This is our final post of the 2021-2022 season. It has again been an honor and pleasure to serve in the capacity of the Tuolumne Meadows winter rangers. When we arrived in early December, we were soon buried by the 171 inches of new snow that fell over the next three weeks. Just when we thought we couldn’t shovel anymore, the faucet turned off. We certainly did not anticipate the remaining four consecutive months to be the driest on record. It has been an “upside-down” winter, where the snow and water content peaked in December and slowly diminished thereafter. From a winter recreation perspective, the heavy snows of December were timely (way better than March!) and for this we are grateful. After eleven winters here in Tuolumne we have come to expect the unexpected. Our first winter of 2011–2012 did not see any snowfall until late January, which at least made the ice-skating enthusiasts on Tenaya Lake happy.
The weather this week saw near record-high temperatures in the 60s for three days and ended with some snow and sub-zero temperatures. We took advantage of the heat wave and just enough snow coverage in order to ski up to near Donohue Pass. Despite the record dry past four months, the ski touring and corn cycle were excellent, though limited to appropriate aspect and elevation. As we traversed below what was once the Lyell Glacier it wasn’t difficult to envision the disappearing snow and ice across the globe. The glacier is now considered an stagnant ice patch because it is no longer moving downhill and is rapidly diminishing in size. Not only is there less annual global coverage of snow and ice but it has been melting earlier (Brown, 2000; Clow, 2010; Easterling et al., 2016; Kunkel et al., 2009-b; Liston and Hiemstra, 2011). This spring in Yosemite, the river flows are peaking in early April instead of late May or June. Just remember that if you live in the American West, your water probably came from the sky in the form of a beautiful, delicate snowflake. Each and every dendrite is as beautiful and as important as all life on this fragile little planet including you! So please, take care of one another and our only home, Mother Earth.