Muir’s concession…

Some of you may have seen these pictures in an email that circulates around. To wilderness lovers this may come as a heartbreak, but not all the pictures show a natural phenomenon, some are man-made (read below). The explanation is from snopes.com.

My greatest interest however are the pictures themselves and what they communicate. Lately I have been giving the Romantic’s a hard time, but the pictures, whether the man-made ones or the natural one’s, almost let us understand how Muir (to whom California was so dear), Emerson and others came to a ‘divinization’ and infatuation of nature. Almost…


“Nature’s Firefall” is a rare photograph of Horsetail Falls in Yosemite at Sunset in winter. This is nature’s version of the old man-made Yosemite Fire Fall.During the winter in Yosemite, coming off of El Capitan, there is an almost non-existent waterfall called “Horsetail Falls.” Many maps don’t even have it marked. During the last two weeks in February, IF there is water trickling over the edge, and IF it is clear at sunset (which doesn’t happen too often due to the winter storms) the setting sun will turn this waterfall into a stream of molten fire. The waterfall lights up like molten lava due to the angle of the sun. Inspired by Galen Rowell, many photographers have chased this elusive photo opportunity. John spent two evenings in a foot of snow in the middle of meadow trying to get the shot. The first evening was an absolute bust as it had been clear all day and at sunset the clouds hung over the peak. Luckily he captured his photograph titled “Full Moon over Half Dome”. The next evening everything worked out for this stunning shot.”

And the unnatural phenomena that would have made Muir very upset:

“At 9:00 each evening in Camp Curry, the crowd which had gathered for the nightly campfire program, would fall silent. A man would call out to the top of Glacier Point “Let the Fire Fall!”, and a faint reply could be heard from the top of the mountain. Then a great bonfire of red fir bark would be pushed evenly over the edge of the cliff, appearing to the onlookers below as a glowing waterfall of sparks and fire.”

The spectacle was the Yosemite Firefall, a nightly tradition in Yosemite National Park for some 88 years. I witnessed the Firefall myself as a child and still remember it with uncanny vividness.”

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