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#1349 - 12/17/09 01:43 PM Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Since it is slow, I might as well post while I can!

Coming from the Fuggowhee (Coarsegold) side as you near Tioga Lake near the Tioga Pass entrance in YNP, there is a field off to the right. In that field are fallen trees that have fallen in the same direction.

Rock slide? No. There is no indication of a rock slide. No large rocks, scree or talus to suggest such an event occurred.

Earthquake? There is no strong evidence of any scarp or fault line in this area.

Pyroclastic flow (lahar)? No evidence of scorching on the trees from the superheated. Note: Mt. St. Helens explosion leveled the trees near and around Spirit Lake.

Wind? I strong doubt a windstorm could do this type of destuction. Winds vary.

Volcanic blast? Maybe. Long Valley Caldera blast? That blast happened millions of years ago. The state of decay of the fallen logs suggest a more recent event.

Avalanche? Very strong possibility, hence why the trees seem have fallen in the same direction and seem to have snapped at the base or at their roots. Note: the trees on the other side of the road also follow this same mysterious pattern.

Something to ponder next time you are in the

There...that should liven up things a bit.
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#1350 - 12/17/09 02:08 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Most likely avalanche, knocks the trees down then melts for no sign of the source.
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#1351 - 12/17/09 02:50 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Easy - Bigfoot! He finally found the right size toothpick and walked away with that one, leaving all the rest.

There. Lively enough for you? Call me crazy, but I might actually ask a ranger . . .

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#1352 - 12/17/09 03:41 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: RoguePhotonic]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Fascinating isn't it.

Ah, to wish I was there to see it happen.

What a spectacle it might have been to see.

Thanks, RP!
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#1354 - 12/17/09 04:28 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to [Re: RoguePhotonic]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: RoguePhotonic
Most likely avalanche, knocks the trees down then melts for no sign of the source.


Well isn't that a decisive statement for the limited amount of information offered. Gary, a few more questions about the situation:

How many trees?
Which kind of trees (differences in root/branch structures)?
Proximity to other trees?
Where is the field located? Near a slope that might hold snow?
What side of the lake?

...and so on.

Wind could also be a likely culprit, as Tioga definitely gets hit hard and can regularly see zephyrs of 100-150kts in the winter. A localized downdraft could definitely uproot a few things, as it does on the westside to the sequoias fairly regularly.

The slopes under the north of Dana might cause some damage if they let go. But that basin is fairly wide and flat...
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#1355 - 12/17/09 05:20 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to [Re: MooseTracks]
+ @ti2d Offline


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

In the exposed field, about 100 old pine trees maybe more...

In the slope, too many to count due to the new growth.

Southwest-ish of Tioga Lake.

I still say it may be avalanche by judging how the trees seem to fall in the same direction away from the slope.

Dana? All of the trees have fallen towards Dana.
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#1361 - 12/17/09 09:26 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
These trees burned first? (yes/no)(I have driven through the area many times, but never really scrutinized the trees to any degree)

If they were first victims of fire, the subsequent decay would leave them much more vulnerable to any disturbance such as the seasonal winds that blast through the area. IF the trees have the "toothpick" look (no root balls attached; a sure sign of fire) than it would not take a catastrophic event to knock them down. Also, if it were an avalanche, I would be inclined to think that the end result would be more of a piling effect, rather than a uniformed scattering of the trees.

B
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#1362 - 12/18/09 12:23 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Quote:
Well isn't that a decisive statement for the limited amount of information offered


=P I actually thought about some of the questions you asked but I assumed if more interesting anomalies were present they probably would have been pointed out, shouldn't assume I know but I did. crazy
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#1363 - 12/18/09 12:35 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7673
Loc: Fresno, CA
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.

Doggone, this topic sent me off Googling for pictures, and there are few to none. Here's the only one I could find, from Wikipedia's "Avalanche" description:

Wikipedia's caption: "Periodic winter avalanches on this 800 m high slope transport woody debris to the flat in the foreground." (Click on picture to see larger version)






When you come upon one of these avalanche zones, you can see most of the trees tops are pointing in the direction of the avalanche flow. This is likely due to two things: The tree first snapped in the direction of the avalanche flow, and, the effect of their stumps dragging along (as an anchor), while the lighter tops were carried forward by the tumbling snow of the avalanche.






Here's an image of Google's satellite view of the spot + @ti2d is talking about:

You can see the darker areas (trees) on the left (west) side of the road. The lighter areas are where the avalanche stripped away the trees, moving to the right (eastward) across the road. The pointer on the picture shows the lighter objects (possibly the logs).

On the PCT between Sonora Pass and the Yosemite boundary to the south, I recall seeing numerous huge avalanche zones where we could see hundreds of trees all laying like toothpicks pointing downslope. I tried to find a satellite view of them, but the photos were taken with the area completely covered in snow.

Sometimes you can find a zone where the snow cover was several feet deep, and the avalanche flow ran on top of the snow cover. In those places, the trees are all snapped at a similar height, several feet above the ground.

I have seen other places where an avalanche simply piled ALL the trees in one huge jumble. I don't recall where it was (somewhere here on the west side), but I was on a hiking trail where the pile was a mess at least ten feet deep across the trail. Climbing over it was impossible, so we had to make a big bushwhacking detour around the area.


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#1365 - 12/18/09 01:11 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Joel M. Baldwin Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 56
Loc: Sacramento Ca USA
There are a few places south of there down Lyell canyon along JMT where you see the same type of trees/logs out in the middle of the meadow towards the river. You're walking along and see it and wonder "How the heck did that get all the way out there!?"

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#1366 - 12/18/09 01:13 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7673
Loc: Fresno, CA
Talking about avalanches brought back memories of a video posted a while back. It's gone from the Mammoth mtn site, but found it on YouTube. It's triggered by an explosive dropped via helicopter. The video runs 6 minutes.

Here's the YouTube link: Avalanche Mt Ruepehu, New Zealand, 2003




And one from Telluride:




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#1367 - 12/18/09 04:56 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Steve C]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Any doubts about the force and inertia behind an avalanche, that first video is revealing. Notice how far the leading edge travels upward in that bowl?

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#1368 - 12/18/09 07:36 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Steve C]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Doggone, this topic sent me off Googling for pictures, and there are few to none.


Sorry, Steve C, but many thanks for your research. I am just fascinated by odd and curious things I see along the way in my trail of life.

And many, many thanks to all who offered their explanations to the odd and curious in the Sierra Nevada.

Yes, avalanche. Seen the damage done while on SoCal's San Gorgonio's north slope. Fallen trees everywhere blocking the trail.

One day I found an obsidian in the middle of a meadow while looking for wild onions near Tioga Lake in YNP. It caught my eye immediately...all black and shiny. It is about the size of a half-dollar coin. I look around the area and find no others. I ask, "Now how did you get here?"

Yes, I brought it home with me.

Then I get home, turn on the computer...

Come to find out it could be the remnant of the Long Valley Caldera blast or the numerous blasts that have occured near and around Mammoth. I am fascinated with fault lines, plate tectonics, scarps, earthquakes, and volcanos and how they sculpted the Sierra Nevada.

Fascinating.

Will I return the rock to its former spot? Yes.
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#1369 - 12/18/09 08:34 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7673
Loc: Fresno, CA
> Come to find out it could be the remnant of the Long Valley Caldera blast or the numerous blasts that have occured near and around Mammoth. I am fascinated with fault lines, plate tectonics, scarps, earthquakes, and volcanos and how they sculpted the Sierra Nevada.

Well... not exactly. That obsidian was put there by humans. ...Native Americans.

Tioga Pass or Mono pass just to the south was a main trading trail for the American Indians. They carried obsidian across the Sierra to trade with others. It was the primary source of arrowheads. It can be found down around Mammoth, Glass Mountain, I believe.

Hiking over Donohue Pass out of Yosemite, as you climb out of the Lyell Canyon there is a place along the trail where there is obsidian lying all over the place ...on top of granite. It must have been an Indian camp where they made arrowheads.

The big effect of the Long Valley Caldera is the expansive volcanic tuff deposit north of Bishop. Every time you drive north on 395, you can see the pinkish-tan cliffs along the Owens River before you climb to the Sherwin summit. That entire smooth but rocky slope up that grade is made of cubic miles of volcanic tuff that exploded out of the caldera in one cataclysmic eruption. (former geology major here).

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#1370 - 12/18/09 08:46 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: + @ti2d
One day I found an obsidian in the middle of a meadow while looking for wild onions near Tioga Lake in YNP.

Yes, I brought it home with me.

Will I return the rock to its former spot? Yes.


The Attitude man possesses good wilderness ethics! Now I just need to figure out how to return that shiny rock my daughter "unknowingly" filched from Mt. Rainier a few years ago. And the one from the Grand Canyon. And also the two from Rocky Mountain NP. She didn't quite "get it" between the ages of 3 and 7. No telling what would be in her pack when we returned home.

Hey, since you're in the business of returning missing geological strata . . .

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#1372 - 12/18/09 09:08 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to [Re: Bulldog34]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
There's another large source of obsidian in the Cosos.

It's quite common for find obsidian flakes thoughout the southern Sierra, Inyos, Cosos, and El Pasos. Once you know what to look for along the edges, it's easy to tell whether the flake occurred naturally, or whether it was done by a human.

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#1373 - 12/18/09 09:56 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Steve C]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Originally Posted By: Steve C

Well... not exactly. That obsidian was put there by humans. ...Native Americans.

Tioga Pass or Mono pass just to the south was a main trading trail for the American Indians. They carried obsidian across the Sierra to trade with others. It was the primary source of arrowheads. It can be found down around Mammoth, Glass Mountain, I believe.

Hiking over Donohue Pass out of Yosemite, as you climb out of the Lyell Canyon there is a place along the trail where there is obsidian lying all over the place ...on top of granite. It must have been an Indian camp where they made arrowheads.

The big effect of the Long Valley Caldera is the expansive volcanic tuff deposit north of Bishop. Every time you drive north on 395, you can see the pinkish-tan cliffs along the Owens River before you climb to the Sherwin summit. That entire smooth but rocky slope up that grade is made of cubic miles of volcanic tuff that exploded out of the caldera in one cataclysmic eruption. (former geology major here).


That explains the other mystery, Steve C. Thanks.

In regards to the LVC, what a blast that was back then, huh. You think Red Rock Canyon rock formation to the south was due from the erosion of the Bishop tuff? I just say that due to the color of the Bishop tuff and the RRC...both pinkish in color.

Geology major, eh? I used to be a rockhound during my Boy Scout and 4-H days...

4-H to me now means: hernia, hiccups, hemorrhoids and heartburn.

Yes, I know...TMI TMI TMI

Have fun.
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#1374 - 12/18/09 09:59 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Bulldog34]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Originally Posted By: Bulldog34
Hey, since you're in the business of returning missing geological strata . . .


Send them to me. A good excuse to return to my beloved Mt. Rainier...grew up there in the mid-60s in Spanaway, WA.

Good excuse to return to GC and RMNP, too!
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#1382 - 12/19/09 11:45 AM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: + @ti2d]
Mike Condron Offline


Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 215
Loc: Now Manteca, CA
A good example of this is seen in Return Creek canyon northwest of the McCabe lakes on the way up to Virginia Pass. Google satellite the area and you will see several swaths where the trees have been stripped out.
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#1385 - 12/19/09 03:24 PM Re: Mysterious fallen trees near Tioga entrance to YNP [Re: Mike Condron]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7673
Loc: Fresno, CA
Mike, thanks for the info. I looked it up and it REALLY shows a great example. Can't find any debris in the satellite view.

I'll try including the view here:


View Avalanche zones in a larger map

And the link to the Google map is here: Link

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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
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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)
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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!
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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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