Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

2009 was a great year. It started in Mesa, Arizona with a missing toenail followed by a fall in the parking lot in Flagstaff Arizona at the WFR training at the Northern Arizona University Outdoor School.

February was snow in Joshua Tree with some friends and a snow storm in Yosemite (Jim Fitzgerald barely escaped). This was your basic run of the mill religious experience.

Yosemite Valley with 2-4 feet of new snow is standard postcard stuff for some one with a camera. One gains serious street cred around the valley for being the person staying in a tent. On the final day when the sun came out -- I wandered from one photo emergency to the next.

March began in Yosemite ...

and included hikes on the Willamette River in Oregon and a summit on San Bruno Mountain, a hike at Purisma Creek, and included my first outdoor climbing -- bouldering at Glen Canyon Park. There was a great trip to shoot photos at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.

April, it seems -- wasn't that exciting ... Archery, mostly, and training at the gym, and a short trip to Monterey to visit my son, and I injured my foot in some new shoes (3).

May. Again Yosemite was profoundly beautiful. Half Dome attempt number 1. Thunderstorm and tragedy on the trail. Katrin Lehmann (a stranger to me) disappears from the trail on the day we are there. I take a hike out to the point in Point Reyes and the Elk Preserve with my friend John.

June. I am going to go ahead and quote myself, which I never do, regarding my June trip to the Superstition Wilderness, just a few miles East of Phoenix, Arizona:

To be in a place of such glorious beauty, such austerity, difficulty ...
well it's sublime; profoundly good. To be back on this side, reasonably intact,
is also good. To see an end to the thorns, the 105 degree temps, the humidity.
To rest, to prepare to do it again, to have bragging rights or a good story to
tell, is all good stuff.I spent two days in the Superstition wilderness last
weekend. The Happy Hiking Guy (Chris Raye) and I hiked from the Peralta trailhead to Le Barge Spring in a big ugly loop. It was largely uneventful, just two guys in the
desert sun, a shitload of wilderness, and 16 miles of pain.

There was cycling, and archery, and one absolutely fatal for the camera event involving a video of incoming arrors and a perfect shot.

July. Half Dome attempt #2, the moonlight fiasco. 2 0f 4 of us summitted -- I broke my foot. Half Dome 2, Shawn 1 (I summited when I was 20).

In August, I sat on my ass with my foot up. I started physical therapy. I threw a good going away party for my friends Angel and Narinya. We ate clams and oysters and slightly burnt ribs. And everyone came. Awesome. I think I must have started a new job.

September. Never mind. There was a deer hunting trip to Sonora pass and Bridgeport.

In October there was a trip to Yosemite and a stay at Housekeeping Camp. Helen, Andrew, and Cat all summited Half Dome without me. It was a great trip for me, and I seriously enjoyed the good company, and Helen McGiver the cook, and Cat getting lost in the camp, quote when I told her the site number, "good to know." Travel to Eugene, Oregon to celebrate my friend Mark's 50th birthday. Crazy party!

November. Carson Pass Snowshoeing. I actually saw Lake Tahoe for the first time in about 1o years.

Pescadero Creek hike with bobcats and Green Chili Soup at Duarte's.

December. Skiing. More Yosemite. Badger pass, Bear Valley, Carson City and a hike in Kings Valley, somewhere in Nevada. Hooked up with some old friends. Made some new ones.

I am thinking, 2009 was a good year. A very effing good year. I made friends, I lived well.

So -- let's all do it again next year! Happy New Year! Play hard ... and ... "Stay thirsty ..."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Skis ... Sort Of

I got this pair of Trak Cortina cross country skis from a friend of mine this week (thanks bro!) . They are one of the original fish scale skis from the '70s. I'll be going up to Badger to test them out.

I'm starting to rough out the winter gear checklist. In the winter the environment is everything protection from the short term and long term effects is the project. I've been reading books like Steve House's Beyond the Mountain and Beck Weather's book Left for Dead, which detail equipment carried into extreme alpine environments. The 7 lb pack that Steve house carried for his solo of K7 didn't have a lot of excesses; expediency and weight saving are the real lessons from that. Beck Weather's dramatic events on Everest weren't really the result of his gear.

When Reinhold Messner summited Everest solo , he abandoned his pack. He did insist on 2 pairs of sunglasses though. You probably won't get home if you're snow blind.

SO here's the first whack at my list:

Base Layer, Patagonia Capilene and or smartwool micro wool, 2 each; Sock Liners
Smartwool Wool Neck Gaiter
Hat, wool or Polartec, like the Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon or Windstopper.
Glasses, Sunglasses, Magnifiers
Compass (Silva Ranger)
Water Bottle
Skis, Snowshoes, Boots, Gaiters, Wax (for the skis)
Smartwool Wool socks (2 Pair)
Gloves (current choice ... Black Mountain Glissade 0 degree)
Spare gloves
Wool pants and Wool Shirt.
Northface Polargard Jacket
Northface Summit Shell
Marmot Rain pant
Food -- gu packets, one meal ready to eat.
Water bottle
Duct Tape.
Mini First aid kit (see duct tape above)
Avalance Probe
Snow Shovel
Dermatone lip stuff.
Garbage Bag
Hand Warmers
Extra hat

For the truck:
Sleeping Bag and Pad
Tow Strap
MSR Whisperlite Stove, fuel and pot
Meal (dehydrated ... Chili Mac anyone?)
Extra Blanket

For Camp:
Stove, pot, and fuel
French Press coffee maker and coffee
Sleeping bag
Foot Soaking tub

Monday, December 28, 2009

King's Canyon, Nevada

I was up in Reno and Carson City for a few days connecting with old and new friends. There was about an inch of snow overnight the first night.

Met up with Jeff Moser of Bike Carson and his son and we went for a short hike in King's Canyon. It was cool to meet him and see his bike collection (I counted 26). Very fun. After the hike we had pho ... which I couldn't really eat because of the waffles.

Jeff, son and 3 dogs.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Skiing @ Crane Flat and Badger Pass

Saul at the Tuolumne Grove on Saturday.

Badger Pass looked fun.
That's me on the Glacier Point Road.

Me again!
I went up to Yosemite over the weekend. I stayed in a cabin in the valley, and it was sweet (you're jealous, no?). The weather was good, albeit a bit warm, and the food was good (thanks to Saul!).

We skied at Crane Flat on Saturday, but one, didn't have a map, and two, I forgot the wax for my skis. We went down to the Tuolumne Grove of the giant sequoias, and it was a bit steep so we walked a lot of it. We skied all of two miles.
On Sunday, we skied near Badger Pass on the Glacier Point Road and the old Glacier Point Road. Badger has well defined trails and and the road is groomed. So it went better. I found Nordic waxes and alot of advice at the Nordic Ski Center, but skied using some borrowed fishscales. We skied about 3 miles, some of it quite a bit more difficult than the road, mostly because it was loose, heavily post-holed, and heavily snowshoed old snow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1000 Posts

Well, that's a landmark. 1000 posts.

I started this blog April 17, 2005, almost 5 years ago. 5 years, 1000 cheap stories -- and just a few good ones. 5 years, me, my bikes, my hikes, my cameras, my friends. And a few thousand miles of wilderness. And some wilderless.

And a shitload of friends. Thank god for that. Friends to inspire me, to go with me, to help me. To love and follow me, foolishly perhaps. Thanks to all of you. For years of inspiration, friendship, and 1000 posts to this crazy book.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bear Valley and

... remembering how to ski.

Andrew and I left the Bay before dawn to get to Bear Valley sometime around 9. I immediately rediscovered that snow is quite slippery by falling in profound slow motion ... right on to my a**. We bought a pass for the cross-country sky trails and set out -- me on my new skis and Andrew on snowshoes. He had a distinct advantage because I haven't skied in 15 years, and really didn't know that much about it then. Additionally -- I waxed my skis ... so they really didn't work all that well. So we were pretty evenly matched in pace initially -- only occassionally did he have to wait for me.

I learned a few things ... however ... aside from the obvious truth that I am not in skiing shape. Waxing skis is a bit mysterious and difficult ... and begs for either training from some one who's done it, or twenty to thirty lifetimes of trial and error. I am a quick learn though. When my skis didn't perform as I expected -- I didn't give up -- I kept skiing on them until I was exhausted. At some point I actually stopped and adjusted my kick wax up in temperature and polished the glide surfaces of the skis again. Things improved ... I wasn't able to zip around like all those skate skiers .. but I was able to kick and glide, and climbing was still difficult, go figure.

It was a pretty awesome day. Overnight about a foot of snow fell -- adding to a foot or so that had recently fallen. Although it snowed all day, it was never hard, and the temperature was reasonably 22 or 25 degress F. or so. Even after it warmed up a bit -- my guess is it was resoundly below freezing.
I skied about 7 km, or 4 something miles on flat terrain. My first ski since 1994? and I skied 4 plus miles. I'm good with that. It took a while and we ended up stopping around noon-thirty to eat.

We had lunch here, at the grocery store in Bear Valley. Yum, but ... there wasn't enough.
It wasn't all that great of a day for nature photography, being all grey and snowing ... but maybe it was. The cloudyness was great, the amount of snow was huge, it was gorgeuos ... and it was good.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Mid-Life Crisis

Chuckle. I am starting to work on my bucket list. That's definitely a symptom. Anyway, I just bought some touring skis at craigslist prices. Why? You might ask. Because I always wanted to.

They are a metal edged touring ski circa old school waxable three-pin 75mm binding telemark like with Chamonix™ bindings, and they've been places I've never been, and they're in very good shape for being less than 37 years old. Specifically a Karhu Kodiak Edge,215cm. The book I have here (written in 1972) doesn't mention metal edge skis, or skate skis or randonee, or skins, but it does mention fiberglass and "waxless" skis, regarding them with absolute distain. Skins are described briefly, and choosing which animal they are from seems important.

The real mystery is the waxing ..." Or somethng like that. I bought boots and I have figured out that my racing poles need to be 142 cm -- which is exactly the maximum of my extensible poles, go figure. I watched videos on waxing. I investigated and I need either one wax or 32 total - to ski in California. It's a bit intimidating.

So -- when I bought the skis Rich said something like "Yeta, yeta, yeta, klister this something ... after that it's all blue or green wax in California. I spent the night in a snow cave ... there was an avalanche and I lost my skis, yeta, yeta, yeta" ... I gave him the money, and took the skis. See you later, Rich. I sort of want to call him back and find out how he got back without skis.

I went looking and calling around for klister or other kick waxes, and they aren't available around here, in fact, it's quite difficult to help the clerk understand what I want enough to find it. They all know about quick waxes though. The latest story is that I might be able to find them at REI in Saratoga ...

When I was younger I went on an overnight ski trip. I borrowed wooden skis and bamboo poles (umm and sweet low cut leather nordic three-pin shoes) from the elder brother and went off to Badger Pass with a hopeful girlfriend ... and well it was a lot more than fun. I should have froze to death. I fell about 500 times. But it was quite memorable. We had a minor accident, wrecking her car, and managed to survive skiing and the accident.

Now, I have these skis ... the boots are on the way from Norway or some other frozen planet ... maybe Canada -- where they still use these. I want to ski. To glide. If they arrive tomorrow it will also be a great mystery, and I'll be skiing Saturday. If I can find some wax ...