Archive for October, 2010

Granite Oddities

October 31, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

 As I shashay around Yosemite I occasionally run into things that make me say “how did that get there?”  Take a look at this oddity.  I found it on top of North Dome. So did a giant crack split one day and another piece of wedge shaped rock just happen to be flying around and land in the cleft? Or did the locals smash the rock and jam in the wedge. This is scary.  I’ve got a couple more like this that I will present for your observation.


     Veterans Day is November 11 every year. One of the few holidays that didn’t jump to a Monday. Yes, I’m a veteran of the Cold War, serving my time so you could watch your color TV and dress up Barbie in peace. Yosemite will offer FREE admission that day – a week from Thursday. Head up and keep an eye out for Oprah. You never know. 

     Here’s an observation. We are still in baseball season with the Texas Ranchers and San Francisco G.I. Ants hard at it. And I read that Superbowl ads are completely sold out. What recession???  Only $3M for a 30 second ad. I guess I procrastinated too long so I will have to miss out on a TShirt commercial for this year. Dang. Mark your calendars for Feb 11 for the big game. 

     I’ll be in Vegas all next week but will blog from my Imperial Palace Room high above the Strip – if the bedbugs don’t carry me away. I don’t gamble a penny – it’s no gamble, you might as well empty your wallet at the door and get it over with. I’ve done some neat hiking in the mountains just west of the City of Sin, but will pass this trip. I’ll be attending SEMA, a HUGE aftermarket car event. Like Pep Boys times 3,000. The whole LV Convention Center is full of anything that a car/truck can use.

      The door is open for anyone who wants to do a Guest Blog. Just email me your melodious wit and I’ll post it.

 Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Oh, won’t you come with me and take my hand? Oh, won’t you come with me and walk this land? Please take my hand. In a gadda da vida, honey.” – Iron Butterfly

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Oprah Critique

October 30, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     So, did yall play hookey today to watch Oprah at Yosemite today?  She went with “Gayle” her friend on the show. I’ll  let you comments on your opinions. For those that did not see it, they actually did camp at the Lower Pines Campground.  Gee, they were pretty lucky to get reservations (!)  They stayed in a camper and at the end of the show she gave it away. AND she gave away the truck that pulled it. She said Part 2 will be shown on Wednesday (not Monday as previously announced.) 4 pm PDT.

     Anyway, I’ll hand the keyboard over to you now. Do spell check and watch out for the CAPS LOCK key. Comments???
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast.” – Paul Scott Mowrer
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite Conservancy’s new website

October 29, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

After months of anticipation the Yosemite Conservancy has rolled out their new website. If you had read the Yosemite Association site you know how out of date it became. Dead links, old stories and non-existent press releases. The new YC pages are a big improvement. You can find it <HERE>.

It has a lot of goo info, but I have already informed them that their DAY HIKES section erroneously called them Bridalveil and Vernal FALLS – as in plural. Here we go again. You’d think the senior folks at YC would understand the nuance that we discussed a week ago.  Beyond that catch I’m very pleased and will bookmark the site.

Carpe Diem Experience, LLC is the sole author of this blog for purposes of copyright and other laws. The events and characters depicted in this blog are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events, is purely coincidental.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Oprah does Yosemite

October 27, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Wonder who that woman was bounding around the park with all the handlers? The one and only Oprah Winfrey!  She toured the park early in October at the invite of Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. He regularly portrays Elizy Bowman, a fictitious member of the old Buffalo Soldiers. 

     This Friday and Monday, October 29 and November 1, Oprah will devote two entire shows to her overnight camping trip in Yosemite.  While in the park, Shelton participated in an evening campfire chat with her while she stayed at the Lower Pines Campground. The shows highlight her visit to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Tunnel View, a mule ride, and fly fishing on the Merced River.



 Unrelated thought worth quoting: “How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, and the hills and the sky?  Anyone knows they are.  How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, the rhythm of the day and the season instead of the hour and the minute?  No, you cannot explain.  So you walk.” – Author unknown

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Mountain Sage

October 26, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     When you are going to Yosemite via Highway 120, slow down going through Groveland. In fact, pull over and take a break at a local spot called Mountain Sage. It comes up on your right upon entering the metroplex. Look for a big sign in front of a converted house. The business is part coffee shop, bookstore, nursery, wifi hot spot and casual meeting place.


    I first learned of Mountain Sage when I met the owner, Robb, a couple years ago when he was doing a photography show at the Ahwahnee. He takes first-class “suitable for your mantle” pictures of the park and Sierra environs. Colton and Hillary run the daily operatons and will probably be the happy faces you meet if you stop. I like to open my laptop and check email via their free wireless connection while I sip on a banana smoothie. It makes for a nice stretch break when going or coming from Yosemite.

Hillary & Colton


Can you spot my book on the top shelf?

Fine Photography

The Herb Emporium

Even a bandstand for Ho-downs


Here’s a link to their <website>. Tell them Mr Half Dome sent you!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast.” – Paul Scott Mowrer
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Hotel Charlotte

October 26, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
Now that the crummy weather has arrived, please don’t get cabin fever. Keep getting your 30-60 minutes of strenuous exercise 3-5 days a week. If you want to go local hiking with me on a weekday, let me know. Just because the cables are down, don’t pack up your boots and poles. Keep the energy up! There is a lot to see in the Sierra foothill towns. I love scoping out the little places that were huge in the gold rush era. Hornitos, Coulterville, Jamestown, Mt Bullion etc. Most are a shadow of their former greatness, but it’s cool to poke around to link to the past.

      Last weekend me, Mrs. Half Dome and Yosey stayed at the Hotel Charlotte in Groveland. Once called “Garrote” because of necktie parties that used to take place there, it’s a neat little stop on Highway 120 on the Big Oak Flat Road. I can recommend the Hotel Charlotte run by Lynn and Victor. Both are down-to-earth folks with great personalities. The Hotel was built in 1921 and looks classic Victorian.
Our room was all decked out in olde tyme furnishings. Note the cool bathtub. 


     Some pets are allowed and Yosey had a great time playing with Goose. That dog entertained us with a piano serenade. Check to make sure they have room for your little guy. 

     The restaurant is fun and we had the “Barney Rubble;” a huge portion of Lamb. A bonus was the full complimentary breakfast – I’m not talking a donut and coffee – but a buffet with eggs, sausage and pancakes. I downed way more than my usual bowl of Cheerios back home.

     If you stay there, you have to count the clocks that Lynn has collected. I won’t reveal the number, but think high. They are all guaranteed to be correct twice a day! Lynn also has several cabins available at Pine Mountain Lake just up the road if you want that type of accommodation. Since there is no movie theater in the area, the locals keep abreast of happenings with an active calendar. The town Museum is first class and is recommended as you drive east to the park. When we were there an Art Fair and Film Festival were taking place. Also, some guy called Senor ½ Dome gave a talk to the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society. He got a standing ovulation!!

     The Iron Door Saloon is across the street from the Charlotte and you just gotta step into the oldest saloon in California. Why, I bet John Muir even had a brew there! Click <here> to get to the website for the Hotel Charlotte. Tell them Mr. Half Dome sent you!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile.” – English Proverb

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

One Hiker’s Experience

October 25, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     I got a nice email from a Blog Reader, Ms. N of SoCal. I thought it might serve as a motivator for those who are contemplating this hike. While I appreciate her compliments, she’s the one who put one foot in front of the other for almost 10,000 vertical feet (up and down) over 16 miles and accomplished her goal. It’s long, but very cool.   


     Six months ago, I set a goal to lose weight.  Knowing myself, I am typically more successful if I have something to work towards so I decided my ‘something’ was going to be to climb Half Dome.  I can’t say I lost as much weight as I wanted to but I did accomplish my ‘something’ thanks in large part to you, your book, and your blog!  In reading your blog, one of the many things that stood out to me was when you mentioned how anyone could complete Half Dome as long as they were Educated, Prepared, and Motivated.  I kept those three words in my mind as I trained and it was those three words that got me to the top of Half Dome.

     Education: Before I start anything whether it’s a vacation, an activity, etc,  I will research it to exhaustion (or as my husband thinks— to the point of overkill).  Half Dome was no different.   I bought your book and I became a regular reader of your blog.  You can bet that almost any question my husband asked pertaining to Half Dome started with a “Well Mr. Half Dome says…” I Googled Half Dome and read about other people’s experiences.  I even read all the information I could on the accidents and deaths on Half Dome, not to scare myself but to prepare myself on what NOT to do (although some of those accounts left my palms pretty sweaty!) Education: check! 

     Preparation: My husband and I hit the gym primarily the elliptical, weights, and row machine to build our endurance and upper body strength.  In addition, we have a scenic outlook nearby that has a set of 280+ stairs to the top.  The stairs mimicked the Mist Trail in that they were uneven and at different heights.  Three days a week, I would head over to the stairs and do 2-3 sets.  The days that I dragged my butt there even when I was tired after a long day at work definitely paid off in the end when I was able to manage the Mist Trail and the 20 other gazillion steps we encountered with much more ease.  And we made sure to get in our hikes on the weekends culminating in a 12 mile hike to Mt. San Jacinto in Palm Springs.  The hike was at high altitude ending at 10,000 feet so that gave us an idea of what it would be like to climb those sub dome stairs at high altitude. Preparation: check! 

     Motivation:  I was definitely motivated only because I knew if I didn’t get into shape, it would mean more of a risk of me losing my life (a little overdramatic, yes, but it was what kept me moving during those moments where I didn’t feel like going to the gym or to the stairs…whatever works!).  And I would be lying if I didn’t say people’s skepticism of me even being able to complete Half Dome didn’t motivate me.  It motivated me A LOT.  Being overweight as I was, I got a lot of skeptical looks from head to toe when I told people of our plans (An exclamation of “Oh wow that’s great!” coupled with a look of “Really? You? Uh-huh…”).  Motivation: check! 

     We set our goal date as Monday September 20.  I started reading your blog a little too late; as a result, I didn’t realize Mondays and Thursdays were now what weekends use to be like.  Knowing what I had read about the sub-dome, I gave it the due respect it deserved and we made it up safely with a bit of a scramble from point to point near the top.  I didn’t think the sub-dome was as scary as I had imagined them to be.  The cables, on the other hand, were every bit as scary as I had imagined when I first saw them up close and personal.  But I knew I had prepared well and as long as I was careful, all would be okay. Oh well, again, peace of mind is always a good thing! Going up, I had my moments where I wondered if I had done enough upper body training.  Being as short as I am, there were certain parts where the cables were almost above my head and I really had to put my whole body into it to pull myself up.  Thank goodness for the wooden boards, which provided a brief respite!! Going down was much easier if not still a little nerve-wracking.   And you are right, navigating the sub-dome down was much easier with our walking poles! Heading down we took the John Muir trail as suggested.  Wow!  The John Muir trail was the longest 3.something miles of my life! I was convinced that a cruel joke was being played on us and Happy Isles was somehow being moved further and further back! But we finally made it to our car and the sense of euphoria and accomplishment felt could not be described!!   

     All in all, I have to wholeheartedly thank you and the dedication you put into getting information out there to people like me through your book and blog.  All of your work made my work that much easier!!  I plan to continue my weight loss efforts and setting more goals…maybe to return to Half Dome and do it again this time more in shape or who knows…we thought about Machu Picchu (let the research began!)  Whatever it is, as I often told my husband during our training, “Well Mr. Half Dome says……CARPE DIEM!!”  Thank you again!!!


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “As a nation we are dedicated to keeping physically fit – and parking as close to the stadium as possible.” – Bill Vaughan

 *MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Portland Cement Company Incline

October 24, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
      Last weekend I was at Yosemite enjoying a heat wave. On Saturday I attempted to get to top of the Diving Board. (Discussed in previous blog). On Sunday I DID accomplish a goal of mine. I made it to the top of the “Yosemite Portland Cement Company” Incline. It is located 11 miles west of El Portal between the Ferguson Rockfall and Briceburg. In 1928 the company opened a rail line set at 41 degrees to transport limestone from the upper hills down to the trains at the Merced River. The site was called Emory after one of the founders. There were two standard gauge rails to allow cars of 8 tons carrying 13 tons of ore. A 230 HP motor operated a cable system to hoist the cars up in 4 minutes. The Great Depression sunk the market for cement and the plant gradually faded away, with Henry Kaiser buying it out in 1944 partially to remove competition from his own operations. 

Early photo of the Emory Incline from Hwy 140

     I have looked up at the remnant buildings for years and I tried to get up last summer only to be frustrated after 3 hours and bloody skin from the heavy brush. I made it only about 1/3 of the way to the top of the 2300 foot high complex. 

Modern day


Close up of my goal

    I found the original track route with depressions from where the now absent rails lie. I also found shards of the cables in the gravelly surface. Sunday I resolved to make it up by going a longer but cleaner route. After one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done, including some hard core scrambling thru a tree cogged gulch, I reached the top. Here’s some photos of the massive concrete bunkers that supported the system. 

Dense foilage blocks route




Hollow concrete bunkers



Too much to tear down

The hike down was harder. It was very hot and I could not find a way through the gully thicket. Many attempts to find a path led me into a dense vine patch. At one point I lost balance and came down on one of my trekking poles – 200 pounds was too much and it snapped.

Boink! Warranty time.

     Running out of water, I finally made it back to the Merced where I had to ford it to get back to the car. Even though the flow is low this late in the year, it was a difficult task with only one pole for balance.  I’m not recommending this hike but thought you’d enjoy my story. Next time you’re on Highway 140 stop and look at the Incline. It’s near an old billboard promoting Savage’s Trading Post. There are a few buildings at the base. By the way there are 2 more Inclines – one near El Portal and one near the Cedar Lodge. Hmmmmm – maybe???

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” – The world’s most interesting man.
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –


October 23, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Blog reader Bill M. noticed the Photo without caption blog that showed the JMT trail sign finally has been corrected. Changing Vernal and Nevada to FALL.  It was about time. One of my pet peeves. If a stream of water goes over the edge and cascades down it’s called FALLS. (Like Yosemite Falls). If it generally goes down in one long glump, it’s FALL.  Here’s a photo of the magic sign taken decades ago. 


     Now the same sign last year. When they upgraded the sign the carpenter used poetic license and added the “s.” – Incorrect spelling. It’s also redder than the current one’s shade of brown.


And now the sign as I took it last week. Ahhhhh I can sleep at night.


And don’t bug me about “Niagara Falls.” I assume they are illiterate there also.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Revenge is a dish – best served cold.” Kahn Noonien Singh in Star Trek, the Wrath of Kahn.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Facelift 2010 results

October 22, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
The 7th annual Facelift at Yosemite is driving by the climbers. Ken Yager, head of the Yosemite Climbing Assn, posted some neat pix of the event and the after-party. Good job guys and gals. 1,001 unique volunteers signed up gathering 172,307 lbs of trash. Slightly over 140,000 lbs gathered was asphalt and concrete which was trucked out for recycling. Over 160 miles of roadway and turnouts were cleaned up. 100 + miles of trails and 20 miles of river corridor was also cleaned. Everything was sorted and over 80% was recycled.


On Oct 23 there will be a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 2nd ascent of El Cap (done in 10 days) by Royal Robbins, Tom Frost and Joe Fitschen. 7 pm At the Visitor Center Auditorium.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “You should do well making money and holding on to it.” – My fortune tonight at Chef Li’s.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –