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Date Sent:      June 24, 2009
Subject:           Remembering Manoj Kumar
From:               John Bondon

Farewell Manoj Kumar

Manoj Kumar atop Half Dome June 13, 2009 It is with great sadness that I report the passing of EBCHG member, Manoj Kumar, who died June 13 while descending from the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. There has been much discussion of this tragedy and rememberances of Manoj this past week on our Member's Only Email Dicussion list. But for those who have not heard about this incident, Manoj fell while using the cabled hand rail system and apparently slipped in wet and slippery weather conditions. Fellow EBCHG member, Yogi, who also hiked Half Dome that day, explained that the hiking conditions changed suddenly. Yogi said,

    On Saturday, I met him on the way to halfdome and he sounded in good spirit. We spent some time together at the top of Halfdome. I was behind the line (in cables) when he fell. I am sharing his photo taken at top of halfdome. The sudden change of weather which brought hail storm and rain, made half dome rock very very slippery.
Thank you, Yogi, for sharing that. Manoj leaves behind a wife and 10-year old son, plus scores of friends and colleagues who will miss him greatly.

It is easy in hind sight to look back and second guess some of the choices Manoj made on that fateful day. Maybe he wasn't experienced or adequately prepared enough to hike in those conditions. Maybe he shouldn't have been hiking at all that day. I did not personally know Manoj, but I know of his reputation as a very safety conscious type of guy. And he was the type of person who looked out and geniunely cared about his fellow man. Two examples from the Member's Only email thread speak of Manoj's compassion and concern for others. Diane says,
    I remember Manoj as someone who very kindly helped me on a 3-Peak hike at Diablo late last Spring. It was shortly after my foot surgery (in December 2007) and as we were descending a trail on the way to Olympia Peak, he helped me navigate the narrow gravelly trail since I couldn't rely on my left foot to support me. He was a kind man and will be missed.
Evan recalls a certain volunteer whose help was invaluable to him:
    Last year I led a hike in Point Reyes. It was from Bear Valley to Arch Rock. There were 25 people on that hike. A very nice man volunteered to be the sweep on the outbound stretch to Arch Rock. This man's name was Manoj Kumar. Although I didn't know Manoj personally, I remembered his act of kindness when he volunteered. It was the reason our group was able to stay together all the way to Arch Rock.

Yosemite's Half Dome Should he have hiked back down Half Dome that day once conditions turned so treacherous? Obviously no. If he had been more careful or taken things a bit slower, would he still be with us? Or was this tragedy unavoidable? No one can really ever satisfactorily answer that question. But given the type of person and the concerned hiker that Manoj was, this incident makes me pause and really look inward. I can only speak for myself, and I have to admit that when I hiked Half Dome 3 years ago, I probably downplayed the risks of what I was doing as well. When you stop to think that all it would have taken was one moment of inattention or one seemingly small slip up. Even if you had taken all the precautions and done everything perfectly up until that moment, one fraction of a second of inattention or mis-footing is all it would take to create a much different ending when you dare to hike something as treacherous as Half Dome. A location that has become so touristy we often underestimate the risks involved.

Obviously at a time like this our thoughts and prayers go out to his family for the pain and shock they are feeling. But I have to say, my thoughts and prayers also go out to Manoj as well. For even though he is no longer with us in body, I hope and pray that his spirit may rest in peace. As a fellow husband and father and devoted family man, I can only imagine the thoughts that must have ran thru his mind in those final moments. The unfinished life cut way too short, and the wife and young son unwillingly left behind. This tragedy is a haunting reminder to each of us of how fragile human life really is.

For anyone who would like to share remembrances of Manoj, I am sure that someday in the near future, once his family has had some time to heal, his wife and son would love to read how Manoj has touched your life. I encourage you to share such stories by signing the Guest Book for Manoj Kumar that has been setup for this very purpose. I think one such post by his friend and fellow EBCHG member, Pravesh, really summed it all up best, " The world just lost a thinker, a poet and a real man...With him goes a great buddy..."

Hikes this Week

The Thursday weekday hike tradition continues .. but this week with both morning AND evening hiking opportunities!

Howard says of the upcoming Shell Ridge, Marshall Drive entrance hike on Thursday, June 25 at 9:30 AM: "Another typical 5-mile Borges Ranch loop hike with 750 feet elevation gain. Dog friendly.".

Iqbal says of the upcoming Lafayette Reservoir Rim Trail hike on Thursday, June 25 at 6:30 PM: "Upper Trail is a dirt trail. We will start out our hike by the water tank (Rheem Reservoir) area Walk up the path in front of Zander Drive on Rheem Blvd. at the crest of the hill. This hike is 4.69 miles in length. Unlike the lower paved route around the reservoir, the rim trail has a lot of up and down, including some rather steep grade portions. Overall I consider this trail to be fairly moderate for an experienced hiker, but could be quite challenging for the novice or newbie. Plan 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete this trail. To be back before dark we will start on time.".

Andrew says of the upcoming King Canyon Hike hike on Sunday, June 28 at 9:30 AM: "Traipse through the riparian woodlands on this reservoir hike. Our Parks have so much to offer. This is a moderate hike most of you can do easily.".

You'll find more details about each of these upcoming hikes, including starting time and directions to the trailhead, posted on the East Bay Casual Hiking website. In the event of rain, please check with the hike leader as to whether the hike will proceed as planned.

Happy Trails! :)

Happy Trails,

John




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