Archive for April, 2011

Merced River Plan – User Capacity Minutes

April 30, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     Friday I attended the subject meeting via webinar. It was a marathon all-day session. About 60 citizens attended in person at the park and 15 on line. Many NPS were also there. There was a parade of “experts” who mostly laid out the protocol for the processes they will use to determine alternatives. Not a whole lot of beef – just how they planned to do the research. The phone connection did not work yet again and I had to leave the command post, so I do not have info from the afternoon sessions. They broke the in-house group up into smaller work groups that were given time to come up with their analysis of User Capacity.  

    The NPS planners (meaning consultants)  are going to determine what amount of use the Merced corridor can tolerate but not impact the Outstandingly Remarkable Values. Read the past few blogs to get up to speed on ORVs.  They are using previous studies at Grand Canyon and other parks to guide their methodology. The Wild and Scenic River is a ¼ band beyond theriver banks,, but because the Valley (wall to wall) affects things – that is the scope.

     There are many open issues. Will the gates close when XXXX cars pass through? That should relieve impacts. If so, what if the people in those cars all stream up the Mist Trail and cause heavy impact  there? What has priority?  Standards need to be developed in advance against which behavior can be measured. So, if 2 ORVs are impacted by different level of people, then the lower number will be the line.

    In the preso about Standards and Water Quality, it was said that the park water quality (an ORV) is “excellent.” And that 235 “e-coli” per 100 ml of river water was acceptable. Huh??  Ever hear of Girardia and Cryptosporidium?  TREAT your excellent water.  My question about this was answered with a mumble to send me to a forthcoming report. Click <HERE> to see the slides from Friday.   

     In other news, a National Park Ranger will be stationed in Groveland this season. He will be posted at the neat coffee shop/nursery Mountain Sage. Visitors a can buy gate passes in advance and then use the express lane to enter the park. He/shw willalso anser questions to save you time. And have a SMOOOOOTHIE there. Tell themRangerRick sent you – they sell my book there. Must be a nice place.

 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “White collared conservative flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me. They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die,but I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high. Wave on, wave on.” – If 6 were 9; Jimi Hendrix Experience

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

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Snow situation on Tioga and Glacier Pt Roads

April 29, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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 The following is a guest blog submitted by Sonke K. of Hamburg, Germany. 

     As the Half Dome hiking season is approaching, the anticipation is rising and so are the temperatures in the Yosemite Valley. However, there is still a lot of snow in the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite is facing the second largest snowpack in the last 30 years (178% water content of the snowpack as a percent of average). Partly thanks to a late March winter storm that also triggered the rare event of a full park closure. 

     During winter, two of Yosemite’s most popular roads remain closed: Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road. Both offer access to many wonderful hikes in case the cables are still down (or you couldn’t scoop up a Half Dome permit) in case you are looking for an alternative. Tioga Road plays a vital role if you want to get to the east side of the Sierra Nevada (e.g. to enjoy a Wild Buffalo Meatloaf sandwich at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining or if you have plans to go from Yosemite to Death Valley via 395).

     Before the roads can be opened some major plowing needs to done. Each year Yosemite National Park roads crews assess the Tioga  and Glacier Point Roads for current conditions and avalanche danger. A Tioga and Glacier Point Road Plowing Update is issued on a regular basis usually starting mid-April. The first report is in and there’s still 10 ft of snow on both roads. Here’s where things stand:

    Tioga Road – Work began this week at the closure east of Crane Flat intersection and consisted of snow cats and dozers moving lifts of snow to reduce snow levels for the rotary plows. Snow levels are still at record-high levels. Work will continue Monday through Saturday, weather and conditions permitting. Also see photo below.

     Glacier Point Road – Deep snow, up to 10 feet, equipment breakdowns, and fresh snow fall marked the first week of spring snow removal on Glacier Point Road. With a slow start as a result of the late-March snow event, which required resources to reopen other park roads and facilities including Mariposa Grove, work clearing the road was delayed. The large rotary snowplows were all inoperable at times during the week, so progress was slow. The road is plowed to pavement up to Summit Meadow, one mile east of Badger Pass. Work will continue Monday through Thursday.

     In other areas, Mariposa Grove  road opened on Friday, April 14 after multiple heavy snow events occurred after the initial snow removal was performed (work had been completed for an April 1 opening but another major winter storm delayed opening). Crane Flat Lookout and Campground/Snow Play Area were completed and equipment moved to Tioga Road. Snow depths required a dozer to reduce the snow level in front of the rotary plow (this has not been the case for many seasons).  

     In 2005 the snowpack had 163% (Tioga Road opened Jun 24, Glacier Point opened May 25 that year).  So if you are planning a hike from a trailhead off Tioga and/or Glacier Point Road or you have to cross the Tioga Road (check YNP website for alternative routes) please plan accordingly and keep an eye on the plowing updates. You can also check with Caltrans for latest Tioga Road conditions click  <HERE>. Safe travel and happy hiking!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “He who limps is still walking.” – Stanislaw J. Lec 

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Merced River Plan – User Capacity Workshop

April 28, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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The Mighty Merced

     This Friday, April 29, Yosemite National Park is conducting an  all day workshop to explore user capacity and the Wild and Scenic River Act. Before you snooze off, this is important. After the 1997 flood, a lawsuit driven to have the park state a finite number of humans allowed in the park led to an injunction that stopped all rebuilding construction. The settlement required the park to address the number of users and ways to mitigate the HUGE crowds. Ergo, they are now developing the Merced River Plan. Experts will define user capacity and show how it is being addressed in the planning effort. You can attend via webinar. Although it is all day, I suggest you be on-line for the first part for sure. Then join in as you can during the day. If you don’t – do NOT complain in the future with whatever they come up with. Who knows, the gates may close when 4,348 people pass through.

     Go to yose.webex.com to register. Their phone connection has not been working, but try that also. Presentations will begin promptly at 8:30 am. Copies of the agenda, exercises, and other workshop materials are available <HERE>.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “White collared conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic fingers at me. They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die, but I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high. Wave on, wave on.” – If 6 were 9, Jimi Hendrix Experience

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Get Cables Permits May 1

April 27, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

To request, trade or give permits, Click HERE.

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Half Dome Cables Permits

For August Hikes

Sunday May 1

07:00:00 PDT

www.recreation.gov

 

** No Scalpers **

 

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “He who hesitates is lost.” – A wise old man

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Alex Honnold in National Geographic

April 26, 2011
 

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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    Funny, whenever I put Alex Honnold’s name in my blog I get a ton of hits. So Alex Honnold, Alex Honnold , Alex Honnold. We just talked about his appearance in OUTSIDE magazine. Must be a lot of fans following him and googling  his name. I hope you are not getting tired of him – he’s a unique guy. For newbies, his major claim to fame is his under 3-hour FREE SOLO up the Face of Half Dome in 2008.

    Now the May issue of National Geographic magazine features him on the cover. They have an in-depth story about Yosemite climbers. He is on the cover!! Big time.

 See Red shirt on ledge

   

     I have a question: In the Banff Film festival DVD – Alex is shown going up HD win a work shirt. He is photographed standing on the same ledge of Half Dome …. If you look at the cover, he is wearing different clothes. Hmm is this a posed shot? Was he lowered down for the photo?  Enquiring minds want to know.

  Green/white shirt on same ledge

     In the same issue, they show 4 men BASE jumping off Half Dome. Illegal. Hmmm when one goes BOINK into the face the game will be really over.

 

                                               Catch us if you can

    FYI – for you weather channel fans, I was contacted by NBC/Universal. They actually film the segments shown on the Weather Channel. They wanted me to escort a crew around Mirror Lake for reflective shots of Half Dome this week. I don’t understand why – what’s the connection to the weather? Well, I was committed to giving 2 talks this week, so I turned it down. Aarrgghh. My path to fame and fortune gone!  I hope more than 8 show up at REI Stockton tonight and Sports Basement Sunnyvale Wed night.  If you watch the Weather Channel holler if you see the Yosemite feature. I’ll ask them when it will air and let you  know. I honor commitments. Sigh

Unrelated thought worth quoting: Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” – Wallace Stevens

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Those wacky Swedes

April 25, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     Today let’s see what may interest us in Kolarbyn, Sweden. How about this forest lodge with 12 bare-bones huts. Located two hours outside of Stockholm near the shores of misty Lake Skärsjön, you can rent a, well, a TREE. (Go, Stanford!)

     They come with two hard platforms for beds that are covered in sheepskin rugs. For heat you get a wood-burning fireplace. No electricity so you’ll read your John Muir book by candle light. Oh and no plumbing – take a bath in the  nearby stream.  It’s not all roughing it. There  is a sauna in the middle of the lake. Chop some wood and bring it to 104F. Book now. Click <HERE>. On anyone’s bucket list?

You can now view a replay of the webinar of the Merced River Plan (MRP) Hydrology, Biology, Geology Workshop held on Friday, April 22.   Click <HERE>.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite… The grandest of all special temples of Nature.” – John Muir

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Movie Magic

April 24, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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    I just added a lot more Half Dome presentation dates to my schedule.  Stockton REI on Tuesday and Sports Basement in Sunnyvale on Wednesday . . . FREE . . . C U there.

    I bought the DVD of the “Caine Mutiny.” A World War 2 movie made in 1954 starring Humphrey Bogart, Fred McMurray and a host of stars. The story is a good one about a Skipper who goes bonkers and is relieved of command by his crew. Anyway, in the story an ensign takes leave in San Francisco and takes his girl to Yosemite. There are GREAT shots of the FIREFALL off Glacier Point.

     Although the images are only two 3-seconds shots, it is in full Technicolor and really shows us that it was like in motion. The 9 pm event went from 1872 to 1968. I never saw it and many of the older folks in my Yosemite talks and classes mention having been there as kids. You need to get the DVD, NetFlix or whatever and see it if you are a hard-core Yosemite fan.

     Other neat things in the scene: The actors get off  horses in broad daylight then just a few minutes later they look up at Glacier point and hear “LET THE FIRE FALL!!”  – this was yelled every night at 9 pm …. gee, much sun to actually be 9 pm. Next morning, they are on the patio of the Ahwahnee Hotel and the actress points off camera to the east and says that  . . today she wants to “hike to top of that mountain.” It’s gotta be Half Dome.  

     In the Special Features commentary, the speakers say it was “filmed at Yellowstone because the director  (long dead) wanted a wide vista to add to the movie and the new Technicolor process. Dork – It’s YOSEMITE – the other “Y” park.   Anyway, add it to your collection.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” – Aldous Huxley

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

The Third Dimension

April 23, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     Our German Technology Division has found a newSmart Phone app you might enjoy. It is called “Route3D Yosemite Lite” and is a 3D map of the central Sierra Nevada featuring highly detailed topographic maps and aerial photography. When you download it you can see routes that appear like movies and you go over topographic terrain.

     You can “fly” the Half Dome hike. Elevation profiles let you see elevations as you move. The developer is Eastridge Technology and the app has been out since October. It will run on Android, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Also on a Windows/Mac browser if you get the required plug-ins. To learn more click <HERE>.

For anyone living near Stockton. I’ll be giving my Half Dome presentation at REI there this Tuesday April 26 at 7 pm. I’m at Sports Basement in Sunnyvale on Wed – 6 pm. Be there or be rectangular.

A national ABC radio news story today talking about HIGH gas prices said the highest in California was at Yosemite at $4.99. It didn’t say if the was regular or premium. I assume it was the Crane Flat station. But whenever I go by the El Portal SHELL station it is about 80 cents higher that most others. Heck the Cheveron station near my adobe is at $4.23 for regular. Good time to get your bike out of the attic.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” – AC/DC

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – http://www.HikeHalfDome.com

MRP Workshop Recap

April 22, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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        Permit exchange is working – just be patient. This comment came in from Doug: Thank you, Mr. Half Dome, for providing this forum.  We were able to make a trade for the permits we need and give our extras to others in need. All good!

I attended the Yosemite Merced River Plan Workshop via webinar today. The WeBEX technology was generally good. My wifi connection to my home DSL was a little jerky on the video but audio was OK. I was disappointed that my phone connection never happened. I got logged in OK but the audio never came over the phone. I was therefore tethered to my desk as I participated. The host was a man named Jana McCabe. I believe he is a facilitating consultant.  He did a good job moving things along and asking internet participants for input.  I have no idea how many we on-line. My ID # was 155 but I think it was far less than that. I chimed in with a couple questions and said how much we apprecated the webinar format. There was no mention of a replay. 2 Hours live was enough.

This is important because the whole character of the Valley may change dramatically from wall to wall. Superintendent Don Neubacher gave a brief introduction and then Planning Manager, Kathleen Morse, gave an overview of the program and milestones. The whole program got kicked off in January 2010. By fall of 2012 they hope to have workshops on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  More info for your reading pleasure is found <HERE>.

Greg Stock the Park Geologist gave a general overview of the main Outstandingly Remarkable Value elements. They are Hydraulic, Biologic and Geologic.

Sue Beatty is the Park Restoration Ecologist and she gave a history of the Merced use and management over the years. There was significant widening of the river as the banks eroded. Conifer trees totally overran smaller ones. The Sentinel Hotel used to dump raw untreated sewage into the river and that’s why all the campgrounds were located upstream!

Jim Roche is the Park Hydrologist talked about the effects of large wood in the river causing dams. He said there are 2 aquifers in the Valley. The deepest is about 2,000 feet underground and provides water to the park. I didn’t know that.

Lisa Acree is a Botany Program Manager who talked about the spread of trees over the years. Galen Clark in 1884 said there was 75% less open land than in 1855.

If you attended, what did you think? The next one is the 26th – Transportation. Could affect how cars and parking are dealt with.

Unrelated thought worth quoting:Walking isn’t a lost art – one must, by some means, get to the garage.” – Evan Esar

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

Alternative Hike / Webinar Apr 22

April 21, 2011

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     For folks coming to do HD but don’t have a permit – COME anyway … here is an alternate hike that will be just as hard but without the cables: 

 Happy Isles to JMT  to Mist Trail up to Nevada Fall then over to Panorama Trail and up to Glacier Point and then down 4 mile trail to the Valley. 

     Tomorrow begins the first of several webinars called the Merced River Plan Spring Workshops. Now there is NO EXCUSE for not participating in the planning process. You can also attend in person at the venue indicated.  I expect to hear a mob on the line and not crickets!! Go to yose.webex.com, to register.  So don’t bitch later if you don’t participate. 

April 22   1-4 pm Hydrology/Biology/Geology Workshop, Yosemite Lodge, Garden Terrace

April 26 1-4 pm Transportation Workshop, Yosemite Lodge, Garden Terrace

April 27 1-4 pm Cultural Resources Workshop, Yosemite Valley Auditorium

April 29 8 am-4:30 pm User Capacity Workshop, Yosemite Lodge Garden Terrace

May 13 9 am-2 pm Science Forum, Yosemite Lodge, Garden Terrace

May 25 1-4 pm Recreation Workshop, Yosemite Valley Auditorium 

Unrelated thought worth quoting:  “When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body.  I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com