Archive for January, 2011

Yosemite’s Wilderness

January 31, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     The 1984 Wilderness Act of 1984 set aside over 1,000 square miles of Yosemite’s land under congressional oversight. The essence is that citizens need to have places to go devoid of human impact. This area ranges in elevation from 2,900’ to 13,114’ in the central Sierra Nevada.  There are over 350 lakes, two major watersheds (the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers are both designated Wild and Scenic Rivers), more than 750 miles of trails, over 70 trailheads, five High Sierra Camps, and 8 administrative patrol cabins.

     For  us lovers of Half Dome, it’s noted that Half Dome is considered as being in the wilderness and that confuses the cables issue. The HD Stewardship Plan will be finished and signed off in November 2011. Keep in mind that taking the cables down is an alternative being looked at.

     Yosemite Wilderness averages over 100,000 visitor nights each year.  The Wilderness Patrol Rangers have the primary responsibility for patrolling the Yosemite Wilderness on foot and with stock.  They help insure visitor and resource protection, provide visitor education, assist with emergency operations, and perform the full range of Ranger services in a Wilderness setting. Very  impressive.

     My life motto is “Carpe Diem.” Basically do it now! Think you’ll be going to Egypt soon?  Have you said you’ll get there “someday?” Well, someday never comes. Make your bucket list and get on with it. Write down your life list and take steps to do it. I’d hate for you to “kick the bucket” without seeing the Pyramids.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “As a member of the State Geological Survey I have visited the Yosemite Valley four times: June, 1863, August, 1864, September, 1864, and April, 1875 – and the valley seems grander on this fourth visit than it did on the first.” – Professor William Brewer, Yale College, New Haven, Conn.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –


Water, water everywhere ….

January 30, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

      . . .  and not a drop to drink.” That line comes from the short story “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Looks like we may have plenty of water to drink come summer. The Department of Water Resources just did their 2nd measure of the snow pack for the season. They do it at a spot near Lake Tahoe.

     We are still way above average for water content. For the whole state, the Sierra snowpack water content is 78%of the April 1 seasonal average. Thanks to the endless snow and rain we had in the fall. We’re usually at about 55% this time of year. This bodes well for Yosemite’s many waterfalls.

     Kinda funny one tonight. We got out to a Japanese restaurant for dinner in San Jose-by-the-sea and I had a great udon noodle soup with some tempura. I gave the waitress a “Dumo Arrigato” from my 10-word Nipponese vocabulary. Basically, “thank you. ” She smiled and nodded and then told me she is not Japanese – she’s Korean! As is the whole staff – cook included. So why not call it a Korean restaurant? Hmmmm 

   This month’s hackneyed phrase: “Lean Forward,” as in plunking on a computer keyboard is “lean backward” entertainment but TV is “lean forward.” Oh, how clever.  And “we got your back” still lives.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a  little too far.” – A wise old man

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Da Bears

January 29, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

You probably are not planning to do much hiking at Yosemite for a while, but everyone seems to be concerned about bears. The most bears you will see will be in your campground at 2 am.  I’veonly seen 2 in my 28 trips on the way up Half Dome. And they were far far away. No one has been killed by a bear at the park – neither grizzly (thru the 1920’s) nor black bears. The only person killed by wildlife was a 12-yr old boy who was gored by a deer. Did you know that our black bears can weigh upwards of 400 pounds and have the shortest average lifespan of any of the 8 species of black bears –  18 years. And you may think you saw a brown bear at the park, but “black” bears can come in shades of cinnamon to even a brown look.  To bring home the reason you must take all your scented items out of your car, I submit these photos.


Who me?

I shoulda got an SUV.

A sardine can.

Dang, the cooler was empty!


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty and you can wear them forever.” – A wise old man

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Happy to me!

January 28, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

It’s Friday night …. 20 days after Elvis Presley’s birthday (he was seen last month in a Laundromat in Des Moines). Not a whole lot going on in the Yosemite World. Hiking Alert is at Color RED. Cold front moving in, so tonight Mrs. Half Dome and I will celebrate my birthday over a Spare Ribs dinner at Famous Dave’s in San Jose. Yum.  Another click on the odometer of life. A reminder to Carpe Diem – Seize the day. Remember James Dean? He said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever – live as if you’ll die today.”


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “They tell us that we lost our tails. Evolving up from little snails. I say it’s all just wind in sails. Are we not men? We are Devo! Are we not men? D-E-V-O

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Half Dome color code

January 27, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Now that the Department of Homeland Security has announced the discontinuation of the “Alert Color Code” for terrorism, I have acquired the rights to the scheme for Half Dome. As you can see below, we will be following the color code appropriate to the conditions. So simply look at the chart to see what is happening. We are in condition RED now. Neat and tidy.  Click to enlarge.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Now I know he’s a guy who put tears in my eyes – a thousand times or more. Oh but every time he would apologize I loved him more than before. Hear what I say, girls keep away . . .  Don’t mess with Bill; No no no no, Don’t mess with Bill. Leave my Billy alone.” – RIP Gladys Horton, The Marvelettes

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite’s Ahwahnee to close for remodel

January 26, 2011

Yosemite’s Ahwahnee to close for remodel

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     If you plan to spend $460 a night at the Ahwahnee Hotel next month, you will be devastated to earn that the lodge will be closed. Darn. But only for 3 weeks. Despite needing a major renovation to upgrade for earthquakes, it will only be closed Feb 22 – Mar 17 for a minor remodeling and safety upgrade. A complete retrograde to bomb shelter standards for the “Big One” is apparently being put off. The focus this time is to install a fire detection alarm and fire suppression system. The hotel was opened in 1927 and used mostly stone and concrete to prevent the regular fires that wiped most valley hotels in the early days. You will see the biggest change fixin’ up in guest rooms, the restaurant, shops and other areas. As a bonus on your next trip you’ll see new drapes, carpets, paint and a spruce up of the historic decorations.  The work will spend $8 million – mostly from fees and contributions from the sales of things in the valley stores.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “No one can study this valley and its surroundings without being broader-minded thereafter.” – James Garfield, President of the United States. 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Ranger Johnson gets award

January 25, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing 

     Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson has won the 2011 George Hartzog award given by the prestigious Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. The award is given to the individual who demonstrates outstanding support for the mission of the National Park Service. His involvement in the recent Ken Burns PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. He also dresses in a Buffalo Soldier uniform and participated in Oprah Winfrey’s visit to the Park.


     My “Anyone can Hike Half Dome*” classes are cranking up again. We roll out at Foothill College in Los Altos on February 16. 8 students are already signed up. This is an expansion of the talks I give at REI – 3 hours worth. I bring my gear and do a big show-and-tell. The objective is to get you ready to hike Half Dome safely. To enroll in the class, go <here> or Contact the Short Courses Program Staff at 408-864-8817. 

     Sign up for Course/Class Number: 200/910: Class Title: How to Hike Half Dome. Date of Class: 02/16/2011, Wednesday, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Foothill College, Classroom: 3304, 12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills, CA 94022.  $30 tuition to the school. See you there. 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I have spent the four happiest months of my life in this glorious valley”  – Honorable Therese Yelverton, (Lady Avonmore), 1886 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite Preparation

January 24, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing


     This is the time of year to begin your Half Dome preparation. I KNOW some readers are Euros and Eastern USA residents who are digging out from endless snows. Dang – Where is Global Warming when you really need it??? I was out today in 65 degree California sunshine with a few of my Hiking 101 students. We did a great hike up the Los Gatos Creek trail. We stopped at Lexington Reservoir to practice water filtration. To my surprise and shock, my brand new Katadyn Hiker Pro was mis-wired at the factory. They had the quick disconnect outlet hose attached to the inlet plug and the pre-filter attached to the outlet. So when I was pumping I was just blowing bubbles. Blew me away. I played with it at home later and confirmed it had been assembled backwards at the factory. I’ll tell them.  I also brought along a Katadyn Vario pump. It’s a tad more expensive because it attaches directly to your Nalgene bottle and pumps with a lever action on both strikes.  It worked perfectly.

Stan running the pump

    We also had a good session on hiking pole basics. I have a few extra Leki’s and we got them clicking along. The hike has some nice uphills and down to practice on. We go out for 3 lab sessions. Next Sunday we will go up to the summit of St. Joseph’s Hill. It was a vineyard for sacramental wines in the olden days. The religious Novitiate winery was there and is now and the property is now called Testarosa. From the top you can see Steve Wozniak’s (Apple founder) house. You can see the Moffett Field blimp hangers and if it’s real clear you can make out the smaller cities of Oakland and San Francisco – 50 miles away.


     Not everyone plans to do Half Dome but the program is a good orientation for novice hikers as well. I might set up sessions in March or April. Trailsloggers of Campbell is our host outfitter and is giving 20% off for the duration. Let me know if you are interested.

   Seems the Yosemite Nature Notes video of “Frazil Ice” is making the rounds. At least 8 people have sent me the You Tube.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The road to Yo Semite, like the way of life, is narrow and difficult, but the end, like the end of a well-spent life, is glorious beyond the highest anticipation” – James Vick  Rochester, NY, 1879 <<R.I.P.Jack Lalane>>

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite in an Old Ford

January 23, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Looking for a special anniversary activity? A wedding? A milestone birthday coming up? Wanna spend some US Dollars to have a real good time? You can rent a restored Ford Model A or Model T for your summer trip through Yosemite. You get a chauffer or you can drive. Model T Tours of Fish Camp (Near the Wawona entrance on Hwy 41) has a comprehensive program of car-lodging and tour packages. The rate to drive it yourself for $400 a day. Multi-day rentals bring the daily price down. Click <HERE> to learn more.

Click to enlarge

    Henry Ford’s Model T dominated the mass produced market. And yes, you could get it in a color other than black. Black was way cheaper to produce because it dried FAST. The Model A came out in 1928 and offered a vastly improved engine. The company has 5 cars in its inventory and all come with tops down. The cars are safe and you will get instruction on how to handle the last century controls. They can handle the mountain roads at the park – they did it “in the day.”

     Job Offer: I’m looking for a software person who can code an iPhone/Android app for me. You or a buddy?  Contact me.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Yo Semite is the crowding of a multitude of romantic, peculiar, and grand scenes within a very small space.” – John Hittell’s Guide Book.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Scouting University

January 22, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     I spent all day Saturday with the Santa Clara Council Boy Scouts at their annual Scouting University. It is held at a local High School and it attracted 300+ scouts and adult leaders. I was never a boy scout but commend their program for getting kids out from behind their video games. I gave 4 classes on Hiking Half Dome and I drew over 40 people. Welcome to all the new blog readers from today. Many scouts set Half Dome as a goal. The university is an educational experience teaching anything from knot tying to map & compass.

    A highlight each year is the homage paid to California Indian tribes. The boys dress up in regalia that was customary to many tribes and do a dance that has correct historical links. Note the accurate Tee Pee they assembled. 

Shake a tail feather


 Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Nowhere among the Alps, in no pass of the Andes, and in no cañon of the mighty Oregon Range, is there such stupendous rock scenery as the traveler here lifts his eyes to.”  – Rev. Thomas Starr King

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –