Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Type II Fun

We drove, then boated. We passed happy fisher people, congregating in the cathedral of Ross Lake.

We hiked trail as far as it would take us. We forded a river.

We fought brush and struggled up steep slopes. The walls of the drainage closed and the sidehill grew treacherous. We had gone up the wrong drainage. We hiked back down to the river in the dark.

We forded the river. We looked for a confluence. We grew frustrated. We forded the river again. We fought brush. We fought brush.

We found a confluence. We struggled up steep slopes. We fought brush.

We found the river's headwaters. We camped. The sun set.

We climbed a gulley of trackless hardpan. Loose rocks teetered. We crested a divide.

We lifted our eyes.

We traversed a basin. We crossed a snowfield. We scrambled solid granite, then piles of shattered gneiss, then cinder and sand. We found the summit.

We lifted our eyes.

We downclimbed. We traversed back across the basin. We skated down scree.

We followed the stream from its headwaters to the river. We followed the river to a lake.

We hiked back to the car. The memory of our trials faded with each step.

Monday, October 4, 2010

All Things Bright and Bruised

After taking a day to dry our socks and pack our bags, Andrew and I headed down to Bend to do some mountain biking.

Driving around Mt Bachelor, we stopped to mull our options. Into the clouds, or back towards blue skies?
From central oregon biking

Our first Oregon morning was freezing. But who cares, it was finally sunny! We spent the morning biking up the steep dirt road to Paulina Peak, and the rest of the day riding a 24 mile circuit around Paulina lake and East Lake.

Morning sun rising through the clouds at our campsite.
From central oregon biking

Atop Paulina Peak
From central oregon biking

Andrew's makeshift braking mechanism (bungee cord assisted drag brake) for the longer downhill portions of the ride.
From central oregon biking

Stopping for a rest half way through the ride, above Paulina Lake
From central oregon biking

Feeling a bit battered (after my first endo) and tired the next day, we opted for a day hike up to South Sister.

The South Sister and I
From central oregon biking

Moraine Lake
From central oregon biking

Glorious sunset from camp at Elk Lake
From central oregon biking

From central oregon biking

Our last sun-filled day was spent biking around Swedish Ridge from Swampy Lakes trailhead.

riding zee bikes
From central oregon biking

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sufferfest 2010

Last summer, after an amazing few days in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, Andrew and I decided to return in 2010 for a week-long end-of-summer hike-a-thon. Our planned route was over Little Giant Pass to the Napeequa Valley, west to the PCT where we would go over Indian pass and take the "closed" portion of the PCT up to Image Lake, and return over Spider Gap. A 100 mile loop around one of our favorite Washington peaks. I put in the request for days off from work the required six months in advance, and we planned, dehydrated food, and studied maps.

Seattle weather before the trip was not promising: the rainiest September of memory. We drew out a pros and cons list for alternate options. After hours of contemplation, debating, and discussion, we decided not to change our plans. Seattle weather be damned, we were headed to the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

We headed out, stopping by the 59'er diner for lunch (stackers!!). This afforded us full bellies, but also a late afternoon start time. Reaching the trailhead about three hours before dark we forded the Chiwawa river and headed up the overgrown and steep trail to Little Giant Pass.

Brendan's not-so-happy faces while fording the icy Chiwawa

From Glacier Peak Sufferfest

Hauling our bloated bodies up Little Giant Pass

From Glacier Peak Sufferfest

From our first night camp on top of Little Giant Pass

From Glacier Peak Sufferfest

Colder, wetter weather moved in during the night bringing a light dusting of snow and ominous clouds. We finished the climb over Little Giant and headed down to the Napeequa valley, throwing worried looks upwards to the little black rain clouds hovering overhead.

Short but sweet view through the clouds of Clark Mountain over the Napeequa Valley.

From Glacier Peak Sufferfest

From the Bottom of the Valley

From Glacier Peak Sufferfest

As we started our climb out of the Valley, the rain began. Tentatively at first, then in lusty drops that pockmarked our foreheads as we looked up in anticipation towards Boulder pass. The overgrown slide alder and huckleberry bushes acted as sponges, ready to loose their wet bounty at the most gentle brush or tap. The water off of the bushes rushed down our legs, and came to an abrupt standstill in our shoes as we squish-squashed up the trail.

Reaching higher elevations, the temperatures began dropping. Trickles, then cascades of water poured off gabled buttresses on Clark Peak and down the trail, which was now more of a streambed. We hurried downhill, hopeful to find a dry spot in the trees to pitch the tarp to wait out the rain, which now had taken on an air of malice.

And so it rained...for 23 hours. Rain on the tent, rain in our sleeping bags, rain on our dry clothes, rain in all body crevices. We attempted to ignore it, vainly picking wet pine needles out of our chili. Then we tried to bargin with it, hovering in the dryest quarter of the tent. We shouted at it, when drips through the leaky megamid kept us from sleep.

Finally, we accepted it and decided to bail. A little bit defeated, we made a dash for the nearest exit point when the rain let up. Luckily, we were able to hitch a ride to Lake Wenatchee where the locals were more than happy to take our money for a long, bumpy ride back to the car.

Headed back to Seattle I decided that I undoubtedly needed a little sunshine in my life...but where would this be found? Perhaps Oregon?

Only 50% drowned

From Glacier Peak Sufferfest

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blame It On The Tetons

Job perks:
1.) new smells daily
2.) decreased worry about planning what to do with my weekday evenings
3.) old-fashioned dirty medical stories to tell at dinner parties
4.) CME money and time

I decided to take advantage of perk #4 and head to Wyoming for some medical education and hiking. Although I was super excited about learning about "Safeguarding Sphincters" (an actual lecture title...which I can post on later if there are interested parties), I was a bit more excited about hiking the Teton Crest Trail, mountain biking, and sleeping on the ground for a week.

The wildflowers were still blooming, the days were sunny, the hitch-hiking was easy, the crest trail was relatively unpopulated, and the company was great. I'm proud to say that I now officially have hiking-in-Chacos tan lines.

Queen Anne's Lace

View of the Teton range from Death Canyon Shelf.

Wildflowers blooming

Say Hello to my little friend

Views from Alaska Basin

From Hurricane pass

The reason I carried a large, heavy camera for the trip

The Grand, shrouded in clouds, on a day not for climbing. The week before we were there 16 climbers were rescued after being caught in a morning Thunderstorm

Attempt at self portrait

After finishing up the Crest Trail, Andrew and I left Jackson Hole to do some hiking in the Wind River Range. We stopped in Pinedale for coffee, pancakes as big (and delicious) as your right ass cheek, and a large earful of boomtown politics.

Seated near some local ranchers, now making their fortune off of natural gas, breakfast quickly became a quiet affair. We sat and listened to stories of apocalyptic planning, where not to go in California (south or west of Bakersfield), how to spend your fortune on mail order precious metals, what women are good for, and how Mexico is a bastion of free speech and individual freedom (and apparently where to move if Obama is elected for another term). Sometimes you just have to eavesdrop.

The Winds were beautiful, and had an untamed feeling that you don't get in the National Parks. I want to return with a fishing pole and a pack full of rice and butter for a few weeks of backcountry wandering and trout eating. I want to do this wandering when the mosquitoes have less of a voracious appetite...or maybe with a complete body suit of netting.

Green River Lakes

Crazy lichen

The canyon and another phallic object

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not the worst idea

Apparently there must be some truth to the old saw that "God watches out for drunks and fools" since last weekend we were, at times, both.

The tandem isn't responsible for my current hobbling around, which probably has to do with my foot position when I pedal. And Robert only nearly crashed us twice, so we remain on speaking terms. I actually grew to like stoking the tandem, because it let me eat and drink and take pictures at 20 mph. And it was a train on the flats and a rocket sled on the descents. Thanks to its aerodynamics (and our need to over compensate for the appearance of Pinky) we blew past quite a few pacelines of much fancier bikes.

Final verdict: not the worst idea.

Self portrait at 20 mph.

Looking back at the pack as we cross the Columbia

Entering Oregon, finally.