Thursday, October 19, 2017

Yosemite Mono Pass Hike

Dale Matson

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Hike Route
This is about a 9 mile round trip hike from the trailhead (9662’) located on Tioga Pass Road (Highway 120). The trailhead is on the south side of the road and has parking for several vehicles and a bathroom. It is about a mile before you leave the park at the east gate in Dana Meadows. You can see Mt. Dana to the north of the trail as you hike. There is about 1,500’ of altitude gain total. My total time out was about 5 hours. The trail is well marked and the climb fairly gradual. I have never found the rustic signage in Yosemite to be that accurate regarding distance.
I drove up early from Fresno and arrived at the trailhead at 9am. It seems like many of the wilderness trails were originally used by miners but this particular trail was originally used by Native Americans to cross the Sierra Nevada. This is what I would call a quick trans-Sierra hike. There is evidence along the way of humble cabins where the miners lived. There is even evidence of a mine at Mono Pass.
After reaching Mono Pass and Summit Lake, I dropped down to Upper Sardine Lake. I resisted the urge to go below Upper Sardine Lake to Lower Sardine Lake because of the climb back up to the pass. I could see Lower Sardine Lake from Upper Sardine Lake. It was quite windy but not uncomfortable in my long-sleeved wool shirt. On the return leg it initially looked like a storm was moving in but it was then obvious by the smell that it was smoke from a controlled burn in the park. That put a damper on most photos after that.
The first cutoff trail (to your right outbound) is unmarked and leads to Spillway Lake. The second cutoff trail is marked and leads to Parker Pass.
I used my Sony A7R2 with the 16-35 2.8 GM and my A6000 with the S/Z 16-70mm f4 lens. I also carried the Canon 400 f4 in my daypack in case I saw any Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep on Mount Gibbs (12,772’). I took one close-up shot of Mt. Gibbs and one shot of Lower Sardine Lake. Legend has it that a pack mule loaded with sardines fell off the trail into the lake. The cargo and mule were never seen again.  

 Mt. Dana

 Mt. Lewis

 Summit Lake

 Mt. Gibbs
 Upper Sardine Lake

Lower Sardine Lake 70mm
 Lower Sardine Lake 400mm

 Getting Smoky!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Did GM Abandon The Off-Road Market?

Dale Matson

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No More Off Road?

There seems to be gradual not so subtle changes of the GM Four Wheel Drive SUVs and Trucks. My main question to GM would be, “Are you no longer making off-road vehicles”?
I bought my first Yukon in 1995. It was equipped with four-wheel drive and had good ground clearance. When my stock tires wore out, I put on BF Goodrich TK KO tires that were more suited for off-road. The Yukon also came equipped with two front tow hooks and a rear hitch/tow package.
Since that time, I have owned two 4X4 Chevy Pickups, which were similarly equipped. They both also had metal plates for undercarriage protection. During this same period (until two weeks ago) I also owned one more Yukon and two more Tahoe’s. I had a cabin where I hauled equipment including chippers, tractors and skid steer loaders to work on the property. I also used the trucks to haul logs and move firewood. Most of this work was off road.
After the last major hike of the season on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, I decided my 2005 Chevy crew cab Duramax was no longer needed since we had sold our property and it took up a huge amount of space in the garage.
I was looking for a used late model Tahoe and found one near home. It was a 2017 with lots of miles but certified OK. I was given a good trade-in for my truck and drove home in my new used 4X4 Tahoe.
I am happy with the horsepower and mileage from the 5.3-liter engine. The ride is great but there are lots of changes that really upset me. There are no longer front tow hooks. The front spoiler is too low to the ground. The four-wheel drive does not have low range any longer on the standard models. To put it bluntly, I no longer have an off-road vehicle. The All Season tires are really made for highway use.
Now, I talked to the parts man at the Chevy dealer and my Tahoe will not take skid plates or front tow hooks. If I take off the front spoiler, I could void the warranty since is also directs air to cool the engine. I can no longer use chains because I have 18-inch wheels. I have to use cables.
The Z71 off road package is no longer available on the Tahoe’s and Yukon’s. However even on the smaller and full size trucks, the current package is not much more than decals. These vehicles are not suited to off road travel either.
I went to a 4X4 shop and they essentially told me that they could elevate the body and put on bigger tires, add tow hooks and take off the front spoiler. They could also put metal shields under the Tahoe. But…. He would not guarantee that my warranty would not be affected. Frankly I don’t think most folks who want a SUV that will also go off road care one whit about gas mileage. I’m not talking about one of those crazy OHV that navigate the Dusy-Ershim Trail. Many of the trailheads in the eastern Sierra Nevada have “roads” to get there that do require high clearance and 4-wheel drive. That is all that I am asking to do. Any Ideas? What happened GM?

The Good Old Days