Climbing the Cables on Yosemite’s Half Dome

I have been plotting to climb the cables on Yosemite’s Half Dome for about 2 years. About the time permits were required to access the cables, I started entering the lottery to win the permits. I thought this was my year. I entered for 7 different dates and did not win any, but 3 of my friends entered and amazingly, won for the same day, allowing 18 of us to climb together on Monday June 17th, 2013.

Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to many hikers. Despite an 1865 report declaring that it was “perfectly inaccessible, being probably the only one of the prominent points about the Yosemite which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot,” George Anderson reached the summit in 1875, in the process laying the predecessor to today’s cable route.

Today, thousands of people reach the summit. For most, it is an exciting, arduous hike; for a few, it becomes more of an adventure than they wanted. Indeed, park rangers assist hundreds of people on the Half Dome trail every summer.

The 16-mile round-trip hike to Half Dome is not for you if you’re out of shape or unprepared. You will be gaining elevation (for a total of 4,800 feet) most of your way to the top of Half Dome. Most would say the reward is worth the effort. Along the way, you’ll see outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and–from the shoulder and summit–panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

Most hikers take 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back; some take longer. If you plan on hiking during the day, it’s smart to leave around sunrise (or earlier) we met at Happy Isles at 6am.

The most famous–or infamous–part of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. Since 1919, relatively few people have fallen and died on the cables. However, injuries are not uncommon for those acting irresponsibly.

Coming down the cables was my favorite part, it felt much like repelling. The hardest part was the trip back to base camp, being already tired from sleeping in a strange bed the night before, getting up early, having not enough coffee, making the climb up 4,800 feet and then back down the countless granite steps is exhausting. I wouldn’t trade the experience of making the hike with my husband and sons and friends for many things. The view was truly amazing.



Saying Goodbye to The Garden Guru

I met Mr. Yamasaki 19-years ago when I first worked at AM950 KAHI Radio as the News Director. My morning show partner Dan Songer, truly the Voice of the Foothills, had a local expert in each morning to take calls and talk like like the good friends that everyone seemed to be to Dan. Don Yamasaki was the Garden Guru and Don would call his friend Dan Yamasaki each Wednesday morning. Dan would answer Dan’s questions and take callers questions and time would fly by. After Dan left the radio station to retire closer to his daughter and grandchildren in Kentucky, Don Yamasaki began hosting his own show on Saturday mornings with a full hour of the Garden Guru. Don invited his wife Cherrie to co-host and the pair have been local KAHI Radio personalities ever since.

Don began his horticulture education working on his parents plum farm off Kemper road many years ago. Don’s dad began growing decorative plants and soon moved the nursery to HWY 49 where it became the Yamasaki Nursery where Don, after returning from Ca-Poly with a Horticulture degree began helping Auburnites make beautiful gardens, fight pests and enjoy there little piece of heaven in the outdoors.

Don is the most humble man but the community needs to know what a kind and generous man he is also. Don prepared every show and gave the best advice and he cares about people. Mr. Yamasaki stopped by the station Tuesday to drop off some gardening books, as gifts, to staff at the station. I had the privilege of getting a horticulture and history lesson from Mr. Yamasaki. I hope you enjoy the message and the sound of the Garden Guru one more time. Don and Cherrie’s last show will be this Saturday at 9am June 8, 2013. You still may be able to catch Don shopping at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market or around town running errands and with a chuckle, he will be happy to answer your gardening questions. We will miss you Don Yamasaki.


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Celebrating National Trails Day 2013

I enjoyed celebrating National Trails Day with a short hike on a new trail in Auburn. The opening of the new Canyon View Trail to the public with a dedication ceremony was held Saturday on National Trails Day. Jeff Darlington Executive Director of the Placer Land Trust welcomed the over 100 in attendance Saturday morning at the trail head near the Bowman exit off interstate 80 in Auburn. The 50-acre parcel has panoramic views of the canyons and Sierras with an easy 1 and a quarter mile walking trail.

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Auburn’s Memorial Day Observances

I had the honor and privilege to witness the City of Auburn observe Memorial Day 2013. Auburn area veterans and residents turned out in spite of the sprinkles on Monday to observe Memorial Day beginning at 9 AM at the New Auburn Cemetery.

You can see a video of the festivities here:

Congressmen Tom McClintock announced during his address that thanks to volunteer efforts the flag that flies over the war memorial at the New Auburn Cemetery will now be illuminated.

Congressman McClintock then donated a flag to the New Auburn Cemetery that flew of our nation’s capital. Festivities continued at the Old Auburn Cemetery, the Newcastle Cemetery and in Roseville at the Placer County Courts where a new Vietnam Memorial has been dedicated and the Maidu Indian Cemetery. To see a photo album of the Auburn Memorial Day events go to and to our KAHI Facebook page.

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PARC Essay Winners Announced

I had the absolute pleasure to return to the Confluence area Tuesday and meet up Eric Peach and Tony DeRiggi along with 3 of this year’s essay winners. It was a warm evening and no wanted to leave the river. I feel the river and its canyons are in good hands with students like these looking out for it.In the YouTube video link below you can watch 3rd place Toby Quills share his essay.

On Tuesday several volunteers with PARC  Protect American River Canyons invited winners from the 2013 High School Essay Contest to gather at the confluence to receive their awards. With the river flowing and the sun casting shadows on the canyon the students read their essays for all to hear. The top 3 winners all came from Placer High School.

1st  Place, $500:  Kellyn McDonald,   Placer HS

2nd place, $250:  Garrett Michael Jordan,   Placer HS

3rd place, $250:  Toby Kugar Qualls,   Placer HS

4th place, $100:  Kristen Meadows,   Rocklin HS

5th place, $100:  Jedidiah Garcia Dowell,   Golden Sierra HS

Due to the unexpected number of excellent essays, PARC added 3 more scholarship winners for a total of $1200 in scholarship funds this year.

The students wrote inspiring essays on the question:

What do the American River and its canyons mean to me and my community, and what should be done to protect them for future generations.”

Toby Qualls is a senior at Placer high, Toby is also a long distance runner and writer and wrote about running in the canyon.

The students shared their family and personal connections to the River Canyons,  which often included hiking, rafting, jogging or fishing experiences.  They explained how the canyons are important to our local community and economy, and offered suggestions for protecting the canyons for future generations.   Their ideas included promoting river stewardship education of youth, such as training Youth River Ambassadors, and obtaining Wild and Scenic Protection for the Canyons.


CHP Every 15-minute Program at Bear River High School

The California Highway Patrol hosted an every-15 minutes program at Bear River High School in South Nevada County Thursday morning. The program simulates an accident with a student acting as an intoxicated driver. Nevada County Sheriff, Grass valley Police, Higgins fire and Cal-Fire also participated with the extrication and medical care of the acting students. The CHP helicopter landed on the Bear River High School football field to take away one of the volunteer students to the trauma center, another student was taken by a ground ambulance, a third was taken to jail after CHP conducted a sobriety test and arrest the student, and another was taken to the morgue. Nevada County Sheriffs Deputy and student resource officer Micah Arbaugh says it’s a good experience for the students.

Assistant Vice Principle Cindy Harrison says the students at Bear River have suffered the loss of friends and take the demonstration seriously.

The program will continue Friday when the students, faculty and parents gather to say good bye to the lost student and share their experience and a parent who has lost their child to drunk driving will also speak to the students. The Every 15 minutes program is largely funded by donations if you would like to make a donation you can contact your local CHP office. To see a photo album  go to our KAHI facebook page. Click the link below for a YouTube video.

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Managed Property Using Low Intensity Fire

You heard on AM950 KAHI the news of Cal-Fire increasing staffing to peak levels nearly 2-months early this year, You also saw the report from the department of water resources that our snow pack is 17% of normal. With this bad news we also reported the intentionally set fire in the Shirlin Tract area of the American River Canyon on Tuesday. Fires are already taking their toll on fire departments up and down the state.

With this in mind I spent 2-days this week with Cal-Fire learning how they not only fight fire but how they manage our lands to prevent devastating fires such as the Robbers Fire above Iowa Hill last July.

In a series of reports I will share what I have learned. I would like to begin with a project taking place on Mount Howell in Placer County near Colfax. Placer, Cal-Fire’s Yuba, Nevada Battalion Chief Chris Paulson  took me on a field trip to see what a properly managed property looks like using what the Chief calls low intensity fire.

In future videos I will share the dangers of the pretty yellow flowered plant that is everywhere right now, Scotch Broom. Its a gas can in a wild fire and if you have it on your property kill it now before it kills you.

Chief Paulson also took me out to King’s Point on the site of the Robber’s Fire. It is devastating to see the damage a hot out of control fire can do. The Chief also showed me the work to rehabilitate the area and the fire and how the land is coming back, but it will never be the same again.

I also spent a day with the Cal-Fire inmate cres training in the hills around Cool for what is shaping up to be a dangerous fire season.

The theme that each of the Cal-Fire personnel I spoke with for these reports shared with me, is manage your property, reduce vegetation, eradicate Scotch Broom and other invasive species that choke out our water and land and all the native plants that used to thrive here. Allow the rain water a chance to make it to streams, rivers and lakes for drinking water. I hope you enjoy the video.

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