17

Reading the comments and discussing with other users helped me get a much better idea of the possible causes why we hear of so many hard (sometimes free) ascents on El Capitan and almost none on Half Dome. 1. The approach Fig. 1 - The two possible approaches to HD and the Regular NW Face route [From summitpost.org] According to mountainproject.com, there ...


15

35° is 35°, whether in your car, in your pack, or in your refrigerator back home. However, handling raw meat otherwise is very different outdoors than at home. Personally, I think bringing raw meat into the wilderness is a bad idea. There are plenty of other foods that give you the same or better nutrition, don't require as careful handling, weigh ...


14

The suds are caused by protein. Protein is usually consumed by the nitrogen cycle and finally plant life, but if there is enough water churning by wind and white caps and breaking waves it can froth up and dry out and get blown away and get trapped a gyre where is eventually melts back down into the water. Sometimes it gets blown into a beach as you've seen. ...


12

Desert Varnish There's a Wikipedia article on it right here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_varnish In a nutshell, Desert varnish (also known as rock varnish) is a dark, thin (usually 5 to 500 ╬╝m thick), layered veneer composed of clay minerals cemented together by oxides and hydroxides of manganese and iron.[1] 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/...


11

American black bears They are somewhat common in some wilderness areas of California, mostly in the mountains. In their natural state, black bears are thinly populated on the landscape because it takes a large area to support one, and they are also shy of humans. Black bears are not very large; females can be the size of a large dog. There are certain ...


11

The US doesn't have anything like the Scandinavian right to roam (Swedish allemansr├Ątten, etc.). Private land is usually fenced, and it's against the law to enter private land while hiking without the landowner's permission. The US term for wild camping is "backcountry camping" or "backpacking," as opposed to car camping, where you pay to park your car in a ...


9

There are several concerns Rodents. Unlike the eastern US, rodents in the West are much more likely to carry Hanta virus and Bubonic plague. These are not common, but unlike the Eastern US, they are also not unheard of. Scorpions. Scorpions in the east are a minor annoyance. Some of the Western ones kill. Wild Horses. Again, unheard of in the east, ...


9

Ok, now that it looks like I've earned a reputation I have edited my post and now include some links that should be helpful in monitoring weather and snowpack in the White Mountains region. I received an email from Gerrit yesterday with some questions about the White Mountains. He asked me to respond here so the info below is largely aimed at addressing his ...


9

The picture for the Mac OS X Sierra desktop background is of Lone Pine Peak. You can find a similar picture taken by Don Smith at their blog, where they mentioned the following: In the scene below, I awaited the first light of sunrise to paint the ridges of Lone Pine Peak located in the Alabama Hills just west of Lone Pine, California. The pattern of ...


8

Almost all North American sandpipers nest far up north (from the northern Great Plains to the shores of the Arctic Ocean). They winter in moderate numbers along the coasts, and very large numbers of migrants come through in waves along the coasts in the spring (March-May, mostly). The numbers in southbound migration (August-October, mostly) are somewhat ...


7

The other answers have great information. I would add some specifics that I have learned from living and backpacking all over Arizona and the white mountains for most of my life. Don't have everyone pee on the same rock/place at night. It will dry out and the salt can attract deer. If they get brought in to camp for the salt, they might smell something else ...


7

I'll start this as a community wiki and seed it with a few places. While places like Shasta and the Sierra may be within 3 hours drive, this is usually not the case once traffic and speed limits are factored in. Note that nearly all of these sites will require reservations, and may fill up quickly in busy months. Local definitions: Dispersed Camping: "...


7

What you want to do seems to be referred to by the Forest Service as "dispersed camping," and you can find a lot of information by googling on that phrase. Different jurisdictions seem to have different rules, but this blog post has a nice attempt to summarize how the rules usually work in national forests and on BLM land. Basically what they seem to want ...


7

Your requirements are conflicting. Think about it. It costs money to build showers and toilets and to provide running water. It's quite unlikely that someone or some organization is going to build a campground with the amenities you want, then let everyone camp there for free, especially close to a major city where the demand will be high. Basically, you ...


7

I would recommend going to Los Padres National Forest including the Ventana Wilderness in the Santa Lucia Range. No chance of snow there as even the highest mountain does not exceed 1800 metre and most time will be spent at lower elevations. And if you head to summits near the coast you have great views of the Big Sur. You will probably need a car to get ...


7

You almost certainly got close to a nest. The behavior you describe fits various raptors when intruders get close to a nest. There very likely is a nest up there somewhere. If the nest isn't on the tower, then it is in a nearby tree. The bird being a owl wouldn't be my first thought. A seagull is even more unlikely. Since you're only ¼ mile from ...


7

First, the difficulty of a V1 is not consistent everywhere, especially for climbers with limited experience. A V1 crack is a very different animal from a V1 slab. Yosemite climbs and boulder problems, especially in the V1 and 5.10 range are typically very stiff for the rating. These do not compare to gym routes or ratings. The East Buttress starts with a ...


6

When meteorologists tell you the temperature, likely they mean the temperature more than 1m off the ground in a shaded place (for example in a Stevenson screen). Anything sunlit is likely to be warmer. The ground is likely to be different (warmer or cooler depending what else is going on). You can't assume that just because the weather report for the region ...


6

About 20 years ago, I had a whole day free between two business engagements in the Bay area. I stumbled upon a apparently little-known state park that if I remember right was south and a little east of the built-up area. I think it was called Henry W. Coe State Park. It was mostly in the hills east of the valley. I remember being surprised how few people ...


6

In the US you probably won't be able to become an apprentice in the traditional sense at the age of 14 as you will be legally obliged to be in school or at least educated by someone with parental responsibility. Similarly it is not usually possible to employ minors except for casual work with very few hours. There is also the fact that in the modern world ...


6

I would suggest looking at the Point Reyes National Seashore, close to Petaluma, less than a hour north of San Francisco. It is a beautiful area ranging from thick woods to large open bluffs to the seashore. Because it is on the coast, the weather is much more temperate than up in the mountains. There are more miles of trails than you could explore in one ...


5

Bug Spray: Unless you're backpacking in and are extremely weight conscious of how much you're carrying, if you think you might need bug spray, why wouldn't you bring it? Better to have it and not need it then the other way around. How to stay cool when climbing: Wake up early and climb from sunrise until it gets hot. Then, take a break through the heat of ...


5

Different parts of California have different wildlife, so you should probably narrow the region. Anyway, I'll talk about the areas I'm familiar with. In the Santa Cruz mountains, there are a lot of pumas (mountain lions.) Encounters are very rare. The advice is that if you do encounter one, make yourself appear large and noisy by waving your hands and your ...


5

If you want to do this as a hobby, there's lots of places you can go. The American, Yuba, & Klammath rivers have the most gold. A lot of the parks have something in place to allow to do a little panning. You should be able to find a few flakes to show your friends, but you won't make any substantial money doing it. Also, using any kind of mechanical help,...


5

Sea foam, ocean foam, beach foam, or spume is a type of foam created by the agitation of seawater, particularly when it contains higher concentrations of dissolved organic matter (including proteins, lignins, and lipids) derived from sources such as the offshore breakdown of algal blooms. -- Wikipedia (2016-07-25): Sea foam Human waste can be a ...


5

The Henry W Coe State Park is within reasonable driving range, and offers many hiking trails with good vistas and surprisingly few people. I go into more detail here.


5

Adding to what Don Branson said, Try not to dismantle or peep into a pile of stones, small cracks. With reference to :"During winter, do most of these reptiles go in some sort of hibernation, or can some/many still be found and seen during the day where there is some sun?" What I've observed is, It is most likely that you may come across a snake/serpent ...


5

To add to what others have mentioned, reptiles do indeed go into hibernation, but not in the thought of "traditional" hibernation, such as that of a bear or other mammals. Reptiles usually do burrow down, but they can certainly be awoken. Here in the southeast, if the temperatures rise just a bit, we have plenty of snakes and lizards around sunning ...


5

Five hours from San Francisco is enough to reach a good chunk of the Sierras and even further north in the area of Lassen and Shasta. There are large areas of national forest within this range. Generally the national forests will have less restrictions than national parks, particularly popular ones like Yosemite. Each national forest will have its own ...


5

In my experience, beaches that are less protected are the ones which have the most items washing up on them. For example, in Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, many items arrive from Japan because there is no land in between those places, whereas on the east side of the island, there is almost nothing washing up from Japan because there is so much ...


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