Lisa and I left our home near Mariposa in time to set up our one-night bivouac, so we could briefly connect with friends at Facelift, see the “Free Solo” movie, spend a day cleaning up in Yosemite, and still get home before dark the following day.
We met my third cousin, Eric, and his wife, Peggy then proceeded to the village to join the growing throng who were waiting for the National Geographic sponsored dinner and movie that had been scheduled as Facelift 2018’s opening night. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pix of the line-ups for that part of the evening. We finally got our wrist bands which designated in which venue we’d see the movie. Ken Yager, wisely, had decided that they’d keep showing the movie in both the theater and the East Auditorium until everyone who wanted had seen the movie. The energy behind the Visitor Center was very excited with anticipation and also just the stoke of a huge number of climbers, speaking a variety of languages, high just with being climbers in Yosemite!
The movie itself is FABULOUS in many ways: There was great footage and dialogue between all who were directly involved: the film crew, Alex, Sanni (his girl-friend), Tommy Caldwell, and others really gave a sense of having been with them. I really like that they did great service to all of us by going deeply and personally into the “WHY?” questions: Why climb? Why “free-solo?” Alex was present to take comments and questions which added another dimension to the movie and to our perceptions of who Alex is personally.
After getting home, I thought about some lost opportunities from the movie showing: On the way to the Valley, we’d stopped at the library and there was a voter registration table. It was National Voter Registration Day! Google even had a doodle about it! I would liked to have asked Alex if he and his circle of friends are registered to vote and plan on voting. There is a lot of speculation about how many young voters will actually vote in the upcoming mid-term elections and the degree to which the future of our democracy will be determined by the election’s outcome. Fortunately, California has mail-in voting, so all one does is vote your ballot wherever you are; then mail it in such that it arrives on time.
Since I was among the last to leave the theater, I saw Liz and Tamara Robbins sitting in the front row of the upper section where the exit path passed by them, so I greeted them and commented that Royal Robbins, Tom Frost, and Chuck Pratt had done the FA of most of “Freeblast,” the route in the film. Royal and Tom also did the second ascent, with no fixed ropes. Part of that lost opportunity is that I didn’t remember to announce to the audience that there will be a program about Royal and Tom, who recently passed onward, at the Oakdale Climbers’ Festival, Friday night, Oct. 12th.
The next morning, Eric, Peggy, Lisa and I met at the village where Facelift registration and other information tents were in operation.
After registering and schmoozing a bit, we four set off for clean-up along the Wawona Road and to the newly restored Mariposa Grove. We did the easy clean-up at Tunnel View, and I texted Ed Hartouni about the abysmal condition of the north slope below the parking lot and recommended someone use a belay there.
Onward, we stopped at convenient turnouts, especially those with visual cover from the road since those had the most toilet paper, etc. Then we came to the areas where the Ferguson Fire had torched the forest. In some places it like devastation.
Below Chinquapin, Lisa spotted a bear high up in an oak tree gathering acorns near the road, so we stopped and took pictures. He was quite high, and we wondered if bears ever fall out of trees as they gather their main fall food that will be stored and keep them nourished through the winter.
Here the bear’s head is to the right, staring directly at me
On the ground, was a lot of debris and acorn caps, resulting from the bear’s activity aloft.
Between Yosemite West and Wawona, there are localities where there is reddish flame retardant on the upper side of the road and fairly complete burning on the downhill side. Firefighters would spray retardant during the day when there are up-slope winds then at night when the down-slope winds kick-in, they lit off the lower slopes, so the wind would carry their fire down to the advancing Ferguson Fire, creating an ever-widening fire break that kept much of the fire below the Wawona Road.
We went on to the Mariposa Grove where we scoured the Welcome Plaza parking lots, but found very little rubbish. Then we went up to the Lower Grove where Eric and Peggy hadn’t been since the restoration. We all enjoyed our walk around the Fallen Monarch Loop tho we found little trash. Eric and Peggy headed back to the Valley, and Lisa and I left by the South Entrance and headed back home.