Archive for February, 2011

Wilderness Permits

February 28, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Now that everyone is all set for their Half Dome permits, many of you might be thinking of heading to the backcountry this summer to enjoy total solitude. Plan on a July start for many trails that might be snow bound. Do you know how to get a permit? Here ya go.

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     You can make your permit reservations 24 weeks in advance of your starting date. Yosemite has a Wilderness Permit Reservation Phone Line that’s open Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at (209) 372-0740. 60% of permits are reservable – the remaining are first come. So if you are short of planning, go to the  Valley Wilderness Center (in the main village) after its opening day on April 29. Talk to the uniformed folks. Any exta next-day walk-up wilderness permits will be available the day before your desired trip beginning at 11:00 am (not at opening time). You can also get your actual Wilderness permits you reserved on the day before your hike on the same day of your hike. Be sure to have your bear proof canister at the ready. To learn more click <HERE>.

Unrelated thought worth quoting:“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather. 

R.I.P.  Frank Buckles – The last American World War I soldier.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –


February 28, 2011


Tomorrow, March 1, 7 am Pacific – Permits will be available on

Site is up and you can practice.  NPS now says May 27 is target for cables to be up.

Rescue dogs at Yosemite

February 27, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

YOSAR is the common name for the Yosemite Search and rescue team. They have socres of dedicated women and men who are often called to pluck a stranded climber off a big wall or help an injured hiker bck to safety. Did you know they use dogs in their search routines?  For over 10 years YOSAR has used about 25 dogs and their handlers for searches.   “YODOGs” can search as much ground as a team of eight people and thus maximize the chance of quickly finding lost people. The of eight people and thus maximize the chance of quickly finding lost people. The dog/handler teams must be at Yosemite within about three hours from the first call for assistance. The dogs train least ten hours a week for two years before a team is approved.

Handler Jeff Wait with YODOG Baron

“Trailing dogs,” follow a person’s scent from the point where he or she was last seen. The search area is divided into segments assigned to each team that seeks any human scent.    YOSAR members “run the trails,” sometimes literally, within the search area, and set up “confinements.” These are trail blocks, lights, and sometimes even lines to contain the lost person. Sectors are identified to confirm that a lost person was NOT in to keep from repeating searches.  Dog teams find victims quickly which minimizes the footprint of a search. This helps reduce unneeded helicopter flights and the large groups of people who might otherwise have to search. This allows more resources to be spread around the park. The dogs are intensively trained not to annoy wildlife. Next time you see a dog with a red Yosemite vest you’ll know “the rest of the story.”


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who, who, who? Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who, who, who? “ – The Baha men

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Dribs and Drabs

February 26, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

   Fearing the Great Snow Blizzard of 2011, Mrs. Dome and I left San Jose-by-the-sea for the security of Carmel-by-the-sea for the weekend. As we headed south on Hwy 101, we saw legions of snow plows being transported north to get ready to clear the streets. Truck after truck loaded with salt for the roads joined in the caravan. The Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport was braced with de-icing trucks and plans to divert landings to San Diego if necessary. National Guard troops were on the ready to house stranded motorists and to bring food to those unable to get out of their driveways. The storm of the Century was just hours away.  Warm in our emergency shelter in Carmel, we safely sat out the weather with Yosey (as in Yosemite) on guard. News reports kept us informed as to the fate of our loved ones. As I write all is safe once again. The roads have been cleared and mountains of snow from the hundreds of snow clearing trucks rises skyward in empty shopping malls. Now, life is pretty much back to normal. Whew.

   We talked about this before but to remind you, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite is now closed it undergoes a major remodel and safety upgrade. It will be closed until March 17 for the $8 million refurb. What slow economy?

     I’ve posted my REI speaking schedule for March on the website. Talks are free; the jokes are priceless – come by and chew the fat.

Mar 8         REI Fremont, 43962 Fremont Blvd, 7 pm
Mar 16      
 REI San Francisco, 840 Brannan,  7 pm        
Mar 22
      REI Marina, 145 General Stillwell Drive, 7 pm
Mar 24       
REI Brentwood, 2475 Sand Creek Road, 7 pm

     ***Half Dome Permits available March 1 – that’s Tuesday in the USA.*** 


Unrelated thought worth quoting: Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is the lightning that does the work.” Mark Twain 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Yosemite to use webinars

February 25, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     The 21st Century has arrived at Yosemite National Park. I’ve been asking for a long time and now the Planning Division has announced that they will make the general public – world-wide the opportunity to participate in workshops via webinars. Too often meetings are held at the park and you must attend in person to participate. That’s tough when most folks work and cannot drive up 4-5 hours for a 3- hour session. Starting March 25, Yosemite lovers will be able to log on to meetings from their home or office. Pencil in 1-4 pm for the meetings. You’ll hear the words and see the same slides the live audience is seeing. And you can ask questions. You may already be conducting meetings at your office using Go-to-meeting or WEBEX. It just makes so much sense to allow Park lovers a chance to be up to speed and contribute to their park.

     The new communication mode (used by industry for years) with the first of six workshops on the Merced River Plan (MRP).  These workshops can be attended in person or via the internet. Specifics about logging on etc. will be provided as March 25 draws near. In a wise move, this first event will be a part of the monthly Open House and coincides with the Yosemite Conservancy’s Spring Forum the following day. A couple hundred die-hards will be in the-park and able to attend in person. The focus of the sessions will be to discuss the Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) in the development of the Merced River Plan. Each workshop will focus on a different topic such as transportation, user capacity, and user capacity.  The MRP is the outgrowth of the recovery from the 1997 Flood that wiped out a whole lot of facilities. It will look at the impact on the 81 miles of the Wild and Scenic River called the Merced – from Canyon wall to Canyon wall. This could result in the gates being closed upon reaching a defined number of visitors. Pay attention!

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Mar 25  Recreation  – at the Yosemite Valley Auditorium, 1-4 pm

Apr 22  Hydrology/Biology/Geol – Yosem Lodge – Garden Terr, 1-4

Apr 26  Transportation – Yosem Lodge – Garden Terrace, 1-4

Apr 27  Cultural Resources –  Yosemite Valley Auditorium, 1-4

Apr 29  User Capacity – Yosem Lodge – Garden Terrace, time TBA

May 13 Science Forum – Yosem Lodge – Garden Terrace, time TBA

     Yosemite now has an official Facebook page. Try They have over 5,000 friends – almost as many as my page!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “We don’t stop hiking because we grow old; we grow old because we stop hiking.”  – Finis Mitchell 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

You take all that?

February 24, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     When I give talks I love to offer my suggestions for stuff to bring on the Half Dome hike. After 28 times I have bottomed out on the optimum. I try to make it clear that I only can give my recommendations – you decide what works for you. For example, I really don’t like backpacks for this hike. My back gets too sweaty and any weight will cause my lower back to ache later in the day. I love fanny packs….they keep the weight at my center of gravity and my upper torso free as a bird. So here ya go: Here’s the RangerRick (not really a Ranger) Half Dome kit. Click to make HUGE.

     And it all fits into my fanny pack. From grub, to water filter pump to my flashlight. And I have an expanded checklist that I print out and go thru both at home and before I begin the hike.

    Snows may hit sea level in Silicon Valley. If 2500 ft Mission Peak is white Friday am I may drive up with my winter garb and try to get some pix. Brrrrr-i-to. Anyone else game? Come on, it’s Friday and I’ll write you a note!

FLASH – The Park will be having Spring workshops on the Merced River Plan and . . . are you sitting?) they will be using a WEBINAR for us flatlanders to participate. More on that tomorrow!! 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof!  In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make – leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone – we all dwell in a house of one room – the world with the firmament for its roof – and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.” – John Muir

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

One more on George Anderson

February 22, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Documentation from the late 1800’s is really hit and  miss. Seems most of our facts are kludged together from several 3rd person accounts of things that occurred years after they actually happened. Andersond id  not keep a diary so we really don’t know the exact when and where things took place. So it depends on what source one uses. But he’s the man. He’s Neil Armstrong, Christopher Columbus, Orville Wright, Henry Ford. An older park person involved in the cable maintenance, annual up and down, and repair over the years thinks any adoration of Anderson is shallow and neglects the hundreds of heroic acts that others carried out to keep the cables up there and to replace them in 1934 and 1984. No, George got up first. Judging from the great blog comments on this, I think there needs to be more recognition of this singular feat. You can also call him a father of modern big wall climbing since he was one of the first to use aids (his spikes) to get up.

     If you walk through the superb dioramas in the Visitor Center, you don’t learn about George. You hear about Tissayak and a bevy of other pioneers. I assume with limited space and so many people they could profile, they had to draw a line. This blog attracts over 200 daily readers. I know you’re there and thank you for spending your morning coffee with me. Anyone else want to express an opinion of support for Anderson recognition? Be nice to go forward with more than 4 interested citizens.

   Here’s a photo I cherish. One of Anderson’s spikes. There are 3 in existence. I guess time and rust took the rest. The NPS has 2 and the Yosemite Hiking Club has one. The holy grail. 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “What I like about camping is you can get really dirty.  Either you’re all by yourself, so no one else sees you; or everyone you’re with is just as dirty as you are, so nobody cares.”  A former Boy Scout.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

More on George Anderson

February 21, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

    A lot of historical information about the park is found in archival copies of the monthly known as Yosemite Nature Notes. It ran from 1922 thru 1961 but then went defunct. It surfaced in 1985 as a quarterly called The Yosemite. Although now that I think about it, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten one. It’s put out for Yosemite Association members. Maybe it got lost in the Yosemite Conservancy shuffle.  Today the name Yosemite Nature Notes is used for videos describing park phenomena such as frazil ice. That one has been mailed to me by about a dozen people who know I’m a Yosemite fan. The source for tonight comes from one of thoseold YNN  issues.

     Anyway, I’m here today to continue some stories about George Anderson

     After he got up Half Dome he began hauling people up to the top. A small group of British Tourists were first. In November of 1875 both he and John Muir summitted.  George worked in the park and in 1881 he got a contract to build what we know today as the Mist Trail. The Mariposa Gazette wrote a short article about it. He unsuccessfully asked for more state funds when he wasn’t finished in the agreed time. He continued on with his own money and reached the Vernal Fall wall.  Poor George died on May 8, 1884 after he got pneumonia. He’s buried under a humble rock in the Yosemite Cemetery.

     Since this is OUR Park, let’s do something to get George Anderson the notoriety he deserves. Who’s with me?

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Camping:  The art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower and flush toilet.” – A wise old man

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Reminiscing on George Anderson

February 20, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     In the publication “Yosemite Nature Notes #46” of 1977, Steve Harrison did some good research in the ancient scrolls and presented tantalizing information on George Anderson, the first man up Half Dome in 1875. After that accomplishment, there are several references to his desire to build a wooden stairway on Half Dome. No kidding. Documentation was thin back then (no Wolfe Blitzer on scene) but it’s believed he discussed it with the Commissioners and went about collecting materials for his quest. He had a cabin somewhere below sub dome, perhaps to the east of the current Half Dome trail – it or its remnants have never been found. Anderson’s Foresta  cabin is now in Wawona at the Pioneer History exhibit. 

     A description of the stairway appeared in the Mariposa Gazette in 1876: “The stairway will be about 2,000 feet long, fastened by bolts in the rock on the side of the dome, in the most secure manner, and will be arranged with wings or arms extending all the way on each side, making it convenient and comfortable for visitors to rest and view the wonderful scenery below. The projector of this work expects to have it completed sometime the coming Fall, and ready for visitors next summer.”

     Well, of course it didn’t happen. References beyond these meager words are all we know. But what a great idea to get over the current cables debate – oh yeah, no way Jose.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another.  It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness.” – Henry David Thoreau

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

Guided hikes up Half Dome

February 19, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     Most people like to brave the 16 mile round trip up Half Dome on their own or more likely in a group. I have found that some folks only plan to do this hike once and are very apprehensive about the whole ordeal. They want to go up in a guided fashion. Different strokes for different folks. There are many fine guide services that can arrange all the details. I am working with one of the best – Lasting Adventures, Inc.. They have been taking people all over Yosemite for over 15 years. As a Yosemite-approved guide company they hold all the required permits to lead trips. They employ several top notch outdoors men and women to lead guides through the back country as well as our favorite – up Half Dome. They carry the required First Aid pack, extra water, radio, etc. I often come along and provide color and play-by–play. I know a lot of the history and also talk about the geology we experience.




     We did a trip with 6 women on Sept 11 last year. All did fine and we finished in 14 hours. If you’d like to come on a trip in 2011, see They are a non-profit and offer trips at very competitive rates. I hope to join them on several trips this summer. We meet at the Curry Village buffet the night before the hike then set out at 5:30 am.  We handle all the water treatment and provide encouragement, humor and a safe trip. When you sign up you’ll get a free copy of my Half Dome guide book, “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome.” Lasting Adventures has a great check list (NO tennis shoes) and they encourage trekking poles. We know the trail by heart. No worries – you get to summit and check off one from your “bucket list.” So review the website, pick a date, get a Curry Village tent cabin or campsite and get your permits. We will also be online March 1. Lasting Adventures will limit the size of the group to provide personal attention and a safe guide/hiker ratio.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The ultimate camping trip was the Lewis and Clark expedition.” – Dave Barry

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –