plant, and I have traveled the world cooking in many amazing places.

Nell: How could anyone not be excited about coming to Yosemite! I’ve only been there once before and have never seen it in its winter splendor! I can’t wait!

Interview by Jeanne Haegele

A Change of Pace: Autumn in Yosemite Valley

I tried to hold onto summer as long as could. I tried to deny that summer would ever leave me. But the truth is upon us: summer is gone and autumn is here to stay, for a while.

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The magnificent Milkweed, spreading its seed for next year.

The nights are cooler, the days are shorter, the Big Dipper is hiding behind the granite walls, and not only are the leaves starting to drop but also the number of visitors. Yosemite Valley seems to be a bounty of endless beauty with each passing day and change in season.

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A large Black Oak, behind the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Although Yosemite is  well-known for its evergreen trees: Giant Sequoias, Pines, Cedars, and Firs, Yosemite does host a variety of deciduous trees as well. From Oaks, to Maples and Dogwoods- these trees give us our fall colors. Some trees seem to burst with excitement and color as fall creeps in, but what causes these changes in color each year?

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Black Oak leaves, showing their range of colors.

This change of color is due to a breakdown in the green pigment found in leaves: chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps the leaves make their food and when that breaks down, other pigments start to show their true colors. Depending on the climate and type of tree determines what colors will be present. The colors range from red, orange, yellow, brown, and even purple!

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Sugar Maple, across from the Chapel.

Although I was sad to let summer go, I welcome autumn with open arms as I enjoy the cooler and more colorful days headed our way. Yosemite National Park, you truly do inspire me everyday.

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Vine Maple, near the Yosemite Lodge.

Written by DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite interpretive guide Gena Wood. All photos were taken on October 10th, 2014 by Gena Wood. Come see Yosemite National Park in autumn for yourself!

 

Gallery

Where to See Fall Color in Yosemite

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Though not as brilliant as New England’s fall display of changing leaves, Yosemite National Park offers plenty of autumn beauty thanks to big leaf maple, dogwood and black oak trees. Fall itself can be changeable as a season, since turning … Continue reading

5 Easy Ways to Enjoy Yosemite

Whether you are visiting Yosemite with small children, have specific mobility needs, or simply plan to take it easy on vacation, Yosemite can be enjoyed in many ways with little effort once you arrive. Below are five easy ways to enjoy the beauty of Yosemite National Park.

1. Mirror Lake: Easy One Mile Paved Walk

Location: Yosemite Valley
Access: Shuttle Bus Stop #17, paved road/bike path to beginning of hiking trails (road closed to private vehicles except those with disabled person parking placard), nearest parking at Curry Village, restroom (pit toilet),
Availability: Year-Round
Don’t Miss: The unique view of Half Dome from this vantage point!

Kenny's Lunchtime Walk in #Yosemite: Mount Watkins reflected in Mirror Lake. Photo by Kenny Karst.

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

2. Lower Yosemite Falls: Paved Path to Yosemite’s Largest Waterfall

Location: Yosemite Valley
Access: Shuttle Bus Stop #6, paved trail to Lower Yosemite Fall, nearest parking at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls or on Northside Drive, restrooms, picnic area
Availability: Year-Round, though Yosemite Falls runs dry in late summer, later refreshed by fall and winter rain/snow
Don’t Miss: The lunar rainbow during the full moon in April/May/June!

3. Glacier Point: Drive to Yosemite’s Most Famous Overlook

Location: Terminus of the Glacier Point Road
Access: Glacier Point Bus Tour, Stargazing Bus Tour, large parking lot with RV spaces, paved walkways lead to viewpoints and hiking trails (Four Mile Trail, Panorama Trail), restrooms (pit toilets), Glacier Point Gift Shop, Glacier Point Snack Stand
Availability: Spring through Fall when the Glacier Point Road is open
Don’t Miss: Hot dogs and ice cream at the snack stand and the Geology Hut with killer views of Nevada Fall!

4. The Ahwahnee: Walk, Bike or Drive to Lunch at a National Park Lodge

Location: Yosemite Valley
Access: Shuttle Bus Stop #3, parking lot, paved bike paths, hiking trail section of the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail
Availability: Year-Round
Don’t Miss: the Great Lounge, a meal in The Ahwahnee Dining Room, cocktails on The Ahwahnee Bar patio in summer, Chefs’ Holidays in January

#TheAhwahnee Dining Room in #Yosemite serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. And great views. #YosemiteValley #California

A photo posted by Delaware North at Yosemite (@yosemite_dn) on

5. Happy Isles: Ride the Bus to Yosemite’s Nature Center

Location: Yosemite Valley
Access: Shuttle Bus Stop #16, paved level walkways and boardwalks, Happy Isles Nature Center, Happy Isles Snack Stand, restrooms
Availability: Year-Round, though the Nature Center and Snack Stand are open summer only
Don’t Miss: The NOAA weather station, The Fen (pictured) and the interpretive sign marking the location of the 1996 Happy Isles Rockfall

Need a place to stay to enjoy all that outrageous Yosemite beauty? Make reservations for all Yosemite National Park lodging here: http://www.yosemitepark.com/lodging.aspx

Learn more about accessibility in Yosemite at the links below and download the park’s accessibility guide [873 kb PDF], which describes access to areas, facilities, and services for people with disabilities.

http://www.yosemitepark.com/accessibility.aspx

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm