Archive for October, 2009

NPS Director and Half Dome

October 31, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

cables ps2

While he was out visiting Yosemite a few weeks ago, Jon Jarvis,  the newly appointed Director of the NPS hiked up Half Dome. He was here with his wife and 2 adult children. Word is that he kinda snuck out with no falderal and no escort of YOSAR buffs to push him along. This is good, but I wonder how long they took. And what did they use for guidance? Did he read my book first? Did he find the Little Spring? Did he use poles? And how did he manage the cables? Inquiring minds want to know. Seriously, this is good for us.  He – fer shure – experienced what we do and should be on our side when it comes to any regulation of the Half Dome trail. Still no word on what’s coming – maybe at the Merced River Plan briefings they will lay some hints on us. Say hi if you attend the Nov 10 Berkeley session.

Oh by the way, I reported that the Yosemite Fund gave a $5.8M check to Yosemite. I have seen many blogs and stories that imply that they actually gave a legal tender check for $5.8M to the Park Super. Nay. It was a symbolic check in recognition of the money they spent in 2009 on projects. The magic list of 2010 approved projects will not be released until 2010.

PS –The management and staff of the Galactic Headquarters of Carpe Diem Experience (our parent) are now back on the job after a 3 week rejuvenation period. TShirts are ready to ship. Order yours now – avoid the Xmas rush.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Would you like to go riding in my Buick ’59? Well I’m telling you people that the ride is mighty fine. Got an 8 cylinder motor and a jet propelled overdrive (Buick 59, Buick 59).” – The Medallions
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –



Here comes the sun

October 30, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

I’d guess the half of your time hiking Half Dome will be in the shade. Much of the trail is under the sweeping Jeffrey Pines and Cedars. Once you get above the tree line approaching Sub Dome, you will be basking in glorious sunshine. I recommend lathering up with sunscreen for the hike while you are dressing and bring a small tube of UV A/B protection. As we get older we get to pay for the days we spent getting golden bronze. I used to go to Ocean City, Maryland twice a month in the summers. Well, last spring I had a squamous cell growth whacked off my nose. This not the bad kind but any kind of “C”. is scary.  So I recently read that the US now has a Vitamin D problem. We are not getting enough. Kids are being covered in sunscreen for even brief trips to the store. Sunshine the is the easiest source as it is not found in food. You can take a supplement D pill, but the easiest way to get your minimum level is to expose more skin for a brief time several days a week. Laying out sans covering (as much as your modesty will allow) for 10 minutes 3 days a week is suggested. This is all. Do not overdue it. But the amount of rays we pick up from ambient light or exposure of our faces, neck and hands is not enough. Gosh, what else can we worry about?

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right.” – The Beatles
  *Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite Fund in 2009

October 29, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite MusingMay9.06 067

The Yosemite Fund picked up the tab for 56 park projects in 2009. This was provided by over $5M in donations. Since 1988, The Yosemite Fund has supported over 300 projects totaling more than $55 million in support. Projects included were in the areas of: Trail Access and Repair; Habitat Restoration Visitor Services and Education; Cultural and Historic Preservation; Scientific Research and Wildlife Management .The Fund’s major project this year was the $800K rehabilitation of the Half Dome Overlook on Hwy 120 as you approach the valley. Other projects included restoring Wawona Meadow, repairing the Red Peak Pass backcountry trail and Valley Loop trail, protecting Peregrine Falcons and restoring amphitheaters near several Valley campgrounds. See <here> for more info. No word yet on what projects were approved for 2010. I did get word that my proposal to do a safety video on hiking Half Dome was not.

As a digression, I am now in Quebec and ready to head home after 3 weeks teaching Nordic Walking to passengers on the Crystal Cruise lines ships. Yesterday we had SNOW on the deck. A far cry from my time in the Mediterranean. Here’s a funny one. I did my laundry and mistakenly had my cell phone in a pocket. So my Sony-Ericsson went through 30 minutes of wash and an hour of dry. Duh.  I opened it up, took the SD card,and the battery out. It now works perfectly.  – No blog tomorrow as I will be flying back to San Jose.
Related thought worth quoting: “TIMEX – takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin” – TV ad from the 1960’s
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Tunnel Tree

October 28, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

In follow-up to yesterday’s blog about Wawoma, today we chat about the giant trees. The Wawona Tunnel Tree became world-famous when an opening was cut through the tree in 1881. For the next 88 years, it was a star attraction as folks rode on stage coaches through the hole, then drove cars through it. Classic photos became captured the uniqueness of the tunnel tree. Over time the soil around the tree got soggy and high winds toppled it in the winter of 1968/1969. The fact that it had a huge hole it did not help its structural integrity. Seeing the remnants of the tree is not a major “must see”. It’s not that exciting laying crumbled and decaying. In fact, it’s hard to even make out the cut. It’s a pretty hefty hike from the parking lot and the rest of the Mariposa Grove. The photo below shows all that is left.

tunnel tree


On your way to it you can still walk through the California Tunnel Tree (carved out in 1895), near the Grizzly Giant. 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I shall always be glad that I was in the Yosemite with John Muir.” – Theodore Roosevelt

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The southern end of the park

October 26, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

I must admit that one area of the park that I don’t spend a lot of time in is Wawona. After I do a Half Dome hike, I zip west and back to San Jose. The Hwy 41 route heads too far south for me. Wawona has a history that needs telling. In 1906, California returned Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to the Feds. In 1932, the Wawona Basin, including the Wawona Hotel and golf course were purchased and included in the National Park. Wawona was once an Indian encampment. In 1856 Galen Clark built a “hotel” known as Clark’s Station. It served as a stop for visitors in the transit between Yosemite Valley and Mariposa. Clark became the first guardian of the area in 1864. “Guardian” is an interesting term. Almost sounds like an honorary title, but he did get paid to watch over things and keep poachers in line.  In 1875, the original Wawona Road opened and the Washburn brothers build a real hotel – the Wawona Hotel. A major attraction in this area is the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, and easy access to the big trees.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Although your world wonders me, with your majestic and superior cackling hen – you people I do not understand. So to you I put an end: that you never hear surf music again.” – 3rd Stone from the Sun, Jimi Hendrix Experience.
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

New El Portal Market

October 25, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing


When you drive on Hwy 140 thru El Portal towards Mariposa, you will pass the site of the old El Portal market. The 1920’s vintage wooden building burned down in a semi-mysterious fire last year. The replacement market is now up and running. It’s under NPS control since it’s part of the El Portal Administrative Site adjacent to Yosemite National Park. The current operations contract, which carries a term of six years, was awarded to Kirstie Dunbar-Kari, d.b.a Kari & Sons, of El Portal, California. As you exit the Arch Rock gate, after 8 miles look for the Shell gas station with outrageous prices (but at least you CAN get gas there . The new market is a normal looking building on the right. All the basic supplies and fat food to get you home.
Unrelated thought worth quoting:  “Success for me could only lead to my immediate doom; ’cause I can’t play the blues in an airconditioned room” – The Blues Brothers

*Carpe Diem Experience–Rick Deutsch–*


October 24, 2009

 Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

It’s referred to as YOSAR – that stands for Yosemite Search and Rescue. These are the men and women who’s workday is devoted to rescuing us flat-landers. The park has some of the Dept of Interior’s best crews…after all this is the home of Big Wall Climbers. Some of which get stuck part of the way up. When you can get cell phone service, that is your life line to a rescue. In fact most rescues are initiated by 911 calls. Gee, what did we do before mobile phones? Yell? My ATT account has trouble in most of the park, but on top of Half Dome it’s clear. Many rescues take place along the Half Dome trail. The park has access to 3 helicopters and there is actually a small landing pad and maintenance yard on a dirt road off Hwy 120 overlooking the Big Meadow. I haven’t heard if it got impacted by the fire. Funny thing is that there is a fire lookout right there! In 2009 so far – there have been 223 rescues by YOSAR. You can follow their exploits and see some neat photos on their website <here>.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “In Napoli where love is king, when boy meets girl here’s what they say: ‘When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie; That’s amore.’ “- Dean Martin

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

World Heritage site

October 24, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

In 1984, Yosemite National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site.  I don’t think this is promoted very well. I’d like to spend a few electrons and let you know what this means. Although preservation has been an ongoing quest of many countries, like the building of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, which would have flooded the valley containing the Abu Simbel temples, drew worldwide attention.  The idea of preserving cultural sites and the conservation of nature matured in 1972 with UNESCO and the International Council on Monuments and Sites leading the charge. The United Nations conference on Human Environment in Stockholm developed the cooperative wording for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The current list consists of 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 “mixed” sites in 141 geopolitical sites. Currently 184 countries participate. Yosemite is in fine company. El Cap, Half Dome, the waterfalls and natural surroundings all made for a great choice. Here’s the list of the 20 World Heritage Sites located in the USA. .

Mesa Verde National Park (1978)
Yellowstone National Park (1978)
 Everglades National Park (1979)
 Grand Canyon National Park (1979)
 Independence Hall (1979)
 Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (1979, 1992, 1994)
 Redwood National and State Parks (1980)
 Mammoth Cave National Park (1981)
 Olympic National Park (1981)
 Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (1982)
 La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico (1983)
 Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1983)
 Statue of Liberty (1984)
 Yosemite National Park (1984)
 Chaco Culture (1987)
 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (1987) 
 Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (1987)
 Pueblo de Taos (1992)
 Carlsbad Caverns National Park (1995)
 Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (1995)

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”- John Muir

Machu Picchu

October 23, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

When I chew the fat with other domers, we often speak of other places to go. I did the Inca trail  at Machu Picchu a few years back. This is a very good follow-on to your Half Dome trek. It’s in Peru. You fly to Lima then a short jet hop to Cuzco. It’s at 11,000 feet so be prepared to take it easy and feel a bit woozy on arrival. The Coco tea really helps. OK, so a little cocaine is good for you! After all, that was the main ingredient of the original Coca Cola!  I went with the REI program. It was well run and we had no problems. 12 hikers and 2 superb guides. They bring about 15 porters to carry stuff, so you only need a light backpack for your day’s water and jacket. The guide sets up camp for the 3-night, 26-mile hike. They provided a 6 person tent for each 2 people. They dig the toilet and provide all the food. We ate in a huge 16 person tent with tables and chairs. All this is hauled by the porters …. in shorts and sandals. They even passed us on the trail. There are 2 high passes to go over – 12.6K ft and 13.2K feet. No one got altitude sickness. You are on the original Inca trail. They now require rubber tips on your hiking poles. The site was discovered in 1911 and they believe it was used as a religious site by the head guy – called the Inca. In the 1500’s the Spanish wiped them out with the sanction of the church. Convert  or die. Oh yeah, and take all the gold you can find!  The Spanish had no trouble with their horses, swords, muskets and small pox. Anyway, you will learn all that. The Machu Picchu site is really neat. And be sure to go up the steep Huyana Picchu peak that sits behind the village. That will remind you of the Half Dome cables. You then take the train back to Cuzco. While in Lima – be sure to go to the Gold Museum. A private collection of artifacts and weaponry.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”  – A pronunciation drill.


*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The many names of Half Dome

October 21, 2009

Half Dome – Yosemite Musings

Domeps light

We know the granite monolith as Half Dome. But that wasn’t always its name. Here’s a quick listing of some of the monikers attached to it. There is some good research that says that a hunter named William Penn Abrams was actually the first non-Indian to see it in 1849. In his diary he called it “The Rock of Ages.” Lafayette Bunnell was pat of the Mariposa Batallion that first came upon the Yosemite Valley and Half Dome in 1851. In his seminal work “The Yosemite…”  published 30 years later, relates that although the name “Half Dome” was suggested by Private Champion Spenser, it went by several other names for the first few years after the Mariposa Battalion came into the Valley. North Dome, South Dome, Tis-sa-ack, and Cleft Rock all were used. Other suggestions that did not stick were: “Goddess of Liberty,” “Mt. Abraham Lincoln,” and “Spirit of the Valley.”

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “There she was just a walkin’ down the street, singing ‘Do wa diddy diddy dum diddy do.’” – Manfred Mann

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –