Archive for February, 2010

Half Dome Boxer Shorts

February 28, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Ohhhh – Myyyy – Gawd!!!  I kid you not, somebody is actually selling (or trying to sell) Boxer shorts with this on them:

It sez: I successfully parked my car, ate a picnic lunch, and watched whole a bunch of crazy people climbed Half Dome at Yosemite. The company is Café Press. I have gotten calendars from them so they are legit. What the heck is the world coming to. Am I supposed to impress the guys in the locker room with my underwear? “Hey fellas – check out my skivvies.” Gimmie a break. If you have that kind of dough to plink away, visit my store and get a nifty original design Half Dome TShirt. <HERE>
     Other musings: 6 months ago I reserved a tent cabin for May 14-16, hoping to get up the cables when they are first installed. . .  to quote the NPS site: “by the 3rd weekend in May.” Perfect –I’m golden. Now I read: The National Park Service anticipates the Cable Route will be in place by May 21.”  Look at a calendar, that is the 4th weekend. Oh well, I will go up to the real Diving Board. Never done it, so this may be the time.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance, I think they’re calling our names. Maybe now you can’t hear them, but you will  – if you just take hold of my hand.  Oh, but are you experienced?  Have you ever been experienced? Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – 


February 27, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing


     In preparation for the mad rush to get permits on Monday, again I suggest you get your account set up and be ready BEFORE 7 am. Get logged in and ready to hit BOOK when you connect to the site. You are competing with the whole hiking world that wants the same date that you do. How long will it take to bring down the government’s servers?  Keep the kids in another room as you may be using foul language before the morning is over. Don’t even try using the dial-in number. I was told by the park superintendent that there are no “hidden” special privilege permits hidden for VIP’s – rather, all permits will be issued from the website.  They are bracing for a magnitude 8 on the Richter scale Monday at 0700 hours. I suggest you get a good digital watch and SET the time on it exactly so you will be one of the first 300 to hit BOOK at 1 nanosecond past 7 – like 07:00:01. If the systems dies, keep hitting BOOK – some clown will not have his credit card number and will take more that the 15 minutes allocated to complete the transaction. 

    There is a very well done “how to” section on the site; click <HERE> and get familiar with the process so you don’t waste precious time on Monday. I did a run through and died laughing. This is one of their sample pages.  Click on the image if it is too small to read.

      Their “fake” name used in the example is “Ranger Rick.” No jive. When I don’t go by Mr Half Dome I am often called RangerRick. Hey, I’ve never been a real paid Ranger nor have I played one on TV. The real Ranger Rick is a raccoon cartoon character in a magazine for kids.  

     If you don’t get a Half Dome permit, you can always snag a ticket to the White House Easter Egg Roll!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: Time has come today. Young hearts can go their way. Can’t put it off another day – I don’t care what others say. They say we don’t listen anyway. Time has come today!” – The Chambers Brothers      

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Permit Strategy

February 26, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     I wanted to get this advice out before yall head out for the weekend. If you have any plans whatsoever for doing the Half Dome hike in May or Jun – on a weekend – pay attention. The park says they hope to get the cables up for the 3rd weekend in May – I read that as May 15/16. (Weather permitting.) Permits go on the block this MONDAY March 1 (yes, it’s almost March) at 7:00 am Pacific time. But there is an interesting twist. Yosemite is not managing the process through the familiar park websites and phone force in Fresno. No, we now have to go to the National Recreation Reservation Service aka This is a US-wide site for all 300 million citizens (and foreigners) to plan trips and deal with transactions for recreation sites and activities managed by Federal agencies. I highly suggest you go to the site and get familiar with it.  For example, if you have not reserved from before, you will need a membership. So get your login and password all set up BEFORE Monday. You also need to create a profile. If not, the time it takes to do that will guarantee you get zipped out. The site has several links to safety information about Half Dome. I highly recommend you read them and view the Nature Notes Video that is linked.     

     Now a surprise. There is a NOTE at the bottom that reads: “Tours may be available only from the Tour Park on a first-come-first-served basis. Arrival dates earlier than the online-reservation-window may also be available at the Tour Park. What the heck is a Tour Park???” I tried to book a reservation now. But it came back as not available. Another tip. You will have to use a credit card to pay for the $1.50 fee. Have your number and data in another window so you can copy-paste it rather than waste time typing it in. You can also try phoning in to get a permit at 877/444-6777. I dialed it today to see what’s what. NOT recommended. You get to listen to a long recording and an offer to attend the White House Easter Egg hunt. Tick tick tick. Then push 1, push 2, yada yada. Fergit it! Best of luck. Get back to us and leave a comment on Monday night on how it went.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Sticker shock

February 25, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
More reports from my trip to Yosemite last weekend. This time I want to tell you about the Curry Village Buffet. Last season the cafeteria style buffet was about $12 per person for all you can eat. If you were over 55 they gave a couple bucks off. I am not a gourmet, so I have been very happy with the offerings. Tons of chicken, fish, pasta, tacos, salad, jello and all the cranberry juice I could l drink. So we stopped by to check out the buffet Saturday night. They were having a skier’s special event and the posted price was $23.50. Yikes. OK, a special event. I talked the man the next day about it and he said their regular winter rate was $22. I asked if the normal price would get back to the $12 level during the summer. Er, no, it will go up to $18. And no senior discount. Holy inflation, Batman!.  I suspect they will lose a lot of low income patrons. Since you can’t cook in or around your tent cabin, get ready for long pizza lines.

Muffins, coffee and ice cream

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Trees go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

The Gates of Heaven

February 24, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Yosemite is quietly preparing for the summer crunch. My prediction is that as an aftermath of the Ken Burns special, attendance at all national parks will soar this summer. At Yosemite you will be greeted by an increase in the gate kiosks. At the Hwy 120 gate aka the Big Oak Flat entrance.

As you can see, an additional Ranger post has been added and now there are 3. At the Hwy 140 gate aka Arch Rock entrance, construction was obvious at the gate, but it is too narrow there for more kiosks, so I’m not sure what the plan is. This should help the flow of traffic into the park.

     In other news, Yosemite has opened up the public scoping for the Curry Village Rockfall Hazard Zone Structures Project. The area was hit by rockslides last year and closed over 200 tent and wood cabins. What shodl be done? The public scoping period for the EA will open on Thursday, February 25, 2010 and will extend through Wednesday, April 7, 2010.  A public open house will take place on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Valley Visitor Center Auditorium in Yosemite Valley. I beseech them to use internet technology to allow more people to participate. The link for more info is <HERE>, but nothing was on it when I looked.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The power of imagination makes us infinite.” – 
John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

We’re special

February 23, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
I lost my cool on Saturday at the park but I think you would agree. Our party was hiking up the lower Mist Trail – the one most use to get to Half Dome. Soon after the Vernal Fall bridge, we came to the split with the John Muir Trail. The gate was closed as it usually is during the heart of the winter.

This is because the Fall sprays a light mist over the granite steps, freezes and makes it really dangerous to go up. We really wanted to see the top and explore the frozen areas around the fall, but agreed that since it said CLOSED, we should not proceed. It’s a federal misdemeanor to breech a posted sign. As we mulled over where to hike, a group of about a dozen people came up and went right around the closed gate.

When I told them the trail was closed – as written on the gate, I got a reply from a man in his 50’s – that “It’s OK, I’ve been coming here for 30 years and go right up.” What? Who died and made you Pope? Come on, all it takes is for a person to slip and crack their skull and next we get barbed wire across the trails. It makes me want to scream. Today’s quote is right on!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

Trail maintenance

February 22, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing

     We are back from the attempted viewing of Horsetail Falls in all it’s rare glowing radiance. Too much weather for it to happen on Feb 20 and 21. Oh well, you pay your money and take your chances. There is always next year. I gathered a lot of good info to share about the goings on at Yosemite in coming blogs, so stay tuned to this site for all the Half Dome info you will ever need. I have a gob of photos to download and show you.   For today I wanted to show you just how gnarly the trails were this weekend as we went up to Clark’s Point. This famous spot is named for Galen Clark, first guardian of the park. It lies on the John Muir trail just below the Panorama Cliff. You get a good view of Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap, Mt Broderick and Grizzly Peak from there. Here are scenes ts that we saw a lot of.


     Downed trees crossing the trail. Lots of them. The trail crews will be busy trimming cuts for hikers. We were later told that the heavy snow storm 2 weeks ago with high winds caused weaker tress to surrender. We had to over, under, sideways and down to proceed. It made for an adventurous hike – not unlike what John Muir would have experienced.

     On a safety note, I have gotten some questions about doing the Half Dome hike before the cables are set up. Like as early as mid-March. The cables should be put up by the 3rd weekend in May- weather depending. Here’s my take. I would NEVER go up using the heavy steel cables as a rappelling “rope.”  Without the boards and poles to rest on it can become a death wish. I refer you to my website and the Accidents page. In November  ’06 and in April ’07 2 athletic women attempted this and lost their grip and slipped on the damp rock. R.I.P. In addition, the NPS closes the gate on the Mist Trail at the JMT split during the winter because the mist can freeze and make that portion very very slick. They also close the gate at Clark’s Point for the same reason. Don’t rush things.  Wait until the cables go up. I will post it on my website home page when the lanes are open.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “One may as well dam for water tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” – John Muir re: Hetch Hetchy

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


Still nada at Horsetail

February 21, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Well we struck out again today. The rains that hit the Bay Area were up at Yosemite also . No chance for a Horsetail Fall glow. A ranger told me that Wednesday it light up but the fall is only about 50 feet at the top. Not enough water. He said about 150 cars were in the area trying to get a shot. Said people are blogging about it now so the crowds have really built up. Ooops.
     So during the day we did a long hike up from the Happy Isles area to Clark‘s Point. The Mist Trial is closed as well as the upper John Muir Trail beyond Clark’s Point and up the Panorama Cliff. This photoshows what it is like.

     A lot of snow at about 5,000 feet and up. Gaiters and poles realy saved our bacon. There are also a lot of downed trees blocking the trail. Seems there was a major snowstorm 2 weeks ago that ripped things up. There  is a lot of road construction going on around the main Village. Yosemite Falls is flowing at a good rate. A bad day at Yosemite is better than a good day in suburbia. Carpe Diem.
     We are staying in a signature heated tent cabin in Curry. These used to be employee housing and they are nice. A standard tent cabin with plywood nailed on all the inner walls for insulation. And a real nice heater. To my surprise the Curry Buffett is $23.50! Yikes, it was $12 last summer.  We opted instead for the Degnan’s pizza.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “There is that in the glance of a flower which may at times control the greatest of creation’s braggart lords.” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

No Horsetail Falls glow

February 20, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
We arrived at the park about 3 pm today and were met with heavy overcast. It later rained. So no chance to see the Horsetail Fall in all its grandeur. In fact the falls were pretty wimpy anyway. You can see from this photo, they are pretty much not flowing or glowing.

Oh well. We will snowshoe tomorrow and try again Saturday night.  Maybe this storm will pass and things will fall together.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “You win some, you lose some and some get rained out… but you have to suit up for all of them.” – Casey Stengel
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –

More on Walking to Yosemite

February 19, 2010

Half  Dome – Yosemite Musing
     Last fall I wrote about Donna and Peter Thomas and their walk to Yosemite from San Francisco, in the footsteps of John Muir. They pay the bills by producing small “Lilliputian” size books on various subjects including Half Dome: A Climbing History.  The wooden covers are about 2 inches long! I met them for  lunch at one of my digs – Stagnaro’s in Santa Cruz yesterday. They are locals who are also Yosemite and outdoor lovers. I got a chance to hold the little HD book. It is, well, “cute.”  They have their own printing press and are authorities on hand made books – more as an art form than mass produced pieces. In our chat  they mentioned that they are indeed compiling a book on their walk – they actually did the trek twice. The second time to gather specifics and photos for the book. It is amazing that in 1868 John Muir did it and soon anyone will be able to give it a try by using their new book. It is still in the production/proof stage and I hope it will be out by summer.  They said it was a challenge to find out Muir’s actual route since he only mentioned it in letters and small blurbs. They did some great research and with old maps feel they got it pretty close. Of course today we have restricted highways and strip malls where young John would have had open land. But it is neat that he – and they – did this. I’ll keep you posted when it is for sale. Yes, it will tell a story from Muir’s eyes, but also have tips for modern replicants.  In the meantime check out their website <HERE>.
     Friday to Sunday I will be in Yosemite with hopes of seeing Horsetail Falls glow. It looks grim with snow showers approaching. Oh well. I’ll try to blog from the wifi in the Curry Lounge, but forgive me if I am a bit late. I’ll let yall know how things go. Carpe Diem!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.” – John Muir

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –