Archive for March, 2011

Theodore Solomons

March 31, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     Today we welcome a guest blog from Norman S. of the Great California Central Valley. Norm is a true student of Yosemite and has scoured most of the ancient scrolls to learn about the park. Today he’ll tell us about one of the little know pioneers of Yosemite – Theodore Solomons. Thanks Norm and I welcome similar juicy stories for other readers. This is a community of Half Dome lovers – not my bully pulpit!! :>)     Theodore Seixas Solomons (1870 – 1947) was an early member of the Sierra Club (founded in 1892)and the first person to photograph the Tuolumne Canyon.  But his biggest contribution to Sierra history came years earlier.  As a 14-year old, living in Fresno, Solomons conceived the idea of a trail along the backbone of the high Sierra.  Members of the newly formed Sierra Club including Joseph Le Conte assisted Solomons in his explorations of the canyons and passes between Yosemite and Mt. Whitney. In 1908, a complete route was developed which Solomons called the “High Sierra Trail.”  

     When John Muir died in 1914, (a few months before construction of the trail was to begin), the idea of a trail along the Sierra Crest seemed a fitting tribute to Muir. So the High Sierra Trail was renamed the John Muir Trail –  though Muir had neither conceived, nor plotted it.  Asked his reaction to the renaming, Solomons said, “Muir is a better name to conjure with. But mine the idea, mine the pioneering.”  Ed:  A pretty egotistic guy!

     Solomons’ contribution to Sierra history was not officially recognized until 1968, when a 13,034-foot-peak, a quarter mile from the John Muir Trail was named Mount Solomons.  In 1988, Dennis Gagnon created an alternative to the John Muir Trail.  Gagnon called this stitched together route between Glacier Point and Mt. Whitney, the ‘Theodore Solomons Trail’ in honor of the “Lost Trailblazer of the Sierra.” 

     So, the next time you’re at Glacier Point, instead of the Panorama Trail, try the Theodore Solomons Trail.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

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Some Housekeeping

March 30, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     We are starting to get some folks willing to exchange Half Dome permits – so if you have put a request for permits into this blog, I suggest you check back frequently  in case tickets open up as we get closer to the opening of the season. 

    I am soliciting anyone who would like to write a guest blog for me. I want this to be more of a community so you are free to give us a dose of your knowledge about Yosemite. Send me a private email and I’ll edit it and give you full credit. I’m NOT running out of material – I’m now at 4 years on this blog. First with Yahoo and now WordPress. I compose the blog at night – and it takes me a good hour to digest the info and compose quippy entries. You are among close to 300 daily readers. Thank you!

     By the way, my website has just crossed 150,000 hits since I began it.  It comes up on the first page on Google searches, behind the Park Service and Wikipedia. I know it’s not the prettiest, but I do it all myself and NO html coding is required to create the pages. I love it. I use Yahoo Sitebuilder and I totally control it without having to pay a web designer. Think about them if you want to build your own website. $36 a quarter for the URL, hosting, hundreds of templates and 24-hour phone support by Americans! I do not use Google ads. If you do not subscribe WordPress puts ads on – for THEM not me. You can support my addiction by buying something from the STORE. Books, T-shirts, etc.

    The book has sold over 8500 copies and is #97,248 in Amazon’s listing of all books sold and #8 in Yosemite books. Hmmm a TV series next??

  Let’s hike – Join me for a hike this Sunday at the Almaden Quicksilver Mines in South San Jose. These mines dug up Mercury which was used to separate gold from dirt. More monetary value was realized from these mines than any gold mine during the Gold Rush. We leave at 1:30 so let me know.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted.” – Ruth E. Renkl

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Snowpack measured

March 29, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     The elves have just returned and the news is good for California’s water supply. Gov Moonbeam just rescinded the DROUGHT order. Why? 160% of normal white fluffy stuff in the Sierra. Last week’s blizzards really pushed us up. Many reservoirs are letting water out lest they stress the dam structures.  Gosh.  The snowpack has not been this deep since 1995. Even the Great Flood year of 1997 was not this bad. (The flood was on January 2)

   So for those of us that have Half Dome permits for late May/early June, I’d plan on another hike. It will be a miracle if the trial crew can even  get up to HD to install the system.  I am up on May 27 and I think a good Plan B is Yosemite Falls. The snow should be off the trail by then and the water will be exploding off the cliff. You can stand right next to the fire hose and watch it shoot out a long way before it arches down. Yeah, that’s the ticket – Yosemite Falls. If you are at thepark them give me a shout and join the hike. Of course, I am always hopeful of a “Cables are up.” announcement.  Click to enlarge.

 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “If you want me to do something … tell me I can’t do it.” – Maya Angelou

MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Forever Young

March 28, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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 Hear me now and listen to me later: Half Dome permits available for July on April 1 (no fooling) at 07:00:00 Pacific.     

      Age is but a number. Today’s epistle is about the magic odometer of life that we all carry around. When I talk to prospective Half Dome hikers I often am greeted with: “Rick, I’m turning 40 and I need to do this hike before I am too old.”   Hmmm 40? 50? 60? 70? Come on. I am old enough to be most your, your  . .  .  well, brother. I like to take those “how old is your body” tests. I have the body of a 30 year old – and he wants it back! :>) 

      I really feel that you are not old until your dreams are replaced by regrets. I know too many people who were determined to work like a dog until they retired then “we’ll see the world.” Bad plan. Many are too ailed or are overcome by life’s other issues, so they take one cruise to Bermuda then spend the rest of their lives making bird houses, address signs or volunteering at the library. James Dean had a good motto: “Dream as if you’ve life forever – Live as if you’ll die today.”  Sadly, he got creamed by a 1950 Ford Tudor sedan 25 miles east of Paso Robles in Cental California CA in 1955. But we KNOW he lived every minute. I mean LIVED. There’s a difference between that and existing.

     OK, back to Half Dome. I have been asked how old the oldest person is who has hiked up Half Dome? Who knows? No one keeps those kind of records, but I know of some geezers who are well into their 80’s who have done it.  With Education, Preparation and Motivation – anyone can do it. Get off the couch and keep in shape. Jack LaLane was doing push-ups until his demise at 94. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Don’t grow old gracefully – go out kicking and screaming.” – A wise old man.

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Cloud’s Rest

March 27, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     We’ve had a lot of talk about alternate hikes if you cannot get Half Dome permits. Cloud’s Rest is a superb 1-day hike.      It was named by the Mariposa Battalion in 1851. The elephant in the room is that if Tioga Road is not plowed, you can’t get there from here. Plan on mid June. Unless you take the REAL long hike from Curry Village and up the JMT and continue to the Cloud’s Rest trail. L O N G. But if you do decide to go to Cloud’s Rest, you may do the drive up Hwy 120 (Tioga Rd) and park near Tenaya Lake and get on the Sunrise High Sierra Camp trail. There are a lot of good guidebooks, but it’s hard to get lost. You get some gentle ups and when you are within sight of CR, the Sunrise trail goes left but you follow the signs to CR. There are 3 small streams running and a large pond for your water needs (treat it). 

    The only scary part is the spine of Cloud’s Rest. It is pretty narrow and hiking poles will give you reassurance.  Be very careful. One slip and you are sliding down smooth granite into Tenaya Canyon.      Once you get up to the top, you are a gnat’s eyebrow shy of 10,000 ft above sea level.  Looking down at the west eastern side of Half Dome is special. Then get your binoculars out or zoom your camera toward the cables. Wow.  You can clearly see Ahwhiya Point. Look close and y0u can see the white granite scar fresh from last year’s rock fall.

 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Raindrops; so it must be raindrops, so many raindrops, it feels like raindrops falling from my eye-eyes, falling from my eyes.” – Dee Clark

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

New Yosemite Photo book

March 26, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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Yosemite is opening up slowly. Click <HERE> for the latest.

     A tip of the hat to blog reader Maureen L. for her information about a new book coming out. It’s called My First Summer in the Sierra. Hmmm, that title sounds a lot like the John Muir classic. Well, it is – kinda. It’s another reprint of Big John’s work with new color photos taken by Scot Miller.  He’s a well known Dallas photographer and uses HD technology. He also contributed to the book:  First Light: Five Photographers Explore Yosemite’s Wilderness published in 2009.  Previous reprints of Muir’s 1912 book were embellished with photos by Herbert Gleeson and Muir’s own line drawings.  Scot was scheduled to talk at the snow-cancelled Yosemite Conservancy Spring Forum this weekend. He’ll be making the REI circuit to select stores. Click <HERE> for more info. The book lists for $30 but is available now from Amazon.com for about $20.

   While I’m not sure about the connection between the photos and the Muir book (seems like this could have been just another photo book), but the tie-in helps sales. It is good to get the Muir classic reprinted better that the pulp versions that  have come out in the past.  Pop hero, Ken Burns did an introduction.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “If the rain comes, they run and hide their heads. They might as well be dead. If the rain comes, if the rain comes.” – The Beatles

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

How the cables get up

March 25, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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    Yosemite is a mess – heavy snow and downed trees. The hamsters are spinning in their cages to run the generators. Not a good time to go. Read a Muir book instead. 

    First my tale of woe. I spoke at REI Brentwood last night. An hour and a quarter drive in heavy rain, overturned truck on 680 and huge puddles. Fine. This is the newest Bay Area REI and they have a sweet Community Room. Many of my talks are given in back warehouse areas. Had a nice group of anxious hikers. (20% off sale now.) The10 pm  ride home was easy but I got a low tire pressure light. Crud. Had a screw in one tire but was able to pull into a Valero and change it using the tinker toy Honda kit under full lights. Whew – I could have gone flat on the freeway.

   Each spring the Yosemite Trail Crew gets the green light from management to erect the pipes and 2×4 boards up the cable route. This is targeted for just before Memorial Day weekend. The HD trail needs to be clear enough for them to retrieve the 136 pipes and 68 2×4’s from their hidden storage area that they were placed in when the poles come down each October. They will not tell me where they are hidden. They do not want people messing with them. 

    They have to haul the material up to the saddle and then begin the assembly process. The pipes are put into the 4 -nch deep holes that were drilled in 1919. The top of the pipe has a screw-off lid.

     That is removed and then the cable is lifted and inserted into the slot that was cut back when the world was in black and white. The lid is then screwed back on top. They need to be careful not to drop anything down, down, down. You can imagine how hard this must be. There are 68 pole sets that need to be placed. Then the 2 x 4 boards are strapped to the pipes.

     Whew. All they way to the top. While doing a balancing act 8,000 feet above sea level. Don’t forget the Pizza Hut delivery at noon.

      I’ve wanted to film this, but the timing just hasn’t worked out. This blog is spurring me on to meet the trail crew and get more info. I need to put this into the Book’s second edition – now targeted for Spring 2012. We have to let the cables permit process settle.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Rainy day, dream away. Let the sun take a holiday. Flowers bathe and see the children play. Lay back and groove on a rainy day.” – Jimi Hendrix Experience

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Take Half Dome seriously

March 24, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     The park is opening slowly with limited facilities – stay  home. Another storm is hitting. Read a book – Lafayette Bunnell’s “The Yosemiteis the bible. It has cowboys, Indians and even bears! Oh My!

     I like to say that hiking up Half Dome is a marathon of hiking. I’ve run 1 marathon and we built up  the miles gradually until we were running 19-20 miles non-stop. Wow. My longest to that point was the Bay to Breakers at 7  miles.  If you are going to ride a century bike ride – that’s 100 miles.  Years ago, I decided to do it and after getting my miles up I set out one day with my trip computer running. I got 50 miles from home – almost to Hollister from San Jose and turned around. Took about 6 hours to see 100 on the display as I pulled into my driveway.  My first hike up Half Dome I didn’t train – 20 years ago. And I had to walk backwards the next day because  my quads hurt so bad. Repetitive motion on untrained muscles adds up.

     So use this springtime to get in condition. 2-3 months is plenty. If you wait, you risk spraining an ankle or other injury that you cannot recover from in time. Reality hiking is better than machines, but do what you can during the rains. You MUST get your upper body strong. The cables are 600+ feet long – 2 football fields at a 45 degree angle.  You want to use your legs, but it’s a PULL up.  Heck 40,000 people a year do it – so can you!!  And remember to have fun!

     Tune in tomorrow – we’ll talk about how they install the cables each spring.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The crowd had rushed together, tryin’ to keep warm.  Still the rain kept pourin’. Fallin’ on my ears. And I wonder, still I wonder- Who’ll stop the rain.” – Credence Clearwater Revival

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Rainy Days and Mondays

March 23, 2011

 Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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First off, if you are in need of Half Dome permits for May / June, keep checking the above link. I am seeing a few with extras who want to swap.  Be creative and don’t be shy.  We still have 2+ months for folk’s plans to change. It’s still snowing at the park. Since I was driving up – but can’t now, I get 3 bonus days to work on stuff around the house!

     Come by REI Brentwood Thurs night at 7pm if you want a shot of Half Dome on the rocks. Shaken not stirred. REI has a new policy for evening talks. Advanced registration is highly recommended; go to the website of the store.  If you register, they will hold a seat for you until 7 pm. After that, any unclaimed seats will be released. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed.

     If you have an hour to kill this week, I suggest you listen and watch the Yosemite Conservancy webinar (“A New Season of Projects in Yosemite” ) hosted by President Mike Tollefson. He was the Yosemite Superintendent before he retired a couple years ago. You need to go to the YC site <HERE> then look at the bottom right and click to crank it on. Sorry, I had no clue they were doing it live last week, so this is a recording.  He gives a good recap of their work over the years and there is a lot of info.  The 2011 projects are reviewed. Youth and Tenaya Lake are the “signature” projects.

     Too bad the Forum got cancelled. I’ve asked if the park super, Don Neubacher could do a webinar of the annual State of the Park speech. At least an email to get  updated on projects. The Merced River Plan workshop was also cancelled so they are running behind in their “Outreach.”

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Talkin’ to myself and feeling old. Sometimes I’d like to quit; Nothing ever seems to fit; Hangin’ around, nothing to do but frown; Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” – The Carpenters

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

BULLETIN

March 23, 2011

The Yosemite Conservancy  has cancelled the Spring Forum this weekend due to snow at the park. It will not be rescheduled. The next event is the Fall Gathering. If you have paid the registration fee you can donate it to YC or get a refund by calling Adriana at 415-434-8446 x329. To get a refund for your room, contact DNC at 801-559-5044.