Yosemite Pano Project – part 2: the hiking

Steershead flowers on Dewey RidgeThe Pano project was also the perfect excuse to go to a Yosemite spot that I’d never been to before. Plus, the prospect of hiking with strangers also provided motivation for prioritizing some ‘training’ hikes leading up to the end of the month.

easy bouldering - a little dirtyBetween the Fern Ledge hike, and the Pano hike, I took a couple of other relatively substatial hikes. The week after Fern Ledge, I hiked with my friend, Hope, to Yosemite Point and back. (Tom wanted some exercise, so he ran laps on the Falls trail while we walked.) Hope’s a great hiking partner, and I was entertained by stories and got some good advice on hiking in a sundress/skirt – what to do, and what not to do.

The week after that, tempted by reports of amazing Sugar pines, clusters of snowplants, and some potential climbing, Tom and I hiked out to Dewey Ridge. Hiking through the deadfall along the side of the ridge was difficult going, but exploring new ground is always interesting. We found some awesome bouldering – including a boulder even I was willing and able to play on. And the prize of the hike was spotting the tiny Steershead flowers, which aren’t exactly rare plants, but are uncommon to actually see.

Nashville warbler on the Falls TrailMy hiking partners for the Pano day were Scott and Eric from the Pano project, and Bruce and Em, who I’ve known for so long I don’t even remember exactly how we met. The best thing about hiking is the chance to chat with new folks and old friends, so this fit the bill perfectly. Although, I have to say that I missed Tom. At some point on the trail I was bemoaning his absence and one of the guys says, “Well, that must me nice. To be free and do your own thing for a while.” Huh. I guess so. Not really, though.

Two hang gliders in the air above Yosemite ValleyI managed to get a somewhat ruffled picture of a small yellow bird that was singing brightly in a tree just off the trail. I think, based on a quick look through a field guide by John Muir Laws’, that it was a Warbler.

Also, we were treated to a pair of hang glider pilots taking their sled ride down from Glaicer Point. I previously thought that launch time for them was around 7 am, so that they would have very little chance of any thermal activity, but these guys launched sometime after 8 – not that they found anything that kept them aloft. One guy flew into the Yosemite Falls amphitheater, close enough to get wet from the spray, which seemed a little risky, but it must have been an amazing view. It’s been such a long time since I was a hang glider pilot, but seeing one (even if it is packed up on a car) usually brings back such joyful memories. I wonder what all my old HG buddies are doing now.

Eric and Scott on Eagle PeakEagle Peak itself is a beautiful rock outcrop with the top of Yosemite Falls visible on one side, and looking down on the Three Brothers (or the humping frogs), and beyond them to Middle Cathedral on the other side. It takes a long time to take 376 images, even if there is a little gigapan unit doing the work for you, so we had plenty of time to hang Abandoned eggs on Eagle Peakout and have lunch there. It was more crowded than I would have thought for a place I haven’t visited until now, but the rim is long, and we did have long stretches of time to ourselves as well.

Bruce found a pair of abandoned eggs lying on the ground along the rim. I have no idea what sort of eggs they are, and sadly there were no parent birds anywhere nearby.