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Posts Tagged ‘yosemite’

Half Dome Hike Details That the Photos Don’t Convey

July 24th, 2009 2 comments

Communicative, sure, but photos are inexact and not necessarily comprehensive. A few notes:

  • Woke up at 2:45, on the road at 2:55, parking at the trailhead parking lot at 4:30.
  • This is where it would’ve been nice to have been camping somewhere closer to the actual valley.
  • Everyone talks about the cables. More people should talk about how long this hike is. By my route, it was around 17 miles, and a lot of those are steep miles.
  • Almost 5,000 feet in elevation gain (!).
  • The hike up wasn’t crowded per se, but you were never alone on the trail for long.
  • The lower half of the return journey *did* get crowded per se, with all the shuttle bus partisans making their Big Hike up to Vernal Falls and back.
  • Horses should not be allowed on hiking trails. Or, if they are, then hikers should be allowed to shoot them on sight just so there’s an opportunity for retribution.
  • The hike is more about pride and accomplishment than it is about fun. It’s too long, too steep, too uphill, too early, and too hot to be all that much fun. (It’s pretty, though.)
  • My car and food were situated (bear boxes!) and I was hiking to the trailhead by 4:45. The people coming up the trail who were probably 60-90 minutes behind me were clearly miserable from the heat.
  • Hiking in the dark (about the first half-hour of my hike) isn’t as fun as it’s made out to be.
  • I didn’t bring a hat on the hike — I had three in the truck. I blame waking up at 2:45.
  • If I were ever to have to do this hike again, I’d start at Glacier Point — makes it a couple miles shorter, deprives it of 1,000 feet of elevation gain, and adds a waterfall to the trip, without taking away any of the scenic parts of the Happy Isles starting point. Only downside is that it then becomes a shuttle hike and I’m not sure the park operates a bus to Glacier Point from the valley.

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Half Dome, Full Hike Photo Report (Day 10)

July 23rd, 2009 1 comment

IMG00061

half dome hike in the dark

muir trail merced river crossing

half dome view from trail

nevada falls and liberty cap

vernal falls in morning light

silver apron between falls

nevada falls from river

half dome at distance

half dome granite trail

little yosemite valley

half dome cable section

looking up at the cables

cable section final deliberations

top of hike

half dome trail back down

chipmunk eating grass

other emerald pool

nevada falls in bright sun

silver apron tourist playground

mist trail below vernal falls

Checklist of Clicheed Yosemite Valley Photos! (Day 9)

July 23rd, 2009 3 comments

Figured I should play self-locomotion-unable tourist for a day. No hiking, no rafting, no biking, no swimming, just riding the shuttle bus around the valley and taking the most typical photos I could find. For a day. For one very hot, very crowded day (it was basically like being in Mexico City, but with waterfalls).

Here ‘goes.

yosemite black bear on roadThe blurry bear-on-road photo: check!

yosemite falls merced riverLong-distance shot of Upper Yosemite Falls: check!

yosemite falls and selfPhoto of bus-riding tourist in front of Yosemite Falls: check! (Check out the long hair — lousy hippie!)

yosemite falls pathwayPhoto of other tourist(s) taking photos of Yosemite Falls: check!

yosemite washington columnShot of the river, because there’s a river there: check!

yosemite el capitanPhoto of El Capitan taken from the cleverly named “Valley View” turn-out: check!

yosemite tunnel viewPhoto of tourist taken from the tunnel viewpoint: check! (Oh, sorry, “vista point”.)

yosemite bridal veil fallsTypical shot of Bridal Veil Falls, with oddly cropped co-tourists: check!

half dome and falls from glacier pointPhoto that tries to capture everything in Yosemite Valley all at once, as taken from Glacier Point: check!

yosemite half domePhoto of Half Dome by itself, as if to accentuate its perceived profundity: check!

105 degrees, wall-to-wall people. Yosemite is fantastically beautiful, no doubt, and the valley presents it all on a very large scale. But man, the crowds…! Vince and Tammy recommended the Hetch Hetchy area, Sri talked about Tuolumne Meadows — I’m guessing I’d head there instead of the valley if I’m ever in the area again.

bkd

Rafting the Tuolumne: We Got Swimmers! (But Mostly Paddlers) (Day 8)

July 22nd, 2009 2 comments

When I got to Shalini and Raj’s loft in San Francisco, it turned out they and some of their SF friends were planning on rafting in Yosemite at the same time I was planning on being there. Then they invited me on their rafting trip with them. This is the story of that trip.

Actually, more just another blog post with photos, not so much a story. Trying to find the meet-up place for where the trip was supposed to begin *might* be a story, and props to Shalini for keeping the faith that I would make it on time (or close enough), a faith based on the fact that she and Duncan and I had found each other in the middle Cologne with, well, no fall-back options or connectivity possibilities. And it was well-placed faith. But probably still not much of a story.

Anyway, Chander-Bhan and their gang apparently try to one-up themselves with the next-harder rafting trip every year. This is the third year they’ve done it, so the river was selected because it was Class V. I think the Buller River in New Zealand might have been Class V — the level of death-likelihood seemed similar.

There is no plot line to this post and no amount of random fact-regurgitation on my part is going to change that. May as well get on with photos. Please note that the photos are not of the good parts of the trip. During the good parts, you’re usually paddling, holding on, and getting a face full of water, any of which preclude good photography.

tuolumne river team photoOne of these kids is not like the others. Actually two aren’t. But on the plus side, I now know how to say “you have a head wound” in Punjabi, Gujarati, and Tamil.

tolumne river raft crewSri, Dennis, me — 60% of our rafting crew. I’m guessing Shaan’s swimming somewhere and our guide is smoking a joint in an air pocket under the raft. Image is slanty in order to imply something’s happening — like in a Bourne movie.

tuolumne valley raftingThe wet lens probably conveys something accurately.

tuolumne lunch break raftsLunch break. This happened just right after the wildest part of the river — which would’ve been a better photo, if only I wasn’t paddling, holding on, and getting a face full of water.

tuolumne cliff jumpingThe bad part is that this isn’t Sri — my photo of him didn’t take until he splashed (apologies!). Cool shadow, though, IIDSSM.

Other random facts that don’t make this post a story:

  • The run starts below the Hetch Hetchy reservoir and is only made possible by whoever it is releasing water out of the reservoir.
  • The scariest part of the trip was the bus ride down the steep, one-lane dirt road to the put-in point.
  • Despite being Class V, it didn’t seem all that daunting to me. OTOH, I suppose anything that you survive readily enough without cracking your head on anything seems un-daunting in retrospect.
  • Still, rafting down the Skagit is going to be like the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland by comparison. Or maybe the Tuolumne was Jungle Cruise and Skagit will be It’s a Small World.
  • Ours was the only boat without any accidental swimmers.
  • But we did seem to get stuck on rocks a lot.
  • I still wonder whether the accidental swimmers don’t get more out of the experience.
  • I got a pretty good sunburn on my legs — next time, wear pants!

Fine with me.

bkd

Live at the Fresno Dome! One Night Only! (Day 7)

July 22nd, 2009 1 comment

It turned out that my campsite was pretty close to Fresno Dome, which, turns out, isn’t a sports/concert venue in the Central Valley, but, rather, is this:

fresno_dome_forest_service_roadLike I said, Fresno Dome, which is impressive especially to those unfamiliar with granite domes.

Turns out you can hike to it and the trailhead was only three miles up the road from my campsite (3 miles on that road = 20 minutes driving time, unless you were that guy in the white Excursion who started fishtailing trying to slow down enough to get into his own lane and not hit me on his way down, in which case I’m guessing 15 minutes). People at the trailhead said it was only a half-mile to the top. They were off by a half-mile, but still: short hike. Thus:

fresno_dome_trail_sierraThe trail heading up to the dome.

fresno_dome_me_at_topThe view from the top of the dome — which, unfortunately, does not include me for all visitors.

And I didn’t hike it at night. It was in the evening (note the shadows to self-verify).

Only three days behind on posting now!

bkd

PS, I stayed the night before and the morning of Day 7 in Stockton and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how cool it was (aside from being 126 degrees in the shade). Friendliest Dennys wait staff I’ve ever encountered. Plus, when I went to Target, I got apologized to twice for minor, unavoidable personal space violations. Twice! It was like not even being in California.

Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,

Kelty Meadow Campground, Sierra National Forest, Near (?!) Yosemite

July 22nd, 2009 4 comments

Check out the in-campground wildlife!

Good (we’re talking about the campground here):

  • Only nine campsites.
  • Pretty Good Privacy (although, honestly, encryption was lacking)
  • A lot of shade and trees.
  • Near at least one fun, short hike.

Bad (also the campground):

  • No dog fights (I should probably do a write-up on my Big Sur campground…).
  • No cops coming after drunks from Fontana.
  • So much shade that my solar hot water heater had no chance.
  • NOT VERY CLOSE TO YOSEMITE!!! — problematic in that I chose the site due to its (apparent) proximity to the park. Bad call. Hour and forty-five to the valley, including a half-hour drive to get to the campsite from Hwy. 49, a four-wheeled slog that I’ll be having nightmares about for weeks.

I probably won’t have nightmares about the drive. But it was a pain, especially when the sun was setting and therefore in your eyes. And the campground is way too far away from Yosemite to use it as a homebase for a park visit. It’d be a good place to stay if you’re from the Bay Area or something and just want an overnighter in a woodsy place near an easy hike, though. Which doesn’t describe my use of it: ah well.

bkd