Yosemite National Park rock slide destroys cabins | SierraSun.com

Yosemite National Park rock slide destroys cabins

APDamage to trees and the side of a cabin remain at lodging facilities in Curry Village in Yosemite National Park following a rock slide Wed., Oct. 8, 2008. It was the second rock fall in the area in two days. (AP Photo/Tom Trujillo)

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. ” Chunks of granite crashed to the Yosemite Valley floor in a cloud of dust Wednesday, injuring at least three people and destroying several cabins and trees at one of the park’s most popular lodging areas, officials said.

The rock slide was the second in two days in the area called Curry Village, a lodging and retail area defined by dramatic, sheer cliffs.

“We were awakened at 7 (1400 GMT) to what sounded like thunder and what felt like the Earth crumbling apart,” said Deanne Maschmeyer, 41, of Monterey, Calif., who was staying in a nearby cabin with her two children. “People were stampeding everywhere and running, running like crazy. I felt like I was running ahead of a tsunami.”

The slide destroyed five cabins and partially damaged at least three others, according to a park statement. Three visitors were treated for minor injuries.

Yosemite National Park, situated in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, draws some 3.5 million visitors a year to view its granite cliffs and massive Sequoia groves. It is the cliffs that make Curry Village one of park’s most popular lodging options.

On Wednesday, the volume of rocks cascading from the granite face was estimated at about 1,800 cubic yards (1,375 cubic meters), said Vickie Mates, a park spokeswoman.

There was another, smaller rock slide in the same area Tuesday afternoon. No one was injured then.

In 1996, a rock slide in the same area sent as much as 162,000 tons (147,000 metric tons) of rock plummeting more than 2,000 feet (610 meters), killing one visitor and felling 500 trees. A slide in 1999 killed one climber and injured three others while narrowly missing the popular campground.

In recent years, geologists have published studies describing a series of cracks along the cliff’s face and hypothesizing that pressure from water flowing beneath the surface may be one trigger of the slides. Researchers also say that tree roots growing down into cracks can sometimes wedge apart sheets of rock.

” Associated Press writers Juliana Barbassa and Marcus Wohlsen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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