Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Truisms, sayings, neologisms, & one-liners

"I'm homefree not homeless" - adapted from river guide Avery

"Nature or neuter" - from a discussion of whether MIT women are like 'that' when they enter college or whether the school does it to them. (This is a test to see if any of them are reading)

From a theoretical conversation that only took place in my head,
Young hottie: how old *are* you?
Me: old enough to have learned a few things; young enough to still be able to apply the knowledge.

Just because someone thinks a lot doesn't mean he's smart. It just means he's indecisive.  A smart person would think on a matter, settle it, then either act on the conclusion or (file the resolution away in his knowledge -base and move on to the next item of thinking or enter a temporary bliss unburdened by rumination)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Street signs of the road

A building in Moab,UT that has been repurposed

A business in Del North,CO that is trying make its purpose very clear

Monday, May 28, 2012

Extremes of the road

Have to get used to all my stuff being subjected to the heat of the day in my car and,  when camping, the low temps of the night.

When in hotels, usually showering twice a day: morning and after hike. When camping or yurt-ing, not at all

Is our children learnin?

I've since learned that the snake I saw any carrizo plains a few weeks back was just a gopher snake. No big deal.
Also the scientists/naturalists have stopped using the term "cryptobiologic" and now say "biological soil crust".
On the more human side I heard a woman call a laundromat a "washateria"
It's like a big classroom out here with a very important final grade but no intermediate marks with which to judge one's progress

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I tried but failed to give offense to more Europeans

Was on a half -day rafting/kayaking trip on the Colorado river on Friday. Most everyone was on a raft but for me and a british couple who also asked for a "duckie" (inflatable kayak).

The wind had been howling since the previous night (Oy did the rain fly on my tent flap) and once at the launch site the guide gave everyone the option to abort with a full refund since the upriver gale would make it a tough paddle. Only two went back on the bus. I and the other yakers were offered the opportunity to get in a raft since lighter boats would be more effected than the heavier.  We declined; they went into their boat and I turned mine around into single paddler configuration and launched.

About 2/3rds of the way through this pectoral & latisimuss shredding, we happened to be next to each other and the male half of the brits (known as a "chap") said, "This is the only river I've been on that flows uphill". Later when we beached and were trying to appear not completely exhausted in front of the rafters he said, "I asked for an easy paddle, this was not 'easy'"
I said it's just a matter of two peoples being divided by a common language like the American term, "Fanny Pack"
He didn't flinch. Spent too much time in the USA. You see here "fanny" means your backside. In the UK it's slang for the part of a woman around the front from her backside.

There was also a young Belgian couple and during lunch I told them that mayo with fries was disgusting but Belgians are used to have their culture denigrated by other Europeans so they hardly acknowledged the slight.

Trail time estimates are like speed limits...

... they're not taken to be too literal, until that %10 of the time you wish you'd paid attention.

This happened to me at Bryce because I was hiking a popular trail filled with non-hikers and I'd just slogged through a water filled canyon the previous day. The posted time was actually my duration.

But when I hiked bell & little wild bill canyons outside Goblin Valley State park, I did the loop in 3.5hr when the sign indicated 4-6 hours for most people. This was after I'd already hiked 1h40m @ Goblin plus I ran out of water at 2.5 hr (don't read that last part mom). But that timing didn't matter, if anything I was going to arrive at Green River's "robber's roost" motel a little early.

But the following day's timing did matter because I had a ticket to the 4pm ranger led walk in Arches NP's Fiery Furnace area which can only be accessed with a guide and was sold out for the next 3 days. So when I picked the hike I wanted to do in the nearby Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP I tried to keep a schedule. Some intervening roadwork and misunderestimating (thanks for the wurd preznit Bush!)made me about 45m late starting at the trailhead.

The sign at the Syncline loop says that experienced hikers find this trail difficult, it should not be started after 11am in order to finish in the light, and that it takes 5-7 hrs for EXPERIENCED hikers. So I decided to not do either of the optional spurs
3h50m it took me. Yes it was abnormally cool that day, yes the native americans have a saying "if you want to go fast, go alone. If you to go far, go together"
But seriously,  where are they finding these bacon-wrapped reality TV afficianados to set the trail gtiming standards? I hike well but I'm frickn' 42 and not a former varsity athlete (I lettered in debating).

Anyway, time is something I usually have but want more. Is there a word for such a thing?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons of the road pt2

I think maybe I accidently learned something (like when watching and episode of "Fat Albert") from telling that Euro to stop smoking. Usually I'm more assertive with people the better I know them (most brusque with family) and let strangers walk over me. Perhaps I should try to even that out and be more flexible with friends & kin and stop being passive when the world outside my social network pisses me off with it's willing stupidity and selfishness.

stardate supplemental: Bryce and a day without

This day started with the usual way I wake up in a tent: thinking that it cannot be morning already. I just lay down, tossed and turned for 20 minutes. How can the sun be up already? As soon as I get in my left-zip sleeping bag I want to be on my right side. Oy. Yet, when I camped in death valley i popped thru the tent door busting with energy. Not so today. The difference between hiking and slogging through a river shin-to-waist deep 50% of time is making itself known to my thighs

Day 13: Bryce, the intimate awesome

If Zion is the mostly treeless red sandstone version of Yosemite valley, then Bryce is 1000x scale model of the drip castles you made on the beach as a child. If your drip castles come in 10 colors from pink,orange,brown, to white and have been eroded by freeze, wind, and water flow for eons.

That is to say, Zion is grand and Bryce is intimate.

Lessons of the road

Woke up yesterday in Torrey,UT in a chilly bed, one of those moments when you don't want to move because the sheets you haven't warmed with your body heat are startlingly cold.
It got me thinking that I'd really like the hottest woman from my past to be beside me right now. Not the best looking most desirable one, I want the one with the highest thermal output.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

travel tech fail part 2

so that last post ended because it won't let me move the damn cursor.
SO, from now on, blogger only for text and thoughts. Check that photo link in the last post for occasional pictures.

travel tech fail

blogger app on android is not playing nice with web version and can't put pictures inline
blogger thru web interface on HP touchpad is not playing nice with android generated drafts and sometimes just won't put ur the cursor where

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I freaked out a european

I smelled a cig. Opened the motel door. Saw him and said, "please don't smoke outside my room"
He was stunned. He paused then replied in a continental accent , " I have never heard of such a thing but ok."
This motel is all non-smoking rooms. He's got some culture shock going. This is one thing about America indisputably better than yup: we've established a dominant anti-smoking culture

Day 12: the Narrows @ Zion are AWEsome + me & shoes

<p>Last time I was at Zion in early May 2008 I couldn't walk up the Narrows because the flow was too high/swift. You see "The Narrows" isn't a trail; it's walking up the the Virgin river where the canyon walls close in to anywhere between 10 and 50 feet and the walls zoom mostly strait up more than 1000ft in some places.</p>
<p>In early spring, those doing the trip wear wetsuits or dry suits because the water is about 50 degrees. Right now it can be done without body insulation but neoprene socks are reccomended</p>
<p>Now, this I all knew before departing the Bay Area. What I did not read carefully enough on the NPS website is that sports sandals are not appropriate footwear. I should have intuited this since the bottom of the river and most of banks are rocky, not silty.<br>
So when leaving the Bay Area I left two decent, but semi-disposable, pairs of boots in storage ( I did not want to use my hiking boots as this excursion would ruin them or leave them wet for several days).<br>
In L.A. with the rents,&nbsp; I finally read the NPS site thoroughly and decided to buy some used boots. Internet &amp; Yelp to the rescue, 50 min later im back at Ma's with a pair of $25 Bat Chucks boots that are a scotch too large as to acccomodate the rental socks.<br>
I then call Zion Adventure outfitters to reserve renting the neoprene socks. Lo and behold, if I had read *their* website thoroughly I'd have seen that they rent special cayoneering boots for this. Also, I am informed that despite what the website says, and that I *had* just read, they only rent the socks as part of a package with the special boots and a tall walking stick. Bah, I hate planning.
When I show in person on Wednesday morning the very pregnant girl and the blonde pro queen staffing the place say "sure, u can just rent socks"
I got to use my new dedicated water boots, they worked great, the narrows is a must do activity if you're within 100 miles of Zion (and are reasonable fit and can swim)

There are no pictures from me because I didn't take anything electronic due to the swimming and wetness and slipperiness and hard rock. But do look online for vids and pics, it's amazing (so by the power of association,  so am I)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 11: Red Rocks and pizza

I hiked to the top  of turtlehead peak (does it make me dyslexic that I keep wanting to call it "turtleneck creek"?) At Red rock canyon west of Vegas. Not long but steep. I hate when the trails become many and 4 of 5 can actually work.
Finished around lunchtime
Then I gobbled down a pie at Dom Demarco's and got another to go.

Overnight at a better Days Inn in hurricane,ut

You got to have a system

Right forearm sleeve near the elbow is for nose wipes. Right, near the wrist is for mouth wiping. Left is for brow sweat.
I'm lost in short sleeves. Also, open to sun, bugs, and irritant plants

Day 10:early June gloom @ Cucamonga peak

Have you ever done something just because it sounded good? I was looking through the Falcon hiking guide to SoCal at the library near my Moms's's looking for a hike between L.A. and Las Vegas.
There its was: Cucamonga peak accessed from the Icehouse canyon trailhead off Mt Baldy road. Only 8 miles or so off the freeway, how could I not go there? (Because it's a 5hr hike to go with the day's 5 hr drive? {Quiet, inner voice of reason})
Visibility continues to be bad. The first 1.5 miles of this hike has a nice clear babling brook and several angling cabins. Then the switchbacks begin right after the wilderness boundary and it becomes like most other low sierra hikes trudging through rockfall and sparse shade from ponderosa pine. Past the 5 trail intersection at a saddle it flattens out some then, just past my first snowfield encounter of the trip, resumes climbing to the peak. Would that a person could see 10 miles clearly from 8000ft. My theory is that the paucity of winter rain and snow moved up the normal June gloom into May. I'd like do this hike again but only in early spring after a rain to clear up the view and charge the stream. Overnight in VEGAS BABY! at a rabble filled Days inn t

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Days 7,8,9 with the 'rents

Taking stock, recouping initial weight loss, using a real computer, and feeling part of close group for a long weekend with Mom & George
Just after a 17 person Mother's Day brunch. Standard entertaining fare for them

Day 6: teeny tiny park and the big boxes

This day was an example of not doing all the reading up front. I'd seen a really cool picture of someone walking in front of a tall multi-layers rock formation at Red Rock Canyon state park. Then I drove past it last August and it did indeed look like a little bit of Utah in California. So I put it on the itinerary.
Turns out what you see from highway 14 is most of what there is to see. Inside the park is mostly for off-roaders. It took only 25 minutes to casually walk the one Nature Loop. Worth it if you're passing by but it left me with a lot of day to fill.

But I had needs: a new reservoir, an FM transmitter to play podcasts (the AUX jack broke last year and using one headphone wasn't cutting it for clarity or safety), and some TJ trailsnacks reload.
Palmdale , CA has you covered for all your major chain needs: Wal-Mart, Target, SportsChalet, BB&B, Best Buy, B&N, Smart & Final, etc.

Coasted into L.A. under a thick cover of smog to visit the 'rents

Days 4&5: Death Valley; Falls canyon is Awesome (with a capital "A")

      I choose Wildrose campground because it is near  (in Death Valley scale) the trailheads for Telescope peak and wildrose peak. Now, Telescope peak is 14 miles and like 3000 feet of elevation change from the trailhead, which can only be reached by 4wd. This is according to the map, the website, and a hiking buddy who has been there. Without a high cleareance vehicle one has to walk an extra two miles each way from the normal road. I'd hoped to find SUV'd party going up from the campsite and hitch hike so would do at most 16 and miss the opening climb. Alas, there was only one other person in the campsite and his car was punier than mine.
     So resolved to do the lesser 8.4 mile/2000ft hike to 9000ft high wildrose peak. As I'm putting on my boots at the Charcoal kilns parking lot...

, a little Chevy Sonic comes roaring down from the 4wd only road. "???", goes my brain. The map may be wrong but Chris J has been there. If he says he had to ask people to hop out of this Saturn mini-SUV at portions of bumpy road, it's not passable for regular ol' cars. But... then I look again.. that Sonic is a new, domestic, sub-compact,... and it's white. It's a rental. When I was a consultant we had a saying, "Any rental car is an all-road vehicle".
     Wildrose peak is an good look down into Death Valley but the hike itself isn't anything spectacular and the visibility kinda sucked.
 I finished way earlier than anticipated so I struck camp and moved down to the real heat of the valley at Emigrent campground (which is a gravel parking lot with picnic tables besides the rest stop bathroom. Flush toilets! ... with bees :(  )

Then I went to Mosaic Canyon which is accessible to rank and file. It's pretty

 and filled with meat.
A bunch of Lutherans invaded the campground before I went to sleep. TIP: the stove pipe wells general store sells chocolate covered ice cream pops for $0.95!! not dove or B&J's but I'd have paid $0.95 for ice on a stick at that point.

Falls Canyon

6.5 hrs with not another person sighted. Part of that is great. Part of it is worrisome: when I'm scrambling on rock 10 feet above gravel 2.5 miles from the road in a place that will reach 105 degrees later in the day.

Many of the walls can only be appreciated while moving. Looking up while standing still presents a 2d effect of various facets of the walls. When the observer moves , it becomes clear that there are many different levels of heights and depth and texture. The walls range past at different rates. Its a little disorienting.
 Also disorienting: dehydration. Which I did not experience but which I had to be weary because that morning I discovered a leak in the bottom of my reservoir. Not wanting to truncate my plans nor die a withered dessicated husk, I decided to fill the entire 3L of the platypus and shove two 1L water bottles into the bag. My thought being that I can probably drink 2L of the 3 from the resevoir while another 1L leaks through the bottom of the bag onto my shirt tail and butt. Since this is Death Valley I don't have to worry about hypothermia from being wet. So 4L *should* be okay... and it was by about 300ml.
This was a real lizard:

The front part of my brain knows that it would be really bad to be in a canyon like this when it rains, but another part of me really wants to see what is looks like.
This is what I look like when I'm pretending that I'm going to run out of water and perish of thirst:

..and this is what I sound like.

Overnight at the Motel6 in Ridgecrest

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day3: Don't waste your time at Lake Isabella

It's an ugly dead reservoir. Maybe all the pictures I see on water sports sites are about the Kern river itself. Had planned to spend part of an afternoon here renting a kayak and paddling around. Instead I stopped for long enough to confirm the lack of spirit and energy of the location, then I drove through to Ridgecrest and saw "The Avengers".
Camped at Wildrose campground in Death Valley.

 Nice remote site that still has water. Put the rainfly on the tent between sunset and sundown because I thought it might get cold (4000ft elv). What it got was windy. They never taught us proper fly-tautness in the Philadelphia public school system and I've always been lousy at it. Had to get out at 1am to fixed a flapping flap. Then again at 4am to just roll it up and fasten it directly to a tent-poll. Cool part was there enough light from the 3/4 SuperMoon to do that without a headlamp

In a way, it's like coming home

As many of you know, I have only one addiction: TV. In 2007 I tried to ween myself by turning off DirecTV for a month, then limited myself, then I cut it off entirely... But that's when the library DVD collection got large, hulu and other streaming started, government sponsors digital-to-analog converters made my old CRT work again, I accidentally started BitTorrenting things...
Eventually I got back to essentially the same level of consumption as before attempting cessation. (Even caught up on the intervening seasons of LOST.) The only thing that was missing was sports. They are almost entirely on cable and rarely found easily online.

Now, every night I'm not camping there's a playoff basketball game on TNT or a baseball game on ESPN. It's low productivity paradise at the Motel6/Travelodge.

Day 3 - the game you cannot help but play

So usually Carrizzo plains national monument looks like this in the spring.
This year it looks more like this since there was so little rain.

Ranger Adam said that a couple of flowers were just starting to pop this weekend but they were the kind that weren't pretty but did produce a lot of pollen.
Saw this little guy,

which is really different from the skinks and usual trail lizards of the bay
Then I almost stepped on this guy.

Not sure if it was a rattler or not. The head didn't have a diamond shape and the tail was hidden in the grass.
Those of you who've come across good sized potential poisonous slitherers while hiking know that the rest of the day is spent playing the game "stick? Or snake?" It's hours of involuntary distraction.

Day 2 - Overdoing Pinnacles

Ok, I'll just hike for 4 hours or so, go to high peaks

, convince some kids that one of the hawks is a condor,.. maybe if I feel good I'll hump over to the reservoir and stand under the big talus and feel lucky.

OR I can nearly wipe myself out by doing three ascents instead of one or two. There's that peak in the south that NO ONE I know has ever visited....
So I hiked 6.5 hrs on the first day. Saw some familiar sights and some new; but it was a stupid expenditure of energy and finite knee wear. (Two late-50s Midwestern dudes, upon seeing my trekking poles 'quipped' at me ,"hey did you forget your skis?")

Movin  south

Friday, May 04, 2012

Day 1 - which bag has what?

The 1st Motel6 doesn't seem to have any hot water. No matter, I am sated and warmed from within by the softball size avocado I had for dinner.
There are 4 reusable grocery bags in the trunk, a duffel bag, weekend bag, a large day pack, and a small day pack in the back seat. It'll take me a while to figure out what to bring into a hotel room and what to use for camping.
Still too much stuff. Long road to a Jedi knighthood.

Tomorrow is a hike at Pinnacles national monument.  I've been there a few times so it's a familiar start.