Yosemite Gazette Yosemite, California Nearly priceless January–March, 2010 Tehipite—another Yosemite Our crossword contributor tells a world-class fish story to Alex Trebek and the Jeopardy audience by Tom Gardner photo courtesy Tom Frost (From left) Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, and Yvon Chouinard, El Capitan summit, October 30, 1964, after their ten-day ascent of the North America Wall, Yosemite National Park, California. Tom Frost, 50 years of big rocks and photos by Marv Dealy We are excited to bring you the first installment of Tom Frost’s photographs, taken up to fifty years ago during the golden age of climbing. Tom climbed with now-famous names such as Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt and Yvon Chouinard. I talked with Tom while marveling at his photographs, and asked how he happened to be the one who took these pictures. He replied “I grew up in southern Geology of the Sierra by Marv Dealy The Sierra Nevada is the highest, longest and possibly the most spectacular mountain range in the lower 48 states. For those wondering, both the Appalachian and the Rocky Mountains are themselves made up of a number of individual mountain ranges, none as large as the Sierra. Forming the “backbone” of California, the Sierra stretch nearly 400 miles from Tehachapi Pass in the south to California and went to Stanford University to study mechanical engineering in 1957. I got mixed up with the Stanford Alpine Club and quite enjoyed learning rock climbing and going up to Yosemite a few times with them. “The first time I was there I was really taken by the place. After graduating I moved back down to southern California and found the climbers down there and met people like Yvon Chouinard and Frost, continued on page 10 Fredonyer Pass southeast of Mt. Lassen in the north. To the west of the Sierra is California’s Central Valley and to the east the Great Basin, which stretches to the Wasatch Mountains, generally considered to be the western edge of the greater Rocky Mountains. If you could slice into the Sierra like a pumpkin pie and examine a east-west cross section, you’d see that on the western side it slopes upward at a very gradual two degrees while on the eastern side it slopes at a much steeper twentyfive degrees. Geology, cont. on page 12 Yosemite Valley is a textbook example of a U-shaped glacial gorge that was carved out during the last Ice Age. Its waterfalls, cliffs, and pristine meadows along seven miles of the Merced River attract nearly three million visitors every year. However, Yosemite is not the only example of a glacial gorge in the Sierra Nevada; Hetch Hetchy Valley on the Tuolumne River is another. Further to the south, two more glacial gorges exist on the Kings River drainage in Fresno County. Like Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy, these valleys lie at about 4,000 feet above sea level. The better known of these two is the Kings Canyon along the south fork of that river, best known for the camping district called Cedar Grove, and the wilderness entry point at Zumwalt Meadows. While this gorge is nearly five miles long, it lacks the waterfalls and soaring cliffs that have made Yosemite famous. Several miles downstream the canyon takes on the classic Vshape from erosion and measures over 8,000 feet deep from the confluence with the Middle Fork of the Kings River to the top of Spanish Peak. At that point, it is the deepest canyon in North America, and a sight worth seeing from California Highway 180. Almost forgotten is the final U-shaped glacial gorge on the Middle Fork of the Kings River, Tehipite (tuh-hip-pit-tee) Valley. The name originates with the Mono Indian language and means “tall rock.” Petroglyphs can still be seen in one section of the valley. photo by Tom Gardner Tehipite Dome, which soars 3,600 feet above the valley floor—and some geologists think is the largest single block of granite in the Sierra Nevada. First discovered by a sheep herder named Frank Dusy in 1869, Tehipite was visited by John Muir in 1875 and again in 1877. Two features distinguish this valley from the other three more famous sites—its remoteness and its small size, less than one mile in length. Muir wrote an article about Tehipite Valley entitled “A Rival of the Yosemite” in the November 1891 edition of Century Magazine, for which he was paid $185, the equivalent at the time of about 9¼ ounces of gold which today would be worth more than $10,000. Tehipite, continued on page 13
Yosemite Gazette Yosemite, California  Nearly priceless  January   March, 2010  Tehipite   another Yosemite Our crossword ...
Page Two Yosemite Gazette The best way to see Yosemite is…on foot The Hiking Nun by Rick Deutsch One step at a time. One step at a time. That is the mantra to get you to the top. Is hiking up to 8,842 feet getting her closer to God? Beyond the physical upward movement towards heaven, there is time to contemplate one’s self. Perhaps she is getting closer to God. Kathy Littrell, a Catholic nun, is a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family, a Religious Community. Her normal “day job” is consumed with a vocation that includes parish work. The Sisters of the Holy Family work in parish ministries, home health care, child care, social work, retreat work, hospital chaplainship, religious teaching and the like. She does not wear the traditional black habit. Rather, this order blends in with society to allow Kathy to nurture her natural gift of walking with people on their own spiritual journeys. The Littrell family were camping enthusiasts and this instilled a love for the outdoors in young Kathy. During college, she was active in the church youth group, and was involved in teaching religious education in her parish. It was during this time that she met a Sister and became close friends. Something about her lifestyle attracted Kathy. This nun helped identify religious communities which would be a fit with her. Following her calling a few years after graduation, she entered the order, took her vows and became a sister of the Holy Family. A 2-week pre-departure camping trip to Yosemite cemented her love for the outdoors. She moved to Northern California to begin her work in parishes and faith communities. This was no stereotypical convent —although she has firm commitments to Community and Ministry, and the order encourages members to make time for whatever renews and enriches them. Kathy soon met several women who shared her love of the outdoors and was able to continue her passion for hiking and camping. She traveled to many parks—Yosemite and Saguaro National Parks are her favorites. She finds them renewing and re-energizing and she loves the smell of the outdoors, the sound of hiking boots on a trail and the less rushed pace to just enjoy the moment. Two years ago, Sister Kathy set a goal of hiking to the top of Yosemite’s signature landmark, “Half Dome.” This would exceed any quest she had been on previously. The 16-mile round trip day hike includes a nearly 2-mile vertical up/down challenge. The summit is reached only by negotiating a 425-foot climb at 45 degrees on granite with only the aid of a steel cable “banister” to provide support. This is an extremely strenuous hike that requires rigorous training to safely reach the apex at 8,842 feet. This hike takes many athletes 12 hours to complete. How could a full time nun even think of it? For many, hiking Half Dome is the equivalent of doing Mt. Everest. It’s hard. Besides the distance and altitude, issues such as dehydration, falling, blisters, darkness, acrophobia and plain old sore muscles are paramount concerns. Kathy proceeded to read the guide books about the hike. She attended formal presentations on how to do it successfully and safely. She talked to Half Dome hike veterans. She trained hard, spending hours hiking the local hills—over and over. Weeks of conditioning her legs for their ultimate test. This would be no walk in the park. She bought the recommended gear: trekking poles for stability and knee relief; a water filter pump to strain out the giardia parasite; a fanny pack to carry her food; first aid kit; flashlight and rain gear. Good hiking boots and blister treatment were paramount. To make sure she was ready, she drove the four hours to Yosemite and hiked up the side of 2,500-foot Yosemite Falls. This would be a good test to see if she could ascend the 4,700 feet to the top of Half Dome. The date for the adventure was picked, a friend recruited for company, a tent cabin reserved and the journey begun. The Half Dome hike itself was the pinnacle of all her hiking expe- photo by Rick Deutsch Kathy Littrell, the hiking nun, resting on Sub Dome. riences. A 5:30 am start in the dark was needed to beat the crowds that would do this popular hike. As she passed 300-foot Vernal Fall then 600-foot Nevada Fall, she found herself getting into a groove, but was still uncertain if she could actually complete this challenging hike. Tired but feeling good, she continued through Little Yosemite Valley and up the long climb of switchbacks towards the backside of Half Dome. Each moment of the day was a moment to enjoy. The camaraderie of others on their similar mission brought inner Nun, continued on page 14
Page Two  Yosemite Gazette  The best way to see Yosemite is   on foot The Hiking Nun by Rick Deutsch  One step at a time. ...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 Annals of a gold miner, Part III Life in the southern mines during the gold rush by Marc Fossum Installments I and II followed the adventures and misadventures of Jean-Nicolas Perlot and his nine partners in what he referred to as the La Fortune Company. After enduring both a harrowing ocean voyage “’round the Horn” and being abandoned on a beach in Monterey, Perlot and La Fortune Company found themselves in the Southern Mines of the California Gold Country. This third installment finds Perlot and his fellow miners under attack by local Indians. The winter of 1851–52 was particularly harsh. Thousands of newly arriving miners succumbed to the cold weather, lack of shelter, non-existent food supplies, malaria and other sicknesses. Upon arriving in the gold fields most miners lacked any knowledge of mining technique or even the equipment needed for working a claim of their own. The La Fortune Company was forced to split up into groups of two or three in order to survive. The Spring of 1852 found JeanNicolas Perlot prospecting for a profitable mining claim on the Chowchilla River, south of Mariposa. As the rivers and streams were at their high-water mark during the Spring run-off, Perlot soon discovered he could earn a decent income by hunting and selling his quarry to local butchers. In this way he helped feed many starving miners who lacked proper fire arms to hunt for themselves. Each evening Perlot would seek the company of French or Belgian miners he could camp with, as desperate miners were known to kill or maim another miner to steal his food and supplies. The local Indians were notorious for steeling horses, donkeys and mules to butcher for food. Perlot discovered a “passably rich” claim on the Chowchilla and invited three members of the defunct La Fortune Company to join him, “claiming” even more of the river by leveraging the other miners’ claim rights. The claims proved very profitable. Perlot writes that each miner realized six ounces of gold each day “after expenses.” At today’s gold prices that would be over $6,000 per day, per miner! A few weeks following the discovery of Perlot’s rich diggings the miners were faced with a new threat. Perlot writes of Indians stealing mules and donkeys from other miners up and down the Chowchilla River. In one night a total of 18 mules were reported stolen in the area. The miners united and set off in pursuit of the Indians, who easily outran the miners. After eight days the miners gave up and returned to their claims. Soon after, the Indians returned to the mining claims to steal more horses and mules. By now the miners had organized and were able to assemble 35 miners within 30 minutes. When the battle ended the miners had lost one mule, three miners were wounded, two of them lightly, and “one tent was pillaged.” Eighteen of the 35 miners took up the chase with provisions to last four days. Unable to catch the elusive Indians, the militia returned to their mining claims. The Indians returned and attacked for three consecutive nights. One miner suffered fatal wounds and others were seriously wounded by poison tipped arrows. The miners retreated to Mariposa where they convened with other miners of the area and drew up a petition, signed by 75 miners, Page Three demanding the outlawing of the Indians. The petition was publicly posted for 10 days without protest. The sheriff, sole civil and judiciary authority, rendered the following decree: “Whereas the Indian has openly made war on the miners and against all property…I pronounce the Indian outlawed. Consequently, everyone is permitted to kill the Indians he encounters anywhere in the county of Mariposa, on the sole condition of burying them and of letting the sheriff know where and how many of them he has killed.” At about the same time Perlot writes that the U.S. Government came to take official charge of the situation. The county seat was relocated to Mariposa from Agua Fria and the appointment of judges, prosecutors, justices of the peace, policemen and courts was taking place. He also writes of a delegate named Savage, who was fluent in the language of the Indian, arriving to assist in concluding a treaty of peace between the Indian tribes and the settlers. The treaty relocated the tribes to reservations in the San Joaquin Valley (out of the way of the miners) and charged the U.S. Government with supplying them with food and shelter. Thus, law and order were introduced to the Southern mines, and the Indians were removed. Perlot writes “The peace was made and, thenceforth, one was going to mine in full security—that was, at least, the common hope.”
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010  Annals of a gold miner, Part III Life in the southern mines during the gold r...
Page Four Yosemite Gazette Letters to the Editor Editor, Last issue I wrote of a love triangle that turned to murder. (Sensational Murder, Yosemite Gazette Oct.–Dec., 2009) At that time I could find no record of Maria (McSwain) Mitchell. There was speculation that she had come to an unpleasant end. But never one to just let things go, I kept digging. I found that Maria and her two children (William and Lillian) were living with her parents in Merced. As her husband stated, she had left him three weeks before the murder of her lover, Johnny Sheehan. Maria divorced Billy Mitchell while he was in prison. She eventually married again, and as far as I can tell she remained loyal to husband No. 2. She died in 1945, after living the remainder of her life in Merced. William (Billy) Mitchell was released on parole from San Quentin in 1906. Health issues stemming from his years in the mines of Coulterville and Big Oak Flat had taken their toll on Billy. This combined with good behavior led to an early release. Billy headed to Madera and went to work for a family friend. In 1909, Billy was pardoned by the Lt. Govenor of California, W.R. Porter. Billy’s friends, his at- torney and even the prison warden supported the pardon. The general consensus was that he had been driven temporarily insane by the breakup of his family. In Billy’s letter to the Governor, he mentioned his intention to leave California if a pardon was granted, but I found that Billy was in a Madera hospital in 1912. I can find no record of Billy’s death. I doubt he would have lasted much beyond 1912. Another tidbit of trivia: In 1945 Maria’s niece Agnes was convicted of killing her husband’s nurse. Agnes thought her husband (a doctor) was having an affair with his nurse. The doctor committed suicide before the trial. It was discovered that there had been no affair. A passionate family indeed! I’ll keep you posted if I find out more. D. Adams, Big Oak Flat, California Yosemite Gazette Yosemite Gazette the leading quarterly for the Yosemite Region prints 10,000 copies each issue and is online at YosemiteGazette.com Direct letters to the editor to editor@YosemiteGazette.com Ad information 209 962-7308 or email ads@YosemiteGazette.com Subscriptions, $30 per year, delivered via first class mail © 2010 All rights reserved. 100% published in the USA on paper. Editor, I have read a couple free issues of your newsletter and figured I better start “paying my share.” Encosed is a check fora one year subscription. Thanks for helping keep history alive. Mike Wenrich Mariposa, California is published quarterly by Throckmorten Enterprises 17433 Highway 120 P.O. Box 353 Big Oak Flat, California 95305 209 962-7308 209 962-5286 (fax) Editor and publisher, Marv Dealy Assistant to the Editor, Joyce Griffith Area Editors, Marc Fossum (Groveland), Cherylann Schimmelfennig (Coulterville) Ad Manager, Tony Kash Ad sales, Carrie Ashe and Dave Hammit Art, Chris Emmanuel Printing, Foothill Printing & Graphics  Editorial We want to thank you for picking up what we think is a pretty special issue of our Gazette. We feel so fortunate to have met Tom Frost and bring you the first of some of his spectacular photos of the earler days of big rock climbing, and stories of people he climbed with, all of which are legends in big rock climbing. We wish that we had more pages so that we could start right out with more of Tom’s wonderful photos, but you’ll have to wait until the next issue to see more, including a photo of the Skunk Works. Sharp-eyed regular readers may notice a bigger difference in the banner art, which occupies the space below our name on the front page. While artist Chris Emanuel—with help from two other artists on two of our past issues— has managed to add some variety to the scene that we brought you each issue, a friend suggested an entirely new approach which we’re beginning this issue. His idea—a good one that we’d like to acknowledge—was that we should present a different “scene” around the park with each issue, rather than always concentrating  on just the valley itself. So Chris came up with a great piece of artwork showing the view from Glacier Point, looking toward Half Dome. Our friend who made the suggestion liked a draft version, saying that things were where they were supposed to be, a veiled reference we think to the fact that we’d had some fun with the various features of the valley in the past, moving them around for artistic effect. We didn’t know we were causing such anguish, for which we’re sorry. You’ll also note that the corner art this isue features a little geologist, in honor of the theme of several stories. Help! is dedicated to making money. Area to be covered is The Gazette Highway 395 as far as you needs help in the advertising want to go. Good commisdepartment. sion plan. Call This is a fun job that requires Tony Kash 209 962-7308 a good salesperson who
Page Four  Yosemite Gazette  Letters to the Editor Editor, Last issue I wrote of a love triangle that turned to murder.  S...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 How this Gazette works This publication is produced by a tiny—yet struggling—privately owned company with the help of a lot of friends, most of whom don’t get paid a dime for their efforts. One reader told us he thought we were funded by some big grant and were a “non-profit.” I was able to assure him that the only thing that makes us a “non-profit” is that there isn’t enough advertising revenue to pay the expenses. We don’t receive any grants or public money to produce any part of this publication. Fees from the advertisers you see in these pages help us pay the printer, distribution, and ad sales expenses. Our small but growing number of subscribers also help meet costs. You can also purchase a bound copy of our first two years of issues, which will help defray expenses. We are hoping to grow this publication, which means we’ll be able to bring you a lot more great stories of the past and present in the area we call the Yosemite region, loosely defined as bounded by Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Las Vegas with Yosemite in the middle. Please don’t hesitate to submit original art, photography, or stories for publication, but don’t look to us as a way to retire easily or early. We’d like to tell you we have a budget to pay you for your stories, photos or artwork, but that just won’t be possible until we grow the publication a little more. A bound copy of our first two years is $59.95 per year, and is available at our website. We thank all of you for the many kind words we receive—it helps make it all worthwhile. Page Five Yosemite Road News Yosemite Gazette Online Yosemite National Park is open all year. Tioga Pass, Sonora Pass and the road to Glacier Point past Badger Pass all experience winter closures. When Tioga Pass is closed you cannot drive through Yosemite National Park to get from California to Nevada or vice versa. California state law requires you to carry chains when driving in the mountains when winter driving conditions exist, including 4x4 vehicles, even if they’re equipped with snow tires. For updated 24-hour road information in Yosemite call 209 372-0200 or visit NPS.gov/yose. Yosemite Weather You can check our website for a general idea of the current weather around Yosemite, but please remember we’re in the mountains and weather can change rapidly. You can watch webcams at the Yosemite Associations’s website that will show you current conditions with views from Turtleback Dome toward Half Dome, another view of Half Dome from Ahwahnee Meadow, a view from Tioga Pass and a view from below Sentinel Dome. Visit Yosemite.org/129/ Web-Cam-View.htm We’d like to encourage you to visit the online version of this paper at YosemiteGazette.com We’ve put a lot more work into the website, trying to make it as readable and easy to get around as possible. We haven’t had the time we’d like to add more pictures to the stories posted, but we promise that’ll come with time. There are just too many good pictures to leave them on a hard drive in our office and not share them with you. The website is laid out so that all the stories from the current issue start on the home page. All stories and the pictures that were printed with them from previous issues are in the archives just a click away. Of course it’s not quite like having a paper copy to hold in your hands, but it’s close. Thanks to Google and other search engines, we believe that readers far and wide will be able to find the Yosemite Gazette. We encourage you to pass along our URL (YosemiteGazette.com) to all your friends and family.
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010  How this Gazette works This publication is produced by a tiny   yet strugglin...
Page Six Yosemite Gazette A “LuLu” Of A Story A stewardess who dated Elvis and flew with the Rat Pack, the Oakland Raiders, Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson by Dave Witta-Hamlett Mary Lou (LuLu) Finley grew up in North Fork, below Bass Lake in Eastern Madera County, California, just south of Yosemite Park. She left the mountain and returned in style thirty years later. Mary Lou was raised near Manzanita Lake. They had an old camping trailer with a hand crank to raise the top. When they took the top off and turned it upside down, they had a makeshift boat for “Huckleberry Finn adventures.” Her brother wanted a sailboat and after putting a hole in the bottom for the mast, ended their adventures. LuLu’s dad, Lew Talbot, was a photographer and took pictures— still on display—of the conversion of a local creek to what is now Bass Lake. Although he had barely a third grade education, he was the smartest man LuLu knew. In the evenings they would get their dictionary out for a game of “Stump Dad,” which they were never able to do. He always spelled and defined the words they quizzed him on correctly. Her mother, Margaret Talbot, was the stabilizer, who loved her family and went to great lengths to do things for them. Her thoughts of her mom turn to perfection and this is where the family vocal talent came from. When her mom sang people would stop and listen. Lulu played a record for me of her brother, John, an opera singer with a great voice. Her sister Kathy sang some of the high parts in Walt Disney cartoons. Mary Lou wanted to sing, but as she said, “my brother and sister taught me to harmonize, and then tolerated me.” Her mother told her dancing was her forte, so she pursued it, becoming a majorette and cheer leader. LuLu benefited from the individual attention at a small elementary school. Attending Auberry’s Sierra High, LuLu majored in having fun rather than learning. Her vice principal wrote in her yearbook “knowing you is better than knowing people.” Mary Lou has mastered that major, because she is still having fun. LuLu left the hill and North Fork to have fun and impact the world with her “small town girl” enthusiasm. After attending college for a short stint, she got a position with Western Airlines. She chose this smaller airline based on wisdom from her father “to be a big frog in a small pond.” And she got paid to travel—how great is that? She was excited as she would get off one flight and on another, traveling to most of the countries of the world. After six months she was promoted to public relations. Due to her “small town girl enthusiasm” everything seemed to amaze her. She started getting featured in advertising spots, did a number of their flying conventions for a variety of industries and was instrumental in promoting Wally the bird. She was also the stewardess for the Oakland Raiders. In the 1950s and 1960s, a stewardess’s career ended when she either turned 35, got married, or had children. Married and with her daughter, Lori, LuLu’s career with Aero Info, Inc. a proud supporter of the Yosemite Gazette since 2007 • Boeing licensed GSE supplier • Specializing in avionics test equipment AeroInfoInc.com photo courtesy Mary Lou (LuLu) Finley Mary Lou (LuLu) Finley during her days as a Western Airlines stewardess. Western ended. She was hired by the Air Tour Division of the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas, which turned out to be her favorite job. The clientele, high rollers or celebrities, were flown into Vegas for no charge. LuLu was exposed to what she called “a life not conducive to the art of pure living.” Fortunately, because of her small town roots integrity the clients respected her, not trying to involve her in their lifestyles. She made many of her flights with the Rat Pack. Her favorite was Sammy Davis, Jr. She even dated Elvis Presley. This was during his quiet, shy time in which LuLu did all the talking during their date. At any rate, LuLu had fun. During their presidential campaigns, she flew with John and Robert Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Lulu, continued on page 7
Page Six  Yosemite Gazette  A    LuLu    Of A Story A stewardess who dated Elvis and flew with the Rat Pack, the Oakland R...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 Lulu, from page 6 The bigger airlines started doing things to compete with the smaller private airlines, putting them out of business, which became another ending and beginning for LuLu. She was picked up by the supplemental carriers for hire like Flying Tigers for the purpose of transporting military personnel and the families of military personnel. LuLu modeled with Juliet Gibson and Patricia Stevens, a modeling agency and finishing school. Though thin enough, she was not tall enough and talked about clothes being pinned up or standing on props. Lulu later became their head teacher and model. Her daughter followed her in modeling, and managed to earn more than her mom. Mary Lou opened Fowler Aeronautical Agency for flight attendants, teaching basic indoctrination, coordinating communication between the FAA and the airlines during emergencies, as well as trouble shooting to new and potential flight attendants for 28 different airlines, corporations, and the military. At their request, LuLu taught King Fahd’s flight crew. She made corrections and recommendations that were considered and retrofitted to his plane. LuLu taught an airline flight attendant training program that became a major for aviation careers photo courtesy Golden Chain Theater Mary Lou (LuLu) Finley today, in costume for one of her performances with the Golden Chain Theater, poses with an fellow actor, Jim Roberts. along with marketing and tourism at Santa Ana College. She was so well liked her students called her “mom.” The school made reference to it and told LuLu that this kind of behavior was inappropriate for college. She told them she must be in the wrong place and needed to move on, since her classes were more than just “learning“ required “personality and people skills.” She won and taught until she retired back to the “hill.” The small town girl who left the mountain to impact a very large world returned home, back to her friends, her family, and the mountain she loves so much. Her calendar filled up quickly with fashion shows, lecturing engagements, the Mountain Belle Contests, and the Loggers’ Jamboree. From serving the airlines and passengers to serving her community, Lulu’s life gives you a glimpse into who she is. Family is very important to her and the pictures of her daughter and five grandchildren hang prominently on the walls of the hallway in her home. She has two dogs and Page Seven a cat, each with a personal story of rescue. Her beautiful house on the mountain has a spectacular view of the Oakhurst valley all the way to Yosemite. Also lining the walls of the hallway are mementos of her achievements including awards with the Golden Chain Theatre, Honorary Mayor for a year, and Woman of the Year 2007. The Honorary Mayor award allowed LuLu to get deeply involved with everything from lecturing to judging of contests, spring boarding her to the Woman of the Year award. LuLu has been president of the Golden Chain Theater for three years. She is also active with the Sierra Historical Society (also known as the Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park) in Oakhurst and the Soroptimist International of the Sierra. Her desire is to do workshops for young people, helping them to see their opportunities, grab hold of them, and help them live fulfilled lives. The Golden Chain Theater allows her to do that since many are young actors in training. Their parents drop them off with LuLu where she helps them develop their skills and talents, treating them like extended members of her family. I still see a little girl inside of LuLu that is absolutely in awe of the wonderful things she has experienced. This underlying humbleness mixed with the right amount of confidence is what keeps her vivacious and so full of life. LuLu left the mountain a beautiful young woman to return as a handsome, slightly older version of herself with all the same passion and joy for life.
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010 Lulu, from page 6  The bigger airlines started doing things to compete with th...
Page Eight Yosemite Gazette The 1997 New Years Day Flood Water from rain and suddenly melting snow turns many parts of the Sierra, the foothills and the Central Valley into rushing torrents by Yosemite Gazette staff On the last day of 1996, signs that something big could go wrong soon in Yosemite were everywhere. After a very cold storm dumped many feet of snow a tropical storm quickly followed. A fresh new layer of wet snow from the peaks to the valleys was melting, and a warm rain was falling steadily even in higher elevations on top of the fresh snow, conditions that seldom occur. To make matters worse, the law of gravity was in full effect. Most Yosemite residents, including Colleen and Butch Castro, knew that it takes until about 2 or 3 a.m. for melted snow and the fallen rain of the day to reach the valley floor and rev up the flow of streams and rivers to their high for the day. Tonight, they knew, it would be worse than usual. A lot worse. Late on December 31st the dispatch center in Yosemite National Park called Butch, a National Park Service (NPS) forestry worker, and told him to stand by for orders to report for duty. The runoff from the snow and rain had already reached flood stage but the river was still rising; the flood hadn’t arrived yet—it was still on its way. Dispatch told Butch that Yosemite National Park was closed to the public and evacuations had begun to get everyone out of Yosemite Valley. On January 1st, dispatch called Butch to work. “We were in Oakhurst at a friend’s house for the New Year’s celebration but we had to get Butch to his reporting station in Yosemite Valley,” Colleen remembers. “We loaded up the kids and drove Highway 41, the south entrance into Yosemite.” They were allowed through that closed entrance station and the next road closure. “The only vehicles on the road were tourists and employees leaving the park. It seemed like we were the only ones trying to get in. Once we reached Yosemite Valley you could feel the power in the air of the torrential flowing water,” she remembers. “The air was reverberating from the power of the water shooting over the waterfalls. Upper Yosemite Falls was like a massive water canon with the water shooting straight out over the cliff, not just falling. When full sized trees, large boulders and ice chunks came over the falls you could feel the “Boom! Boom! The power of all that water was amazing!” Yosemite is known for its ephemeral or seasonal waterfalls such as Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil but on this day, January 1st 1997, there were waterfalls everywhere! In Yosemite Valley the tributary streams such as Bridalveil Creek were flowing over the road carrying small logs, silt and other debris. At first the reporting Park Service workers’ main job was to evacuate the hundreds of tourists stranded in the flood. Tour buses found their way into the park as part of the evacuation effort. At the Sentinel Bridge, water was reaching flood level, and below Pohono Bridge where Highways 120 and 140 connect, the road was starting to erode. Although technically Butch was a forestry worker, during this assignment he was heavily involved with emergency operations to ensure people weren’t stranded. He was also involved with sand bagging and mitigating the hazard of trees caught in the flood. Some workers were carefully placed inside the bucket on the front of earth-moving equipment to drive through the high water to search for stranded people. His brother, also a Park Service forestry worker, was assigned to the same area, and the two worked side by side some of the time. Due to the conditions, even before the river neared flood stage, the Park Service realized the severity of the situation and made the decision to close Yosemite National Park. NPS rangers were posted at all the entrance stations and for the first time in years Yosemite National Park was completely closed. The Merced River, running through the busiest part of the park in Yosemite Valley, bore the brunt of the overflow, although Tuolumne River did its share of spreading the flood to the north and causing more damage to the California Central Valley. As the river hurled its extra load of water to lower elevations, campgrounds and lodging sites were washed away in a large scale cleansing. The river drew the water along the path of least resistance, pulling bridges from their moorings and dragging trees and pickup trucks and thousands of other items into the swirl of water. They say this was a “100 Year Flood” but Butch’s Grandfather, also a former Yosemite resident and employee, told stories of the 1937 and 1955 floods. He vividly remembered the California Conservation Corp building floating down the river in Yosemite Valley in the flood of 1955. All rivers flood in the natural process, bringing new soil and changing river courses. Unfortunately, we have built many of our structures in Yosemite’s major flood plains. After the 1950 flood all of the buildings in the original Yosemite Village were moved to higher ground or destroyed—all except the Yosemite Chapel which was raised to a higher foundation but was inundated by water during this flood. By January 3rd, the raging Merced River was finally below flood stage. The thousands of tourists caught by the flooding had been safely removed. No deaths or serious injuries had been reported. Gradually the water sank into the soil. New grasses and trees popped up out of the refreshed soil. By spring run-off time, the flow of the Merced River topped 4,400 cubic feet per second (cps) at the Pohono Bridge and the high water mark at the bridge was within 1.7 feet of flood stage, compared with a flow rate of 24,600 cps and standing waves 10 feet high during the January flood. As always, the forces of nature were still in control. It would take several million dollars to restore the park’s human infrastructure to its previous condition. The Yosemite Valley sewage system had been destroyed. Small sections of the major roads were eroded or completely washed away. Two of Yosemite Valley’s seven campgrounds, Upper and Lower River Campgrounds had been wiped out. Over half of Yosemite Valley’s 900 campsites had been damaged by the flood waters. Almost 300 guest lodges were inundated by 5 to 8 feet of water. Total cost for rebuilding Yosemite Park after the flood was estimated at $178 million, including moving some of the Yosemite Lodging and park buildings from the flood plain. Trees were uprooted and boulders moved along the Merced River. Animals and birds were sent scurrying from the ominous force of the flood to higher ground only to return within days after the flood waters receded. Six years after the flood, Michael J. Tollefson, park super-
Page Eight  Yosemite Gazette  The 1997 New Years Day Flood Water from rain and suddenly melting snow turns many parts of t...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 intendent stated that all in all the flooding had made a positive contribution to the park. The highest priority, he said, must be to restore the park to its natural purpose, to conserve the natural systems. The campgrounds that were destroyed in the flooding, he said, “are part of the Merced River ecosystem, which is considered a highly valued resource in Yosemite Valley. The river and its banks, known as the riparian zone, are increasingly recognized as important habitat for many plant and animal species. Seasonal flooding of the river is an important natural process that contributes nutrients to wetlands, recharges groundwater, and improves water quality. Restoration efforts will return these important functions to the east end of Yosemite Valley.” Citizen groups have different perspectives on what should happen to the Yosemite Valley in the future. Plans range from restoring the campgrounds to their former capacity to developing the valley with upscale lodging and commercial establishments to allowing them to return to their undisturbed natural state without commercial development of any kind. While the degree and type of development and restoration in this popular section of Yosemite Valley hangs in the balance, snow will continue to fall and melt, and rain will fall. In man’s eyes we think flooding causes damage but in reality flooding is part of the natural water cycle, the natural process of cleansing and renewal. In 1997 the Merced River flooding removed tons of debris that had settled in the valley over the past centuries. The floods strengthened the area in the long run by removing weaker rocks and trees, depositing a new layer of nutrient rich silt and rearranging water flow. Whatever the future of the Yosemite Valley area may be, the forces of nature always cast the deciding vote. In Yosemite National Park the natural processes continue, as they should, unimpaired for future generations to witness in awe. Page Nine New improved Merced River Plan Big changes coming by Rick Deutsch One of the treasures of Yosemite National Park is the Merced River. A total of 81 miles of the river flow through the park and it is a highpoint of the Valley. It is the carotid artery of the park as it meanders down from its mountain source above Merced Lake. The 594-foot Nevada Fall and 317-foot Vernal Fall are major points in its flow. Its 112-mile path takes it down unbroken until it reaches Lake McClure, formed by New Exchequer Dam. Passing the dam, it joins the San Joaquin River a few miles south of Turlock. The current flow averages about 200 cubic feet per second with the gauge station at Happy Isles averaging over 350 cubic feet per second. During the spring runoff, Class 5 rapids are experienced near the Vernal Fall Bridge. In the 1980s there was discussion about adding a dam to the river below the park boundaries. Environmentalists and developers sparred until the Merced was officially “protected” under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). Currently only 166 rivers in 38 states have this Congressional designation. (This is only ¼ of 1% of our rivers!) 1997 was an El Nino year. The park experienced heavy rain, warm temperatures and heavy snowpack leading to the January Merced River flood. (Read about the 1997 flood and aftermath in the accompanying story on page 8.) The National Park Service (NPS) decided to wait until the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan was finalized before beginning an extensive and expensive restoration. A Comprehensive Management Plan was drafted in 1999 was released in 2000. This was followed by the Yosemite Valley Plan. In August, 2000 the Friends of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Government filed a lawsuit because they feared that the $175M approved for the rebuilding would lead to road-widening projects, more asphalt for new parking areas and upscale motel units. Plans to expand the Yosemite Lodge fueled the fire. Throughout the first decade of this century, the courts upheld the injunctions that were placed on the park preventing further action. During this time the term “visitor capacity” came to the forefront as a discrete number of people entering the park. This number was used in an attempt to mitigate impact on the Merced. On September 29, 2009, a settlement was reached between the park and the plaintiffs. This settlement requires a relook at all planning (with a clean slate) and with a court mandated target for completion of a December 2012 Merced River Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. Then it gets implemented and we live with it. Although the WSRA only designates a quarter-mile corridor of concern for rivers, the New Merced River Plan will have far reaching implications. It will include park wide transportation planning, updated user capacity planning and area plans for the Valley, Wawona, Merced Lake High Sierra Camp and El Portal. Specific area of focus include campgrounds, lodging, restoration, recreation, transportation and park operations. MRP, continued on page 14 One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome • The Only dedicated Half Dome Guide • Covers History, Geology, Preparation • Includes 60 Pictures • Gear Checklist • 16 Points of Interest with Mileage Altitude, Elapsed Time $12.95 plus tax at REI, Yosemite, outfitters and bookstores www.HikeHalfDome.com
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010 intendent stated that all in all the flooding had made a positive contribution...
Page Ten Frost, continued from page 1 Royal Robbins. Royal had been in the Army and when he got out he said he was planning to do a second ascent of Warren Harding’s Nose Route on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, which Harding had done for the first time a couple of years prior to that. It had taken him 45 days and 30 nights spread over a year and a half and used 3,000 feet of fixed rope. Harding was the leader of the first group to climb El Capitan. “Royal planned to do a second ascent which would be a continuous ascent using no fixed rope. He invited me to go along with him; changed my whole life right there. In September, 1960 we started up the Nose. We planned for ten days and finished the climb in seven days and had a great time just being up there on such a big rock for so long. I thought when I stepped off onto the summit from the last move I was stepping right into Heaven, it was that big of an experience for me. “In 1961 Robbins, Chuck Pratt and I climbed a new route on El Capitan called the Solitary Wall, on the southwest face and then a few years later the North American wall which is the southeast face. Climbing with these guys was a great experience. I had taken an old Leica camera along on the climb. I’m very pleased that I did, and was able to take these photographs that are now being published in the Yosemite Gazette. The camera had a separate light meter and on the Nose climb, the first El Capitan climb, Bill Furror loaned me his Leica and showed me how to use it and then I started up the Nose. I learned how to take pictures as we were climbing. “The best pictures are some of the earliest ones. Then I bought my own camera. We were influenced by Ansel Adams so I was always shooting black and white film; Yosemite lends itself to that. I have over 1,000 rolls of film that I’ve shot over the years, not all in Yosemite.” We’re happy that Tom is willing to share his marvelous photos and stories so we can bring them to you. Yosemite Gazette photo by Royal Robbins, courtesy of Tom Frost photo courtesy Tom Frost Tom Frost under Salathé Roof, El Capitan, on his last big climb in 2001. Photo to right shows Tom in about the same place but 40 years earlier. Headwall Roof, 1961 by Tom Frost Steve Roper writes in Camp 4 of the nature of the Salathé Wall climb: “Most impressive of all were two awesome, and connected, sections near the top: a tiered ceiling they simply called the Roof and the overhanging wall just above, dubbed the Headwall. These two sections didn’t need complex names; they are classics Tom Frost leads pitch 29, the Salathé Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California. First ascent by Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, and Tom Frost, 9½ days, September 1961. of the genre. The ceiling jutted out perhaps twelve feet, yet the tiers contained hidden but nearperfect cracks, and Frost nailed this quickly. Above lay a 150foot headwall, tilted five degrees beyond the vertical. Bottomed and flared cracks shot up this sober and grainy expanse, but pitons nevertheless stuck long enough for upward progress. The exposure defied description. An object let loose from here will spin free for about 400 feet before brushing the near-vertical cliff below. Seconds Lodging, restaurants, real estate and visitor info 800 449-9120 YosemiteChamberofCommerce.com later it will kiss the wall two or three times before exploding into the forest, 2,000 feet below.” We had spotted the Salathé Roof, and the single crack running up the center of the Headwall, during our reconnaissance from El Cap Meadow several days before beginning the climb. It looked spectacular, even from the ground. But the full force of the exposure Roper describes did not reveal itself until we started out into that spacey place. It was an experience of a lifetime.
Page Ten Frost, continued from page 1 Royal Robbins. Royal had been in the Army and when he got out he said he was plannin...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 Page Eleven The two greatest climbers by Tom Frost The two greatest climbers of their generation, Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins, study the route above to see what it holds for them. Now, in the early ‘60s, and here, atop the El Cap Spire half way up El Capitan, the two climbers enjoy the peak of their game. Royal was the prima facie leader of Yosemite’s Golden Age and Chuck’s ability naturally connected him with Yosemite granite. Pat Ament wrote: “No three climbers were ever more intimate with Yosemite or with El Capitan than Robbins, Pratt, and Frost. More than any other route, this great wall, the southwest face of El Capitan, became a symbol of perfect friendship combined with the perfect route. It was the ultimate Yosemite adventure. Climbers for years to come would place their hands and feet on the same holds and drive their bodies up the same cracks, almost as though the purpose was as much to feel the souls of those three pioneer climbers as it was to reach the top.” (Wizards of Rock) photos this page by Tom Frost THE TWO GREATEST CLIMBERS (above) of their generation, Chuck Pratt and Royal Robbins atop El Cap Spire, the Salathé Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California. First ascent by Robbins, Pratt, and Frost, 9½ days, September 1961. COOL AID (right) Royal Robbins climbs the third pitch of the Salathé Wall during the same climb. Michael J. Malloy Certified Public Accountant Cool aid, 1961 by Tom Frost mike@michaelmalloy.com 1001 Bayhill Dr., 2nd Floor San Bruno, CA 94066 650 616-4305 510 220-7830 (cell) PO Box 370 17390 Highway 120 Big Oak Flat, CA 95305 209 962-7830 209 962-6727 (fax) “The image of Royal Robbins in the early and mid 1960s was the very expression of Yosemite.” (Pat Ament, Wizards of Rock) “Climbing as we know it would not exist without Royal Robbins. The way we move, behave, and even think is, 30 years after the end of his Yosemite reign, shaped by Robbins. His competitive drive was the impetus for Yosemite’s Golden Age, a period of such progress that may never be matched. Robbins’ laundry list of firsts stretches around the globe, but most remarkable is the Salathé Wall in 1961, a serpentine, natural line that he, Tom Frost and Chuck Pratt pioneered in semi-alpine style with just 13 bolts—a hole count that remains El Cap’s lowest.” (Duane Raleigh, Rock and Ice 142) “Robbins saw that climbing big walls in good style could do wonders for the soul. Climbing, for him, tended to be a spiritual exercise: not man overcoming the rock with garrison tactics, but man striving and reaching for a deeper meaning. If you pushed into the unknown, then perhaps you’d discover something about yourself.” (Steve Roper, Camp 4) Here, Royal leads the third pitch of the Salathé Wall. The climbing route follows natural rock features where cracks provide handholds and enable the placement of pitons. As the second man followed each pitch he removed the pitons. Thus, the route was left for the next party in the same condition in which we found it. This leave-no-trace philosophy was a cornerstone of Robbins’ style. His was a natural style, incorporating appreciation, cooperation and stewardship.
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010  Page Eleven  The two greatest climbers by Tom Frost  The two greatest climber...
Page Twelve Geology, continued from page 1 Rain clouds moving east from the Pacific Ocean are intercepted by the Sierra, meaning snow and rain falls on the western side and the eastern side is dry. On the western side, numerous rivers have carved deep canyons on their way to the sea, meandering through forests nearly too thick to walk through. On the eastern side, the barren, steep rocks seem to be nearly all there is to see. While we may look at the Sierra and think they’ve always been here, of course that’s not true. They actually started to form in the Triassic period, extending from 200 to 250 million years ago. At that time, a long-gone tectonic plate containing an arc of volcanic islands began to be pushed into the west coast of the North American plate by what we now call the Pacific plate, beginning the formation of a subduction zone at the western edge of the continent. The oceanic plate began to dive beneath the North American plate as it was denser. The North American plate, being more boyount, tended to float above and the force of the subduction helped create the folds which we call ridges and mountains. The oceanic plate being shoved under the North American plate began to melt as it was forced beneath the earth’s crust and the resulting magma rose in numerous plumes to form what we know as the Sierra Nevada batholith long before the Sierra first began to rise. (Batholith is from the Greek words bathos, deep, and lithos, rock.) For a long time the Sierra were quite low, before mountain building forces came into play. The Sierra batholith was exposed when tectonic forces began to push the mountains upward, and erosion wore down all the material that had previously covered it. The material that was worn away by wind and rain eventually filled California’s Central Valley.The exposed portions of the batholith became the granite peaks familiar in the Sierra, such as Half Dome, El Capitan and Mount Whitney. Today, most of the batholith is still below the surface. What we call granite is actually a really big rock with a random distribution of light Yosemite Gazette ogy of the Sierra Nevada, by Mary Hill, p. 170) Tombstone rocks appeared when the uplifting and folding forces of plate tectonics pushed them into a fold that eventually snapped. I was able to observe one selection of these rocks where I could clearly see where illustrations by Chris Emanuel the fold had Upper illustration shows tilting and uplifting of the been along a Sierran block. Lower illustration shows subduction of ridge top, with oceanic plate under continental plate. tombstone rocks to the left of the north-south path and dark materials, creating a salt of the fold leaning toward the east, and pepper appearance that was those to the right leaning toward created when magma was allowed the west, and those along the cento slowly cool beneath the surface of the earth. All rocks are made up ter standing straight up. It was easy to see how the one flat sediment of crystals, and in granite they are had been folded, then broken, by coarse enough to be seen with just your eye. By comparison, rock that the mountain building forces. The Sierra were once thought to was formed by magma exploding be one large mass of granite, but through a fissure or vent in the it has been discovered to actually Earth’s surface, called lava, cools be a collection of many plumes or quickly into volcanic rock and plutons (named for Pluto, Roman most crystals in volcanic rock are so small that a microscope or loupe god of the underworld) that formed from repeated episodes of magma is needed to see them. intruding into older host rocks If the volcanic material is under the surface of the Earth. ejected underwater, it forms what Volcanoes became active in the is called pillow lava. Tombstone Sierra, particularly north of the rocks, which started my steep Yosemite region, at the same time learning curve about Sierra geology, are “metamorphosed volcanic the mountain range was undergoing both erosion from rivers and rock that crops out as isolated uplift from tectonic forces. A numslabs…[and are] the product of ber of volcanoes extending along undersea volcanoes of 140 milwhat is now the crest of the Sierra lion years ago, now upended and erupted huge volumes of material changed by mountain-building during a period from about 20 to 5 forces. A field of such slabs million years ago. These volcanoes reminded early miners of an unwere related to the still-active tended cemetery, hence the name volcanoes in the Cascade Range of tombstone rocks, gravestone slate, today in Oregon and Washington. or gravestone schist.” (from Geol- The volcanoes in the Sierra turned off as a result of the San Andreas strike-slip fault, which caused the subduction driving the Cascade volcanoes to migrate north. Lassen Peak in northern California is the southernmost active volcano of this still active group of volcanoes. During this period of volcanic activity, the Sierra to the north of Yosemite was buried by volcanic mud flows, lava flows and volcanic tuff that traveled great distances, much of it reaching to the edge of California’s Central Valley and some reaching south to the northern part of Yosemite. A cataclysmic eruption around three-quarters of a million years ago created the Long Valley caldera, within which now sits the town of Mammoth Lakes, to the east of Yosemite. This eruption may have spewed 2,500 times as much ash as did the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption; ash traveled as far east as Nebraska. The Mono Craters and Inyo domes between Mono Lake and Mammoth Lakes have erupted from time to time during the past few thousand years, most recently about 600 years ago. Future volcanic activity in this area is likely. The lava flows that make up the complex known as Table Mountain near Jamestown, California, west of Yosemite, are evidence of these lava flows. If you drive west on O’Byrnes Ferry Road just past the Sierra Conservation Center (it’s a prison—don’t pick up hitchhikers) you’ll be able to see where the ancient flow of the Stanislaus River appears to have cut through the lava flow that continues to the west of Lake Tulloch. If you’re lucky enough to have a trained geologist with you, just after crossing the dam you’ll see in a cut in the bank where the ancient riverbed once flowed.
Page Twelve Geology, continued from page 1  Rain clouds moving east from the Pacific Ocean are intercepted by the Sierra, ...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 Page Thirteen Tehipite, continued from page 1 Muir described Tehipite Dome, which soars 3600 feet above the valley floor—and some geologists think is the largest single block of granite in the Sierra Nevada—in his article. He also described Silver Spray Falls, which drops about 1800 feet, mostly over cascades comparable to the middle section of Yosemite Falls except for the final 400 foot plunge into a spectacular pool. Muir also wrote about encountering a California grizzly bear that was feasting on black oak acorns, and was quite happy the bear never spotted him. The Kings Canyon and Tehipite Valley were specifically excluded from the original boundaries of Kings Canyon National Park by President Roosevelt in 1940, no doubt to minimize the uproar should another dam be constructed like O’Shaughnessy on the Tuolumne River. Maps published from 1940 to 1964 show a careful delineation of the Park boundary above the floor for both valleys. However, 1964, both areas were included in new park lines, forever protected from the fate suffered by Hetch Hetchy. I first learned of Tehipite Valley in the summer of 1967 while working on a back country trail crew in Sequoia National Park. We were supplied every ten days or so by a packer with a string of mules and horses. I happened to overhear a conversation between the trail boss photo courtesy Tom Gardner Tehipite Tom cooking the catch of the day. and our packer; the week before he had made a trip into the Middle Fork of the Kings to provision a trail crew working in Simpson Meadow, 10 miles above Tehipite. He swore he would never make that trip again, so I asked why. He replied the route was the worst in both National Parks, terrible switchbacks, no water for the horses, and the valley was full of rattlesnakes. I asked, “How is the fishing there?” He replied, “Probably very good, since nobody goes there.” It would not be for another six years before I had a chance to find out for myself, but that would be the first of seven expeditions to the Valley over a thirty year span. Tehipite Valley is not an easy destination to reach. The closest trailhead is near Wishon Reservoir, a three hour drive from downtown Fresno. From there, it is seventeen dusty miles to the top of the An Eastern Gateway Village to Yosemite Family Vacation Destination Lodging–Condos, Cabins, Motels World Renowned Trout Fishing Hiking, Biking, Kayaking, Swimming Dining, Delis, Groceries, Camping Private and Forest Service RV Parks June Mountain Ski Area, Snow Sports www.JuneLakeChamber.org Miner’s Mart • Gas, diesel and propane exchange • Hot and cold food • Coffee bar, fresh pastries • Tri-tip sandwiches Fridays Monday—Thursday 5 am to 8 pm Friday 5 am to 9 pm Saturday 6 am to 9 pm Sunday 6 am to 8 pm (no hot food) 17451 Highway 120, Big Oak Flat, California • 209 962-4768 “where the big oak of Big Oak Flat once stood” illustration by Marv Dealy from artwork by Google Earth This illustration from Google Earth looks eastward up Tehipite and shows where the 1997 flood debris rests today. switchbacks, then down 3,000 feet of poorly maintained trail. Drive time included, backpackers should allow three days to reach the Valley, and be prepared for very sore knee muscles upon arrival. This trip is definitely worth the time and effort involved—imagine having a small section of Yosemite Valley all to yourself. Tehipite Valley generally hosts 200-300 people per year in a season that extends from July thru October. My first journey to Tehipite Valley was in October 1973. The days were warm, the nights were crisp, and the black oaks were in full fall color. Even the waterfall was flowing, at a time when Yosemite Falls is usually nothing but a wet patch at the top and a trickle at the bottom. The fishing was fantastic, and I vowed to return. The next—and most memorable—trip was three years later. The trip was memorable for what I was able to recount as the world’s best fish story some twenty years later in 1995 when I was a contestant on Jeopardy! The story I told Alex Trebek and the audience went something like this: Tom: I’ve been told it’s the world’s greatest fly fishing story, Alex. In 1976, I was fly fishing on the Kings River in Fresno County, and I was catching Rainbow Trout left, right, and center, until I hooked, on a back cast, a 28 inch rattlesnake. Alex: OK, so you flicked it forward? Tom: Well, I tried to drown him; he swam out of the river, so eventually he ended up between a rock and a hard place. I cut the body up and tossed it back into the river for the brown trout, and I kept the rattles—seven buttons. Alex: Yeah, those rattlesnakes, fish love rattlesnakes. We’re going to take a break, I don’t know what I’m talking about, we’ll be back after this. Later, I was fortunate to meet Alex outside the studio. I will state he is the most intelligent person I have ever met, and he really did know what he was talking about— brown trout love rattlesnakes. On my fourth trip to Tehipite in 1979, I was again fishing in almost the same location, and with great success. Somewhere after trout number forty I had a little six incher on the line and was bringing it in but not paying too much attention. Suddenly, my pole bent over double. I wondered how such a little trout could wrap itself around a rock, but then I saw this rainbow was in the jaws of a monster 29” brown trout that was not going to let go of its next meal. I maneuvered both fish next to my ankle, and then tried to grab the tail of the brown trout with my free hand. It released the smaller rainbow, and although it was pretty badly chewed up I unhooked and gently put it back into the river. The rainbow swam a few yards, then disappeared. I suppose by letting the rainbow go the huge brown was thanking me, in its own peculiar manner, for a tasty snake dinner three years before. My winnings on Jeopardy! paid for the sixth expedition to Tehepite Valley, but this Tehipite, continued on page 14
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010  Page Thirteen  Tehipite, continued from page 1  Muir described Tehipite Dome,...
Page Fourteen Nun, continued from page 2 rewards in addition to the purity of nature all around. The day wore on. One step at a time. Steeper, longer, thirsty, hungry and tired. Then she caught a second wind. A feeling of a revelation of Creation and of self and therefore God came over her. The hike became a joy for what is was—not just getting to the top but for the life experience it provided: the journey. Then she caught sight of the cables and the summit. There in all its majesty was the scariest thing Kathy had seen since the Giant Rollercoaster at Knott’s Berry Farm. “Oh, my gosh!” Pictures do not instill the feeling that seeing it for the first time does. “I’m actually going to go up this? I’m a 48-year old Sister, not Edmund Hillary!” Knowing that only one person has fatally fallen since 1919 did not make it easier. Thankfully, she brought her cable gripping gloves and was mentally prepared—and well ahead of the 800 people who would also go up it that day in caterpillar fashion. Kathy’s early arrival would allow her to go at her own pace and not be waiting as others froze in fear. Twenty minutes of a steady grind upward; muscles and legs all pulling together to take her up and up. “Don’t look down.” Focus. One step at a time. Finally, 25 minutes on the cables and she reached the top. And then the view—the valley, El Capitan, the Ahwahnee, Glacier Point followed by the biggest “YES!” heard that day. The joy of accomplishment. One step at a time. She finished the 13-hour day and earned the right to buy an “I made it to the top” shirt and a souvenir pin. Looking back, Sister Kathy says that the Half Dome hike wasn’t actually a goal to get closer to God. All hikes serve this purpose for her. Half Dome is just the ultimate hiking experience and therefore the ultimate metaphor for journey, life and seeing God. She has moved to Sonora to be closer to her beloved Yosemite. She is already planning to celebrate her 25th year as a nun in 2011—and plans to reserve the Yosemite chapel for the ceremony. I wonder if a hike up Half Dome will be on the program. Yosemite Gazette MRP, continued from page 9 While all this may sound like legal mumbo jumbo, if you care about the park, you need to jump into the pool and get familiar with all this. If you don’t voice your opinion others will do it for you and you will be stuck with the results. The NPS has a dedicated program team conducting scoping, asking what you like, what you don’t like, what needs to be fixed and what should not be changed. To learn more and to provide your comments (to be submitted on February 4, 2010) go to the NPS planning website http://parkplanning. nps.gov, choose Yosemite in the “Choose a park” window, and then search ror the New Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan. The projects are listed alphabetically.) About the author: Rick Deutsch lives in San Jose, and is an author, speaker and adventurer. He has written “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome.” Tehipite, continued from page 13 time we had the local outfitter, Clyde Pack Outfit (559-298-7397, clydepackoutfitters.com), drop us with backpacks about ten miles into the wilderness, then meet us again in six days. This shortened the trip by about a half day, in and out, and was a very smart decision. August can be a brutally hot time in Tehipite because the valley floor is more like a beach than a meadow, and rattlesnakes thrive on the field mice. Again, the fishing was phenomenal even though the river was quite full that year. My final journey to Tehipte was in September, 2003, possibly the worst time of year to visit thanks to the millions of tiny black gnats that won’t give you a moment’s rest when there isn’t a breath of wind. This trip, my fishing buddy and I had the same reliable outfitter haul us all the way to Tehipite in one day. We dismounted at the top of the switchbacks and hiked down to the valley floor, while he brought our gear down with his most surefooted horses. We were in for a big surprise this time. photo courtesy Rick Deutsch The Merced River above Little Yosemite Valley The 1997 New Years Day Flood trashed the infrastructure of Yosemite Valley, and today one can see the high water marks at various places, usually waist or shoulder high. It was much worse in Tehipite Valley. We observed flood debris wedged into the canopies of incense cedars about 25 or 30 feet above the river. We didn’t see or hear a single rattlesnake this trip, and there was almost no vegetation or aquatic bugs in the river. Consequently, the fishing was terrible— the few trout we caught didn’t measure over five inches. At the head of the valley I observed a huge mass of boulders, some the size of a school bus, which had been deposited by the force of the flood. My favorite fishing holes no longer existed. And, the trip out in just one day was my most punishing experience of this century. I’ll never go back to Tehipite Valley. For backpackers, it’s a trip best done while you’re still in your 20s and 30s. Mother Nature is already healing the scars of the 1997 flood. A recent video posted on the Internet showed the trout are now about 12 inches or longer and aquatic life is returning to the river. Other web comments indicate that the rattlesnakes have returned as well. If you have ever wondered what Yosemite might be like without the millions of tourists, consider taking a trip to Tehipite Valley, either on foot or horseback. It is worth the time and effort. But remember to watch where you step.
Page Fourteen Nun, continued from page 2 rewards in addition to the purity of nature all around. The day wore on. One step...
Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 Page Fifteen California’s Glacial Gorges by “Tuolumne Tom” Gardner This puzzle’s title refers to different glacial gorges mentioned throughout this issue. Have fun! Across 1. 11th US President 5. Feds famous for fines: Abbr. 9. Scrap of cloth 12. Another name for Eskimo 14. Pigeon noises 16. Glacier composition 17. Southernmost glacial gorge 19. TV or computer screen: Abbr 20. Add a document to email 21. Snow boots, e.g. 23. Author Anita of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” 25. 9th letter of the Greek alphabet 26. Smallest glacial gorge 30. TV news, weather, & _____ 33. Hydrocarbon suffix 34. Rub out 36. Sing by changing register 37. Precedes sack or weed 39. Taxpayer’s ID: Abbr. 40. Iwo Jima flag raiser Isaac Hayes was a member of this Arizona tribe 41. Haloes 43. Plucked musical instruments 46. Sponsor of the World Open Eight Ball Championships in Reno: Abbr. 47. Boot camp calisthenics 49. Largest and grandest glacial gorge 51. Ink ____ Test 52. Constellation near Cygnus with the star Vega 53. Abnormally swollen or knotty leg veins 57. Haircloth used for upholstery 61. King Kong, e.g. 62. Northernmost glacial gorge 64. Fed. Org for those 65+ 65. Fern seed or pollen 66. Like El Capitan 67. Comic book exclamation 68. Cowboy’s accessory 69. Wood shaping tool Down 1. Rock rabbit seen near and above Tuolumne Meadows 2. “Relax, OK? I’m ____” 3. Husband of Lynn Fontanne, Alfred ____ 4. Capital and largest city of Rwanda 5. South American wood sorrel 6. Melody 7. Georgetown basketballer 8. Ancient region of Asia Minor 9. Big loser at Bosworth Field in 1485 10. Port city in NW Israel 11. “That really ____ under my skin.” 13. Mt. Palomar Observatory jargon? 15. Peanuts Canine 18. Vienna Boys ____ 22. Condescend or bow 24. Hidden contraband 26. Bangladeshi monetary units 27. Boredom or tedium 28. 1986 Clint Eastwood USMC film “_______ Ridge” 29. Assignment for English class 31. “I’m serious, please don’t ____ me!” 32. Election roster 35. Sign up 38. St. ____ Beer Girl 42. Really, really long periods 44. Mentally prepare, with “up” 45. World ____ 48. Small porches or sets of steps 50. Mineral tar distilled between petroleum and asphalt 53. Valuable Ming Dynasty item 54. Church recess 55. Octagonal sign 56. Beige 58. Tea on the menu 59. House of: Fr. 60. Charlotte Bronte heroine Jane ____ 63. Store sign: Gifts For ___ About the puzzle Our crossword contributor is Tom Gardner, who uses the nickname “Tuolumne Tom” when creating puzzles with a California theme. Tom has enjoyed solving crossword puzzles for more than 25 years. About five years ago, he began constructing puzzles and discovered that his training as a civil engineer was useful, since a good themed crossword puzzle has intersecting words, much like a building has supporting beams and columns. Among Tom’s other interests are fly fishing on the Tuolumne River (but don’t ask where) and cultivating California poppies. Tom was the Jeopardy! champion on June 6th, 1995, and told the best fish story ever heard on the program, retold in the story about Tehipite in this issue.
Yosemite, California, January   March, 2010  Page Fifteen  California   s Glacial Gorges by    Tuolumne Tom    Gardner  Th...
Yosemite Gazette Geology 101 Or, how did that rock get there? by Marv Dealy While working with my cousin Joyce Griffith on stories we published about Bodie, California in our last issue, we were driving down the road from Bodie State Park to Highway 395. We got to talking about the landscape around us, and Joyce pointed at a rock and said she’d started reading books about geology because she wanted to know, how did that rock get there? Some weeks later, I was driving with a friend, Clint Maxon, down another highway and commented on the strange rock formations we could see in the field just off the road. There were dozens if not hundreds of flat rocks stuck into the ground at angles, and I voiced my opinion that these were the work of a volcano that erupted years ago. I went on to describe the picture I had in my head of the very bad Monday it would have been when all these red hot rocks came screaming out of the sky and stuck into the ground, probably with a sound like a loud thwack. Clint smiled and said he didn’t think it happened that way, that erosion probably was involved, and that I really needed to talk to a geologist friend of his, whereupon he began texting away. The next thing I knew I was on the phone with local geologist Scott Cereghino, who agreed to meet me and talk about the geology of the Sierra Nevada, and more specifically those odd shaped tombstone-like rocks sticking out of the ground. So it was that on a sunny November morning I met Scott in Jamestown, California, at the Woods Creek Café, known for the love of black-and-white cows with which it’s decorated, as well as the good food, some of which may have been part of a black-andwhite cow at one time. Scott took a number of books about the Sierra Nevada from his knapsack and we went over some basic questions. He used a mechanical pencil Yosemite, California, January–March, 2010 to draw on his paper place mat, illustrating what he was teaching me. Becoming more excited as he spoke—geologists, it turns out, are quite excited about their science— Scott decided he needed my place mat as well to better demonstrate plate tectonics, or how one plate slides under the other. He demonstrated this by sliding my place mat under his, never mind my food, while causing two parallel humps or folds to form in his place mat, which he said were the mountains shoved up by the force of one plate sliding under the other. Scott went on to sketch further on the placemats to demonstrate other facts of ancient history, as it pertained to the Sierra. Before long, it was time for some field work, which it turns out really does involve tromping through complete strangers’ fields, looking at rocks. Unlike other sciences, geology takes a long time to unfold, and this gives plenty of time for bad geology jokes, such as “Q: what is this rock? A: Leaverite. Leave it right there.” I also learned from Scott that “selective erosion” is photos this page by Marv Dealy Local geologist Scott Cereghino lays against a tombstone rock, demonstrating the high level of humor associated with the study of rocks. what is occurring when I pick up a rock I like and take it home. During our short drive, I was able to see where the Stanislaus River once flowed millions of years ago, possibly hundreds of feet above its present day path, Page Sixteen and where it quite possibly wore its way through a lava flow that makes up the greater Table Mountain complex between Copperopolis and Jamestown. We hopped a farmer’s gate and walked out to where Scott could show me the point where a sedimentary layer had been folded and ultimately snapped Tombstone rocks stick out of the ground at an angle, from the presshowing how much they had folded before breaking. sure, leaving Erosion of the overlaying material left the harder the distinctive tombstone rocks exposed, as they are today. tombstone rocks that I was sure had rained redhot from the sky on a really, really bad Monday long ago. I asked about the fact we were trespassing and Scott laughed and said that when people find out he’s a gePart of the Table Mountain complex, this is part of ologist, far from an ancient lava flow above Lake Tulloch today. It is thought that it probably came from east of what is now being worried about him they the peaks of the Sierra, following the old path of the Stanislaus river. often drag him them together. We poked around off somewhere the cut and found a tiny sample to show him a rock or what not of a fold in progress, which we’d and ask what it is. include as a photo with this story I asked why gold and quartz but it’s just too hard to see without were so often found together and going there and looking at it Scott explained that was because yourself. they melt at pretty much the same By now, it was clear that Scott temperature, and would have had his hooks into me with this therefore been mixed together geology stuff, and we began before rising toward the earth’s discussing where the next story crust, sometimes heated so much would lead us. We’re thinking the result looks pretty much like about looking at some of the old steam except it was still underbuildings, for example in Murphys ground. or Columbia, and talking about One of the many cuts for the where the rocks to build them highway we went through—all came from. of which Scott wanted to drive Too soon, I had to part ways through slowly to the consternawith Scott, toting the loaned tion of traffic behind us—was library of his geology at the site of the Utica dam near books, still thinkMurphys, California. We got out ing about flaming and Scott pointed out the two diftombstones that never ferent colors of sedimentary rock came roaring out of and showed me the fault that had the skies. mountain building-wise brought
Yosemite Gazette  Geology 101 Or, how did that rock get there  by Marv Dealy  While working with my cousin Joyce Griffith ...