Archive for November, 2010

Lady Franklin Rock

November 30, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Ever hear of Lady Franklin Rock?  It sits a little upstream of the Vernal Fall Bridge and gives a view of the fall. Here’s the 4-1-1. Turns out the wife of a lost English Arctic explorer named Sir John Franklin visited the park in 1863. People were sympathetic to her quest to find the reason for his death. This rock was named for her. She used to sit on it and comtemplate life. Where exactly is it?  It’s pretty much of a mystery to me. This is a Carlton Watkins shot titled “Lady Franklin and party at Moss Rock.” Moss rock??  Now I’m really confused.



 This undated old photo is only captioned “taken from Lady Franklin Rock.”  Click to enlarge.



Anyone know exactly where this mystery slab is? Usually the river is engorged with water and I can’t figure where it is to get these views.  A tip of the hat to Domer Norman S. for shaking the beehive on this topic.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “So long as there is breath in me, that long I will persist. For now I know one of the greatest principles on success; if I persist long enough I will win.” – Og Mandino 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Muir Walk Talk

November 29, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

      On Saturday I drove through the rain to the San Luis Reservoir for the Annual Meeting of the Four Rivers Assn. This is the support organization for the State Parks located in the environs of the Tuolumne, Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers.  A big geography. I knew little about the greater Pacheco Pass area but learned that Highway 152 is essentially the route that stage coaches traveled to points east – even Merced & on to Yosemite. There are 2 major events that I will put on my calendar – Wild Flower Days and the Path of the Padres hike. These are spring gatherings that really show off the native flowers in their glory. And it turns out that you can actually hike to the Mission San Juan Bautista – private property owners obliging.

     Featured speakers were Peter and Donna Thomas of Santa Cruz. Their talk showed the route that John Muir took when he walked from San Francisco to Yosemite. They did the recreation in 2006. Actually, they later did it a few times in pieces as they wrote their book: “Muir Ramble Route.” It the how-to guide for common folk like us. They said the hardest part was getting places to stay along the central valley towns. Muir would just knock on doors and tell the owners that he “promised his mother that he would not sleep outside.” That doesn’t seem to work these days. This day we were in the very area that Muir crossed over Pacheco Pass in 1868.  The Thomas’s did extensive pre-work to try and find his path since he wrote little about it. I am fixated on the old Coulterville Road and got some tips on how to find the eastern end of it – it was hit by landslides so the terminus near Yosemite was abandoned.  Their book is loaded with olde tyme maps. I was disappointed to hear that they are not interested in giving guided tours of the Muir walk. They want some enterprising person to arrange all that – it’s a good business venture. Rooming, bike shuttles and food support would make this a trip I’d pay for.  Click to enlarge photos.


The Thomas duet tell their tale

An attentive audience

Peter explains the route


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Both success and failure are choices. What is  your choice?”

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

November 28, 2010

      Today I attended the 232nd  anniversary of the founding of San Jose. For being the 10th largest city in the country, there wasn’t a whole lot of hoop-ha. 1M people live here and only about 60 showed up on a nice day. The event took place at the Peralta Adobe near downtown. By 1777 there was a lot of pressure from the Russians (yes, those pre-RED guys) in the fur trapping industry. The Spanish wanted to establish a presence beyond presidios and outposts to show that they were indeed settled. Back then the settlement was called El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. Former mayor Tom McHenry was there – but no one from the current regime. The San Jose History group put on a nice show with folks in period costume, tours of the adobe and the Fallon house across the street. Turns out this adobe is the oldest complete Spanish mud-brick adobe in the state. Most others from that era are partially rubble and all the missions have been rebuilt. Click on pix to enlarge. 

Peralta Adobe built 1779

A 2-room bungalo

Raising the old flag.

Descendents in attendance

Unrelated thought worth quoting:Right wrongs nobody.” – E Clampus Vitus, Mt Charlie Chapter

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite Sam phone service

November 27, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Hands free cell phone


     Cell coverage at the park is often a roll of the dice. If you are curious, you can drive behind the Valley Visitor complex towards the Magistrate’s Office and you will go by the AT&T facility. This is the cell antenna for the park. The way businesses work, other carriers pay to beam out from that location. 

     The best way to see if you get coverage in certain areas is just to turn your device on. Verizon seems to work good with ATT adequate. Sprint is iffy and T-Mobile is a zip. I can get ATT connection in the core Valley Visitor area and in Curry Village if I lean up against the Buffett sign outside. Don’t move or you will lose it.  The best seems to be a carrier that few visitors use – Golden State Cellular. They provided the first landline telephone service in the Mother Lode some 100 years ago and was the first to provide cellular service there. Golden State Cellular continues to exceed the consumer’s expectations by providing the largest network and coverage available in the Central Sierra.  They recently announced the addition of 3G Mobile Broadband to existing cell sites at the following locations:  Strawberry Peak, Copper Cove, Mt. Reba, Big Oak Flat, Murphys, Rushing Mountain, Coulterville, Hwy 4/49 intersection in  Angels Camp and Yosemite Village.  Golden State Cellular has the largest network and coverage available in the Central Sierra and Nationwide.

Here’s the official published YNP coverage plan of ATT and Verizon:  AT&T: Voice and EDGE data service are available in parts of Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. Verizon Wireless: Voice and 1x data service are available in parts of Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, Crane Flat, El Portal, and Wawona. (Service in Yosemite is provided by Golden State Cellular; data roaming must be enabled on your phone to use data.)

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name? Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game.” –The Doors

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Backpacker’s Camp Utilities

November 26, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

      If you are planning to do your future hike up Half Dome in 2 days, you might be staying at Little Yosemite Valley. You are permitted to spend you first arrival night in the “Backpacker’s Lot” in North Pines. That way you can get all organized and get a fresh start in the morning to head up to LYV.  Today’s blog can be put in the “TMI” – Too Much Information folder, but let’s get educated.
     Yosemite is in the process of taking out the of current flush toilets in this area and putting in new vault toilets. Why? Because the gravity sewer line serving the Backpacker’s Camp bathroom crosses Tenaya Creek and is impacting the creek flowage. This  sewer line will be removed from the creek bed. Yes, but what the heck is a vault toilet? Most of you can leave the room, as I continue.

     The common solution for human bodily waste elimination in places without running water or access to a sewer system is what is called a “vault toilet.” Waste is held in an underground vault or tank, usually between 750 and 1000 gallons in size, which is pumped out periodically. Yuck – not a job I’d take. Picture a long deep hole in the ground. Vaults are made of concrete or reinforced cross-linked polyethylene. This material will not crack or leak, so it meets all environmental standards. A typical vault toilet installation has the vault buried in the ground with a concrete slab poured in place directly over it. A pre-fab building is installed on the slab with connections to the vault for the toilet and vent pipe.  Fresh air naturally flows through the building and out of the vault and vent pipe.       Class dismissed.

Big REI sale on until Sunday – example: 1 quart Nalgene bottles for $6.89

On the YNP Half Dome  page . . . We are now evaluating how this permit system worked and will announce changes (if any) to the permit system for 2011 by the end of November.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Ooooh that smell. Can’t you smell that smell? Ooooh that smell – The smell of death surrounds you.” Lynyrd Skynyrd

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Letter to the editor

November 25, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     The Rangers  are currently analyzing the cable usage data from 2010 and plan to announce what the 2011 permit process will be very soon. They want to get word out so campers can meet the 6 month resv window. I can tell you  they do not have many resources or money to administer a large program with many permutations.  I recently got this email from an interested blog reader.  My best advice is to send it to the park superintendent for his review.

Don Neubacher, Superintendent
Yosemite National Park
Attn: Half Dome Trail Permits
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389  

 i organize a couple of camping/hiking trips a year for a group of friends. We like to stay in the Pines Campground Friday-Sat-Sunday, and hike Half Dome on Saturday.  The problem is, i have to make my campsite reservations months in advance of the trip, and don’t really know how many in my group will actually make that date.  It’s a moving target from as few as 6 to as many as 30.  So, to be prepared, i try to secure 4 to 5 campsites.  TO COMPLICATE THE MATTER, now, a month or so later, i have to secure HALF DOME PERMITS, again, not knowing for sure how many will make the trip and how many will actually be doing the hike.  So, what do i do?  I grab as many permits as possible.  Yes, i turn in/give away any extras that i have, but this is very inefficient and potentially wasteful.  But… i have to look out for my group first.   I have three suggestions for the NPS:  1) allow an “over-booking” of permits, just like airlines do.  Sell 600 if you want to end up with 400 on the cables.  2) Have a priority day to obtain permits for those that already have valid campground reservations.  So, for example, if i have 2 campground reservations at Upper Pines, allow me to purchase up to 12 Half Dome permits in the 24-hour period before the general public can buy.   3) have a system in place to cancel permits, just like i can cancel unused campsite reservations.  This will help keep permits from being wasted.      It can work!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – 

How to come down Sub Dome

November 24, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Sub Dome is that often overlooked hunk of granite right before the Half Dome cables. I’m one of the few professors who even talk about it. MANY hikers feel it is harder than the cables. Devil’s Staircase or the Knee Grinder are common slang names for it – with good reason. Going down is pretty scary. Nothing to hang on to, no railing and a 2-way route down narrow man-carved steps for 400 vertical feet. Me thinks if a person were going to fall, there would be a high probability of it on the descent down Sub Dome.  As you can see in this photo,  these women are using hiking poles to assist.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

You become a 4-legged mountain goat and are able to keep your knees from exploding and your ligaments inside your skin. Get a pair for Christmas!!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Half Dome stubs

November 23, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

      I know we are a good 6 months away from Half Dome hiking season, so the risk is that yall might forget some of these sage words. This one is a safety issue. On my July 5 hike, I started down the cables at the very top where is it pretty putzy. Look at this photo.


Click to enlarge


     There are several cut off pipes that stick up only about 2 inches from the rock. My guess is these were used in previous incantations of the cable system. The cables erected in 1919 have been replaced in 1934 and 1984. The multi-stranded steel cable has been replaced twice and I bet they decided to replace some of the poles and had trouble yanking them out, so they just cut them off. Be careful. I stepped on this one and when I put my weight on it my right foot wobbled and twisted my ankle big time. I thought I heard a soft crunch. Even with high-top boots, it got  sprained. If I had low cuts it could have been much worse. I blogged about it around July 7 so you can page back if you want to see a swelled up black and blue appendage. Anyway, make a mental note – watch out for the stubs!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Real happiness comes from inside. Nobody can give it to you.” – Sharon Stone 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Half Dome in the last century

November 22, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     We certainly have a lot of stress in this new millennium. The rate of change of technology is outstripping our ability to absorb it. We are driven to “upgrade” our gadgets sooner and sooner each year. Gee, my 3-year old laptop is really ancient now. Well, think back to the calmer days of the 20th Century. Life was at a way slower pace. Nothing like a trip to Yosemite in the old Buick to recharge the family. Pop up the tent in David Curry’s Camp and take a nice hike up Half Dome.

     Domer-in-training, Kathy T. of Sacramento sent me these photos of her relatives taken scores ago. They are fading fast, but the memories are fresh. The first one is of her dad, Wilbur, standing on the summit of Half Dome in the late 1930’s.


Click to enlarge

     He is gone now, but Yosemite was a special place to him. She doesn’t know the details about the hike, but he may have went up when the support poles were down.  Kathy’s goal is to recreate that shot with her standing where her dad was. What a great pair of photos that would be. Side by side on the mantle. She got my book and is starting her training with a support group.   Target is June. When I look at the circa 1938 photo, I see that the meadows on the valley floor look larger than similar shots today. We know that the park has allowed trees to grow and you can see the difference.
     The next photo is of Kathy’s aunt Lois and uncle Charlie. This one was taken in 1952 when the couple was on Glacier Point.


Click to enlarge

     I was on that very spot in September watching the Alpen glow on Half Dome at sunset. The ‘50’s were a happy time – fresh out of World War 2 and the baby boom was in full bore. You can bet that the couple scooted down in time to see the Firefall off Glacier Point.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “After all the jacks are in their boxes and the clowns have all gone to bed. You can hear happiness staggering on down the street – Footprints dressed in red.  And the wind whispers ‘Mary’” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

John Muir’s walk to Yosemite in 1868

November 21, 2010

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
     During these dark, dreary and rainy days we all need to take advantage of this time away from Yosemite to bone up on our park education. I’ve blogged a couple times about the project of Santa Cruz residents Donna and Peter Thomas and their 2006 walk to Yosemite from San Francisco, in the footsteps of John Muir. Yes, that dude walked the whole way.  Their subsequent book, Muir Ramble Route documents how he did it – and how YOU can do it. (See my Aug 23, 2010 blog for details.)

In period clothes

    Now you  have a chance to meet them in person and hear their tale. Mark down next Saturday, Nov 27 at noon. Come to the Four Rivers Association (Los Banos area) Annual Meeting at the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area Headquarters. Take the Basalt exit south from Highway 152, and then turn right, to 31426 Gonzaga Road (next to the San Luis Reservoir dam).  This is a Pot Luck Luncheon so bring something to share. The Thomas’ will talk about their hike with a focus on just how they got over Pacheco Pass in one piece! Their book describes that this was one of the hardest parts of their Muir walk recreation, dodging SUV’s going over 70 mph. See you there?
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Never be satisfied with what you achieve, because it all pales in comparison with what you are capable of doing in the future.” – Rabbi Nochem Kaplan

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –