Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Trip Home

This is a panorama photo of the White Mountains. I have no idea why they are called the White Mountains. The peak with the clouds over it is a 14er. I will be hiking to the top of it next spring. The oldest trees in the world are on this mountain. The Bristlecone Pine. 4,600 years old.

I climbed to the top of a big rock to get the some shots of the mountains.I decided to shoot an elevated shot of my rig.

Can you guess what this is? Nope. It's not a sunrise. Nope. It's not a sunset. Nope. It's not a forest fire. Nope. It's not a hydrogen bomb exploding. Out in the middle of the Nevada desert at midnight, I set my camera on the hood of my truck and did a 30 second time exposure of the city of Las Vegas from 200 miles away. The light even reflects on my hood in the bottom of the image from 200 miles away. That is some serious light polution.

A cool tree at sunset in Utah

The fall colors in Rifle, Colorado were amazing.

More Rifle color.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ready to Roll

My rig is packed and I am ready to go cross country starting October 12. I am headed home to Tennessee. I plan to stop and do some hiking and canoeing along the way. Hammer down!

Season Recap

And so comes an end to another successful season in Yosemite as a Ranger. I refer to it as “successful” because I am still alive and I survived it. I learned a lot this summer and experienced some interesting adventures. I even observed some rare and extraordinary wildlife activity.

All of my stuff is packed into my rig and I am ready to travel. I start a class in a couple of days before I leave the park, so I am sitting in my empty cabin writing a wrap-up of the season for you.

I arrived in Yosemite two months early, April 1st. I had been accepted into Horse Patrol School, a six week long course that started April 4. I was the oldest guy and only the second interpretive Ranger to be accepted into the school. The instructor knew she was taking a chance with me. Things were going very well until week two when I got out of sink with the horse. I came down as the horse went up and we met in the saddle. I felt a sudden extreme muscle scamp in my back and I immediately knew what happened. I fired up an old injury from decades ago. No more horse school for old Dave. Bummer.

It was a good summer. I learned a lot and had fun too. It does get lonely up here in the mountains alone in my cabin. It will be good to return home to see my little family. I will be back next year though.

April and May brought big snow storms each week. We tried to open Glacier Point Road on time Memorial weekend but we had 8 inches of new snow the Thursday night before. It took us two more days to open the road and then there were 8 foot walls of snow on each side of the road. The scene was impressive.

The following are some high points of my summer. My two favorite categories of high points are wildlife contact and hiking to mountain tops.

  • I experienced several close wildlife contacts. One in particular was extreme. The most extreme was Bear Kill. My Bear Buddy hike was pretty cool too and I will never forget the Golden Eagle who followed me for days.

  • Mountains…lots of mountains. I climbed a few but not as many as I wanted to this summer. It’s difficult to say which mountain was my favorite. They all have their redeeming characteristics.

    o Mount Dana was the highest 13,057 feet. It was amazing. I also spent some time with a rare animal, the Pica.

    o Mount Hoffmann, 10,850 feet, was special because it is located in the center of the park and you can see everything.

    o Half Dome, 8826 feet, was the most popular hike, but I was disappointed so I came down. This is an insanely dangerous hike.

    o Clouds Rest, 10,000 feet, was incredible. That was an extreme 15 mile day. I will never forget looking down the barrel of the path of the glaciers in Tenaya Canyon from Pluto’s Point. This hike was special too because I was able to perform a memorial service for a family who lost a daughter last year on a tricky section of this mountain.

    o Voglesang, 12,500 feet, was my longest hike, 25 miles. I almost turned back after about 4 hours, but I kept going. I’m glad I did. This hike really tested me. I learned what I can do on this hike.

    o Ostrander Lake, 10,000 feet. I survived “Heart Attach Hill”. The lake was beautiful.

    o Mount Whitney, 14,491 feet, will have to wait until next for ole Ranger Dave.

    o Tenaya Peak will have to wait until next year. I got snookered on my first attempt. I have researched another approach and I think I can make it next time.
Other interesting high points of the summer:

  • I met many interesting people from all over the world.

  • I really enjoy the formal presentations I do in the evenings, the Sunset Talks. I wear my class A uniform and talk to between 200 and 600 people at Glacier Point. It’s fun.

  • I made some improvements and added some new topics to the five trails I guide. I enjoy watching the light go on when I teach people about nature.

  • I did a little touring of my own.

    o I visited Bodie. In 1870, a 12 year old girl wrote in a letter…”Goodbye God, I am moving to Bodie.”

    o I visited Death Valley, the lowest point in the USA.

    o I visited the Bristlecone Pine forest. The oldest tree in the world lives here. 4,600 years old.

    o Mono Lake

  • I expanded my bear talks outside the park to include Camp Wawona and Tenaya Lodge.

  • I was first on the scene to several medical and trauma incidents and made a difference in people’s lives.

Life is good! ;-)

Fall in Yosemite

This little guy lives around my cabin. This scene is a good indicator that winter is not far away. For the past couple of weeks I was frequently awakened early in the morning by large heavy Fir cones hitting the ground. This little squirrel goes up 150 feet into the top of the trees and cuts down the cones. They make a huge noise when they hit the ground. I moved my truck to another location so he wouldn't hit it. After he drops a dozen cones or so, he moves all of them to a central location close to his underground den, disects them like you see in this photo and carries the good stuff down to his den. This is the same squirrel that ripped up my chair.

Here are more pictures that indicate fall is here.

Lots of snow already on October 3rd.

Glacier Point

Glacier Point is my work place. There are no glaciers here anymore. They have been gone for a while. Glacier Point received it's name because glaciers formed this point by moving around the mountain and carving out the point. I rove these sidewalks almost every day just talking to people, answering questions, performing short talks and formal evening presentations. Glacier Point enjoys about a million visitors a year. That is a lot of people to greet. It's fun. I like it. Here are some pictures of the point.

Panorama view of Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

The Geology Hut with lots of interpretive geology information.

There are usually hundreds of people out at the point each night for sunset.

Redtailed Hawk

This handson gentleman lives around Glacier Point where I live and work. I have the privelage of seeing him almost every day. I think he is a poor hunter but he sure is healthy. Maybe I am wrong. I've never seen him catch anything. When he is around all of the other small animals vanish.


Panorama view of Half Dome

This is not in Yosemite but it is close by in Sequoia National Park. Mount Whitney is the peak in the background to the right.