Saturday, March 28, 2009


For decades until 1968, visitors to Yosemite Valley could witness the Firefall, in which a stream of glowing embers was pushed off the soaring heights of Glacier Point into the valley below. This fiery cascade of thousands of feet would be seen by huge groups of onlookers, who would gather in the meadows below to watch the glowing spectacle of light. During the event down at Camp Curry, the audience would gather in front of a piano and sing "Indian Love Call," with the performers. A caller on stage would shout up to Glacier Point, some thirty-two hundred feet above the camp, “Hello Glacier Point!” and from Glacier Point the fire-builder would call back, “Hello Camp Curry!” and the caller would respond with “Let the fire fall!” The fire builder far above would then tumble the embers over the point, creating the Firefall.

The park service discontinued this practice in 1968 for a number of reasons, the foremost being that it attracted so many spectators that the meadows were getting trampled and damaged, and also because the park service was leaning toward wilderness values and returning the park to a more natural state.

But while the Firefall may no longer be seen, a natural firefall occurs every late winter and spring near El Capitan. From the immense heights of this 3000-foot granite monolith falls the wispy, magical Horse Tail Falls. At sunset at certain times during the spring melt off, this ethereal waterfall catches the fiery rays of the setting sun and glows an enrapturing orange and red.
I hiked beneath the falls to see them at sunset, and while they did indeed glow with the silver light of the sun, clouds swept in before sunset, obscuring the alpen glow that causes the falls to glow with fiery colors. Next time. Next time.

posted 4:24 PM


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