Just in case you need some inspiration for your next trip, here's a great video about the making of the High Sierra Trail, across the Sierra West to East, in Sequoia National Park. Nice video. Good visuals.
Lots of places to visit this summer...and doesn't this just make you want to get out there and see some of them? By the way, permits are now available for many of the hikes you might want to take, so get it's time to start dreaming, planning, and reserving.
According to the weather reports, we have finally had enough rain this year to be AHEAD of normal, and ahead of last year as well. You may not remember this, but last year wasn't too dry in the fall. It was only after a desert-like January that the drought really became so apparent.
And even better news than the rain is that we have a nice solid snowpack right now in the high country. Let's hope this rain and snow continues for the next few months and helps get us back on track...
Delaware North, the company that has done a mediocre job running the concessions at Yosemite Park has now lost the contract to a competitor, and has now announced that it is asking to be compensated for the loss of the equity it has created in the brands names of Yosemite--such names as Wawona Hotel, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Badger Pass Ski Area, Curry Village and the Ahwahnee Hotel. (This list updated for increased accuracy--you can't be too careful with these SOBs!) And isn't it convenient that they don't have names...they are just the impersonal corporate entity Delaware North?
So just in case you were wondering, here is a link to their "executives" webpage. Yep. All those smiling faces are the ones who made the decision to force you, the American People, to buy back the names of the treasured icons of your national parks. At a huge profit for them.
By the way, the photo on this page shows an anonymous individual holding his arm up, welcoming the money that he expects to be falling from the sky as a result of this bloodsucking scheme.
The NPS has decided to rename those facilities, rather than pay ransom for them to Delaware North.
It makes you proud to be an American and part of the system that gave birth to Delaware North.
But the way, if you'd like to do so, you can do a web search for Delaware North to find their corporate email address so that you can send them a note to tell them exactly what you think of them. We did that.
You can also get a list of the other concessions that Delaware North runs, so that you can boycott them or make their lives less pleasant.
We've done that, too.
Here's a link to the whole sad story:
We're already looking at maps, and making plans. A week in the Cathedral Range on Yosemite, looking for those bighorn sheep they introduced there recently. And another trip to SEKI to get way up into the backcountry there. And Death Valley. And P's always wanted to fish a couple of lakes that he's noticed on a map...
We've already got our CDF campfire permit, checking that one out online. And P did the same with the California CFG fishing license.
It's getting to be that time of year. The permits are going to be available soon, and trail quotas will start seeing some action. Start thinking. Start planning.
And we hope to see you out on the trail.
If you know anywhere that Delaware North is trying to stay open for business in the USA, please let us know, so that we can advocate a boycott of their services.
The U.S. Justice Department has responded publicly for the first time to the lawsuit that DNC filed over the trademark of Yosemite iconic names like the Ahwahnee and Curry Village:
“With an aggressive, 25-page lawsuit response that foreshadows more maneuvering to come, the Justice Department publicly asserts for the first time that the former Yosemite concessionaire proposed an “improper and wildly inflated” value for the trademarked park names.
The company, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc., demanded to be paid for the trademarks it valued at $44 million. The National Park Service, by contrast, said the trademarks for such park names as “The Ahwahnee” hotel were worth only $1.63 million.
“DNCY’s parent company has apparently embarked on a business model whereby it collects trademarks to the names of iconic property owned by the United States,” Justice Department attorney John H. Robertson wrote.
The parent company, Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North, also has a concession at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and “has a trademark application for the name ‘Space Shuttle Atlantis,’ ” Robertson pointedly noted.”
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article53172300.html
There seem to be lots of conversations these days about what people received for holiday gifts, particularly if they have to do with backpacking. What did Santa bring you? And was it what you wanted? And what's the next thing on your list. And...
We're always a bit overwhelmed by the focus on equipment when it comes to backpacking conversations. If you visit some of the forums that focus on backpacking, more than half the posts are on equipment--and in some cases it's closer to 90%. That's crazy, if you ask us. You don't need lots of expensive equipment to go backpacking. In fact,. by visiting your local thrift stores, we bet you could get outfitted with perfectly serviceable gear for less than $100. P's first backpack, when he was twelve years old, was a large pair of his dad's pants. True story. And when he was in high school, he backpacked about 40 miles into SEKI with a friend, using a cheap exterior frame pack that you could certainly find on ebay for $10, a synthetic sleeping bag that was supposed to be good down to 20 degrees, and never came close to that, and a tube tent that cost $4...and maybe cost $6 today. He hiked in Converse All-stars, wore jeans and blue work-shirt, and had an absolutely great time.
So don't sweat the gear. If you don't have the latest pack, the coolest clothes, or the most expensive sleeping bag, you can still have a great time backpacking. In fact, we don't have that stuff today, and we hike somewhere around 100-150 miles a year backpacking in the Sierra, and seeing amazing places, Which is even better than owning really cool gear.
What did we get for the holidays? Well, we got a couple of freeze-dried meals, and P got an extra bottle for his water filter. That's about it. We're happy with what we have, and what we got. We also got time with our lovely daughters in son-in-law, which was better than any backpacking trip.
Which is what the holidays are all about anyway.
No, we're not hiking now. But we wish we were. In fact, we're making plans for where and when we are going to hike this summer: Yosemite, SEKI, Death Valley...and more. But we can't do that now, all we can do is plan.
So instead, we are working our way through our photos and pulling out our favorites of one or the other of us on the trail, hiking along.
M hiking the PCT near Ebbetts Pass Hiking up Illilouette Canyon
Scoping out the route to Ottoway Lakes John Muir Wilderness
Groundhog Meadow, Emigrant Wilderness Hetch-hetchy, Yosemite
North Dome, Yosemite Meiss Meadows, Carson Pass
Kerrick Canyon, Yosemite Louse Canyon, Emigrant Wilderness
I began this year with a goal: to ride my bicycle at least 5,000 miles over the course of the year. This was quite a challenge, given the number of miles I traveled on airplanes (135,000+ through today) and the fact that I was not only running my own business, but also teaching two classes at the local college.
But success is mine! This week I rode a number of days when the temps dropped down into the high 30's and watched with glee/relief as the odometer on the bike rolled over 5,000 miles for the year...and it's now over 62,000 miles since I bought my Bianchi Giro about thirteen years ago.
Now if the weather would just warm up, I'd love to get on the bike and go for a ride...
So who's been naughty this year? We usually make a list of those who deserve something closer to a lump of coal in their stockings, thanks to the dumb and/or mean things they've done over the course of the year.
Given the horrific drought we've suffered through over the past four years, first on that list would be those who are careless with fire in the mountains. But while California had another year of terrible fires, at least clueless hikers weren't to blame for the biggest of them, as far as we know.
In fact, we saw people behaving pretty darn well on the many trips we took into the Sierra this year. Nobody hacking at trees, no dogs on the backcountry trails in the national parks, no mindless campers being obnoxious to everyone nearby. No idiots feeding bears, or trying to tame the deer.
The closest we came to an unpleasant experience was at Lower Youngs Lake in Yosemite, when two different groups of campers set up their tents within 75 feet of us on either side. But then, our own tent was so neatly camouflaged by its granite gray color and its clever placement in a small grove of trees that we're pretty sure they never even saw us. As you can see in the photo above right.
So let's just take a pass on the naughty list this year, and just encourage everyone to keep up the good work.
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