9-year old by saved from falling over Vernal Fall at Yosemite

April 15, 2013
317 ft high  Vernal fall

317 ft high Vernal fall

The rescue happened this past Tuesday April 9. The lad was going after a water bottle upstream of Vernal Fall on the Mist Trail. This route is on the way to Half Dome. That area of the Mist Trial is known for a shower of spray that comes down the granite steps. Above the fall it is mellow. The Merced is at capacity in spring as the snow on higher elevations melts.

16-year old high school linebacker Alec Smith, climbed over the protective fence and held his arm out to grab the boy as he careened toward certain death about 25 feet from the edge. The fall is 317 feet high and the flow ends on a pile of huge boulders.  Smith grabbed a rock and was anchored by the boy’s father. He was quoted s saying:

“Everything happened so fast. I got into the river, we met at the same point. I reached out my hand and he grabbed my hand, and I yanked him out and his dad helped me out.” 

Watch your kids!! I’m sure all 3 discovered religion that day.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Please help me I’m falling….” – Hank Locklin

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome



Yosemite Facelift

September 10, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

This WordPress blog is no longer being used. Go to


to see the new integrated Website/Blog by Mr Half Dome


The Yosemite Climbing Assn sponsors an annual park trash clean up. They call it the Facelift. This year it runs Sep 20 – 25. It kicks off on Tuesday September 20th at the Visitor Center at 7:00 pm. The actual cleanup will start at 8:00 am on Wednesday September 21st and continue through Sunday September 25th. Volunteer sign-up will be at the booth in front of the Visitor Center.  I think only real climbers can volunteer to police the base of Half Dome (Helmets advised). In the past they have found a ton of bottles, cameras and anything that follows the law of gravity.

Bad weather continues

Forecast is for up to a 50% chance of muck. Thunderstorms are fun to watch … but don’t be near Half Dome. Nice week to read a book, visit the Museum, or study the dioramas at the Visitor Center. Sorry.

Carpe Diem hunt – yet again

I will be teaching Nordic Walking on Crystal Cruises Voyage 1319 from Sep 18 – Oct 2 and  will try to do the daily blog from Turkey/Greece. Last call for T-Shirt orders before I leave will be this Wed. I only have SMALL in Laffing Mr Bones and XL in no Bones. Other sizes are SOLD OUT. Orders before I leave will go out at $17.95 vs the current $19.95. (Plus tax & shipping) Email me – limited quantities.

Campsites closing

White Wolf and Bridalveil Creek Campgrounds close for the season at noon on Monday, September 12. Yosemite Creek will also close at noon on Monday, but will be open for campers every Friday and Saturday night through October 8.

Oct 12 – George Anderson Day

More on that tomorrow.



Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Science fiction, double feature. Doctor X will build a creature. See androids fighting – Brad and Janet. Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet. At the late night, double feature, picture show.”Rocky Horror Picture Show


*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Confusion factor 2.0

September 9, 2011

This WordPress blog is no longer being used. Go to


to see the new integrated Website/Blog by Mr Half Dome

This is the same URL as my previous website..all the content is moved so you can still get the hiking info etc.



August 31, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

I will be out of service until Monday. No email, no phone, no blog, no shirt, no shoes, no service.


I will NOT be able to moderate / approve any permit requests or blog comments. We are in the process of updating my HikeHalfdome.com website by integrating it with the WordPress blog. Soon you will see a new look.  Since I started the website 4 ½ year ago it has been visited over 150,000 times and has become the go-to site for Half Dome info. It got a bit clunky and out of date.  So bear with us during the transition. Our Engineering Dept is feverishly working to move blocks of code.

Here’s a sneak peak at the “under construction” mock-up. See you next week.


Unrelated thought worth quoting:You say yes, I say no. You say stop and I say go go go. You say goodbye and I say hello. Hello hello I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.” – The Beatles 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Half Dome Geology

August 30, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

FREE Half Dome Hike app <HERE>

NOTICE: I will be out Thursday – Sunday at the Free Art Expression called Burning Man. NO blogs those days. If you want a T-Shirt, I can ship tomorrow, Wed. Go to http://www.hikehalfdome.com/Store.html  


  I just bought the latest book by the Park geologist, Greg StockGEOLOGY Underfoot in Yosemite National Park. It’s a great layperson’s presentation of the geology of Yosemite. He really makes this subject clear and interesting. I was “kinda’ disappointed at the meager coverage of Half Dome’s origins. So I called him.
   First, I asked where the USGS marker is on Half Dome. I (and many of you) have not seen it. Most every other peak there has one. He said he didn’t know but would ask his USGS buddies. Next, I asked several questions about the formation of Half Dome and that it would be really neat to see a cartoon video of its formation with the granite plutons, erosion, glaciers and exfoliation. He politely replied that there is not a lot of firm scientific data to bank on. Seems there are just several theories. My version is that molten magma rose from below and stopped miles below the surface. It hardened slowly and chemically was transformed into granite under the high pressures underground. As it cooled, it expanded and resembled a deck of cards that you bend up in the middle. Then eons of erosion brought it to the surface. The “card deck” of plates became vertically oriented at the edges of the “dome” that fractured along a vertical joint in the larger field of granite that runs through to Glacier Point. This could have been accelerated by the freezing of rain that expanded and grew to push the fragmentation along.

   Greg said that version is as accurate as any other guess. He did say that erratics are found in the area of the “Diving Board” – the formation that Ansel Adams took his classic Half Dome pictures from. He said the rock on material of the erratic is found far away at Cathedral Peak and it’s proof that the glaciers only extended that high. About 700 feet below the summit. Glaciers certainly did erode the base of Half Dome, with the debris long ago carried down river.
    Another fun thing he told me was that scientists don’t know how the jumble of rocks at the Visor came to be. You may have seen or even gone inside the “rock cave” (where lightning struck fatally in 1985). It could be that lightning strikes with enough energy moved the slabs. Or perhaps icy, freezing snows could have picked  them up and moved them, Fascinating. So, is it all clear as mud?

     A tip of the hat to Greg Stock! He’s one of just a couple full time geologists at National Parks. 

Unrelated thought worth quoting:  “People try to put us d-down Just because we g-g-get aroun. Things they do look awful c-c-cold.  I hope I die before I get old.” – The Who

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Yosemite – Motor Fire update 8/29 – 7 pm PDT

August 29, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

FREE Half Dome Hike app <HERE>


More help heading to El Portal


    I was at the park yesterday and drove home to San Jose-by-the-sea today. Picked up a lot of stuff to report. The fire is still at 35% containment and over 4700 acres have burned. All evacuation and pre-evacuation orders for residents will be lifted tonight. Evacuated residents may return to their homes. Highway 140 will reopen to all traffic tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30 at 6 a.m. All Park functions will be back on normal duty. There was never an impact on  your Half Dome hike, so don’t worry about it. Hooray to the fire fighters!  Here is a photo of the burn area if you had not deciphered it.

Credit Chris Falkenstein

   On my way out, I stopped and hiked down to the Merced Grove. Despite the signage that calls it a “rigorous” hike and to be prepared for a 3-4 hour round trip, it took all of 30 minutes to get down. This part of the old Coulterville road into the park. This route beat the Old Big Oak Flat project by just a couple months having the honor of offering the first commercial stage coach trips into the park on  June 18, 1874. Originally it was called the Crane Flat Grove. There are 23 big trees so you can save a trip to Wawona if you want a sampler. 

Pushing them apart

     I met a fire crew that was making  a break down beyond the grove. Turns out they were from the CA Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation – yes, prisoners! They were out of the facility near Mariposa and are trusted low-crime inmates. Yes! Put them to work.

I doubt that  the Open House and webinar for Aug 30 will be held – no word.


 Unrelated thought worth quoting: “”Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.” – John Muir 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Yosemite – Motor Fire update 8/29 – 9 am PDT

August 29, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

FREE Half Dome Hike app <HERE>

     I drove up Sunday to give a Half Dome presentation at the LeConte Memorial Lodge. We had a full house with 2 Blog readers doing the hike today. Mary Beth and her husband will send us a trip report. The funniest question came from a 7-year old boy. He asked: “Do you smell up top?” I said you could smell the trees and perhaps some of the smoke. That was not what he was looking for. He pointed to his arm pit and asked if you stunk from sweating. LOL. 

    As I entered the park, the smoke from the “motor” fire was almost imperceptible near the Big Meadow. On Friday there was a heavy layer wafting into the western edge of the valley. Wonder why they don’t call it the “Motorhome” fire. 

     The fire is still at 35% containment and over 4700 acres have burned. A DC-10 aircraft  has been making drops of up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant in 8 seconds.  Currently there is a mandatory evacuation of the government housing area in Rancheria and the trailer court. Employees are given Administrative leave. An evacuation center has been opened at the Red Cross Center/Lutheran Church in Mariposa. Highway 140 is closed from the Yosemite Bug Hostel to El Portal Road. YARTS is not running service. There is also a health alert for people living in areas affected by smoke from the fires. There is no current threat to commercial power.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Yosemite – Motor Fire update 8/27 – 9 pm PDT

August 27, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

FREE Half Dome Hike app <HERE>


Fire control efforts

* The fire is subsiding on the south side of the Merced. The focus is on the hills to the north.

* The Cedar Lodge has been evacuated and guests moved to the Yosemite View.

* Old El Portal area is at risk. Old El Portal and Yosemite West are in pre-evacuation state.

* All campgrounds in the area are evacuated.

* Burn is now 3600 acres

* Containment is at 15% – full estimated by Friday Sept 9.

* Local traffic MAY be permitted to travel along Hwy 140 by Monday.

* Fire trucks and large equipment are navigating over the one-way Bailey Bridges at the Ferguson Rockslide okay. 

Open House August 31

August 31 is the next Yosemite monthly open house. Park staff will discuss the, and other ongoing planning efforts.

Presentations will begin at 2 pm and will last approximately 45 minutes. The presentations will feature: The Tioga Road Rehabilitation Plan, The Mariposa Grove Restoration Project, The Curry Village Rockfall Hazard Zone Structures Project and the White Wolf Lodge & Duplex Cabins Rehabilitation Plan.  I bet they also talk about the Motor Fire.

Join from your desk via webex.com at 2 pm.  The open house is from 1 to 4 pm in the Valley Visitor Center. FREE Park Entrance for attendees.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.” – John Muir 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Motor Fire update near Yosemite

August 27, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing  

Inside the motor home there were problems with the propane and people jumped out. They were disconnecting their car when it blew up. No one hurt. 

The Sierra National Forest is the fire control management agency. The 250 room Cedar Lodge Motel and about 24 homes in the nearby Incline Road housing area were evacuated Friday. There is VERY little coverage of this fire.  The National Fire incident page has not been updated with new content since yesterday. The fire “info hotline” (209) 372-0327 has never answered when I’ve called. Even the San Jose Mercury News had nil on it today. Yet some people step over a protective railing and slide over Vernal Fall and it’s HOT news. Unknown when it will be contained and Hwy 140 reopened. 

If you are booked at the Cedar Lodge soon, suggest you get alternate accommodations. Try the Hotel Charlotte in Groveland on Hwy 120. 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Yosemite “Motor Fire”

August 26, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

FREE Half Dome Hike app <HERE>


    About noon yesterday I was on top of Half Dome with 2 friends. It was a gorgeous day. Temps were mild until about 3 pm, but we were well on the way down, so it was fine. I was able to give away 7 permits through my blog prior to leaving home and another at Curry Village. 2 “permit wanters” no-showed at our 4 pm Wed rendezvous at Curry, so I was able to give them out on the trail. There are plenty of people with extra permits so please just do the hike and ask. Really. They are averaging only slightly above 200 daily Domers. Just go for it!

    We were on top about noon and I see a huge plume of white smoke rising from the southwest. First thought was a prescribed burn. There were a few signs on the road driving in advising such was coming. But it was very dense and big for a controlled fire. The next thought was maybe a plane crash – but it was not black like fuel burning. My photo is tagged 12:48. 


    As you may have read by now, it was caused by a motor home fire on Hwy 140 just south of the Cedar Lodge, the huge motel complex about 12 miles outside of the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite. I like to arrive this way, so I’m very familiar with the area. To help you, going out of that gate, in about 8 miles you come to the Yosemite View Motel complex on the left . . . then a sister property, the Cedar Lodge. The next place of note is the site of Savage’s Trading Post at the confluence of the South Fork of the Merced and the Merced. If you continue down further, you arrive at the Ferguson Ridge Rockfall, then Briceburg, then Midpines and finally Mariposa. 140 then continues toward Merced.  

     The incident occurred between the Cedar Lodge and Savages. Apparently the motor home was detaching a car it ws towing when their propane tank somehow ignited and exploded. The resultant fire spread to the grassy edge of the roadway then rose vertically and caught the nearby trees on fire. From there the fire grew and spread into the hills. I have not heard of any casualities. A Budweiser truck was behind the mtor home. By nightfall 1,000 acres had burned and Hwy 140 was closed as fire crews attacked it. Power at the Park went off intermittently. Some buildings had back-up generators but many were reduced to candles and flashlights. The fire threatened the areas north of the fire source, mainly Rancheria near the Cedar Lodge and Yosemite West, the complex of rental homes up on the Wawona Road.

     This morning I was making a courtesy call in the main NPS Admin building and most offices were empty at 9 am. Many park staff live in El Portal and the communities at risk. There were few happy faces – a bad time me for me to be there. As I drove out of the park, traffic was being diverted from going out via 140. This artery to Mariposa was closed from near Midpines to the Foresta Bridge Rd near the NPS El Portal complex.  All but fire and essential traffic was forced to divert to Highway 120 or 41  to arrive/leave Yosemite. As I drove north across from the Big Meadow on the Big Oak Flat Road, the smoke layer beyond Foresta was significant as the fire moved to the north. It had not reached the Valley. On the way toward Groveland I saw many fire trucks and equipment coming east.



     The elite “Hot Shots” fire teams were arriving in their green trucks. These are the “Seal Team 6” of forest fire fighters. Cedar lodge, Incline and local Merced River Canyon Campgrounds were voluntarily evacuated. Rancheria, Old El Portal and Yosemite West have been advised to prepare for evacuations. As I write (9 pm PDT) this the fire is now into the Sierra National Forest and the Stanislaus National Forest, spanning both sides of the Merced.  This is a Bad One. The park is open for business – DO NOT come via Hwy 140 until further notice. 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire. I Went Down, Down, Down And The Flames Went Higher. And It Burns, Burns, Burns, The Ring Of Fire”   – Johnny Cash 

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com