The early hours of the morning provide a unique stillness. Wild animals are the denizens of these hours, unafraid of interruption from crowds of onlookers. Fog settles, and the light begins to illuminate the underside of clouds. The air is cold. . When was the last time you were up before the sun? What did you see that you might not have if you had slept in?

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As temperatures dip into the twenties at night, hundreds of American black bears in the park are reaching the end of the stage known as hyperphagia, and are entering their fall transition phase before they descend into hibernation. During hyperphagia, bears strive to eat up to 20,000 calories per day (the equivalent of about fifty-seven hamburgers), consuming berries, insects, sugar pine nuts, and acorns, as well as anything else they can get their paws on. When food availability drops off, bears enter into a fall transition phase, tapering off on their massive calorie intake, and slowing their movements as they search for a warm, dry hollow (maybe under some tree-roots, or in a cranny in a talus field) where they will be safe and warm for the cold winter months. This bear was filling his belly with grapes! (Photo taken through binoculars; never approach wildlife to get a good photo!)

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Working to protect resources globally and locally, Yosemite will become the first National Park to begin the transition of our public transportation over to zero-emission buses. National parks represent a unique opportunity to lead by example, in conservation of natural resources and demonstrating sustainable practices. “Since its establishment in 1890, airborne pollutants have steadily degraded Yosemite’s resources. Deploying Proterra’s battery-electric buses will help with this ongoing challenge and will greatly improve local air quality.” — Chip Jenkins, acting superintendent, Yosemite National Park.

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The full moon two weekends ago lit up Yosemite Falls, as well as the snow and ice accumulated on the shelves and cracks to the east of the plume of water and light. When the moon is bright over Yosemite, you often don't even need to turn on your headlamp to walk the trails: moonlight reflects off of the granite cliffs and illuminates the valley for those awake and outside to see it.

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Check out this burly wood!! Burls are a type of abnormal wood growth that create knobs and protrusions on the trunks and branches of trees. Burls are valued across the world for their commercial value in creating unique wood products, but, in national parks, their value is aesthetic and ecological. These burls are on the trunk of a fallen black oak tree, a tree which provides critical wildlife habitat in the Sierra Nevada for species like Pacific fishers, as well as providing the primary source of calories in the fall (through acorns) for many wildlife species including our beloved black bears. #invaluable

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Color is a striking property of both nature and the man-made environment, caused by light refracting off of (and being absorbed by) objects and surfaces. Most colorful things in nature are colorful for a reason! For some insects and amphibians, bright colors can say "I'm poisonous" to predators. Birds are often brightly colored to attract the attention of potential mates. Flowers can be colorful to attract pollinators. Designers and photographers, too, use color intentionally to make people think or act a certain way. It has been postulated that red and yellow can make people hungry. Complementary colors (two colors opposite each other on the color wheel, used together) can draw people's eyes to a photo or a piece of artwork without knowing why. . What unnoticed impacts might color be having on your brain?

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"National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." —Wallace Stegner . What do national parks mean to you?

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Yosemite is quiet, but far from silent. Find a still place to sit and listen, and a soft hum will begin to fill your ears: Thousands of gallons of water rushing over stone and sand; small creatures moving through the grass and soil, empathically gathering seeds and mushrooms for their young; dry leaves shifting against each other in currents of cool air; the hoof-steps of a mule deer and her fawns, shuffling through oak leaves searching for acorns to eat; ravens and songbirds calling to each other from far away. This soundscape is one of our most cherished resources, that we strive to protect to the greatest extent possible for those who chose to listen. Learn how Yosemite is protecting our soundscape:

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Reflection. --- Experiences in Yosemite are frequently transformative. The wild, empowering stillness of Yosemite can provide space to reflect upon ones place in the world. Even after leaving the park, reflecting on experiences created here can be as important as the experiences themselves. --- Has reflection in / on Yosemite changed your worldview?

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There are magnificent happenings, miraculous moments in time, surrounding us on all sides at every instant; if we chose to open our eyes and see them. From the grand vistas that hold timeless and obvious aesthetic power, to the minutia we might experience by stooping down and examining any part of the world slightly more closely.

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Leaves crunch gently and slide forward under boots as frost crystals give way. The air is cold as it enters lungs, bodies drink in the clean oxygen, it re-emerges as a subtle plume of warm vapor into the stillness. This is the season a moment before winter begins.

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There may be nothing on earth quite as beautiful as Yosemite after a rain.

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