Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Roses, Climbers and Craig

I'll start out with the roses - the last ones of the year before we have to trim down the bushes. Dave loooooves his roses and always brings a few in for me. The deer love them too so it's a real struggle to keep them fenced and protected. We thought we saw the last of them in early December but were surprised to see more even after the new year. 

I'll end the post with the roses too but, for now, I have some pictures of Yosemite...

We decided on the spur of the moment to ride over to Yosemite to see the climbers who are "free-climbing" the Dawn Wall of the El Capitan rock face. Free-climbing means using just your hands and feet to climb up the rock wall. The climbers are attached to ropes to catch them if they fall but, otherwise, it's just using the body to climb - there are no screwed in metal bars and no ropes to pull themselves along.  
This was the very sad view we saw on entering Yosemite it seemed like most of the park was burned - miles and miles of devastation - where beautiful forest used to be. 

So here is "El Capitan" and what you see in the picture is called the "Dawn Wall" because the sun glows on it at dawn. If you look really closely - reeaallly closely - you will see the climbers' tents. See the tall pine tree in the center of the picture? Well, let your eye roll 1/3 down from the top of the tree and, just to the right of that, you will see a couple of teeny, dark dots on the rock face. Those are the climbers' tents where they sleep and spend their downtime. They are climbing in this time of the year to avoid having their hands sweat in the heat. Climbing is mostly done in the afternoon so they can keep cool and spend most of the daytime in their tents to give their fingers and legs a rest. 

Here's a closer look at the tents. We could only see the climbers with our binoculars and since I only had my phone with me to take these pictures, this was the best I could come up with. 
From what we hear, they are expected to reach the top tonight! I think they have been climbing for about 2 weeks.

On our way out of the Park, we decided to see the site where our friend, Craig, crashed in his CalFire plane in October. He was fighting the Dog Rock Fire and it's called that because of the rock, along the road, that resembles the shape of a dogs head. You can see it in the picture below. Jutting out over the road is a rock that looks like the profile of a dog's snout. It's easier to see when you're riding in the car but maybe you can make it out. The fire was along a ledge above this point. This is right along the El Portal Road entrance to Yosemite National Park. 

We haven't heard the official cause of the crash yet. From what we can gather, Craig was following a lead plane through the smoke, with another plane guiding them from above, when his wing caught something along the ledge and the wing came off. You can see how jagged the rock is and, with volumes of black smoke, these fire fighting planes have to follow the lead plane and sometimes fly blind to get in there, near the fire, to release the retardant on the flames.  Craig did this day in and day out for 13 fire seasons, all across northern California. There aren't many of these pilots so it is a terrible loss for the State. As well as a terrible personal loss. 

                    I couldn't leave Dave's lovely roses behind so they traveled with us in the car :)