Sunday, June 19, 2005

it's a beautiful day in the Sierra Nevada, a beautiful day for a Sierra, oh won't you be mine? Won' Sierra Nevada

So the trip out west was pretty freaking ok. There were a couple minor debacles, but nothing we couldn't handle. Much beer was drinkened. Much skin was tanned. Much elevation was gained. Much muscles were sored. Much years were soaked. Or something like that.

And don't miss the movie whose link kind of gets lost near the bottom of this post. It's a pretty funny movie and something surely not to be missed.

I think I should preambulate with back flips off the balcony in Reno and introduce you to one of our cast of characters, Matt Kelly, aka Irish Death Watch Guard Brigade middle man.

After a late late dinner at the Nugget Casino where we were free to carry drinks and lit cigarettes pretty much anywhere we pleased, we awoke at 8am, retrieved my lost fly rod that turned out to be more or less completely extraneous baggage, and hit the road, heading south past Carson City and West into the mountains.

Here we are stuck in traffic at the foot of the Sonora Pass. This is Michael B. Pell.

Sonora Pass was beautiful. At just under 10,000', it was hard to drive over. There were many curves and 1000' cliffs and no guard rails. This is a view from right around Sonora Pass. It's just boring out there.

Here we are plucking around the rocks just over the pass, about 9000'.

After arriving in Yosemite, we were informed that it was highly unlikely we were going to make it to the top of El Capitan. This was our plan. El Capitan. But we pressed on nonetheless, cocksure and primed to go by our long car ride. Here is a picture of the chief financial officer for the trip, one Diana Pell (aka Diana Messerschmitt). Don't fuck with her. Those black canisters are to keep the bears from getting our food.

This is a picture of Yosemite. Next to it is a picture of the Smokies. Kind of similar huh? Of course the dead trees in Yosemite are due to a natural fire, whereas the dead trees in the smokies are due to an introduced exotic pest, the Balsam Wooly Adelgid.

Here is one of our first views up Yosemite Valley. Not the best pic, but you can make out Bridal Veil falls in the right side of the pic and just barely El Capitan in the upper left of the pic. Our plan was to hike around to the left and come up on El Cap from the back side.

The trees were big out there. Here is the chief of the Irish Death Watch Guard Brigade and the new reigning champion of pluck and the R Kelly Look-alike contest winner, Kevin Kelly.

This is a great shot that I took of R Kelly during our 4 mile, 2000 vertical feet detour that pretty much sucked. But cool picture.

This is the first snow we saw in Yosemite. At about 7600'.

This is a link to a video that may or may not work. It's pretty funny.

Here we are cooking at our second night camp at about 8000'.

So we attempted to make the 2 mile, all downhill hike from our camp to El Capitan at 7am in the morning. We had to meet Drew at the parking lot at 1pm, and had about 10 miles to hike, all down hill to get there. Unfortunately, as Naomi said, the cute wilderness person who told us we probably wouldn't be able to make it to El Cap, it was very hard to stay on the trail. There were these damn red blazes that marked the trail, but unfortunately the actual trail was covered by 6 feet of snow in places and the blazes were spaced so as you had to spend about 15 minutes looking for each blaze. We did about a mile in about an hour and knew we had to turn back. Which sucked. Here is MB Pell standing by one of the very frustrating blazes.

Here is the obligatory Yosemite snow plant picture, Sarcodes sanguinea . These things were everywhere under conifers out there. I figured they were saprophytic angiosperms, and after a little research here, I have confirmed this hypothesis. Much like the Indian Pipe which is ubiquitous throughout the Appalachian mountains, where I first became familiar with saprophytic angiosperms, the snow plant is a flowering plant, like orchids, roses, daisy, goldenrod etc., but it completely lacks chlorophyll and derives all of it's energy like fungi, through a suite of enzymes that aid in decomposition.

Here is a picture looking up the valley on our last day. That's the top of El Cap on the left and I think those are the Cathedral Spires on the right.

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