I recently spent three days in the Yosemite National Park area, shooting each day, in different locations. Yes, I did find a marvelous group of dispersed camping sites (free!) within the Rim Fire perimeter. Of course, they were there before the fire but, those spots still look great. Yes, there are also patches of high-intensity burn along Hardin Flat Road (the old highway) that have been salvage logged, too.
One of the places I went to, inside the park, was a large patch of high-intensity burn, all around Hodgdon Meadow. The campground wasn’t really impacted much by the fire. All around the fringe of the large meadow were green and healthy trees. They should be a good source of seeds, and it looks like most sugar pines had an excellent “cone year”. The problem will be the inevitable re-burns, with heavy fuels from trees like these:
Yes, there are some tufts of green up there but, will the trees be able to fight off drought and bugs, with damaged cambium? Probably not. Yosemite has become a giant incubation “Motherland” for bark beetles, who don’t stay inside the lines on the map. However, I would recommend Hodgdon Meadow Campground (right near the Highway 120 Entrance Station) for your visit to Yosemite. There is something very primitive to camping under such giant trees (non-Sequoias).
Speaking of Giant Sequoias, I dropped into the Tuolumne Grove, to see how the Rim Fire impacted the area. I knew that firefighters had set up sprinklers, and I could tell by looking at the Google Maps view that there wasn’t much intensity there. This area (pictured below) was about as scorched as much as I could find, along the trails. Certainly, nothing to worry about. I’ll bet there is more insect mortality in the area than fire mortality. I’m sure that some will say they wished it had burned a little more intensely. Most of the grove didn’t burn nearly as well as in this picture.
I went to Foresta, to view last year’s re-burn and the progress of “recovery” of the Yosemite side. Here are some views of that situation:
Nine years after the re-burn, and 25 years after the original A-Rock Fire, this area remains desolate. Even brush is having a hard time growing, in soils with very little organic matter. The soils dry out and growth stops, during the hot summers.
Looking westward, you can see last year’s re-burn, mostly on the Forest Service lands outside the Park. I worked on the original A-Rock salvage project, way back in 1991. I still have some Kodachrome slides from those days, up on that long ridge. The snags in this view probably survived the A-Rock Fire but not the Big Meadow Fire.
Yes, I did go into Yosemite Valley and found some uncrowded hiking along the Merced River.
I did see some significant pine beetle patches, in Yosemite Valley. It seems like a “normal” level of bark beetles, considering the horrible drought, and all.
There is a lot more to see over on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/LarryHarrellFotoware