Friday, January 30, 2015

Day Hike To Big Baldy In Sequoia National Park

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

 Valley Haze

 Trail Along Ridge

 U.S.G.S. Marker At Baldy Peak
 Photograph Of My Wife And Me Taken By A Friend
 Central Sierra View From The West

The hike to Big Baldy is about 1.5 hours from Fresno CA off Highway 180 eastbound. Once inside the park, there is a fork with 180 heading to Cedar Grove and The General’s Highway (158) heading south. After about 10 miles southbound on 158, you will come to a sign on your right that says, “Big Baldy Trailhead”. If you pass the sign and go a bit further, you will see a road to your left that heads to Big Meadow. There is limited parking on the shoulder by the trailhead sign. The trail follows a ridge and is about five miles total out and back.

The trailhead elevation is about 7,500’ with about 500’ of elevation gain outbound by the time you reach Big Baldy. A person could ski or snowshoe the ridge in the winter. [After a fresh snowfall, sometimes the road is closed at the junction with highway 180 for snow removal]. I noticed flags in the trees marking the route. This hike is of only moderate difficulty but there is no water along the route. The view on top of Big Baldy is well worth the short hike. It allows for a panorama of sorts and you can see Kaiser Peak to the north.

There is a private resort “Montecito Sequoia” just south of the trailhead on highway 158. They have a lodge, cabins, groomed ski trails in the winter and eating facilities. Call ahead to see if they are open and the road is open to them in winter. The view of the Sierras from the lodge porch is wonderful.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Overnight At Glacier Point In Yosemite

Dale Matson

Click To Enlarge Photographs

I have been to Glacier Point on skis more times than in a car. This is mainly because Glacier Point is one of the busiest places in Yosemite during the summer tourist season. In the winter the road is groomed as a ski trail from the Badger Pass downhill ski area to Glacier Point. I have used this as a great 21 mile round trip workout on most occasions but have stayed overnight at Glacier Point on three occasions to take advantage of the setting sun for photographs.

For round trips during the day, I use track skis and can move along quite fast out and back. I like it best after a freshly groomed snowfall. For overnights, I use backcountry skis that offer more support for my overnight gear for snow camping. There can be a few folks on the trail but by the time you get to the Clark Overlook which is about half way, there a few folks who go further.

There are guided tours in the winter out to the point. There are bunks set in the commercial building at the point. The three times I've stayed the night there was no one else there. It is a long way from civilization when the sun sets. While the bears are generally hibernating, the coyotes are around and I use a bear canister to protect my food.

I use a single wall four-season tent by Mountain Hardwear called the EV2. While it is an expedition grade tent, it is only about 5 pounds and sets up fast. Winter camping can be more of a risk than the summer since snowstorms can blow in at any time in the mountains. At over 7,000’ Glacier Point can get near zero degrees at night. I sleep in a zero degree bag on an insulated pad inside the tent. I also have on a down sweater, balaclava light gloves and down pants on inside the bag. Zero degrees at altitude is harder on the body than zero degrees at sea level. Staying warm is imperative. If you become cold you are quickly at risk of hypothermia. I keep my water in a Nalgene bottle inside my bag to keep it from freezing and make sure the cap is on tight!

I have a small gas stove for melting snow for coffee in the morning. It’s interesting to me that I have met as many folks from other countries at Glacier Point as I have from the U.S. They seem to know that it is a world-class ski experience. There is no trail fee either. In early spring the water in the falls is so loud it sounds like an overhead jet airplane. Anyone who says that Yosemite Park is too crowded has never been to Glacier Point in the winter. I recommend it as an overnight as your first trip. Overnight wilderness permits are available from the ranger A frame near the ski lodge. It’s also a good thing for them to know your plans in case of problems. I carry a satellite phone and call my house when I arrive at Glacier Point and when I am back to my vehicle the next day. There is a special place allocated for parking for those staying overnight or longer. You can rent skis or snowshoes at the Nordic Trailer near the Lodge.

The photographs I have included have been taken over the years and are not from a single trip to the point.    

 Summit Meadow

 Bridalveil Creek
 Clark Range Overlook

Half Dome From Washburn Point

 Sentinel Dome
Toilet Near Sentinel Dome
Half Dome

Telephoto Of Nevada (Top) and Vernal Falls

Yosemite Falls

 Half Dome At Dusk
 From The Geological Display
Clouds Rest Far Left
This is what it is like in the Spring on Glacier Point Road:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Treadmills and Cardiac Creep

Dale Matson

One reason I ‘run’ on a treadmill once a week is to evaluate my heart rate with a heart rate monitor under controlled conditions. There are no headwinds, gradient changes and temperature variations on a treadmill. I alternate my weekly treadmill workouts. On one week, I do one-quarter mile ladder runs followed by one-quarter mile cool down walks at 3 miles per hour. For example I might run a quarter mile at 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 6.5,6,5.5 and 5 mph. In between each quarter mile run, I recover with one-quarter mile walks.

Click On Image To Enlarge

On the alternate weeks, I run a set pace for one hour and record my average and maximum heart rates plus the total increase in beats per minute (bpm) during that time. The amount and rate of increase during that hour is what I call cardiac creep. I set the treadmill for a 4.5-mile per hour pace today and went for one hour. As one gets closer to his maximum heart rate, the rate of heart rate also increases. In other words, if you go beyond your comfort zone where your heart rate remains relatively steady, all of a sudden the heart rate will increase and not level off. It will continue to climb and climb.

What I have noticed over the years in my journals is that my top speed and average pace have declined and one factor that explains this is a significant drop in my ability to sustain and endure a high average heart rate and an increase in cardiac creep. It is simply too uncomfortable to hold as high an average heart rate over a given distance and my heart rate climbs faster at a given speed.  I have also noticed that my average heart rate during a marathon has declined by 20 bpm. While my predicted maximum heart rate is 150 (220-70 [age] = 150. I have a maximum heart rate of about 175 and this has not dropped more than 10 bpm since age 50. In my final marathon this fall my average heart rate was 131 with a maximum of 153. When I qualified for Boston the first time in 1994 (age 50) my average heart rate then was above my maximum heart rate this year. Cardiac creep is often explained as a drop in blood volume via loss of water but I also think that the heart muscle and the skeletal muscles fatigue over time even with adequate O2 supplied. I am also the same weight and percent body fat as 20 years ago.

So many running performance articles base predictions off from maximum heart rate and/or VO2 Max but it seems to me that the average endurable and sustainable heart rate and rate/amount of heart rate climb are also something to consider. Today, at a constant pace, I had an average heart rate of 125 with a maximum of 140. I would say that the less the difference between the two (average and maximum) the more one could sustain a given pace. I was well within even my predicted maximum and far from my maximum heart rate yet my perceived level of effort was high near the end of the hour. The amount/rate of cardiac creep I experienced would be acceptable for a 10K but would it be acceptable for a marathon? I think not. The amount and rate of creep during a given run is edging you ever closer to what is referred to as the lactate threshold. That is essentially when the body can no longer keep pace with the buildup of lactate acid in the muscles and one has to slow down.

One thing that tells me if I am running at a sustainable pace is the ability to still get what I would call a ‘deep cleansing breath’. It seems like when I am in the groove, I can get one about every minute. If I am on a treadmill at the time, I can see my heart rate drop about two beats for a few seconds.

The “so what” part of this is that cardiac creep is like taking money from your bank account. How many withdrawals can you take before you are broke?   

Monday, January 5, 2015

Suggestions For Preppers

Dale Matson

Click On Picture To Enlarge
My Campsite (11,300') Near Forester Pass in Kings Canyon National Park

If you don't know what “off the grid”, “bug out bag” and “WSHF” mean, you are not a “Prepper”. Preppers are people who are training themselves to be self reliant with survival skills if there is a natural or man-made disaster.

Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are good examples of what happens when natural disasters can overwhelm infrastructure quickly leading to chaos and lawlessness. Other natural disasters are earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. There is also the possibility of a massive epidemic or the loss of the electric grid because of hackers.

I am not a Mormon but the LDS have made it a church wide mandate for members to be prepared for disasters. Here is an example of preparedness literature they make available.

People who live in rural areas expect power outages on a regular basis and many have portable generators than can run their well pumps, blower motors in their heaters and refrigerators. Most of their waste disposal is on site and gravity operated.

I think it is reasonable to consider being prepared for the possibility of some kind of disaster that could mean the loss of police and fire services in addition to access to food, water and shelter. Many preppers put a great deal of thought into self defense and the thought that they must be prepared for at least a 72 hour period of time where they are on their own to fend for themselves. Obviously there are those who take their concerns much further and have hardened bunkers built in secret locations and stocked with supplies for many months.

Survival skills are something everyone should have. For example, there is no excuse for an able bodied adult not knowing how to swim. Very few people have the survival skills of a Bear Grills or Les Stroud but anyone who is familiar with camping has a start in self-reliance. Most individuals, who camp, drive to campgrounds, where there are often potable water and lavatory facilities. What they usually bring with them are tents, sleeping bags, food, a portable stove and extra clothes. In a sense campers are already preppers since they can live away from city services. The whole idea in dealing with the elements is staying warm, dry, hydrated and fed. You should also include, “defended” but it is not the primary concern.

Let’s take this one step further. Those folks who are backpackers can take everything they need to survive on their back in a backpack. Multi Day backpackers are already survivalists. They have their food, shelter, sleeping gear, clothing, light, a water filter or pills and protection with them. Additionally, they are physically fit, have navigational equipment and skills and can move through the wilderness without trails. Their pack (bug out bag) is practical and manageable. A 72-hour bag could be less than 40 liters. All they need to do is keep their pack packed in their house and ready to go. They will need to make seasonal adjustments with gear like a warmer sleeping bag in the winter.

My recommendation to those folks on YouTube who discuss the contents of their bug out bags and include 15 or more pounds of ordnance is to spend a couple of weeks backpacking in the wilderness. Use the trails at first and then practice navigating off the trails. I think you may find that a good folding knife, CCW permit and a handgun are enough ordnance.
More preparation than this is up to you but this is perhaps a place to begin.