President Obama liked Yosemite so much he revisited it – virtually

The Obama family was at Yosemite recently and did some basic hiking….walking, actually. The trip was a shot in the arm for the NPS, which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. Yosemite is often called the “Crown jewel of the NPS.”

Camera crews recorded his talk at the park and merged it with scenes of the park in a 2D promotional video. Half Dome got several seconds of coverage. Obama speaks with Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher about conservation.

Virtual Reality

Barrack Obama gazing at Yosemite

The Commander-in-Chief slapped on an early model of the Oculus VR viewer– the next “big thing” to hit consumers. The actual Virtual Reality scenes that are only viewable thru the Oculus goggles. It features El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite Falls and the Merced River. Since Mariposa Grove is closed util Spring 2017, this is the only way to see the big trees.


The film “experience” was produced by National Geographic, Felix & Paul Studios, and Oculus,  This is NG’s first project in full VR, with more immersive, 3-D imagery intended for viewing through special headsets.

Want to jump into VR?   Go to the Oculus site You can see some 2D pre-Alpha samples of  content. . . all game oriented.  

Carpe Diem!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Well, here’s a poke at you, you’re gonna choke on it too. You’re gonna lose that smile Because all the while … I can see for miles and miles … and miles and miles.” The Who
Read “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

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Yosemite’s Planning Group is working on a new Wilderness Plan

Yosemite is going to have a few workshops soon to get YOU involved in the development of a  new Wilderness Stewardship Plan. Areas to be looked at are visitor use, capacity and stock use.

Yosemite is covered by the California Wilderness Act of 1984. We have over 94% of the land as Wilderness. This is 700K acres. The Yosemite Wilderness Area is managed by a plan approved over 25 years ago! Time to upgrade things.

Yes – this is of interest to us Half Dome fans. The Rock of Ages is in the Wilderness.  Silly to me since you can see the parking lot from the top. AND it hardly provides solitude to the extent that other areas do.

Half dome

Half Dome

The Half Dome Stewardship Plan governs the rock – BUT it can be impacted by the plans drawn up. Soooo, pay attention and speak up. OR don’t complain later.

They will present early concepts are looking for feedback and suggestions. Here are the dates for the in-person and webinars:.

  • Webinar #1 | Tuesday, August 9th | 12:00-1:00
  • Groveland, CA | Groveland Community Hall | Wednesday, August 10th | 5:30-8:30
  • Lee Vining, CA | Lee Vining Community Center | Thursday, August 11th | 5:30-8:30
  • San Francisco, CA | Fort Mason, Bldg. C | Monday, August 15th | 5:30-8:30
  • Oakhurst, CA | Oakhurst Branch Library | Thursday, August 18th | 5:30-8:30
  • Webinar #2 | Monday, August 22nd | 6:00-7:00

When it’s time, go to the Webinar link:

Give feedback to the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website by 9/30/16 or via emailing

If you wonder….here are the steps our public servants follow. We are at #3.

1. Define purpose and need/internal scoping.
2. Conduct public scoping
3. Preliminary concepts and ideas
4. Prepare draft plan/environmental analysis
5. Release plan/environmental analysis to public
6. Analysis of public comment
7. Prepare final plan/decision document
8. Release final plan/environmental analysis to public
9. Release decision document to public

Carpe Diem!
Unrelated thought worth quoting:  There must be some kind of way outta here, said the joker to the thief. There’s too much confusion – I can’t get no relief.” – Bob Dylan
Read “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

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Wanted: Trailblazers: Help Map Cell Coverage On Half Dome

 Today, I want to introduce a new product to make the hike up Half Dome a little safer. A company called Cairns has developed a very handy app you may be interested in helping to build – and use.

 A continuing problem we have at Yosemite is finding cell coverage. On the Half Dome trail, my experience is that coverage is real spotty until when you reach the summit. Most services work on top – E.T. call home! The antenna is located behind the park museum and the beam is hidden in the shadow of Half Dome. Ever wonder if there will ever be cell coverage on the trail?  As a general rule, you shouldn’t rely on your phone as the only tool in an emergency, but the fact is that most wilderness rescues are initiated by calls from cell phones.

 If you get lost, the FREE  Cairn app will guide you to the closest area where cell coverage can be expected. That’s very useful when you need to summon 911 or to tell loved ones back home that all is well.

You can also share trip plans with safety contacts.  While on your outing, the app tracks a ping every few minutes from the user’s location and cell signal.  The cell signals are visible to anyone using the app with Topo maps.   If a user is overdue to a given point, then the Cairn server sends out a notification to designated contacts with all known locations. You can see what it looks for Verizon users at Tuolumne Meadows.  All those little blue dots are where they got coverage.

Read what Outside Magazine had to say.

The Cairn community has already mapped cell coverage at over 600k points at popular trails, including the entire Pacific Coast Trail, Mt. Whitney, and others.

They want to expand their FREE offering to the Half Dome trail. Although there is always a line of people going up to Half Dome, help in an emergency may be far way if someone has to run down to get a ranger. People who wander off trail and get lost (it does happen) have no idea where cell access might be located in the forest. Maybe none – but maybe there will be.

iphone app

Cairn discovered cell contact points

Here’s what you could do if you have a permit and willing to be a trailblazer.

1.     Download the free iPhone app.  It runs fine on iOS; Android is still in development but you can get on the beta list.

2.     Use Cairn on your hike (use as much or as little as you like).  Cairn is optimized for battery conservation in the wilderness.  You can use the tracking stats to get your distance traveled, elevation, ETA to summit, or to send an “I’m OK” message.

3.     As you track, you’ll see green circles showing points you’ve logged. (If you don’t have coverage or enter a dead spot, Cairn will store the points on your device and attempt to transfer them once you have coverage or a WIFI signal after you are back.

4.  First 10 trailblazers to map 10 points, email with your mailing address and T-shirt size, Cairn will send you a cool T-shirt.

For questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact the Cairn team.

Carpe Diem!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “The biggest waste of 4 seconds: ”Hi, thank you for taking my call. I’m a long-time listener; first time caller.” – Any talk radio caller.
Read “One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

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