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Yosemite Nature Notes - 12 - Glaciers

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[Music]
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[Music]
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While many people think of Yosemite Valley
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as a great place to look at evidence of glaciers,
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as you come up into the High Country of Yosemite,
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Olmstead Point, Tuolumne Meadows,
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you find even better evidence for the recent passage of ice.
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But to see the living glaciers still at work
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at the crest of the Sierra,
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there is nothing that compares to seeing this in action.
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Here is a field of ice
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formed from millions and millions of snowflakes
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slowly working on the mountainside, sliding downhill,
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just like they have
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off and on for tens and hundreds of thousands of years.
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Well, in the Sierra Nevada,
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you really only get glaciers at the very highest elevations,
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near the highest peaks and the range,
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they are usually tucked up into seracs
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that mostly face North or Northeast.
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So they're generally pretty remote places, hard to get to.
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So I'm standing here on the summit of Mount Maclure
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and looking out over the Lyell Glacier.
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That's Mount Lyell right there;
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the highest point of Yosemite National Park,
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just over 13,100 feet,
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and beneath it is the Lyell Glacier,
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which is the largest glacier in the Park.
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It's the second largest glacier in all the Sierra Nevada
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and the largest glacier on the Western slope
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of the mountain range.
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And there are no trees at this elevation.
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There is not much soil.
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There aren't many plants.
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It's a fairly barren landscape,
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often windy,
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intense solar energy, intense ultraviolet.
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So not a friendly place,
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unless you really like this alpine zone
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and you want to see a glacier.
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There are some elements of danger here.
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This is a really dynamic place.
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The ice is moving,
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the rocks are moving,
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and to explore it, you have to be careful.
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The moraines are fairly unstable,
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so there are a lot of loose rocks there.
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You can tip a rock over onto yourself if you are not careful.
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For the most part, the Lyell Glacier is sort of big and open
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and easy to get around on, but it's still steep and slippery.
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