Friday, September 11, 2009

The Dark Side of Yosemite

Alright, now for my negative rant. For the past few weeks I have been quite irritated and angry. I have let a week go by to let me calm down a bit. If for some reason you get the idea that everything I do for this blog runs smoothly when it comes to the location hunts or hiking I do then I must say that this is not the case at all.

When most people go on their vacations or trips it is usually thought to be a relaxing time compared to the work of normal life. For me that is not really the case. As soon as I leave town the work work, but still work. There is a lot of planning involved that in my case usually starts a year ahead of time depending on where and the scope of what I intend to accomplish. Of course, if I intend to hike then a certain amount of training takes place as well.

Typically, I know what to expect and all possibilities before I get there. I do expect somethings to go wrong. Most of the time I am prepared for those types of things. Stuff like taking the wrong trails or driving to the wrong areas do happen. Other times you have to have more than enough money with you in case emergencies happen. In the old west, they used to use the term "pluck" to describe a person's preparedness, skill, but a little bit a of luck involved.

This year was a bit different. I prepared like I normally would. I did do a few interesting hikes this summer. I did have a few setbacks, and after each one I thought once it was over there would not be another. There was something that happened to make things very difficult this year. As we finished a hike in Yosemite we decided to drive into Yosemite Valley. I had not been to the valley in about five years. I was eager to go back and had planned on going back for about a year. There were a bunch of things I intended to do there which were to show up on this blog. So, as we were driving HWY 120 we passed Tenaya Lake and then saw Clouds Rest. I have good memories of climbing that. Then I knew we would see Half-Dome below it next on the drive. Wait, uh oh! Something is not right! The smoke was everywhere. Yosemite Valley is out there right?
After driving as far as we could we eventually turned around. I got word from some rangers that it was a "controlled fire" that got out of control. The interesting thing is they had not tried something like this since 1990. However, on August 26, 2009 they decided to do it.

Okay, I was slightly irritated at this point. Now, at first, I thought they would have it taken care of in a few days to at most a weeks time period. Then I could go back and visit the valley. This was not the case at all. In fact, not only was Yosemite contaminated with smoke the nearby areas outside Yosemite, including where I live in the summer, to Carson City, NV were poisoned with smoke. On some days it would be clear in the morning and I would think things would change only to get the heavy smoke in the afternoon. Sometimes I would wake up at 4am only to smell the heavy smoke coming through my window.

As the days went along other setbacks would take place, but the fire in Yosemite was a major catastrophe for what I had planned. It really is not fun taking pictures or video of scenic areas with the haze of smoke lingering. Some of what I did was not that bad, and I will show some of it over the next few months.

On the last few days I was there we had planned a hike to Mt. Hoffman. We held off doing it as long as we could with the hope that even if there was some smoke we might still enjoy doing it and have some views from the top. We then found out that the fire was 50% contained. It was now or never for this trip.

We passed the unmanned ranger station entrance before 7am, but as we got to road to the trailhead the smoke was the worst we had seen. You could probably see about a 1000 ft. at most during that morning hour. We decided to turn around.

Back at the entrance we told the ranger we had drove up and back for maybe about 30 minutes and the smoke was much worse that expected. Technically, that was not really true when we looked at our watches it was really about 50 minutes; our sense of time was lost. He immediately gave us a hard time saying he had been there since 6:56am (We must have come through around 6:45-50am). He was really being pedantic about this. True, it was only a $20.00 fee to enter the park, but we really did not even do anything so we really did not feel like we had to pay. He eventually became a little more reasonable, and we told him we stayed on the road so he let us go.

I thanked him, but I have to admit though, as we drove out and I thought about it, I really wanted to hit him for acting that way. I was pretty much demoralized at this point over all the major stuff I wanted to do this summer. Of all times of the year, they did a "controlled burn" in the heart of the summer during tourist season. Why not wait until after Oct. 15 or sometime in Nov. when the season is practically over?

So, I have to admit that Yosemite is sort of a bad word to me right now. I really do not have the desire to enter the park again right now. Eventually, I will be posting what I did this time around when I get some enthusiasm back, but I think I am just going to show other things in the meantime.