Thursday, January 31, 2013

Questions, Questions, Questions

Note: I have edited this as of March 31, 2021.

I thought I would take some of the common questions I have gotten over the years so I can link people to this rather than me say the same thing over and over. Some of these aren’t really questions, but things that have been stated to me that I usually respond to. A few are just my own for the sake of clarification.

1)”How long have you been doing this?”

The blog has been around since 2006. I had an earlier Youtube account around the same time that I ran various tests with earlier videos on, but is no longer around.

However, I have been doing something like this for most of my life. I have always been into hiking, so a lot of what you see here goes way back in time for me. In the past 20 years I have gone a lot further into the backcountry than I did as a kid. So, a lot of what you see is just years of experience in areas that I have known in some ways going back over 40 years.

The movie locations tend to be a lot more recent. In the past 15+ years I started getting more specific on certain spots. Now I had been to places like the Alabama Hills or Iverson Ranch going back to the 1980’s, but it was a case of just passing through to see the area with family. I knew about movies being filmed there, but it was not something I cared too much about.

I believe it was the early 1990’s that I saw Comanche Station and The Tall T on vhs or tv that sort of began the interest. “Hey, that’s Mt. Whitney in the background. You know it might be fun to try to find where that is sometime,” but even then I was not as hardcore about this as I have become.

It was sometime in the late 1990’s that I posted about the site of High Plains Drifter the first time online on a primitive website I had created. That site died a long time ago, but even then I did not turn into the person you know on this blog. It was only with creating this blog and Youtube that I decided to start emphasizing this area of my experiences.

2)”What’s the main purpose of the blog?”

Originally, it was designed to be something I could link to my friends and family. I got kind of tired of sending the same e-mail with variations over the months and years. So, I thought it would be easier just to link whatever I did and send a shorter e-mail. Of course, being a public blog others see this as well which is fine.

The only thing there is you have to remember is some things I talk about or refer to might only make sense to people that know me in the real world. There have been a few things I have posted on here or via video that was designed for certain family or friends. One time I did this and I had one person get really bent out of shape telling me how much a waste of time it was for him. I have no clue who that person was, and I didn’t have the heart to tell the guy what I did was not for him.

As I have reached more people I have sort of modified the purpose of the blog some. So the following is getting more to what I have in mind these days:

I cover places that I like and are a little out of the ordinary. I give you some of what is out there to stimulate your interest so you can go off and do you own thing at wherever you may live. Wherever you live there has to be something of interest that you can find. Be it history, nature, animals, etc.

The idea is not that you need to go to the places I talk about on here. Some people have the opportunity to do this, but I would feel let down if that is what people felt they needed to do in order to appreciate the blog or these places. The world is a big place and there are lots of things that you can find that I have no idea about. On any topic, I try to give enough to stimulate your interest, but I don’t reveal everything I possibly know. I have a lot of background research that tends not to show up on here. What I give is enough and if you care more about a subject then, depending on what it is, you can follow the links or sources I provide.

3)“How do you find these locations?”

Most of the blog has been dedicated to answering this question. I usually try to give the various techniques and principles I use when discussing them. Generally, I start with the background, then mid-ground, and then whatever is right in front of me. Taking lots of pictures so that I can come back home and study. It is always nice to know I can go back at another time.

Google Earth is making things a lot easier than in the old days. I don’t use it for everything since it has its limits, but it is good to get the general feel of the area. Although, in some cases like hiking, I try not to use it too much just to enjoy the surprise of not knowing what I will find.

I tend not to use the internet before going anywhere. It is usually after I come home, or right before I post something on here, that I will do a few searches to see what people have come up with. There are good sites out there for things, but I tend to look for specifics so a lot of what is out there wouldn’t really help me for what I do.

As an aside, there are some locations I will never reveal. Some of you out there have told me about them and wanted them kept private for various reasons. I’m fine with that and as a matter of honor will keep it that way. I would say 90% of the time it deals with issues regarding private property which I am pretty sensitive to anyways.

4)“You must have read this book (magazine) by this author”.

Actually, I don’t read many books about this sort of thing. When it comes to movie locations I have a total of three books:

Holland, Dave. On location in Lone Pine: a pictorial guide to movies shot in and around California's Alabama Hills. Granada Hills: Holland House, 1990.

Medved, Harry., and Bruce Akiyama. Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer's Guide to Exploring Southern California's Great Outdoors. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2006.

Schmidt, Richard. A Field Guide to Motion Picture Locations at Red Rock Canyon. Montrose: Canyon Two Publications, 2002.

Those are helpful, and I will get them out once in a while if I need some inspiration or have forgotten something. The issue though is, to get really specific on things I really need to be there out in the field to figure these things out.

Now on the other hand, if we are talking more about history or some backcountry hike, then I do spend a lot of time doing background research. I have been known to go into the darkest and dirtiest parts of university libraries. These types of sources are the ones you will not find online.

Since this blog is meant to be family friendly for just about all ages I tend not to talk about every resource I use. If I were doing a more graduate level university thesis style then I would probably list just about everything. I tend to list a few popular sources if you want to go a little further. I should give a standard disclaimer that these types of sources I don’t always agree with, could have bad information, not up on the latest history and just tell common stories or legends, etc. Those are the ones you usually start with then you can go on from there.

5)”You could almost write a book”.

I could, but I won’t. This blog is enough for what I am trying to do. I have a lot more background research and other experiences that do not always show up on this blog. Refer to the purpose of the blog in the second question above.

6)“Can you give me directions to…(and can you give me a personal tour)?”

I list GPS coordinates in most of my blog entries. These days I have somewhat regretted doing that based on going back to some places and seeing trash or hearing reports of vandalism. Which doesn't mean people are seeing something on the blog and doing that, but still it is annoying. In the news over the past few months some thieves basically destroyed some Indian artifacts outside of Bishop, CA I had intended to go to at some point for the blog. I won’t be doing that because of this.

While I will continue giving some coordinates in the blogs, I would ask if you don’t know how to use google maps or a gps device to not ask me for directions to wherever you want to go. Part of the point of this blog is to show the adventure one can have without knowing everything about where you are going. While I do not want anyone to go into the backcountry unprepared it is another thing to have every detail spelled out for someone so he does not have to do any work.

While I am at it. Only take from these locations what you have brought in. Yes, I have encountered people that think going to places like this means it’s artifact hunting time. Great, ruin it for everyone else. Take pictures or videos and leave any artifact be.

Another thing, every once in while I get people that want to meet me somewhere for a personal tour. While it might seem like I can just take off everywhere at anytime it is not like that for me at all. I can't just do these sorts of things for free. You get enough information on here if you want to find some place. Refer to question #2 again, and have an adventurous spirit!

7) “You know you can get more views by…”

Don’t care. While view totals do tell me something, I really don’t care how many people see a blog entry or watch a video. Kind of like the way I do location hunts, I like the idea that people that are trying to find something have to do a little more work to find my stuff.

From experience I know there are certain things I could do to bring a lot more people in, but for me it is not really worth it. Since this is just a hobby and not for profit I tend not to worry about this. If only a handful of people see or like something I do so be it.

I will say the odd thing is there are some things I do that get more attention than I thought they would and other things I thought tons of people would want to see and it ends up being a “flop“. There was a series of videos I did once that I put a lot of time into and one video that I hardly put anything into that was pretty much a throw away video that I did not care about. The video I put the least amount of effort into ended up blowing the rest of the other videos away in regards to views.

8)“I like this, but not that…”

You probably won’t like everything I do and there are tons of other websites you can go to satisfy whatever need you have, or you can create your own site. The only thing I think I would say is do not expect me to be too one dimensional on here. I have certain things I like to cover, but I like to go into other topics at times. I like to integrate various things and show the connections with other things. If you expect me to just cover one thing all the time then you are probably wasting your time here.

9)“This is misspelled…grammar…could be better stated, etc.”

Actually very few mention anything like this to me, but I wanted to say something. In the past few years I started to use a laptop I would post from before I would go to bed. This laptop is very easy to make these types of mistakes because of how the hands go over the keyboard and mouse. So, even after proof reading, I still usually have mistakes I would miss. It would end up taking me a few days after re-reading what I posted to make further edits to change wording, etc. I am sure there are still mistakes on here I have not caught, but usually do my best to change things over the next few days after a blog is written up. Look at it as more of a rough draft when it first goes up that eventually gets edited. This is really a style over substance issue to me and very few have called me out over it. So, my apologies and thanks.

10)”How often will you be posting to the blog?”

At the end of 2011 I had ended my days of posting every week or two. I have covered most of my favorite areas and had burned out. Now, I still have tons of pictures, footage, and places I can go. It just got to the point that it was not as fun to me as it once was. It is much better in the long run for me to not post as much. I still have various projects I intend to do, but without feeling I am on a schedule which was what killing my enthusiasm.

11)”Can I use your pictures or video on my site?”

Anything I post you can use for your own personal non-profit interests. You really don’t even have to reference me as the source if you do not want to (unless I have watermarked the picture with my name, but in that case it is already stated so nothing would need to be done). It is up to you. Yeah, if you claim to have taken the pictures I did then I might be bothered by that from a moral perspective and wonder what is wrong with you, but I probably won't do anything other than think your an idiot. ;)

If you do use the pictures I have taken for something that is for profit or has advertisements, then it would be nice if you mention me as the source.

The only thing about videos is you can download anyone you want with the various programs that are out there so you don’t have to watch them online, but I ask you not to re-upload them on Youtube (or any other video site). Some people have others do that for multiple exposures, but for me I think it is best to just link the video.

12)”Will you link to my site?”

I have had lots and lots of people over the years want me to advertise their sites. As a general rule don’t expect me to do it. It is a little complicated as to why I am this way about this, and I don’t really want to go into it here. If I have plugged your site before or talked about some location on this blog in the past you are connected with then that is enough.

Likewise, I don’t expect anyone to link my site. If you want to that is great, and I thank you. If you don’t want to then that is great too!  

13)“Anything else you want to say?”

I don’t see myself as “broadcasting” in using this media to do what I have been doing. It’s more like someone coming into my house or around the campfire telling a few stories. Sometimes I think people see blogs, websites, videos online to be something much more than they should be. These are nice diversions, good for a some information, but are not the real world. I’m definitely bothered by the idea that people think that gaining “friends” on social networking sites equals the real thing.

The internet is becoming a little too much of “state the obvious” about 50,000 times. It didn’t feel this way to me during the 1990’s. I blame the social media for this, but commercials, television, news are becoming more like this too. So, I hope that I have offered some originality in what I have done on here to counter this type of way the world is becoming.

14)What is your e-mail address?

I have had to add this one on as of Feb. 2014. Long story short, an older computer has been hit with a few viruses/malware. This in turn caused some mass spamming to any e-mails connected with it even though they did not originate from me. I have had this happen a few times in the past year, so enough is enough. You can go to my profile link on the right for the link. Otherwise, it is the following email:

thegreatsilence(you know the sign that goes here)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Dark Silence

I was re-watching two westerns recently which I wanted to briefly mention on here. Btw, I don’t really watch that many westerns these days. I have to be in the right mood to do that. That mood came during this past week.

I was mentioning in a few blogs back about the meaning for the term “silence” on here. I gave the general concept I have been using as my theme throughout the blog. I said something briefly, which I have mentioned before, in that one must remember “nature does not play by rules.” Meaning, nature can be very destructive and unpredictable. Even if one is well prepared random events can happen even for the most experienced mountain man.

Just recently out near an area I have hiked before there was a guy with friends who got lost. When I heard the story on the news I immediately said my above quote. Why in the world would people go hiking in the evening, in an area you do not know about, and on a very cold day (not to mention a freezing night). He was lucky. They found him, and all he came away with was hypothermia.

The western I was watching again was Charles Bronson’s Chato’s Land. I was able to see the “uncut” version that has an extra 15 seconds. There was an issue with the way the horses were used that some countries cut out. When I originally saw this movie I was not super impressed. It seemed like a typical revenge story with the Apache Chato (Bronson) getting revenge on a posse led Jack Palance (and by a bunch of well known actors).

While a lot of the analysis of this movie has connected it with the issues of the Vietnam War, which does make sense, after my recent viewing I started to think it connected with the darker version of nature that I mentioned above. The posse with Jack Palance is after Chato to avenge the death of a local he killed in town. The viewer of the movie knows the act was clearly in self-defense, but it is not clear the posse does.

Anyways, the posse is led out into rocky, sandy desert setting. As the movie goes on, Chato starts picking them off from the distance. There comes a point about an hour into the movie that Jack Palance makes a comparison about how the white men view the land they are in compared to the Apache. They start realizing that Chato has used the land to his advantage against them.

While I don’t like to overanalyze western movies because I think the simple explanations of what the writer/director are doing is the best, but I like the idea that Chato is actually part of nature the posse finds themselves in. That he represents the environment itself. When the characters start to realize they have walked into nature’s trap it is too late.

It is interesting that Bronson only had two lines of English in this movie and a few lines of Apache that are not subtitled for the viewer. He is very much a silent character in this movie. As an aside, he had a very ripped body for an actor his age in this movie. Just amazing shape.

So, if you have seen this movie or not, you might want to watch it with this interpretation in mind. Whether you have experience or not, are alert or not, have good moral character or not, the wilderness out there does not care. When heading out into the backcountry it is a calculated risk. Part of the fun of it for me is the unknown, but I do want to be able to return home as well.

The other western that I thought of as a good companion piece is The Stalking Moon with Gregory Peck. Both movies in my view have some flaws to them and this one more so. The Stalking Moon has some good moments in it, but I think it could have been better. Still, some of the ideas in both movies can be easily compared with each other.

Friday, January 25, 2013

For Dobe and Huell

I just wanted to acknowledge the deaths of two important individuals that have had some influence on this blog. I have mentioned both men sometime in the past, but I thought it is important to say at least something now.

Harry Carey Jr. died at the end of last month. He was in a lot of old westerns and can usually be remembered being in the crew with John Wayne and John Ford in various movies they did. He had appearances in tons of other movies and tv shows. He is one of the actors I always looked for has having an appearance as a different character in the Have Gun, Will Travel series. My favorite role he had is probably in the 3 Godfathers.

I saw him a few years back at the Lone Pine Film Festival. I was waiting in line with his book, and they were about to take him away to something else. I said, “One more?” The lady in charge agreed and let me get the final autograph. As he was signing my name, I wanted to say at least something to him. I kind of knew the answer beforehand, but I just wanted him to say it. I asked about the status of Comanche Stallion was going. It was a movie John Ford had considered, but never did. Carey Jr. intended to put together this movie as one of the last things in his career. He told me that it was still in the pre-production stage. Then said the problem that project had was due to lack of funds. I also saw him as part of a panel on John Wayne at the same festival. I pretty sure I have video footage of part of that, but I just remember him commenting how beautiful there area around Lone Pine always is.

Huell Howser died around two weeks ago. If I remember correctly, I first encountered Huell on tv sometime in the 1980’s. I can’t remember what it was, but it was some really oddball topic he covered. Every once in a while I would turn on the tv and he would be on the local KCET showing off some area I had never heard of. I have to admit that I was never really into everything he covered, but there was always somewhere he would go on the California’s Gold show that I was glued to the screen the whole time he did it. For many years I would constantly check the schedule to see what places he would go to.

I never met him, but do know people that did. Most of them said he was very friendly like you would expect. I did get the idea from these people that he was private about some things too. There are some things I have always wondered, but maybe at the same time it’s none of my business. I mean, Huell was in the marines when he was younger. I remember him saying in an interview, in good humor while a guy was mocking one of his famous sayings in a typical Huell accent, that in the marines he learned how to kill a man in three seconds.

In any case, Huell was definitely an influence on this blog in how I go about doing things. The whole notion of just going out, finding places, and trying to figure out anything you can about them was something that has always stuck with me. I don’t know if I have mentioned this story on here, but there is one area I went and meant to show on here at some point some years back. The day I went it rained so I didn’t think the pictures and video would tell the best story on that place. I just told myself I would come back next year on a better day. Well, a few months later Huell had an episode on that place. I had to laugh because it was just an off the wall thing that I didn’t think he would ever cover.

Apparently there was some sort of remembrance for him last week at the Griffith Observatory. In my view, the best way to remember him is just taking a trip “out there”, going hiking somewhere, etc. Not necessary going somewhere he talked about on the show, but just exploring nature, the historical past, or finding something new. That I will do.

Thanks guys!

Harry Carey Article:

Huell Hower Archives:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: Overwhelming Silence 7/7)

“It was beautiful. The pinkness vanished and then it was all purple dusk and the roar of the silence was like a wash of diamond waves going through the liquid porches of our ears, enough to soothe a man a thousand years.”(Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. New York: Penguin Group, 1986, P.71)

Time to wrap this one up with a few pictures looking down.
That’s a lake one encounters if the more direct class 3 route is taken.
One slip and it is all over with. One of the quotes that Kerouac constantly uses in the book is, “Its impossible to fall off mountains.” Well, in the real world I am not totally sure that is true, and do not really want to found out. Although I think I know what he was saying, but I would suggest he did not get high enough…or maybe he was too high. ;)
This is looking down back at the pass where the small lake/pond is. So, after all this, it is time to head back down there. Overall, the hike is in the 12-14 hour range. Total elevation gained is around 5,500 ft. to get to the top (12, 279ft.) in about 5 miles.

 “When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing.”(Ibid.)
It’s been some years since I did the whole thing. In the past couple of years there was always something preventing me from doing it again. One year I spent a lot of time getting in mental and physical shape for it only to have the Yosemite controlled fire that got out of control ruin everything. Other times I just lacked the motivation or ending up being sick. At this point, I am rather content with what I did with it. These days it is not as important to me as it once was. If I never get back to some of those places I showed then I can live with it. But, all it takes is me waking up one day under the right conditions and saying, “Let’s do it!”
So, this mountain and hike is really the meaning behind everything I have tried to do on this blog throughout the years. The whole notion of getting away from the noise and taking in the quiet. There is a little too much talk in the world at times. As I like to say when nothing is getting done, “Less talk, more action.”
This series for me represents another transition phase. Some things are behind me, but not so far behind that you can’t see them anymore. There was a certain look and feel I liked this blog to have for the longest time based on theme I was giving it. It's time for some change. It will be nothing major. Maybe just changing a few colors.

There are one or two other things I want to say before the end of the month, so I will be back soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: Summit Views 6/7)

“I felt like telling Japhy everything I thought but I knew it didn’t matter and more over he knew it anyway and silence is the golden mountain.” (Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. New York: Penguin Group, 1986, Pgs. 72)
Looking toward the south. Whorl Mountain is the prominent peak just south of here.
In the middle all the way in the background is Mt. Dana. All the way over where the clouds are if you just look diagonally a little left is where Mt. Lyell is. Almost halfway in between the two is Mt. Conness. I have never climbed Mt. Lyell and probably never will, but I did get in range to view its glacier this last summer. I hope to have something up on that this year.
Looking more to the east now. That should be Turquoise Lake.
Looking back in the direction I started. One can actually see where one parks, but I would have to move around from where I was at. The prominent rock in front of me is what you see down below and is what gives it the “Matterhorn” type of look from below. You can see Bridgeport Lake and the Sweetwater Mountains in the distance.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: Summit Views 5/7)

“So we unpacked our packs and laid things out and smoked and had a good time. Now the mountains were getting that pink tinge, I mean the rocks, they were just solid rock covered with the atoms of dust accumulated there since beginningless time. In fact I was afraid of those jagged monstrosities all around and over our heads.
'They're so silent!' I said.
'Yeah man, you know to me a mountain is a Buddha. Think of the patience, hundreds of thousands of years just sitting there bein perfectly perfectly silent and like praying for all living creatures in that silence and just waiting for us to stop all our frettin and foolin.'“(Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. New York: Penguin Group, 1986, Pgs. 66-67)

The final scramble to the summit.
In the range of about 5-7 hours from the trailhead, one gets to the summit. The actual summit is not very big at all. It is just a bunch of jagged rocks with one rock sticking out a little higher than the others. Technically speaking, you probably can only get one or two people on top of it at one time. One has to be somewhat careful here as the drop offs are rather dramatic and instant death. There was one rock that I remember was rather loose when I stood on it.
This is looking toward the north along Sawtooth Ridge. It turns out the point I stood on in this picture is the highpoint. That rock just off to the right in the front is what you see down below, but the highest point is behind it.
Moving counter-clockwise you can see Peeler Lake down below and then Tower Peak in the background.
Counter-clockwise again, you can see Finger Peaks and what is called Slide Canyon...see the slide on the mountainside?
Starting to look more of the south side. The heart of Yosemite is in the background on the left side. I’ll finish up the views in the next blog.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: The Final Ascent 4/7)

“We finally got to the foot of the Matterhorn where there was a most beautiful small lake unknown to the eyes of most men in this world, seen by only a handful of mountain climbers, a small lake at eleven thousand some odd feet with snow on the edges of it and beautiful flowers and a beautiful meadow, an alpine meadow, flat and dreamy upon with I immediately threw myself and took my shoes off.”(Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. (New York: Penguin Group, 1986, P. 80)
This is looking back at the pass. There is usually snow here during the summer, and it forms a small pond. Turning left one can finally see the final ascent that needs to be made to the top.
There is still around a thousand feet to go. When you are there it seems a lot closer than it is. A lot of work is left to be done. The point in the middle at the top is Matterhorn Peak from “the backside”. Not as interesting to look at as the front of it.

“Japhy started up walking very rapidly and then even running sometimes where the climb had to be to the right or left along ridges of scree. Scree is long landslides of rocks sand and, very difficult to scramble through, always little avalanches going on.”(Ibid., P.81)

After all you have been through, this part of the climb is both mentally and physically challenging because of the scree. Every two steps up on the ascent you end up sliding back one step or both.
This shows the easiest class two route to take. If one is comfortable with a little more technical climb then one can go directly up.
Looking toward the south into Yosemite. Some other mountains I have climbed are in this picture. I will mention them later. I like to refer to this rock you see as “The Thing”. Notice the mouth, nose, and closed eye on its partial face?
Right before you get to the top you can finally see some of the other side. This is what Sawtooth Ridge looks like from this point of view. I'll cover the summit in the next two blogs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: Horseshoe Pass 3/7)

“As we got higher we got more tired and now like two true mountain climbers we weren’t talking anymore and didn’t have to talk and were glad, in fact Japhy mentioned that, turning to me after a half-hour’s silence, ‘This is the way I like it, when you get going there’s just no need to talk, as if we were animals and just communicated by silent telepathy.’”(Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. (New York: Penguin Group, 1986, p.62)
In the last blog you saw this peak, and for quite some time while hiking this particular route it is your destination. Once you are at the base of it you then take a right (west) which heads up the final section to Horseshoe Pass. Keep in mind I am showing you the easiest class 2 route. There is a more direct approach where you climb straight up closer to the front of Matterhorn Peak. In the route I am showing you here it is more like going around it and coming up the backside of it. From reading the book and consulting a few others it seems like this is the route Kerouac and friends took.

“I sat down the best I could on another rock and we both said nothing and meditated. Only I meditated with my eyes closed. The silence was an intense roar. From where we were, the sound of the creek, the gurgle and slapping talk of the creek, was blocked off by rocks.” (Ibid., p. 70)
Again, there are use trails, but it gets to the point that in some cases just climbing up the rocks anyway you can is the best. Like the quote in the last blog, you get to the point you just start to hop along the rocks. The times I have done this I have also had to cross snow patches at this point on the way. I would say another 45 minutes to an hour gets one... the pass. I usually turn around here, relax, and see where I came from. Then I turn around and prepare for the next part.
Horseshoe Pass. It is a big snow pit here. That little opening there at the middle top is what needs to be reached. In theory, you can climb up higher to the right side of the picture if you want to evade snow. In the past, I have just crossed the snow. It can be a little scary here climbing on this type of snow. It's around the three and half to four hour mark of the hike so the legs get a little tired, and you don't want to make a mistake.
Yosemite! After all you have been through things really open up here. Extremely quiet and beautiful. This is a reward in itself. Very much like the experience of characters in the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit where after much work in a journey they go through a pass and encounter something spectacular compared to where they just were. This is real though. For the longest time the type of talus rock is all you see, but then a nice looking summer green meadow shows up! Trees in the distance!

Although, as I have said to a person while getting here, it is like reaching the finals of any sport. You still have the hardest job to do in order to win the whole thing…let’s go! I’ll continue the final ascent in the next blog.

As an aside, one time coming here after not seeing a soul the whole morning, there was a German couple camped out up here just beyond the pass. I just said "hi" to them as I headed up the mountainside. I think they took off not too long after that. I got the idea they came here from Yosemite and not from the direction I am showing you. It is always a little odd to see anyone out this far into the backcountry when you have gone so long without seeing anyone, but it does happen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: Horseshoe Canyon 2/7)

"’The secret of this kind of climbing,” said Japhy, ‘is like Zen. Don’t think. Just dance along. It’s the easiest thing in the world, actually easier than walking on flat ground which is monotonous. The cute little problems present themselves at each step and yet you never hesitate and you find yourself on some other boulder you picked out for no special reason at all, just like Zen.’” (Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. New York: Penguin Group, 1986, Pgs. 64-65)
This is the base of the “false pass” or first headwall that must be climbed. As you can see there is a trail, but then it becomes more of a scramble up rocks. The rocks are not fun at first, but like the quote above, you do get used to them and start to just get “in the zone” with them.
Looking back. This is really the first time that you can see a lot of elevation has been climbed over this long canyon.
Looking off to the left of from the last picture of Horseshoe Canyon. Avalanches do happen back here during the winter.
It takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to continue along in the canyon. This is looking back.
At this point one continues a little further and the drainage continues off to the right. That is where I will continue next time. A few years ago a family was skiing back here in May. One of the teenagers got stuck so his father tried to climb to where he was to help him out. The father then fell to his death. Nature does not play by rules!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Great Silence (AKA Matterhorn Peak: The Beginning 1/7)

(GPS: N38° 05.570 W119° 22.865)

“’Well that’s right,’ I said. ‘The whole purpose of mountain climbing to me isn’t just to show off you can get to the top, it’s getting out to this wild country.’” (Kerouac, Jack. Dharma Bums. New York: Penguin Group, 1986, p.81)

This begins a series of blogs I hope to have done in the next week or two. It is one I have put off and off over the years in the hope that I would come up with better pictures and video about it. That has not happened. A lot of that has to do with fires, bad weather, health, and just not having the inspiration.

This one is important for me to do though. Since it does deal with the origins and reasons this blog exists, I think it is time for me to do something regarding it. So, what I am going to do is use some older pictures I have taken at different times over the years to cover it.

Matterhorn Peak borders the northeastern side of Yosemite. It is the highest point (12, 278 ft.) on what is known as Sawtooth Ridge. Personally, I consider it the northern end of the High Sierra with the southern end just south of Mt. Langley.

It gets its name from the famous Switzerland mountain, but it only has that look from the north side (which you can see at the picture I have at the top of the blog). From the south side, as you will see eventually, it is not that impressive. So, in some ways the mountain is misnamed.

In 1958, Jack Kerouac wrote a book called, Dharma Bums, in which part of it contains his account, using fictional characters, of his attempted climb of Matterhorn Peak. Jack was a beat generation author of that era, and a lot of the book deals with his understanding of Buddhism in the 1950s. While I am not a Buddhist, after I read the book I knew exactly what he was referring to while climbing this mountain. It’s because of this book that I refer to this particular mountain as The Great Silence. In the past when I did this hike I started really early in the morning when it was dark. In reality I would say the first 1/3 of this hike I have done while it was still dark out. So, you will see pictures I have done of this hike during other times of the day.
This is where I would normally park. You can see Matterhorn Peak way off in the distance. The trailhead is about 5 minutes away, and from there you start a switch backing trail that takes about 45 minutes or so to get past Horseshoe Falls. At that point the trail flattens out somewhat for the next 10-15 minutes. You continue right next to a stream as you pass a few meadows. At this point one enters Hoover Wilderness.
There are two things wrong about this picture. One, this sign is no longer here and is actually right as you pass the switchbacks a little further back. Two, I used to think of this area as a jungle since walking on the trail one encountered a lot of overgrowth as the picture shows. It is not like this anymore since the people in charge of the trail have cut out of lot of this. It is a lot easier to pass quickly and safer too since there were some small pits you could walk into.
While you can see trails from here on out, they really are “use” trails. There are a lot more obstacles to cover as one goes along. You start encountered more walking on rocks than dirt at times. What you see ahead is known as the “false pass”. That headwall looks like you will pass into Yosemite, but it is not like that at all. Meanwhile, if you continue looking more to the right side of the above picture you can see the Matterhorn towering above.
Look familiar?