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Friday, May 16, 2008
Yosemite National Park, California US
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park,CaliforniaUS
yosemite National Park Lower Cathedral Lake
Pronounced as ‘yo – SEM – it – ee’ The Yosemite National Park is a 761266 acre wilderness reserve is thesecond national park in US afterYellowstone National Park. It is located in Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties in the State of California United States. The Yosemite Valley forms the central part of this park which is famous for its scenic locations presented by the Sierra Nevada Mountain Chain that lies as a backbone to this National Park. In 1964 the Yosemite National Park gained accreditation from the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. If about 3.5 million tourists visit a spot every year; there must be reason behind it; let us see; what are the unique selling points of theYosemite National Park?
Mariposa Indian Encampment Yosemite Valley California by Albert Bierstadt
Since 6000 BC the valley was inhabited by people of Miwok Indian ancestry; who owned a very rich culture with religion, traditions, rituals, dance, music, and even politicking. They made arrow heads with obsidian that is abundantly available here, did trade with neighboring areas; pinyon pine-nuts and obsidian etc were there main article of trade (pinyon pine is a tree that produce edible fruits found in Mexico and US). These people worshipped and protected the trees especially the Giant Sequoia trees. The Giant Sequoia trees nurtured by them still exist in the Sequoia National Park coming with the administration of the Yosemite National Park Service.
Miwok Indianswere of three types 1, Lake Miwok (who lived on the banks of South Clear Lake); 2, Coast Miwok (who lived on the Pacific Coast) and 3, Eastern Miwok (who lived in Central California; present Sacramento).
The gold rush
The Valley was first sighted by Joseph Walker and his team but actual entry took place years after. The discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada Mountain slopes changed the entire scenario as fortune hunters from the surrounding areas swarmed to the valley and confronted by the natives who tried to protect their land. These conflicts were described as Mariposa Indian War and a battalion was set up to ‘tame’ the revolting Indians.
Yosemite National Park Half Dome
There was a brighter side to all these adversities as these strife and issues brought the attractions of the wonderful locations in this park to limelight and outside world and people began to flock to witness the natural wonders of the Yosemite area; it was the beginning of a revolution; money from tourists began to open new avenues for the local people. Hotels, restaurants, resorts etc sprung up all around and the ecology of the area began to degenerate as a result.
The park now
The Yosemite Valley forms just one percent of the National Park area but it remains the most visited part in the entire park. In 1903 US President Theodore Roosevelt camped in the Glacier Point for three days and got convinced of the taking over the entire site by the Federal Government. The National Park Service was formed in 1916 and the area from Tuolumne Meadow to Tioga Pass Road was given to the agency’s jurisdiction. Tuolumne Meadows Lodge still remains as the popular base camp for hiker to this park.
National Park Agency
Joint plane on Lembert Dome - Yosemite National Park
The park is best known for its waterfalls but this 1200 sq mile area is much more than that the towering Sierra Nevada Peaks, intimidating vertical rock formations, impressive mounts like the El Capitan, deep valleys with carpets of wild flowers, grand meadows and the ancient Giant Sequoia trees all make this site some thing exclusive; Yosemite is one of the earliest national parks in US.
TheSequoiaNational Park(known for the Giant Sequoia Trees) and the King’s Canyon National Park both come under the administration of this agency under a single name Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Park. The John Muir Trail –a 211 mile long road from Happy Isles to the Trailhead of Yosemite National Park connects almost all the locations of the Sierra Nevada vicinity together.
Perhaps the most significant thing about this national park is that 95% of its area is left as such called ‘wilderness areas like John Muir Wilderness, Ansal Adams Wilderness, Hoover Wilderness, Emigrant Wilderness etc. This has been done as per the US Wilderness Act passed in 1890. These wilderness areas; (though the word is a bit dull) are biologically rich areas with many endemic plant varieties, animal varieties. Numerous lakes, ponds, streams, wild and scenic rivers give this place an extraordinary charm.
To add some depth to the beauty there are deep canyons in this park formed by the Tuolumne and Merced rivers. These river canyons are well marked as that of the Yellowstone though not as prominent like the Grand Canyon. These canyons were formed when river water licked away the rocks in a continuous process that lasted millions of years. They are about 3000 to 4000 feet deep and offer scenic beauty to the visitors. Tuolumne drains the northern portion of the park where as the Merced drains the southern part.
Yosemite National Park - El Capitan
It is the most prominent 3000 feet tall vertical cliff; a towering monolith (formed of a single rock) of granite. This mount is a virtual challenge for rock climbers all over the globe; conquest of El Capitan is considered as a landmark in a mountaineer’s career. It was first climbed by Warren J Harding in 1958; all there are more than one route; all of them are too hard and risky for ordinary people however experienced and well built they are. For tourists it presents a sight of magnitude that even after the visit the towering sight will not fade away from one’s mind.
It is the best view point available in the Yosemite Park (elevation 7214 feet) on the South Wall of Yosemite Valley. This location enables to view almost all the magnificent sites of the park like, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls and Clouds Rest etc.
The Yosemite Fall is the star attraction of the entire park; it is the highest in the entire North America and the 6thlargest in the world in height. There are two stages the Upper Falls is 1430 feet in height where as the Lower Fall is 320 feet in height. During the late summer the falls are in their full steam and present an exquisite show of power and beauty with deafening thunder.
The Ribbon Falls from a cliff of the El Capitan Mountain. With a height of 1612 feet this fall is the tallest single fall in whole of North America; as this stream is fed from the melting snow of the mountains; it is generally dry in other seasons; it is spring time when it fall in its real might. The Ribbon Falls have some surprise in store during winter also; as the falling water freeze forming a cone at the bottom; at times this cone reaches to a height of about 200 feet; a gigantic ice pyramid!
It is a typical example of a fall originated from a ‘hanging valley’ where the upper valley is in higher altitude and engulfed by mountains and the fall is an overflow of the upper source. It is the snow white transparency that gave the fall this beautiful name. The original source of the Bridalveil Fall is the Ostrander Lake therefore this fall does not get dried up. The Ostrander Lake is a small one (8500 sq feet in area); but a popular destination of skiers and it is located about10 km away from the Badger Ski Area.
RiverMercedand Lake Mc Clure
River Merced –a tributary of San Joaquin is a protected site under the ‘National Wild and Scenic Act’. It runs along High Way number 140 the main path to the Yosemite. A stone-dam by name New Exchequer has been built on this river for the purpose of irrigation and production of hydro-electricity. This dam makes the course of river behind it flooded to form a lake (Lake Mc Clure – a 1032,000 cubic feet water body). Both River Merced and Lake Mc Clure offer enough water for recreational activities like kayaking, fishing, swimming, rafting etc while its shores are favorite locations for hiking, picnicking etc.
It is season
Yosemite National Park in Fall
Season at the Yosemite starts with the end of April when snow has just melted and the paths to numerous sites like exquisite waterfalls, steep and commanding cliffs, rivers and lakes, Giant Sequoia Groves, Glacier Point etc get cleared of the ice. These roads lead to vantage points offering great view of the valley are all there to be devoured. A single visit to this site offers a cluster of opportunities to see rare sites all packed in a park well preserved and protected. For those who are adventurous there are many possibilities like hiking, swimming, skiing etc.
Lakes are not seas; they are enclosed water bodies of substantial size; they nurture the people around giving them almost all their day today needs like food, water, transportation recreation etc. they support a bio system around its peripheries to evolve independently and develop in to an exotic culture specific to its shores. Communities living around develop a unique culture and identity. Due to these exclusivities lakeshores always offer a special charm for the visitors and act as hot tourist spots giving precious jobs to the local people.
They are all good whether big or small
There are many types of lakes like saline (The Caspian Sea), hyper saline (The Dead Sea), fresh water (Lake Victoria), high altitude (Lake Titicaca), low altitude (Dead Sea), extremely deep (Baikal), with largest island(Huron), located on lake-island (Manitou) etc. Some of them is sacred and medicinal (SpottedLake), some filled with tar and repulsive but they all have one thing in common they are all extremely useful to mankind.
LakeToba, inSumatra Island,Indonesia
Lake toba image courtesy: tobaleuser.com
This is a 100 km long lake located in the island of Sumatra that houses the largest island in a lake on an island. It has another credit as it isthe largest volcanic islandin the world. The name of the island is Pulau Samosir which was formed by the eruption of a super volcano tens of thousands of years ago. Lake Toba is formed when the caldera of the volcano got filled with water. It is believed that this explosion (occurred about 70,000 years back) was the biggest eruption occurred in the past 20 million years back.
The SpottedLake,Kliluk, Osoyoos Canada
Kliluk the Spotted LakeSpotted Lake image courtesy: liembo
More than just a 15 hectare wide lake the Spotted Lake is a sacred spot for the native Indians who live there. This lake is located about 5.5 km from Osoyoos and can be seen from highway no 3. It has one of the highest concentrations of minerals like epsum, calcium, sodium and magnesium than any other lakes in the world. These minerals form large bun-like formations on the lake surface in yellow, brown, golden or red tinge. The natives bath in this lake for healing, almost all of the ailments they suffer.
PitchLake, LaBreaSouthwest Trinidad
Pitch lake trinidad image courtesy: richard-seaman.com
A forty hectare lake with a depth of 75 meters; that has no water but filled with tar (asphalt) of very pure quality! It was Sir Walter Raleigh the great explorer who discovered this strange tar-lake in 1595. It is believed that some geographical phenomena would have released the underground oil deposit to above ground. When low density components evaporated the tar left there forming a lake. This ‘tar-lake has emerged as a gold mine for the government as it has become a hot tourist attraction with 20,000 annual visitors. The asphalt is mined and exported for hard cash. How long this lake would sustain such a rampant exploitation remains to be seen.
Lonar lake india image courtesy: nasa.gov
The Lonar Lake is in Maharashtra, India is located in Buldhana District (it is part of the ancient historically important place by name Vidharba around 200 km from the famousAjantaCavesknown for the exquisite sculptures it has in abundance. This lake was formed due to a big meteorite collision occurred around 50,000 years back. The USP ofLonar Lake is that it has a perfect circular shape as if drawn by a compass with one armat its center and the other arm at a distance of 1 km. This lake has an average depth of 170 meters. This lake and numerous ancient temples located in its surrounding points attract tourists as well as pilgrims from all parts of the world.
Chilka lake orissa india image courtesy: welcomeorissa.com
It has an area of 1100 sq km and is the largest estuary in India and a designated Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance). The biodiversity it supports in one of the largest in the world and some of them are in the Red List of the IUCN. There are about 400 vertebrates endemic to this lake; the Irrawaddy Dolphin, limbless barakudia skink etc (there are only fifty numbers of Irrawady Dolphins left at present). Chilka Lake is one of the largest wintering grounds for waterfowls (last year the number of migratory birds visited this lake amounted more than two million). These feathered visitors include those fromBaikal,Aral SeaHimalayaandLake Issik Kulof Kyrgyzstan. There are a number of islands in this lake some of them are inhabited of which Krushnaprasad, Nalaban, Kalijai, Somolo are important ones.
ManitouLake,Manitoulin Island Lake Huron, Canada
Manitou Lake canada image courtesy: wikipedia.org
Lake Huron is second in size among the Great Lakes but it has the credit of housing world’s largest lake island (Manitoulin) that in its turn houses world’s largest fresh water lake in a fresh water lake island – the Manitau Lake. When this lake- island is 2766 sq km in area its Manitau Lake itself is 104 sq km in area; the funny thing is that Manitoulin Island houses about 107 other lakes within it. The Manitau Lake has its own islands though small making them islands in a lake within an island in a fresh water lake! This lake is drained by River Manitau.
Finnish Lakeland image courtesy: wikipedia.org
This is a territory located in the central and East Finland and as its name suggests it is a land of lakes; the total number of lakes here have never been ascertained as it is too much! It is 40 lakes per 100 sq km in this area but for Lake Inari the count is 1000 per 100 sq km! It has been guestimated that there may be 55,000 lakes altogether if all the water bodies above 200 meter wide alone are counted. Total 25% of the land areas are occupied by lakes and the rest are forests.Saimaais the largest lake that has an area of 4400 sq km. This region is locally called ‘Lampi Suomi’ meaning Finland Pond.
Nettilling Lake, Canada image courtesy: wikipedia.org
It is the largest fresh water lake on an island;located in Baffin Island, Nunavut Canada. The Baffin Island is part of the Koukdjuak plains known for the rich wild life (it supports the largest goose colony in the world). This lake gets its water from several other lakes on this island including the Amadjuak Lake which is second largest in size. The Nettilling Lake is 123 km in length and has an area of about 1956 sq km; it is 132 meters in depth; its eastern part is comparatively shallower and dotted with many islands whereas the western part is deeper and devoid of islands. The Nettilling Lake is drained by River Koukdjuak in to the Foxe Basin (a shallow basin in the Hudson Bay; named after English explorer Luke Foxe).
The Aral Sea,(a tear drop on mother earth)
The Aral Sea image courtesy: orexca.com
Its story may be the most pathetic of all the lakes; steadily shrinking with increasing salinity; lake has shrunk exposing three deeper parts; all its fish and plants dead and with the fish; once flourished fishing industry also breathed its last; the Aral Sea at present remains as tear drop on mother earth.
It is located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan two members of the former Soviet Union. Initial surface area of this lake was 68,000 sq kms; it was well fed by the waters of the great rivers and endemic plants and fish were abundant. The present surface area is about 15,000 sq km! Salinity is not the only menace; pesticides, testing of biological weapons, run off of excessive chemical fertilizers, chemical effluents from factories all reduced the sea in to a dirty salt pit.
It all started with lopsided development policies of the erstwhile Soviet Union which divertedAmu Darya and Syr Darya(the rivers that fed the lake) to irrigational purposes all worked in tandem in the making of these three ugly dead seas in the Central Asia.
The Aral Sea is not an isolated case almost all the lakes in the world are under threat of faulty development agenda of the short sighted governments and in various stages of degradation. If the Aral Sea model opens anybody’s eye it would be of immense good for the generations to come.