One Man's Paradise

Change the World

I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

Ten Years After

Today the governor of California ordered a 25 percent reduction in water use by cities and towns, but not farms, in reaction to the ongoing drought in the nation’s most populous state.

Bad Water, Death Valley, California

Bad Water, Death Valley, California

That’s one way of patching an obvious and enormous problem in the state. I believe it is symptomatic for our society. Instead of addressing the fundamental problem of overpopulation and the unrealistic expectation of perpetual growth, we try to apply a quick patch, until…

Until when? Until we find a real solution? There is no real solution to perpetual growth. It is impossible.

Large parts of California are desert by nature. In the long run we can’t beat nature, not with all the technology in the world. Instead of respecting nature we decided to put the largest agricultural industry and 40 million people in the desert, draining lakes and rivers, building dams and aqueducts in support of this man-made disaster.  I believe there is only one solution to this: A sustainable level of agriculture and population. The question is, who is willing to subscribe to and defend such a wildly unpopular position?

Was rock star Alvin Lee a visionary, when he wrote the above lyrics?

Inside Out

In Search of Solitude


After a week on the road with fellow tour guides and a 4th of July celebration I am ready for some solitude. It has been difficult to find time for myself. Even the skies of California are busting with human activity. The pope reminded us today that we should take better care of nature… pointing to South America. Yes, we are destroying the rain forest, which will further impact our climate. What about the rest of the planet, that already has been covered with concrete and asphalt?

On the Road

The best of LA

What would you do, if you have a day to visit LA? Driving included!
That’s what we did. Get on the 101 and head for the 405 intersection at morning rush hour. Watch LA drivers morning routine: Make up, shaving, networking, picking your nose, all while paying attention to the stop and go traffic. 25 miles and an hour later we arrive on Hollywood Blvd and start looking for a parking spot. Instant Karma on Sycamore and Hollywood Blvd. Follow the stars on the sidewalk to Mann’s Chinese Theater, stepping on Barbara Walters, Oliver Stone, The Doors, and Michael… Spiderman and his fellow men are still getting dressed. Just Marylin and Shrek at Madame Tussauds pose forever…
Then it’s on to the “Kodak” theater walking on the red carpet. A glimpse at the Holywood sign in haze. Then it’s back to the van. Zipping by Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive. No window shopping, no shopping period. You need appointments to some of these stores? Ridiculous.
Next stop: Venice Blvd. 45 min for the zoo at Venice Beach. Street performers, tourists, and homeless people crowd the boardwalk looking for something. Change, souvenirs, drugs, food?
I am attracted to the bold colors. There is no subtlety. What is the purpose of all this?
That was my day in LA.

One Man's Paradise

Dogtooth Peak, Dinkey Lakes Wilderness

Last weekend was a time to visit old and new stumping grounds. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating time around Courtright Reservoir and Dinkey Lakes in the Sierra Nevada. Rolling forest, alpine granite, and pristine lakes make this neighbor to the John Muir Wilderness a true Sierra gem. That’s what the National Forest site promises.

One day I hiked from Courtright to the top of Dogtooth Peak, a 10,256 ft / 3,126 m mountain peak. It ranks as the 531st highest mountain in California and the 3938th highest mountain in the United States according to Wikipedia. Surrounded by smooth granite domes Dogtooth Peak stands out by its craggy mountain  top. It takes a couple of 5th class climbing moves to get to the top of the rugged top. But boy, what a view. You can see most of the major domes around the reservoir and the Sierra Nevada crest to the East. The peak itself is surrounded by large quartz deposits, mostly white, but also some black and rose crystals of impeccable symmetry. Unfortunately I did not find the registry at the top of the mountain. I wondered if Fred Beckey left a note after his first ascent of the S-face. The man was just everywhere.

This time of the year the wildflowers are out, Penstemons, lilies, and many more flowers that I could not name, a very colorful display. The trails in the Wilderness area are barely marked, which is the way it should be. The trail to Cliff Lake is a popular day hike of about 5 miles. Primitive campsites are found around the lake, frequented by weekend warriors, fishing folks, backpackers and day hikers. Beyond the lake you are entering an area with less activity.

On my way back I went cross country following creeks and meadows leading to the reservoir. It reminded me of Alaska, being alone in the wilderness without a trail. At the end of the day a spotter plane started to circle overhead. A little later I heard a Bell helicopter, but I could not see it through the trees. The sound came closer and closer as I hiked South. Spotter plane, helicopter? That means forest fire. Not a fun place to be. I could not smell the fire, so it could not be that big, but they can explode very quickly. With some hesitation I kept hiking back to the trail head. Then I saw the smoke coming through the brush. The helicopter hovered almost over my head with a red water bag dangling from the underside. Well, the good news was, I was close to the reservoir, where they got the water from. The bad news, I was close to the fire. The helicopter was around for a couple of hours, disappearing once for an hour to refuel.


Shortly before sunset I made it back to the trail head. The helicopter crew still worked on the wildfire through the last hours of daylight.

It was a beautiful day above 8000 feet with a reminder how fragile this environment can be.