June 30, 2014
Today marks the 150 – year anniversary of President Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Land Grant, which put Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove under federal protection. They didn’t use the term ‘National Park’ in those days, but this was a precursor to what we know of as our National Park system in the USA. I find it more than a bit ironic and a little vexing that as someone who loves the mountains and spends most of his spare time writing about and photographing them, I live in the single flattest town in the Bay Area, Alameda. Go figure.
As I mentioned in a Facebook post yesterday, I have a chilling story of how my Nikon escaped catastrophe at the top of Upper Yosemite Falls in 2010. I was training for another Mt. Whitney attempt and enjoying a hard climb up the famous waterfall. When I reached the top, my enthusiasm got the better of me. Here’s a repost of a previous blog entry and excerpt from my manuscript, ‘The Mount Whitney Journals’:
Today, a reading from the Holy Gospel of Stupidity 3:17. I wish I could blame my tale on altitude, or dehydration. I like to think we all have moments when we look in the mirror and say, “If I were any dumber, they’d shoot me.” If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s never had an episode like this, I applaud you. Be forewarned, when you leave the room, I’m going to log on and denounce you as a ‘liar’ on social media. This excerpt is from my 2010 trip. At this point, with my Mt. Whitney trip five weeks away, I’m still in training mode and I’ve driven to Yosemite Valley to hike Upper Yosemite Falls. From the valley floor it’s 3.6 miles to the top with elevation gain of 2700′.
THE MOUNT WHITNEY JOURNALS – Book VI – 2010
June 24, 2010, Upper Yosemite Falls
During yesterday’s hike, I took some excellent images, and when I got to the top, in keeping with earlier ‘questionable’ decisions, I gave some bystanders and myself a thrill that assuredly cemented my induction into the Idiot Hall of Fame. Along a viewing platform cut into a granite wall at the top, there’s a railing to keep hikers and morons safe from the 2,000+’ drop. On the other side of the rail there’s about an 8 to 10 foot shelf before the drop. From behind this rail I was able to catch a glimpse of the water cascading to the valley floor. Dissatisfied with my photos, and convinced I could get a better angle if I crawled out a few more feet onto the ledge, I decided to duck under the rail with my camera. In my enthusiasm, as I took off my pack and hat, the camera strap became tangled, came over my head unexpectedly and fell forward onto the ledge. Because of a lucky bounce or backspin, the camera stopped about three feet short of the precipice. The looks on the faces of those who witnessed it spoke volumes. They looked at me as though I was the stupidest person on the planet and I was in no position to argue.
 I looked up synonyms for the word ‘idiot’ on my iMac Dictionary application and as I read through them, every one of them would be apt descriptions of the camera episode: fool, ass, halfwit, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, cretin, moron, imbecile, simpleton, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dumbo, dummy, dum-dum, loon, dork, sap, jackass, blockhead, jughead, bonehead, knucklehead, fathead, numbskull, numbnuts, dumb-ass, doofus, clod, dunderhead, ditz, lummox, dipstick, thickhead, meathead, meatball, woodenhead, airhead, pinhead, lamebrain, peabrain, birdbrain, jerk, nerd, donkey, nitwit, twit, boob, twerp, schmuck, bozo, turkey, chowderhead, dingbat