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Published: December 18th 2007
It was early November in California, and still snow had not fallen on the "Snowy Range". The Sierra Nevada is spectacular for one principal reason- at higher elevations it is almost entirely composed of glacially carved granite. Hundreds of ancient volcanos left behind quite a treasure, for as their liquid magma chambers froze into place- granite was formed. But this granite was trapped underneath thousands of meters of overlaying rock, unavailable to the terrestrial eye. Millions of years of erosion took over-rain, wind and snow removed thousands of meters of rock above the granite, glaciers carved the peaks and lakes, flowering plants and endemic trees grew to the limits of the highest peaks. This is the Sierra Nevada we see today, the salt-and-pepper granite peaks lighting on fire from the setting sun, framed by special trees and glistening with alpine lakes. Its not the only chunk of granite on the earth. Its not the only rock carved by glaciers. Its not the only place where you can find over 50 species of conifers in one area. Its not the only place on the planet with hundreds of alpine lakes, 2000 meter deep river canyons and 4000 meter peaks, and its not
the only mountainscape on earth that has gone from 'discovery' by Anglos to a protected wilderness in just 50 years.
The synergistic combination of all these things-the pristine wilderness, the granite, the trees, the lakes, the elevation and the glacial features combine to form something greater than the sum of its parts. In just 200 years, the Sierra Nevada went from being known by a select few Native Americans- to becoming a cherished and beloved place in the hearts of millions of people.
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