Friday, December 14, 2007

There's a story somewhere about a wild boar hunt, which included some shoe stealing. Anyway -- these are the replacement shoes. Merrell Overdrives. in beluga and black. Gore-tex, Vibram soles and scotch reflective striping. 1 pound 11.5 ounces. Hopefully they will take the same beating as my Merrell boots.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wireless Camp

It's true. Wireless, in the campsite, via someone elses shared wireless connection. It is a better world after all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's About the Weather ...

When you have it this good, it's hard to complain. Rumour has it that it will cool down on Friday -- to 70. Drag. Another rumour is that there is a bike ride scheduled this afternoon with the happy hiking guy.

Anyway, I went out for a short hike from the campground this morning. Turned into about 6 miles including the Blevins loop and the Wind Cave trails. Very cool.

Morning sun moonscape.

This bee hive at the top of the wind cave trail.

And all these (22) people going up to look at them.

Blevins trail with the Superstitions in the distance.

Desert Check

Outerwear? Oh, you know -- shorts and a t-shirt.

ummm ... 6 liters of water, raincoat, long johns, wool hat, first aid kit with ice pack, map, compass, gps, headlamp, flashlight, light stick, batteries, gatorade, margarita power bloks. Outerwear.

That's the Pass Mountain in the background ...

What is this bird?

Phoenix's brown cloud oozes toward me -- threateningly.


I was wondering what limiting customer spending has to do with controlling fuel costs ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Condor Sighting

I did want to mention that on my trip to the Pinnacles, I did see a California Condor. I just saw it briefly ... mmm ... so there are no pictures.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Balconies Cave -- Pinnacles National Monument

From the exit of the cave looking in.

That'a me just inside the cave. Lighting is artificial.

That's a bat, I think.

The gate at the start of the cave so they can lock people out when the bats are breeding.

In the cave.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When it Started ...

That's me. Years ago. On a trip to Joshua Tree -- then a National Monument. My old boots were new. My friend during grad school had insisted that I go to Joshua Tree and learn something about the desert. She was from the desert and liked it, and I was going to like it too, or at least learn something about it.

So off we went. Me -- younger -- in love, and quite naive about the desert. She was in her prime, and in her element. Miles of desert fell before our willing feet -- it was gloriously hot. Sweat and dust and bottles of water and a Wagoneer. Wild, sweaty lovemaking and the sound of a cactus wren. The smog sweeping in from Los Angeles, and her chiding me for having never been there, really. We chased phainopepla and the elusive desert tortoise and talked of Edward Abbey and Terry Tempest Williams, and post modernism. We showered in the noon sun under a hand pump in the Cottonwood Springs campground. Our first resemblence of running water in many days. Ocotillo, and Cholla, and Oases.

Fighter jets flew below us as we looked down from the higher altitudes of Joshua Tree.

She's responsible, actually. It's her fault. There's an old Polaroid of her in a scrapbook, dressed up to go for a beer and a burger in town -- standing in that desert in a white dress, the wind blowing, entangling her. A dichotomy of the desert's beauty. The Mohave. White skirts and cactus. Austere, lean and sharp. Gorgeous. She started all this for me. Leading me to the well. This desire to be in the desert. The pleasure at its insanity. A chameleon scrambling across the hot desert sand, invisible.

I'll be retuning to the desert for a bit. Contemplating a permanent return. I am growing tired of smog and potholes and fog and cold, and crowded 4 star restaurants, rock concerts and the opera. Go figure. It would be nice to see the coyotes in the firelight, or just hear them squeal with delight as the moon approaches.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The House of ...

... hmmm™ ... contortion. Stopped by the House of Pain™ for a little breakfast workout. I managed to get past the overhang on the curiouser and curiouser route mentioned the other day; I was dreaming about the route the other night, which is odd. Dreaming about climbing, who would have ever imagined. Perhaps that is why it was possible.

Once you've conquered an obstacle like that it seems anti-climactic to just climb up a flat wall, even if it's a 5.9 route. So I didn't do it. I hung there on the wall looking spent. I was spent.

I rested, watered and .. then tried the overhang on the Hamachi route. ... It's dicey and ... well ... maybe next time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I went to the climbing gym, and was working on an highly overhanging route called "Curiouser and Curiouser" and drat -- I found that I also have hamstrings and adductors, rather than just the quads I used to have. And guess what else?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


We had a moderate earthquake today, that I guess might have made the national news. A 5.6 quake centered in the south bay about 20 miles from my house.

It seems everyone is ok.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Few Old Friends

I caught up with a few old friends on Sunday at the first day of the 2007 Per Volquartz Eastern Sierra Photo Workshop in Lee Vining California. Caught up with this Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) in glorious fall fashion too. Out near June Lake.

There's These ...

... now if there just was some snow.

The Gear Report


___ 2 pair extra socks smartwool hiking --Excellent
___ Wigwam Gobi liners 7.0 oz. -- Failed. These literally hurt my feet, while an equivalent product from REI does not.
___ REI Mohave Pants. Failed. 3 days in the Canyonlands and they were torn and worn.
___ REI Sahara Pants. Excellent. Survived two days of wet hiking, dried quickly.
___ SmartWool Microweight Long-Sleeve Crew 6.3 oz. Excellent.
___ Patagonia Capilene 3 bottoms 5.1 oz. Excellent
___ Patagonia Capilene short sleeve shirt. Failed. This was extremely uncomfortable.
___ Alpaca Hat 1.90 oz. Excellent.
___ Outdoor Research Wool Pullover 14.1 oz. Not used.
___ North Face Summit Rain Parka 1 lb. 12.2 oz Not used. This is too heavy.
___ Sierra Designs Anorak Rain Jacket. Excellent.
___ marmot precip rain/wind pants w/stuff sack 7.80 Not used, Again, too heavy.


___ Sierra Designs Light Year Tent 3 lbs. 15 oz. This is excellent. Stood up to strong wind and blowing sand. Very nice.
___ North Face Snowshoe sleeping bag, 3 lbs. 10 oz. I hate this bag. It's really uncomfortable, I am never warm. It's heavy and hard to stuff. It sucks.
___ Therm-a-rest Pro-Lite 4 Regular 4-season ultralite mattress 1 lb 9.5 oz . Excellent


___ Kelty RedCloud 5600 6 lbs. 0.5 oz. Passed. This bag is heavy but does all the tricks. It has a hole worn in it now so will need to be replaced patched.
___ stuff sacks, The Sea to Summit dry sacks were excellent.


___ Katadyn Hiker Microfilter with stuff sack 14.8 oz. So far, so excellent.
___ 1 Platypus 2-3 liter hydration bag/pouch. Failed. One of these sprung a leak in camp the first day.
___ MSR Whisperlite Stove 15.4 oz. My stove performed OK. It didn't really want to warm up and required a lot of attention to reducing the cooling influences during startup. It was generally grumpy during the trip.


___ Silva Ranger compass 1 oz. Cool.
___ Aurora Princeton led headlamp w/ 6 AAA batteries 4.2 oz. This is excellent and light.
___ (1)Streamlight Scorpion Stinger Flashlight 3.3 oz This light rocks


Canon 20d with 17-85 lens 3 lbs. 4 oz. The camera had many issues on this trip. The batteries died before the hike was over. It fell and the filter broke.


___ North Face Polargaurd Jacket -- Excellent
___ Etrex Venture GPS with neck lanyard. Failed. I have never picked up a Garmin GPS unit that the batteries were still good.
___ REI Men's Sahara convertible pants 1 lb 3.4 oz. Failed. These tore badly during my Oregon trip.
___ Merrill Wilderness Boots 3 lbs. 10 oz. Excellent.
___ Keen Taos River Shoe. Despite having worn these for miles and miles of casual walking and light hiking, and having replaced the shok-cord laces with regular cord, these covered the task of hiking the Paria with a pack so well, that I am now going to buy another pair. I wish I could get the same shoe with a high top design. They seriously rock.
___ Black Diamond Hiking Poles. Excellent
___ Smith Factor Sunglasses 4 oz. Fair. I had two pair. One failed due to blowing sand destroying the lenses.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"We choose to do these things, ...

... not because they are easy, but because they are hard." So says Dale. And John Kennedy.

Although my trip was ten days long, we are just going to talk about the 5 days of serious hiking, and specifically now -- the first two days. We are not going to mention the flat tire in Lovelock, NV. Or mention how many "No Smoking" rooms there are in Utah that smell like smoke, despite a decidedly religous population and the Utah Clean Air Act. Or how difficult it can be to find a meal on Sunday, much less a beer.

We are not going to mention that I entered a raffle for a varmint rifle in Nevada (that den of despair, vice and immorality.) Or that I spent a lot of time with two people who speak metric. "It can't possibly be zero out?" Says I. We are not going to yak on about the broken camera.

So the first night went well in the campground at the trailhead for Paria. Reports from other hikers and the rangers encouraged us to skip our plan to hike Buckskin Gulch. It had water running in it the previous day forcing one group of hikers to bivy at the middle route. It was allegedly muddy down the length and had deep water in places.

So instead we hiked the Paria Narrows to camp at the bottom of Buckskin Gulch just up from the confluence. Right before the start of the hike my camera fell from the picnic bench and required that I change lenses just before leaving . The extent of the damage isn't quite known yet, especially after enlisting the hardware store guy to help me fix it with a pair of channel locks.

The first day was nine miles plus down the Paria River to the confluence with Buckskin. We all put on our boots to head downstream a few hundred feet and then change into our river shoes. We met a pair of hikers from GB who had ridden bicycles from Jasper to the Mexican Border this past summer. They vanished immediately when I fell the first of several times that day. I fell several times that day.

It was like snot -- the mud. "It's really just a choice between grey and brown mud," said one of the upstream hikers.

I fell about six times actually, the pain of which has finally reached its zenith. My ego is bruised, mainly.

The trip down the river becomes progressively narrower and more wet, as the canyon width decreases. The wetter it got the less I fell. The initial crossing was a bit comic. We debated for some time the best way to cross, changed shoes, nervously stepped in. We crossed the Paria about 300,000 times after that, and by the end of the trip down we were in the water all the time.

We camped in a site above Buckskin 50 ft or so. A little platform in the sky.

In the morning there was no dew and it was warm. My weather radar was working overtime telling me it was going to rain. I told "the boys" what my grandfather had always said -- "if there isn't any dew, it is going to rain." We were three or four miles down from where that narrows of the Paria opened up much. We immediately broke camp and left.

I led the charge upstream against the unchanging trickle of the Paria, the threat of rain spurning us on -- done in two hours and forty-five minutes. Dale passing us all at the first break. That's three miles an hour with 300.000 crossings and packs. Not bad, imagine the rate if it really were raining.

Eighteen miles in my river shoes with a full pack and mud. It's pretty amazing to me. At the last crossing there were a couple of people standing there debating how to get across; we just charged in and went across.

"--We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." -- John F. Kennedy, Address given at Rice University, September 12, 1962 -- I believe he was inspiring us to take the moon.