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#1604 - 01/08/10 08:10 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Steve C]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
Those trees are pointing downslope, in the direction of an avalanche decades ago, that swept across Tioga road. The logs were carried out into the open meadow, where the avalanche terminated.


Yep. It was the mid-'80s, though I can't remember the exact year. '86 or '87?? I remember skiing through there a few days after it happened and being amazed and a teensy bit nervous. I never would have expected a snow avalanche off that slope. About a half dozen had also run across the road from the same storm set on the east side of the pass. Hard to piece memory together, but I think I'd just come out of Crabtree and one had run within 50 feet of the ranger station there. One of those 100 year events... .

Here is another cool/scary video of an avalanche:
http://vimeo.com/6581009

And of course, you're correct on the obsidian. I think there's three sources on the east side for most all of the Native American artifacts found in the Sierra. Heavy trading with the west side Indians. There are trading sites near some of the major passes with thousands of pieces left when the larger blocks were broken of up to make blanks to be later used for points.

Other sites you'll find small flakes when the points were actually being shaped. Each epoch had a particular point style associated with it. You can identify not only the source (Glass Mountain, one just on Hwy. 6 at the Nevada border) but also a rough date from the style. It's not uncommon to find points as much as 6,000 years old. Extremely cool. Some studies have even been able to recover DNA from the points to find what animals were being hunted.

I will reemphasize that you absolutely shouldn't take ANY of these artifacts. Not only are you disturbing a living part of the Sierra history and denying that experience to others who might get the same thrill you do, but it's hugely illegal. Depending on what's disturbed, a felony charge is possible.

George
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#1617 - 01/09/10 06:05 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to [Re: George]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: George
And of course, you're correct on the obsidian. I think there's three sources on the east side for most all of the Native American artifacts found in the Sierra. Heavy trading with the west side Indians. There are trading sites near some of the major passes with thousands of pieces left when the larger blocks were broken of up to make blanks to be later used for points.


George - You mention three sources for obsidian. If one is Glass Mountain - I'm aware of a second in the Coso Range. Where's the third?

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#1638 - 01/10/10 07:46 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
The trees were felled by an avalanche about 30 years ago.

There is a similar scene on the road to Mosquito Flat, in Rock Creek Canyon. Also caused by an avalanche about 30 years ago.

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#1641 - 01/10/10 08:10 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7673
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bob, I went looking on the Google satellite images of the area, and couldn't find any obvious avalanche tracks. Maybe just not enough trees in the area to make a visual pattern from the aerial view.

But I DID find some pretty good avalanche stripes five miles due west of Rock Creek Lake. A good one in the second recess, and a number on the southeast facing slope a mile north of Frog Lake.

It's curious, though. In that area, there is way more avalanche damage on the south-southeast slope than the north facing slope.

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#1660 - 01/11/10 01:10 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: George]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Originally Posted By: George
...the mid-'80s, though I can't remember the exact year. '86 or '87?? I remember skiing through there a few days after it happened and being amazed and a teensy bit nervous. I never would have expected a snow avalanche off that slope.


That is what puzzled me everytime I drove by there. The slope isn't that steep to warrant such an event. Must have been one massive slab of snow on that slope that just "broke" causing all of that damage.
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#1678 - 01/12/10 09:01 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
You mention three sources for obsidian. If one is Glass Mountain - I'm aware of a second in the Coso Range. Where's the third?


Forgotten what it's called, but it's right at the Highway 6 California/Nevada border. Also, I meant to say 3 sites for the southern sierra. Not sure what the northern Native Americans used. One of the sites (can't remember which) has swirls of red in the black obsidian. Another is more clear. You'll also occasionally come across points made from chert -- very red. I think that mostly occurs on the west side. I've even found small sea shells at campsites.

Quote:
The slope isn't that steep to warrant such an event.


As most all of you have noticed, there are avalanched trees all over the place. Many have obvious slide paths and release all the time during the winter. Others release only on longer-time weather events. One major avalanche year was, I think, '86 when we got about 8 feet of snow in one storm, followed by 10" of rain in a 3 day period. It turned all that snow to a wet slurry and huge avalanches ran within hours of eachother all through the central and southern Sierra. There were 200+ year old Red Firs that were taken down on the East Lake trail (because of the switchbacks, the trail crew would have to cut through the same tree 3 times...). All that water released at once caused major flooding in the Central Valley. Another side note is that many (most?) of California's floods follow that same pattern -- very heavy rain on top of 5+ feet of snow up to 10,000+ feet. It's usually not the rain alone, but the snowpack melting as well.

It's hard to remember, but I think sometime around '93 was another major avalanche year in the central/southern Sierra. Trees down below Center Basin trail are evidence of that year.

But you're right about the one in Tioga meadow. There doesn't appear to be a steep enough slope or accumulation zone to trigger an avalanche. But if you look up from the meadow, there's a very small cirque up there with, if I remember right, a headwall where the west wind will deposit the snow. I've skied that area a few times since and never seen it run again.

Quote:
The trees were felled by an avalanche about 30 years ago.


Hmmm. Nothing like introducing doubt to my memory. Not impossible but I'm still thinking mid-80s vs. 1980 or so. Still, when I try to dredge up the associated memories to fix it better in time, things get kinda hazy. I definitely remember a bunch of us in Yosemite talking about that slide because we all (ski instructors) thought that area would be a safe place to camp on a winter trip. A good lesson... .

g.


Edited by George (01/12/10 09:07 AM)
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#1679 - 01/12/10 09:15 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: George]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Fascinating...

I do believe circa 1986 was an El Nino year.

Thank you, George!
_________________________
Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

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#1680 - 01/12/10 09:30 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to [Re: George]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
Thanks, George. There's also a site in the El Pasos which was used by native Americans for tools/arrowheads. I don't recall the name of the rock - it's not obsidian - but looks somewhat like an opaque quartz.

On the topic of avalanches - there were a series of huge slab avalanches on Shasta during the mid-90's (95? 97?). As I recall, one took out the towers of the ski area, and possibly the lodge? The ski area was then moved to its present location. There were some excellent photographs of the one damaging the ski area online at the USFS site, but am not sure they still archive them. As I recall, it was a massive (maybe 20' tall?) wall of slow-moving snow that removed everything in its path.

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#1691 - 01/13/10 08:27 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Steve C]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Yeah, the Rock Creek tree fall is pretty small by comparison with others, and is surrounded by forest so it might not show on gogglemaps. It is amazing where avalanches sometimes occur. For instance, about 25 hears ago a major slide hit Aspendell, west of Bishop, destroying one home. It was ruled a "100-year" slide. (four new homes have since been built in the same spot.)
When I worked at Pine Creek Mine, our surface garage building was completely flattened by an avalanche from a chute that had been regarded as safe. Another "100-year" slide...Yah just never know.

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