Monday, March 30, 2009

The Silence of Mt. Dana (Part 5: Finale)

This blog will wrap it up the Mt. Dana hike.

Let's look to the east side which is really the main reward of the hike. There are a few high areas that block some of Mt. Dana from Mono Lake. You can see the very tip of it from down below, but these mountain peaks are what block it. It is all connected to what is called Dana Plateau. Sometime in the next few years I want to go all the way to the end down below. I will take pictures from down below back to where I was standing up here.

The highlight picture everyone tries to get is Mono Lake. Naturally, I was there a little too early in the day with the sun still on that side so it is a little more hazy that I would like, but it will do.

In one of the High Plains Drifter videos I mentioned that I was trying to find the "town" the movie was in from on top of Dana. Well, here is the picture. You can see the South Tufa formations to the right of the picture. Well, just move along the shore to the left and there is where the town would have been. I told you this all connects like a big puzzle.
This is looking toward the north again. Mt. Conness is to the far left and Matterhorn Peak is the the far right.
Mt. Conness. This was about a week before I climbed that one. It is interesting to see pictures of that mountain from different sides.
Naturally, I always keep tabs on my icon peak: Matterhorn Peak. What was funny about this one is if you look closely or click the picture you will see a small heart shaped piece of snow. This is always on there for most of the season. When I have hiked that mountain I always shoot for that heart of ice. Once around it the hard part of the hike is over. However, being a dry year the heart shaped piece of ice was gone the next week.
So, there you have it. A rough hike on the legs, but very rewarding with the views. I only wish I had done it earlier in the season with snow on the mountains. Maybe someday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Silence of Mt. Dana (Part 4)

Everything you see on this side is Yosemite. Mt. Dana, like Conness and Matterhorn Peak, strattle the border of northeastern Yosemite. In the middle right background would be Yosemite Valley, but you can not see it very well from up here compared to the views from Mt. Conness.

This is starting to look toward the southern side.
I zoomed into Mt. Lyell here which is the highest point in Yosemite which is only about 60 feet higher than were I was standing on Mt. Dana.
This is an unknown lake to me. There were a bunch of lakes like this on this side that I do not think I have seen before on the ground.
This is the south side. Can you see a lake in the upper left part in the background?
That looks like Lake Crowley. It is about 35 miles away.
I will try to wrap this up with the next blog.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Silence of Mt. Dana (Part 3)

Originally, this was going to be the final blog on this hike, but I am going to extend it.

All the rest of the pictures are from the summit. After looking at the pictures I realized that this is a good area to show the connections to other areas I have mentioned before on this blog. The following is looking to the northern side. In the background I think are the two twin peaks that I showed from the other side in regarding Belle Starr's Daughter; I will have to check up on that though. I believe Mt. Warren is the peak to the right. Tioga Peak, which I climbed a few years back, is much lower to the middle left of the picture. Saddlebag Lake is what you see on the extreme left side of the picture. More on that lake below.
We are still looking in the northern direction here, but I moved the camera a bit more to the left from the above. Tioga Peak is now in the middle right of the picture; it is kind of hard to show because it blends in with the rest of the peaks. Saddlebag Lake is in the background. Tioga Lake is dead center. The peaks of Conness and Matterhorn are in the background, and I will show zoomed in pictures of them in the next blog or two.
I have good memories of Tioga Lake. My dad and other relatives liked to fish this lake once in a while. You can barely see a small rock formation that is in the lake that is obvious when you drive by it.
Here is Saddlebag Lake. When I did that blog entry last week I totally forgot I had a picture of the boat that takes people across the lake. The same situation happened when I zoomed in while on top of Conness.
This is looking toward the western side of Yosemite. From here I was able to zoom back in on the car 3,000 ft. and 3 miles below.
I will continue to show the south and east sides in the next blog.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Silence of Mt. Dana (Part 2)

We continued that morning at our very slow pace. I was not used to doing a hike this slow. It was really hard for me to speed my legs up. We were right on time though because it takes about an hour for the average person to go up a 1,000 ft. vertical like this. In the picture above you can see the rocky peak that was to the left of Mt. Dana coming up. It was in the first picture in the last blog. Another route one can take is from that direction starting out near Tioga Lake. I tested it a few years ago and it is a good class 2 route, but you eventually come to this point anyways. As far as I can tell it is the same amount of work either way with maybe some more rock scrambling on that side to get to this point. The picture below again shows how steep this area is. With something like this you just have to tell yourself to keep moving and not think of it. Slow, but steady is the attitude one should have. Usually, I get to the top of where this picture is and then see that I have more to go until it flattens out a bit. That was only partially true here.
This is looking back down. You can see two men coming up on the trail. If you look way down there you can see the eastern entrance station to Yosemite, the trailhead, and where we parked.
Eventually, about half-way up, there is a plateau with a rocky cairn (you see this in the video with my backpack and hiking pole against it; also, part of it is visible in the last picture below). It does not really flatten out too much here, but this is the resting point that marks a few things. One, you are half-way, but more importantly, two, the clearly defined trail is about to end. The scramble over rocks is about to begin.
The above is more toward the west. This does show the plateau is big! The picture below is again looking back down.
Mt. Conness is the high point to the left in the following picture. If you look closely you can see Saddlebag Lake in the middle right side of the picture.
After all the work it took to get here we still had to get to the top of this, but the bad news is most of this would be a rock scramble.
I should have up the concluding video and pictures over the weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Silence of Mt. Dana (Part 1)

(GPS: N°37 54. 010 W°119 13.280)

Here is one I have wanted to show for a while. I am going to take a few blogs for it. With all the hikes I consider "major" hikes I tend to take hundreds of pictures, but only show about 30 pictures at most in these blogs.

Mt. Dana is one my brother had wanted to do for a few years. I wanted to do it, but not as much as other mountain hikes. The time seemed right so we went off to do it. I should mention that I started to compose the "Why I Do I Climb?" blog in my head the few days before this hike and after it. Part of the problem is we had to wait around to do this one which created a bit of anxiety in me. I knew I would be alright once we got going, but waiting around and thinking about it was bothering me. I was not really enjoying being in the Eastern Sierra those few days before it. The day arrived and the next thing I knew we were at the trailhead. Okay, here we go, 3 miles and over 3,000 ft. in about 3 hours to get to the top.

You can see Mt. Dana from the trailhead that starts at the Eastern entrance to Yosemite. I do not know what that lower rocky peak is called to the left. I will show a picture of it looking back down in my next blog. Now keep in mind we actually started the hike early in the morning before the sun came up. My basic strategy is I rarely take pictures or video in the morning to save battery because I would rather have the sun out for lighting. So, most of what you are seeing is done in reverse order on the way down, but I do it this way so you get to see it in good daylight conditions.
You pass a lot of these little ponds on the way in the early part of the hike. The first 20-30 minutes is easy just walking through a forest with lots of trees.
I have read that earlier in the year after spring the flowers are really nice up there. Unfortunately, I was there at the end of summer. I still was looking for whatever nature pictures I could get. After meandering through the forest for the first 20 minutes we finally got a taste of what the hike was really going to be about.
This is probably the steepest hike I have ever done. I may have been in areas where short portions of a hike were steeper, but this is just straight up the rest of the way. Sometimes I can go up steep portions of a hike really quickly and then recover slowly on the rest of the hike. I tried going fast, but it just did not work that way here. I realized I was just going to have to put one foot above the other at a very slow pace. I felt like I had no choice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Huell Howser's California's Gold: Glacier (Program)

For those that do not know who Huell Howser is he does a show on California PBS stations called "California's Gold." He goes to some unique town or area, interviews some guides there, and shows the importance of it from a historical, scientific, or just natural beauty perspective. He always has a cheerful personality no matter what the topic.

I do not watch everything Huell Howser does, but once in a while I will come across something that will keep my full attention on the whole episode. Monday's episode called "Glacier" was one of them. If you have read this blog then you will know this area, or the very nearby areas, comes up once in a while.

Usually, I do not talk about other people's adventures on here, but since Huell is an influence on how I do things, and this area is one that I love, I just wanted to talk about it. In the following screen capture Huell is on a boat crossing over Saddlebag Lake. This is one of those times that I wish my dad could have seen this episode since we took this type of boat across the lake to fish a few times. You could take the boat to the other side of the lake and then be picked up 12 hours later. They just did it to avoid hiking around the lake which I have done too.

This is Greenstone Lake. It has a green look to it and they explain why these lakes look green in the episode: the glacial tarn elements cause it. This is the lake my dad liked to fish at.
I am moving on to the end of the episode with Huell, and the crew he was with, got to this point to talk about the glacier. I think for most people this may not be that impressive to see. There is not that much glacier there because it is slowing receding. It does look more impressive with more snow earlier in the year. Two things here that were amazing to me to see on tv: Mt. Conness is the right hump which they did mention. The lake is one of Conness Lakes which has the turquoise color to it (the glacial tarn). For Huell to get here was more fun for me to see than the glacier. Here is the zoom in of the glacier.
Okay, my turn! I am going to add some pictures that I did not use from when I posted in November about my hike to Mt. Conness. Here is the glacier they are trying to show from above:
I posted a few pictures like this in November. This is slightly different. It shows the top parts of the glacier and the lakes around. Saddlebag Lake in the middle background which they crossed by boat, then Greenstone Lake mentioned above, and then they reached one of Conness Lakes on the left side.
I believe they got to the lake in the back. The lake in the foreground is much higher up with what looks like a wall from where they were at. I had intended to do something like what Huell did after my hike last summer. The last time I was there the weather was too stormy. I do intend to go back and take new pictures. I have been on the trail that loops around all the lakes in the distance. That was about 13 years ago if I remember correctly.

My series on Mt. Conness is in the following entries. My two part video of that hike...(edit: the old low quality mountain climb is on my Vimeo channel. My more recent hike that covers the same areas Huell did can be found HERE). is on my channel, but in these links too:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The Conness Survey Crew of 1890

Huell went to another area nearby that I intended to show later this year at some point. Maybe I will show it next month.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Waterhole #3 (The Red Rock Canyon Series)

(GPS: N35° 21.850 W117° 58.390)

This location is important in the movie because it is the final waterhole James Coburn must go to in order to get the army cache of gold. Here he is below searching in Waterhole #3:
The concrete foundations of the waterhole are still there:
This is in the Red Cliffs side of Red Rock Canyon which is east of the 14 HWY. You can see the rock formations in the background and compare to the above. Carroll O'Connor looks like he is about to get suckered here, but maybe not:
Here is the waterhole looking to the south:

A couple of things about this area. One, as I mentioned at the end of the video, There is a map called the Red Cliffs Nature Trail at the trailhead. It gives you the natural history of the area and shows you the short nature trail around this area. Even though I had a map it still was a bit hard to follow. You do have to go off the trail to find it, and one could go right past it because it is not totally obvious from the trail. BUT, of course, naturally, to everyone's delight, how could I make it more easy, blah, blah, blah...I list the gps coordinates at the top. Use 'em! ;)

I may do something more with the Red Cliffs area you see in the background in the future. It has been used a lot in movies. I remember back in the 1980's the heavy metal band W.A.S.P. used it for one of their music videos (song: Wild Child). You park pretty close to where they shot that video.

Finally, one unfortunate location that I really wanted to get a while back is at the very beginning of the movie. James Coburn gets into a gunfight there. It is just outside Lone Pine near the town of Dolemite. Unfortunately, it is now privately owned by a mining company, and they will keep you off of the area if you go there. I have seen the few remaining buildings as I have driven by. I know during the festival they went there, but I will probably not ever go there. Oh well, there are many other areas.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I have been on an astronomy kick lately. It is not an area I am really that knowledgeable about, but it is something I come back to once in a while. I downloaded the planetarium program called Stellarium from It is a really cool program and not too hard to figure out. Last week I went outside and encountered Venus right next to the Moon. It was really cool. Here is a bit of a zoom in:

I watched the Kepler Telescope launch last night online. The mission is to find out if there are earth-sized planets out there. It will be fun to find out what the telescope shows us in the next six months. I remember when I was kid in school and with friends there was this idea that since our sun is just another star there should be all sorts of "earth" planets out there. This has really changed over the years with the Rare Earth Hypothesis. Now scientists and other thinkers are not totally convinced we will find any other earth planets.


"It very possibly could tell us that Earths are very, very common, that we have lots of neighbors out there, or it could tell us that Earths are really, really, really rare," Weiler said at a press conference.

"Perhaps we're the only Earth. I think that would be a very bad answer because I, for one, don't want to live in an empty universe where we're the best there is. That's a scary thought to many of us."

Kepler will be scouting for Earth-size planets circling stars in the so-called habitable or Goldilocks zone. That's where planets are neither too close nor too far from their star, and where conditions could be ripe for liquid water on the surface. "Planets that are not too hot, not too cold, but just right," according to Boruki.

On another note one of my local hikes I do is in Chino Hills State Park. I usually do this hour up and hour back hike to the top of San Juan Hill. Honestly, this hike and a few other hikes I do locally are not that impressive compared to others I do so I really don't post them. I thought I would show a few pictures of this hike this time since it just opened up recently after the big fire that torched the park in November. 95% of the park was torched. With the recent rains the area looks very impressive.
Very green! Usually when I go through here it is very brown and not fun to look at. You can see some brown in this picture. There were some areas that still had the burned over look. The high point in the distance below is San Juan Hill. The only interesting thing at the top is a pylon marker that says it was made in 1896.This shows how quickly nature can recover. This area had looked very bad for about 2 months from down below looking up at it. A few rains and things started to change fast.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Johnny Mack Brown Kern River Cliffhanger Location

(GPS: N35° 37.935 W118° 29.430)
This is located in Keysville on the Kern River. It is one I found about a year ago. The funny thing about this one is I found the location right away after dropping down the little hill behind me. It was sort of a fluke for me to find it so quickly. I took some pictures and a little video, but was convinced that what I was really after was up the river at a higher pointed cliff. I took pics and videos of other areas along the Kern River looking for other areas. I then came home and realized that I had found what I was after right away, but would need to go back to get better videos of this area. It would be a few months before I went back, but that was not really an issue since my grandmother lives nearby.
In The Oregon Trail serial which stars Johnny Mack Brown, he ends up on this rocky cliff over the Kern River. As they are shot at they (stunt doubles) fall down into the Kern River below.
The problem here is that that green brushy tree was in the way. I could not really get down and try to get an identical picture. I have should have taken a chainsaw with me.

Good enough for our purposes.
This is looking back at it.
From this side it took a little work to get to this area. To get to the coordinates you have to carefully down-climb a bit. If you trip you could roll down and eventually hit the water. The other side is pretty easy to get to, but I did not bother trying.

If the Alabama Hills and Red Rock are gold for movie location finding, then I would consider Kernville and this area Silver. You can find some locations from all the movies they made, but it is not as much fun. You have to really look, and I do not consider it as enjoyable or beautiful in these areas.

Part of the reason for this, and keep this in mind if you go here to Keysville, is that there is a lot of drug use and homeless nearby. As I was driving by I had the radio on as they were mentioning all the people that had been arrested and their violations. As I was walking around the first time I had police and rangers watching me at times as I took pictures. It was nothing to be concerned about, I probably looked out of place, but becareful as you walk around here.

A Kern River Cliffhanger (Youtube Version)

A Kern River Cliffhanger (Vimeo Vesion)