Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

What? It’s Raining!

Last weekend I decided to do one of my favorite Tuolumne Meadows area hikes – the Mono Pass trail. This trail starts below Tioga Pass, just inside the park, and goes out the Sierra crest near Mount Gibb, passing through forest and beautiful alpine meadows on the way.

As I loaded up my pack – filling with a lot of photography equipment – it was a beautiful, clear morning. The previous day I had hiked out toward North Dome and carried what turned out to be too much extra clothing. Since I usually tend to over-prepare for the weather, and was perhaps more aware of this than usual having done so only 24 hours earlier, I decided to just take what I was wearing. That’s right, no rain gear.

Is there a better way to ensure that it will rain?

About an hour into the hike, near the junction with the trail to Spillway Lake, I was pleased to see some white, fluffy clouds appear – they relieved the uniform blue sky and occasionally produced a welcome bit of shade. I began to consider how I would incorporate them in photographs near the pass.

I reached the area of the pass at about 1:00 and wandered over to the historic mine site that sits on the pass. (I had visited the mine remnants before, but this time I found out a bit more about it. The site is older than I had thought, first being used in the 1860s and abandoned in about 1890.)

I sat down on a comfortable rock to drink some water, have a snack, and look around for photographic subjects. I noticed that the fluffy white clouds had morphed into something much darker and a bit menacing to my south, in the direction of Parker Pass. I figured this meant that there might be some thunder and perhaps a few showers by late afternoon when I returned to my car. No worries!

Not five minutes later it started to sprinkle. I thought “that’s a bit surprising, but it will stop in couple of minutes.” It didn’t stop. The drops became larger. I began to think about my lack of rain gear. As I sat there munching on my snack there was a sudden clap of thunder right overhead – what I call “flash bang” thunder because it is so close that there is almost no delay between the flash of lightning and the bang of thunder. A few minutes later another clap of thunder exploded right overhead.

OK, time to leave! By the time I had the pack reloaded and on my back, the light rain was becoming steady. Two thoughts became prominent in my mind. One, I had left my tent windows open back in Tuolumne Meadows – I hoped the rain didn’t head that way! Two, I was either going to get lucky and watch the showers move on, or I was about to get very wet on the nearly two-hour walk back out.

I got lucky. Although the trail was wet all the way down, there was constant thunder, and I could see rain coming down all around… it barely sprinkled on me until I got to my car. As I loaded the car it began to come down in earnest.

My tent was not so lucky. Back in Tuolumne it had rained, and hard.

Lessons learned and relearned. Never leave camp without closing everything up and putting all of my gear away. And, what the heck, toss that lightweight parka in the pack!

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July 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oops! I’ll Bet You Would Like to Have the Link

I posted a short message yesterday concerning a video about Yosemite Valley rockfall – but neglected to include the link.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rockfall Video at Yosemite NPS Web Site

There is a wonderful and informative video about rockfall in Yosemite Valley posted at the Yosemite National Park web site. I feel like I’m relatively aware of this situation as a long time Yosemite visitor, but I learned new stuff from this presentation.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Perverse Sight in Tuolumne Meadows

About a week ago I was in the Tuolumne Meadows/Tioga Pass area to do photography for three days. Tuolumne was at an especially wonderful point in its annual seasonal evolution: almost all of the snow was gone from the meadow, though there were still impressive patches among the trees, there was still water everywhere including in large pools in the meadow, the new grasses and meadow plants were coming up and turning the meadow green, here and there the first wildflowers of the season were starting to appear, snow still was thick on the surrounding ridges.

As I drove slowly through the meadow at one point I followed a SUV that appeared to be a “family car” with mom, dad, and kids inside. Looking more closely I noticed that above the back seat there was a large flat-panel monitor showing some movie… apparently so that the kids wouldn’t be “bored” by the very thing they drove so far to see.

Strange. And sad.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | Leave a comment

   

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