OUR BLOG

Photos from some of our hikes in 2016.

 Until July of 2016, if you clicked on the photos, they will take you to our trip photo logs on Picasa.  But then Google decided to make that impossible, even though they had provided us with both the website software and the compatible Picasa software so that we COULD do that.  Now the photos are on Google Photos, where we cannot make albums visible to the public.  Gotta love Google..




Reflections in the inlet of Emigrant Lake ©http://backpackthesierra.com
Emigrant Lake, Emigrant wilderness

The Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow, SEKI



With our daughter at Glen Aulin in Yosemite National Park





And two more

posted Jan 13, 2017, 6:41 AM by Paul Wagner

Gem Lake in the Emigrant Wilderness


The Silliman Crest from Ranger lake

Latest Paintings...

posted Jan 11, 2017, 7:12 PM by Paul Wagner

More from the watercolor pad:

The first is a lovely old juniper near Noble Lake on the PCT


And the second is an homage to those old WPA posters.  El Capitan

Now opened...except for Highway 140

posted Jan 9, 2017, 5:21 PM by Paul Wagner

Yosemite Valley will reopen for day-use visitors tomorrow morning, January 10, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

There is no access to Yosemite Valley via the El Portal Road (Highway 140) due to a rockfall that occurred early this morning. There is no estimated day or time for the road to reopen. The Hetch Hetchy Road is also closed due to a rockfall. Visitors should be aware that there will be limited visitor services and plan accordingly. Overnight accommodations and commercial services operated by the park concessioner are slated to reopen on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. Campgrounds in Yosemite Valley are slated to be open for tomorrow evening.

The Merced River in Yosemite Valley reached flood stage at Pohono Bridge (above 10 feet) last evening. The river peaked at 12.7 feet at 4:00 a.m. and park roads facilities have been impacted. The park is currently assessing the impacts and will address any repair needs in the coming days and weeks. Although there was no major flooding in Yosemite Valley, both roads and infrastructure (water systems, sewer systems, etc.) were impacted.

Park visitors are asked to be aware of hazards, including potential wet and icy road conditions, rockfall, and debris in roadways. The park has experienced significant rainfall over the past month and ground saturation could lead to hazardous conditions along park roadways.

John Muir loved a good storm

posted Jan 8, 2017, 8:42 AM by Paul Wagner

"Most people like to look at mountain rivers, and bear them in mind; but few care to look at the winds, though far more beautiful and sublime, and though they become at times about as visible as flowing water. When the north winds in winter are making upward sweeps over the curving summits of the High Sierra, the fact is sometimes published with flying snow-banners a mile long. Those portions of the winds thus embodied can scarce be wholly invisible, even to the darkest imagination. And when we look around over an agitated forest, we may see something of the wind that stirs it, by its effects upon the trees. Yonder it descends in a rush of water-like ripples, and sweeps over the bending pines from hill to hill. Nearer, we see detached plumes and leaves, now speeding by on level currents, now whirling in eddies, or, escaping over the edges of the whirls, soaring aloft on grand, upswelling domes of air, or tossing on flame-like crests. Smooth, deep currents, cascades, falls, and swirling eddies, sing around every tree and leaf, and over all the varied topography of the region with telling changes of form, like mountain rivers conforming to the features of their channels.

"After tracing the Sierra streams from their fountains to the plains, marking where they bloom white in falls, glide in crystal plumes, surge gray and foam-filled in boulder-choked gorges, and slip through the woods in long, tranquil reaches--after thus learning their language and forms in detail, we may at length hear them chanting all together in one grand anthem, and comprehend them all in clear inner vision, covering the range like lace. But even this spectacle is far less sublime and not a whit more substantial than what we may behold of these storm-streams of air in the mountain woods.

"We all travel the milky way together, trees and men; but it never occurred to me until this storm-day, while swinging in the wind, that trees are travelers, in the ordinary sense. They make many journeys, not extensive ones, it is true; but our own little journeys, away and back again, are only little more than tree-wavings--many of them not so much.

"When the storm began to abate, I dismounted and sauntered down through the calming woods. The storm-tones died away, and, turning toward the east, I beheld the countless hosts of the forests hushed and tranquil, towering above one another on the slopes of the hills like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed to say, while they listened, "My peace I give unto you."

"As I gazed on the impressive scene, all the so called ruin of the storm was forgotten, and never before did these noble woods appear so fresh, so joyous, so immortal. "

More Art

posted Jan 8, 2017, 7:11 AM by Paul Wagner

P's been busy with his painting...



More on that big storm...roads closed to Yosemite

posted Jan 6, 2017, 5:14 PM by Paul Wagner

Yosemite National Park anticipates significant precipitation over the weekend

All roads leading into Yosemite Valley will close today at 5:00 pm in anticipation of a significant winter storm moving into the region early tomorrow morning, Saturday, January 7, 2017. There will be no visitor services available throughout the storm. Visitors intending to visit Yosemite National Park are highly encouraged to monitor weather reports and check road conditions before departing. These closures are being implemented to ensure the safety of park visitors and employees during the coming storm.

Visitor services and facilities will be extremely limited through the coming storm and assessment. The following areas are anticipated to remain open and operational:
  • Hetch Hetchy via Evergreen Road will remain open daily from 9am - 5pm.
  • Along Big Oak Flat Road (Hwy 120 West): Hodgdon Meadow Campground will remain open on a first-come, first-served basis, Tuolumne Grove and Merced Grove will remain open, and Crane Flat Gas Station is open (credit cards only). The Big Oak Flat Road will be closed at the junction to Foresta.
  • Along the Wawona Road (Hwy 41): Wawona Campground will remain open on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors will have access to the Redwoods Guest cottages. There will be access to Yosemite West. The Wawona Road will be closed at Chinquapin (no access will be available to the Glacier Point Road).
  • The El Portal Road (Hwy 140) will be closed at the park line in El Portal. Businesses along Hwy 140 outside of the park are anticipated to remain open.
Park visitors are asked to be aware of hazards, including potential wet and icy road conditions, rockfall, and debris in roadways. The park has experienced significant rainfall over the past month and ground saturation could lead to hazardous conditions along park roadways.

The storm is forecasted to peak mid-day Sunday, January 8, 2017. The roads leading into Yosemite Valley will remain closed at least through Sunday. The park will assess conditions early Monday morning. There is no anticipated date or time for roads into Yosemite Valley and guest services to reopen.

Big Storm on the way...

posted Jan 5, 2017, 4:29 PM by Paul Wagner


Yosemite National Park is making preparations for visitor and employee safety in response to weather reports predicting significant precipitation, and possible flooding, over the next several days and through the weekend. The predictions for significant rainfall in Yosemite Valley, well above flood stage on the Merced River, could prompt the park to be closed in the next few days. People planning trips to the park, beginning tomorrow, Thursday January 5, 2017, should make alternate plans if the park does close.

The park experienced a significant flood event in January 1997, which caused extensive damage to park roads, campgrounds, lodging, and utilities. The park was closed until March 1997 due to extensive damage to the park’s infrastructure. During the closure, there was no running water and electricity was intermittent. Since the 1997 flood, the park has made significant improvements to park roads and facilities.

Yosemite National Park officials continue to monitor the weather forecast and will make decisions in the next day or two based on the forecast, and the ability of the park to safely accommodate visitors and employees.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200 and press 1. Updated information is also available on the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/yose

Yosemite Rescue...

posted Jan 2, 2017, 7:26 AM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Jan 2, 2017, 7:26 AM ]

This kind of thing should be unnecessary....but there is no underestimating the ability of people to overestimate their abilities!


Here's the story if you can't follow the link:

Yosemite, CA — A trek to Half Dome on a closed trail led to a helicopter rescue at Yosemite National Park on Wednesday.

Park officials report a man and a woman in their mid-30’s headed out around 8 a.m. up the Mist Trail towards Vernal Falls. Although signs were posted, they went into an area that had been closed due to snow and ice creating hazardous conditions. The female hiker stopped at the “sub-dome” summit, according to Park spokesperson Jamie Richards but the male continued up to Half Dome getting to the cables. Richards continues, “He started to slide and got himself into a situation where he could not self-rescue from and the park service received a 9-1-1 call at 3 p.m.”

A helicopter was called in from the Fresno CHP and provided air support. The fallen climber was found around 4:30 p.m. and two search and rescuer crew members were flown into the area around 5 p.m. They were able to reach the climber who was not hurt. The rescuers led the two hikers to safety arriving at the bottom of the Mist Trail around 10 p.m.

The two hikers could face fines for disobeying posted closed trail signs. However, Richard states, “This is a situation that the National Park Service law enforcement is investigating. It is an active investigation…After it is concluded, decisions may be made but at this time we have no intentions to go there.” She adds the hikers had no snow or ice gear with them.

Written by Tracey Petersen.


When the sign says the trail is closed, there is a reason the trail is closed!   Climbing Half Dome in the winter in the snow is for black diamond experts only...and only with all the right gear!

New Year's resolutions?

posted Dec 31, 2016, 1:01 PM by Paul Wagner

We're not big on new Year's resolutions, mainly because if we think something is important, then we'll tackle it head-on, and certainly not wait until the first of the year to address it. 

But on the other hand, we do have some things we've always wanted to do...and we're doing some of them in 2017.  For one thing, we'll go hiking in Patagonia.  We've been to the Andes twice in Peru, and loved it both times. This year it's going to be Argentina, at the hiking center of El Chalten. 

P is also looking at retirement full in the face, and that should leave some time for more adventures in the mountains.  He still has a number of conferences and other activities in the summer, but we do hope to get into the Duzy Basin this year, and a few other areas that we have yet to hike.  This year, we just might get to Mineral King...

Meanwhile, we're recovering from too much food over the holidays, and determined to lose some of the weight we've gained during those big meals.  By the time we hit the trail, we'd like to be back in hiking trim.  That's not a resolution exactly, but it's a good idea.

Keeping busy...and keeping my mind in the Sierra

posted Dec 12, 2016, 1:09 PM by Paul Wagner

One of P's goals for the next few years is to become a better artist.  He's taking this rainy weather at its word, and has been taking on all sorts of activities, including this watercolor of one of his favorite scenes in the Sierra.  Extra credit for anyone who can identify the location...


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