Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bad Bears

There are more bad bears then usual in our area this year. They have attempted to break into our cabins for food. Not a good thing. I have been issued a mineral oil paintball gun to haze the bears and we are trying to trap them to examine them and tag them. Bears will be bears. The bear population is increasing and the food supply is diminishing because of two consecutive winters of significantly reduced snowfall.

Mineral oil paintball gun used to haze bears.
Mineral ball bullets

Maybe we are not catching the bears because it says "Bear Trap" on the side.

People I meet

These pictures are just a few of the people I meet during the course of my day as a ranger. I love my job. There are still good people in this old world.

The gentleman on the left is a Lt. Commander in the US Navy and is being deployed to Behran soon as a helicopter pilot for search and rescue. He and his family are vacationing together before he leaves. It's good to be in the presence of greatness. Thank you for serving our country sir. I salute you.

I love Illinois

Christmas tree growers in South Carolina. Wife from Columbia.
Good people. We had fun together.

Norway - Norway - Me - Brazil - Chile

I met this father and son climbing team on the sidewalk the day after they climber Half Dome behind me. They climbed it in two days. The father is 67 years young and has arthritis but is still climbing. What an inspiration for all of us. See their climbing pictures below.

Congratulations gentlemen!

How Well Do You Know Yosemite?

How Well Do You Know Yosemite?
by Ranger David Rose

1. highest point
2. first white man custodian
3. overlooks Half Dome
4. geographic center of the park
5. famous photographer
6. original valley native home
7. largest tree
8. eastern pass
9. first waterfall as you enter the valley
10. protect the park and people in the park
11. a tall waterfall in the Merced River
12. portion of a mountain above a glacier
13. "Half Dome is the only prominent feature that never has been and never will be trodden by human foot."
14. large moving body of dense ice

1. species of bear in the park
2. famous Yosemite naturalist, writer and activist
3. largest monolith in the world
4. dome positioned to watch for fire
5. a central lake
6. chief of the Ahwahneechee
7. highest waterfalls in North America
8. presidential point
9. no longer a lake
10. water reserve
11. common bird
12. species of giant trees
13. high altitude rabbit
14. sheep in the high elevations
15. cute stripped mammal
16. sound of a big waterfall

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Ranger Duties

I love my job as a ranger. 

This is our resident beggar coyote. He stands by the side of the road waiting for a handout. I'm tempted to hang a sign around his neck that says "Broke, Homeless and Hungry".

We rangers do sunset talks among the visitors at Glacier Point almost every evening. This is my veteran partner Ranger Dick Ewart. 

Primitive life in the wilderness can still be good on occasion. 

One of the best aspects of my job is having the opportunity to meet people from all over our little planet. This is a delightful couple from Taiwan who are studying in San Francisco. They couldn't get enough. I think they asked more questions than anybody has. We had fun. I love being a ranger. 

Colorful Evening

It's normal to view sunset color on Half Dome and the mountains each evening, but the sunset a couple of night ago was special. We had cloud cover all day in into sunset that offered an opportunity for more color. We even experienced and enjoyed a full rainbow and color in the clouds to the west. Awesome evening. Wish you could have seen it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Remembering Pike

Pike was a mountain guide in Yosemite in the 1880's. He traveled all the way cross country on his pony from Tennessee to personally witness this beautiful area. He loved Yosemite so much he made this his home. Pike was a kind man. He made such a favorable impression on a visitor that when he died, she traveled back to Yosemite to commission the carving of a head stone for Pike. She said Pike was the kindest man she had ever met. 

I visit Pikes grave each year to respect him as a fellow guide, a fellow Tennessean and place a flower on his grave. He was one of the first guides in Yosemite. I want to be like Pike. Thank you Pike. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Alpine Wild Flowers

Cat Paws
These little flowers actually do feel like feline paws. There are little rounds of furry peddles on each stem. During the day the stems of flowers stand up off the ground. At night they lay down. 

Cat Paws
Called shield leaf because of the shape of its leaf. The seeds can be dried and used for seasoning. Medicinal purpose is as a diuretic and treatment for bronchitis. Notice the bee in the picture.


Mountain Pride Penstemon
Lives in dry high rocky talus.
Mountain Pride Penstemon

Blooms in spring and grows berries soon after. The berries can be made into tea. The berry looks like a little apple. I will be writing more about the Manzanita later in the summer. Notice the bee in the center of the picture. The bees were very busy that day.

Old Mans Beard
These tall stalk plants flower in yellow for a short time in the spring and then in the summer change to a puffy array of white seeds that blow away in the wind (much like a dandelion). Hence the name old mans beard.

Old Man's Beard

Staghorn Lichen

Staghorn lichen is named as it is because someone thought it looked like deer antlers. In europe it is called Wolf lichen because, poisons were extracted from it to kill wolves there.

Staghorn lichen attaches itself to trees just for a place to live. It is not parasitic and does not hurt the tree. Staghorn lives on one side of the tree. I am not sure why yet. There is no consistency to it that I can see.

Notice that staghorn does not live on the bottom of the tree. It does not live in the snow level. The snow and ice moving on the tree will shear off the lichen from the tree. That's kind of interesting in a way. In the spring we can walk the forest and see how deep the snow was that winter.

Staghorn Lichen

Staghorn Lichen

Staghorn Lichen


When I am guiding a hike and I ask my group what this colorful stuff is on the rock, most people say it is moss. It is called lichen. Lichen is an organism that is made up of two independent organisms. One is fungus and the other is algae. They live together in a symbiotic relationship to help each other survive. Algae requires moisture to survive and fungus is very hardy and requires less water to survive. What little moisture the fungus needs can be acquired from the algae if external sources are not available. The fungus lives on the outside to protect the algae from evaporation and the algae lives safely between the fungus and the rocks.

Lichen is very hardy. It can live successfully on the poles of the earth, in the deserts, basically anywhere. Recently a French scientist sent lichen to space on the shuttle for an experiment. He exposed the lichen to raw space for 14 days and returned it to earth for examination. After being exposed to sub 200 degree temps, radiation from the sun and the absence of oxygen and water, the lichen was unchanged.

Some cultures use lichen for medicinal purposes, some use it for dyes. Some animals eat it. If the lichen is a bright color, it is poisonous.

There is a little story about lichen: "Freddy Fungus lived out in the forest. Alice Algae lived over by the creek. Well, one day they took a lichen to each other and decided to move in together even though they were living in syn-mbiosis. Eventually they did get married though, but now the marriage is on the rocks."




Cool Jeffrey Pine

On top of Sentinel Dome is a very famous Jeffrey Pine tree. It is one of the most photographed trees in the world. You can see it here with this cowboy. It is dead and on the ground now but it is still very popular. It was 425 years old when it died during a serious drought in 1976.

I told you all of that to tell you about a cousin tree that lives not far from that famous tree. It is also a Jeffrey Pine and is dwarfed and blown over by the wind much like the original tree. This tree is smart or lucky, however you want to look at it.

Most trees don't have an opportunity to grow on Sentinel Dome because of snow and ice shear. Ice shear takes place during the winter and the spring when snow and ice moves over the rock from the force of the wind, gravity, or ice melt and the combination of all three. Nothing has an opportunity to grow.

This tree is lucky because it planted its roots in a flat level ledge with high rock borders above and below it. How smart is that? The snow and ice still moves, but it moves over it and does not shear it off at the surface of the rock dome. This little tree has been surviving this way probably for centuries. It is old but small because it is under constant attack by the wind. It is in a perfect location to survive.

The picture of the big normal tree below is to illustrate a point. The two trees are probably about the same age. Under normal conditions, this little tree could be big and tall like this normal tree. However, the little tree is disabled. It has to adapt and adjust to its disability. It has to "live within its means". Perhaps this little tree could teach a life lesson to all of us.

425 year old Jeffrey Pine that died 1976.

Cousin Jeffrey tree surviving under ice

Illustrating how tree avoids ice shear by lying on ground on shelf.

This is what this little tree could have looked like had it grown somewhere else.

Telefonius Kompani

This is a very rare creature that lives on the mountain top above my cabin. It is so rare, that there is only one like it in the entire park. It plays an important role in the park though. Seems that there are many many other smaller receiving creatures in the park that mysteriously communicate somehow with this Telefonius Kompani (TK). Seems that this TK has some kind of long tentacles extending from it that somehow emits some kind of signal that reverberates throughout the park to all of these lesser creatures. The TK doesn't move, but the smaller creatures move around the park quite a lot all hours of the day and night. Nobody knows much about it, how it got there or how it lives. We just leave it alone and walk around it. It never hurts anybody. It sure is big and ugly though.

Telefonius Kompani

A Professional Bird

While sitting at my favorite spot I was being very still and quiet. It's amazing what you can see if you just be still and quiet. Suddenly I heard a loud chirp. My first though was that it was a Marmot, it was so loud. Then I noticed through the bush next to me that it was a bird, a big bird. I didn't make a sound. I could barely see the bird through the bush sitting on a high rock. I didn't want the bird to notice me so I very slowly moved my head to gain a better line of sight through a small gap in the bush. Yes. I did it. The bird was beautiful. I had never seen one like it before. It was large. About the size of a chicken with beautiful coloring and markings.

It had a grey round head with a crest and a very tall plumage that would curl and straighten when it chirped. Under it's eye it was a brown area that was highlighted and outlined in white. I couldn't see the entire bird, but what I was fortunate enough to see was beautiful.

When it chirped, his chest would shake and his head moved up and down slightly, almost as if it was difficult to chirp and required a lot of effort, but I don't think so. His location was perfect too. He positioned himself high on these rocks overlooking the forest below. He would rotate his head to the left and chirp, then in the middle, then to the right, then he would cycle all over again. He wanted to cover all of the area that he could to look for a girlfriend tonight. As loud as his voice was, I have no doubt that he was covering a lot of area.

OK. Now how do I photograph this bird without getting busted? All I had was my iPhone. My plan was to slowly move my arm up and over the top of the bush to get the shot. I had just installed an app that would enable me to take a picture by releasing the screen anywhere. I didn't know exactly how I would use it when I got it, but it was perfect for this tricky shot. 

So I'm ready to try it. The worst that could happen is that it would fly away right? I silently started moving my hand up over the bush and I am discovered. Bummer. The bird simply flew about six feet (2 meters) to the right. There is no way to get the shot now. The best I can do now is to put the iPhone into video mode and record his sound. That is what I did. At least I was able to take something away from our close encounter. His chirp was LOUD. Shortly after I recorded this he flew to other locations to make his announcements. He was getting around.

As soon as I returned to my cabin, I looked him up in my bird guide. It's a Mountain Quail. I photographed his artistic rendering for you. If I am lucky enough to encounter one of these beautiful birds again, perhaps I will be lucky enough to get the shot next time.

One characteristic that I noticed about this bird was that he seemed very cocky and confident. He was very determined and professional. A professional bird. Right!

That encounter was fun. I'll never forget it.

Mountain Quail

New Favorite Spot

Many times I wander off the trail to explore areas that most hikers never see and to search for wildlife. I found a rocky outcropping with a flat level surface where I can comfortably sit and just quietly hang out. As a bonus, to my surprise, that spot has the best most stable cell signal that I have found in the park. It's about 100 yards from the cell tower for AT&T that services the park. Wow. A great view and a great signal in the same spot and it's only a 30 minute hike from my cabin. Sunsets here will be amazingly beautiful. In the mean time here is a daytime 180 degree panorama of the view from my new spot.

My new favorite spot in Yosemite (180 degree pano)

Me Hiking

Here I am hiking around Sentinel Dome at about 8,000 feet (2500 meters). Just walking around close to my cabin today trying to loose some tonnage and get in shape to start work on Monday

Many thanks to Mario from Austria for taking my picture on the trail.
Ranger Dave hiking at Sentinel Dome