Monday, September 14, 2009

Yellowstone NW Backpack Re-Cap

Day 1: After a wonderfully caffeine infused drive from IF up through Island Park and Yellowstone, I arrived in Gardiner for the classroom day of this backpacking class. I was way younger than everyone else but that didnt entirely surprise me. after going over the route, grizz safety, lnt, etc and discussing gear for a while we finished up in the early afternoon. I drove up to mammoth to walk to absurdly crowed boardwalk for a couple hrs, and then ventured off the well marked trail head less then 200 ft from the boardwalk up the beaver dam trail. Immediately all signs of human life slipped away ... i wonder how many people go to national parks and never even make it 5 ft into actual wilderness? sad thoughts - what would ken burns say?
had a great dinner and bozone at the raven in gardiner. crashed hard that night.
Day 2: Met up early and took the YA shuttle into bozeman, where we picked up some stuff at northern lights and had an awesome lunch (clearly fish tacos for me) at la parilla. i want to move to bozeman - freaking perfect place to live. Headed down past red cliff campground, where i practically grew up, and hit the black butte trail head by mid afternoon. hiked in 2.5 miles and passed on very human habituated black bear. hung the enormous amounts of food. early night due to the ferocity of the skeeters.
Day 3: Started early and climbed up to Big Horn Peak - a couple thou of vertical and some awesome views. madison range, taylor-hilgards, lone mtn, the sphinx, all the biggies. long slow day due to the average age of our group but lots of time to stop and take in the views. amazing lunch on the ridge - views for miles and miles in all directions. montana, wyoming, idaho ...
bighorn sheep sighting at the top.
dropped into shelf lake about 330 to make camp - took a little side hike up the hill behind the lake toward a radio relay station. wonderful grizz stories that night by jim garry. great nights sleep.

Day 4: Dropped down from shelf lake on the specimen creek trail. pretty short day, no wildlife but good weather and great cloud cover. nice meadow camping, short side hike out to the specimen creek trailhead and back in. tons of wild rasberries and worrtle berries - and a few hucks. quick dip in the freezing stream to wash off. more good stories ... campfire night number one.

Day 5: Another short day, but passing through the Gallatin BMA. tons of bear signs, tons of wolf signs. made camp by noon but decided to take a 9 mile side hike up to high lake. amazing high mountain meadows almost all the way up. awesome country. rounding the corner before the lake we came across 4 wolves - two adults and two of this years pups. they looked at us for a moment and then - gone. such a rush. high lake was gorgeous and then we got a little snow and hail as we descended back into the valley below. started to get cold that night. more cold to come ...
Day 6: Grizzly day! First spotted him a couple miles from where we planned to camp - on an elk carcass. camped only a few miles from the carcass, but in an exposed meadow. On our side hike we spotted him again and followed him for over two hrs. watched him catch a fish, devour it, and move onto grubbing and foraging. totally unbelievable experience. by far the most amazing day of the trip ... but the cold settled in that night. really cold night, all huddled around the campfire. got down to 18 that night - frosty frosty morning. man that coffee was amazing.
Day 7: Great hike through some more grizz country with plenty of bear sign. headed up a ridge through some of the old 88 burn. watched some young sandhill cranes learning how to fly. lunch in a meadow filled with paintbrush. like it was on fire. dropped down into the gallatin valley and camped near the gallatin river. great views of the valley as we dropped in from the edge of the fawn pass trail. probably my fav campsite - gentle sounds of the water really soothed me to sleep more than on any other night. little bit warmer but still a cool night - but man sleep is so great when your tucked deep inside your bag with the hood pulled up and the chill of outside air nipping your nose.

Day 8: Climbed over fawn pass on the longest day - 12 miles. early start and a hot afternoon. fun to descend the pass and drop all the way down into the valley. hiking along the stream all the way down - the most epic day of the trip, where every stream crossing is like heaven for 15 feet. camped around 4 - major skeeters again and a little sketch on the site selection but workable. more sandhill cranes that night.

Day 9: Layover day - but not really for us. Four of us took a side hike up to seplucher mtn. only 10K at the top but still a good push. felt a little sick to the stomach from some shady string cheese but made it. bull elk ready for the rut - still shedding his velvet... what a sight. views were by far the best of the trip. miles and miles in every direction. completely breathtaking. the beartooths, absorkas, madisons. hard hike back down and back into camp. hot afternoon as we crossed some low open meadow. good foot soak in the creek upon our return. great way to end the trip off.
Day 10: Short hike out to Mammoth. great views of electric peak. sad to leave the wilds, but ready for a burger and a cold beer. what an amazing reminder of our western heritage, the wild country we still live within, and our duty and responsibility to protect such amazing places for future generations, our kids and grand kids.
There is no place like home ...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Vacation Rehash

oh the summer vacation. a chance to return home and grab onto the simpler life. idaho. here's the rewind.

home on sat. hang out in slc with the mom. drink good coffee. get back to IF and chill on the back porch. play with hannah the golden.
up early on sunday. 55 mile ride. rolling idaho farm roads framed by mountains. sunday afternoon siesta with an old friend. classic summer evening - friends over for dinner and drinks, porch fire as the sun fades, the day fades, the memories come alive.
5 am wake up to go climbing on monday. force the eyes open. beanie on. fleece on. roll to the coffee stop. grab some lattes and pick up paul. roll up to the hot potato as the sun is starting to crest the horizon. Sit and drink coffee for a few. drop the rope and put up some routes. feel the rock again. smell of chalk and dew. scraped fingers and tape. errands day. drivers license, dentist, lunch with friends, shopping and packing for the yellowstone departure. chill night, early to bed.

up at 430. finish loading the car. stop to grab coffee. hit highway 20 headed north. rexburg, ashton, island park, west yellowstone. make gardiner, mt by 915. roll into yellowstone institute class late.

More to come on the 9 day backpacking trip in yellowstone. seperate post with pictorials.

drive through yellowstone and grand teton park on way home - meet mom and steve in driggs for music on main. headliner greg brown. drink some brew courtesy of grand teton brewery. chill in driggs the next morning. check out 22 designs and meet collins pringle. sick operation. head up to the prop. beautiful.

hit up targhee bluegrass fest in the afternoon. more brews from grand teton. bearfoot, john cowan, daryll scott, railroad earth. sick. great crowd, great atmosphere, great music. nothing better. rock out till midnight. late drive home.

early to rise the next morning - heart of idaho metric century ride. windy and hot but awesome. great 73 mile day. legs and lungs burning. beer and bbq after. check out cycles of sam (bennett) at the idaho falls art museum. pack it up again. bison burgers. share pictures and beer with friends. more beer at casey's bar in the cellar. late night cold smokes with paul. hell of a two weeks.

that settles it. after grad school I am never living east of Denver. ever.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The following is stolen off of the Cloudveil blog, This IS the reason I am going to move west again when the timing is right. You just cant have this kind of epic weekend out here ... sorry shenandoah.

6 a.m. Saturday morning, I’m up. Went to bed early last night figuring the sun would be shining bright for the first time since last June. When should I call Tweece and Holladay? It’s sunny! Too early for sure, they went big at the Coach last night…no way they’re out of bed yet. I’ll give them a few hours. Time for my 6 a.m. Yerba Mate. Clifford and Stella, my dogs are up, wife is not … we take a quick walk to the park. Lucky dogs!
8 a.m. Time to wake the crew. First text. “Glory lap?” No response from Tweece. Holladay says yes. I immediately pepper Tweece’s phone until he picks up. “Get ready, we’re going up Glory,” I say. “Could be the last good day of the year.” By Jackson standards way too late for a morning start. “I’m in, holy shit…too many boozes last night,” Tweece says.
9 a.m. Waiting at the Stagecoach bar (where we park for skiing Mt. Glory on Teton Pass). We drive to the top of the pass and the lot is pretty full for a May weekend. Pack our bags load up the skis and snowboards. Let the pain set in for Holladay and Tweece. Nothing like being hungover and looking at all the leftover dog shit the first 50 steps. Glory: you love and hate her.
10 a.m. Hanging at the top. Talking about the night before. Beautiful morning and not one cloud in the sky. I’m going down in my boardies. Why not? Just don’t fall. A few friends make it to the top, we talk about where we’re headed. Straight down the gut, no questions asked. Snow is perfect. A clean slate of spring corn and not one person following us down. Make it to the last choke before we hit the road and there’s a guy skinning up the gut. Not sure what he’s on. A mission, perhaps.

11 a.m. D.O.G. burrito at Pass Gass in Wilson. Awesome, but this is going to hurt! Tweece makes the call to head to town, where I live, and check out the bike swap at Fitzgerald’s. The kid can’t pass up a good deal on a bike! “I’m going to get Pops and the cruisers,” Tweece says. “ Meet you at your place in an hour.” Get home, Caroline is up and drinking coffee. Must clean the windows before more fun….
12 p.m. Windows done, no problem. Crew shows up - dogs, cruisers and all. Time to cruise Jackson on this beautiful Saturday.
1 p.m. Head to the Fitzgerald’s Bike Shop. There’s talk of bike swap and Tweece can’t miss a deal…and I need a new chain for the mountain bike. Get to the swap. Red Rob is there scoping the scene and selling the new local mountain bike flick. I check out a few bikes and decide I need to save the cash for a surf trip with the lady. We stop at Sanchez for a few shrimp tacos and to watch the sunny Jackson scene.
2 p.m. Come home check on the dogs. Caroline has the house under control. New plan. “We’re taking the cruisers up Cache and then down Putt-Putt,” Tweece says. I’m thinking not a bad idea, but my Electra cruiser only has 3 gears and coaster brakes. Why not? Time to scratch that one off the list. Cruising up Cache, flip-flops on music playing from the iPhone we see Paul Huser and he invites us up to Jackson Peak for a Sunday morning ski. I think to myself ‘Cool idea but not going to happen.’ We crush the ride…flip-flops, no wrecks just a few odd looks. One guy did give us a little sarcastic jab. Don’t knock it till ya try it, bud.

4 p.m. Snake River Brew Pub. Going down from here. Haven’t had any water all day. Epstein shows up ready for a few suds. Beers are flowing out on the front deck, people are talking…I’m drinking…time to get the hell out of here! We decide to check out the view from the new parking garage across the street. Great view and good times! Check it out sometime.

7 p.m. Need food….Teton Thai. Best food in Jackson Hole hands down…And when the deck is going off, there’s no better place to eat in town. BYOB by the way and the DJ is spinning sick rasta tunes outside. Lot’s going on but I’m fading a little. What the hell? Getting old I guess.
9 p.m. “Hey Jackson Peak tomorrow morning,” Tweece says. “Jackson said we’re meeting at Huser’s house at 6 a.m.” I think to myself, ‘Why not?’ Never been up there before to ride. Time for another Blue Moon….then I’m biking home to pack.
10 p.m. Get home. Pack the gear. Fired up. Make a few PB&J’s and go to bed.
SUNDAY May 17, 2009
5 a.m. Alarm goes off. No way I’m going. Too tired and a little foggy from Saturday’s double trouble. I text Holladay and Tweece to say I’m out. Holladay texts back….”Bullshit, get out of bed…see you at the parking lot by the rodeo grounds.” Roll over in bed, tell Caroline I have no choice. It’s a done deal. I’m going on a walk-about to Jackson Peak.
6 a.m. Rodeo lot. Chad Jackson just pulled up and Paul Huser is fired up! He’s ready for some corn skiing on Jackson Peak. Meanwhile, I’m still pulling the cobwebs out of my eyes. We pile the gear in Holladay’s truck. It’s time. The morning is perfect and we see a few elk out on the refuge. I’m going to get my elk next year!
7 a.m. Make it to the Curtis Canyon overlook. The gates are still up so we park there and get the gear ready to roll. I rode my bike up here a few weeks ago. I can tell we are in for a trek. By this time, the crew consists of Jeff Wogoman, Chad Jackson, Holladay, Tweece, Paul Huser (the leader) and Andrew…sorry man forgot your last name. Time to start walking…no snow until we get to the trailhead off the road about two miles or so ahead. Bushwhackin’!

Time is getting fuzzy at this point…so bear with me.
8:30 a.m. Board is split, skins are on. A little snow in front of us, but the mountain is way far away. Let the fun begin. Huser is filling us full of Jackson Peak info. If you ever need beta about skiing off Jackson Peak or the Ski Cabin, Paul has it. Awesome guy!
9:30 a.m. Getting closer, I think. Good thing I’ve been skinning this season…just a little. Glory laps all day long…skinning not so much. Better late than never! Starting to think to myself skiing back down on the split board is definitely going to be a pain if the snow doesn’t soften up on this trail…could be a long ride back. I don’t care. I’m just happy to be outside.
11 a.m. Like I said, time is off the back end. So we may be here sooner than later. Make it to the boot pack. This is going to be a sick morning. Snow is starting to soften up. Huser points out his favorite couloirs on the west side of Jackson Peak. Looks sick and no tracks. By the time we make it to the top, prime conditions. We can see the tracks from the day before by JK and his crew. Nice lines!
12 p.m. Quick lunch and time to make the first run. I’m psyched, never boarded or skied Jackson Peak…as the rest of the crew, other than Wogo and Huser. Check out a few lines. Time to watch Holladay make a his turns. Looks good. Time to go. Make the first turn and it’s money. I can see the others finishing up. I wait in a safe spot and let the sluff go down. Make it to the bottom! Awesome. Favorite turns all season. Time for another lap!
12:30 p.m. The call is for another! Huser is psyched because he usually can’t get a group of seven to go up, let alone do a second lap. Skins are soaked. We head back up. No pain no gain.
1 p.m. Hiking back up. Huser is talking about the west couloir. We checked it out on the way up the first time and it looked good to go. We split the crew up, 3 to the north (suckers) and 4 to the West. Huser gives us (Holladay, Tweece and I) the lowdown on how this is his favorite run off the peak. I’m cool. Looks pretty mellow but has a good angle and the snow looks nice!

2 p.m. It’s on. The others head to the north side of the summit, while our group stops just short to enter the west couloir. I’m psyched. Spacecamp is starting to set in. Huser directs us in and gives us a little history. “Who’s up,” Huser asks? Holladay takes the plunge and I follow right after. Yep, another perfect spring line. No ice, just good ole’ soft spring snow all the way to the bottom. I’m psyched! We all slap fives and decide it’s time for the bushwhack back.
3:45 p.m. Make it back to the truck. The north side crew had the fort ready. Beers open, tunes playing and a sick view of the Tetons to the West.

I am ready for a beer, the dusty western wind licking my salty sweat stained face, and a sick view of the tets.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Ode to Windover ...

What is it about the classically slow pace of the bucolic lifestyle that is so enchanting? Falling asleep to the cool crisp night-time air blowing softly through an open window? Or maybe the 70 year old neighbor farmer rambling down the lane on an ancient tractor at a snails pace? Those evening walks where the sun is just dipping below the rolling hills and the evening fog is beginning to roll into the multitude of dips and valleys?

Needless to say, returning to the hustle and bustle (and work) of the city is always a shocker. I am immediately stuck at my desk struggling to come to terms with reality, my head drifting back to morning dew and homemade blueberry pie. I find myself staring
aimlessly and listlessly out the window, my mind retracing footsteps down narrow trails and over ancient rocks. Perhaps the farming life is really the way to go. Shun the overbearing reality of big city life and cling to the simple, basic necessities. Easy to talk about, not so easy to follow through with.

It was a wonderful weekend though, filled with hikes and walks and doggie play time. Swimming in the Loyalsock (humans and dogs), hiking through Worlds End and Ricketts Glenn, admiring the multitude of waterfalls, and doing a little fly fishing. Sleeping late and waking up early. Quiet evenings and afternoon thunderstorms. It could have been 1905.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mary Pics

Finally getting some pics of up from the marathon ... been a couple weeks since that little adventure and with all this good weather I am teeming for another. Esp since driving up though Shenandoah last fri - the hiking bug is kicking up big time. These pics will serve as my encouragement for any and all to get off their asses and try a race - I had never run a mary before but the atmosphere and comradery is really awesome. The pre-race expo gets you all pumped and jittery, and the 15 mins prior to the start is pure exhilaration if your into anticipation. And the race has so much going on, be it supporters, aid stations, live music, etc that you almost forget that you are running. really a kick and worth the effort of a little bit of training for sure. I am excited to run the Baltimore this Oct. and probably the P-burg again next May if I am around for it. Since I only missed qualifying for Boston by like 10 minutes that should be a good goal - and I can't even imagine the atmosphere around that bad bay. Plus to be running the same race as one Kara Goucher would be well ... I am gonna leave it at that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Video of the finish ... hopefully there will be pictures up tomorrow

Clock time finish was 3:21:30 - I am wearing a black and yellow-green singlet with black shorts and my flowing locks are bouncing ha ... if you turn the volume up you can hear them announce me about 10-15 feet before I finish and right as some guys SPRINTS past me in the last 10 feet.

Monday, May 4, 2009

and so it is done! the race went really well - never hit any major walls and felt solid the whole time ... im really glad i did it and ready for another (but not for a while haha)

Check it out on - bib number 4021

Pictures to follow ...