Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Days Off, Canada, Ed Viesturs

In my last communication I'd mentioned I was about to have a few days off work.  My original idea was to make a shortish trip through the southern portion of British Columbia, Canada.  As I was making plans for this I received an invitation in my emaily inbox.

Renowned mountain climber Ed Viesturs was scheduled to speak at The Mountaineers main building in Seattle on Monday evening.  How could I pass this up?  I didn't.

Back to Canada.....  I drove to Port Angeles, WA on Saturday morning to catch the 8:20 AM ferry sailing.  From departure to feet on the dock, it's only a 90 minute jaunt.  I found a great deal on a swanky hotel room in downtown Victoria.

Of course I left the vehicle in Port Angeles and took a bike to Victoria.  Victoria is very bike friendly.  Plus, I did not have to concern myself with finding parking spots.  Local cuisine was consumed, local attractions visited, and a great time was had while in Canada.

Monday late afternoon I boarded the Washington State Ferry at the terminal in Bremerton, WA to head over to Seattle.  After a few errands and chowing down, I made my way over to The Mountaineers for the talk by Ed Veisturs.  Ed mostly talked about his many ascents of Mt. Everest and his latest book, "The Mountain: Epic Adventures on Everest."

Immediately after his talk he was interviewed in front of the crowd by Fitz Cahall.  A few questions were fielded from the audience. As the evening was drawing to a close, Ed sat in the back of the room chatting with attendees and signing copies of his new book.

I've three days of work this week.  This coming weekend I've relented to sequester myself at home to study up for my Wilderness First Responder recertification class.  The class is the following Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The recertification classes will involve many outdoor "rescues" as well as some class time to get updates and learn new medical techniques.  I'm looking forward to this process.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vay Cay

I'm on vacation for a few days.  I might have some posts and pictures of that next week.  Until then, enjoy some mountain biking GoPro style!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mt. Rainier Day Trip

OK - the same preliminary stuff, different post.  Click on the pictures if you want them to get bigger.  The words may, or may not, be at all relevant with the picture they are near in the post.  Just follow along and don't be so serious and we'll get along just fine.

I woke up Saturday morning and made the quick decision to do a day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park.  I threw some snacks and water bladder in a backpack and took off.

This trip I wanted to see some fall colors in the park.  Also, I knew there are many trails beginning at the Paradise Visitor Center and extending up Mt. Rainier proper.  I wanted to check them out.

I was driving along the highway and came to Narada Falls.  I'd been there before when I was camping at Cougar Rock campground and did a day hike to Reflection Lake.  I parked the Jeep and trekked down the trail to get a good view.  If you'll notice in the picture below, there's a rainbow toward the bottom of the water.

Apparently the rainbow is there quite a bit as it is also on the picture description thing I took a picture of.

I left Narada Falls and drove to the Paradise Visitor Center.  I gathered up my backpack, put on the sunglasses to cut down on the reflection off the snow.  I started up the stairs in the picture below to get to the trails.  For those not in the know, Paradise is known for its incredible wildflower fields.  That's what Muir was waxing poetic about.

Almost immediately into the hike and I was onto the snow.  The trail location was obvious by the tracks in the snow.  In some areas more than others it was a post holing fest as I trekked up.  I didn't mind.  I hadn't been on snow since early summer in this same park and it was almost 60 degrees out.  In fact, I was sweating.

The views of the mountain got better and better the higher I went.  Above tree line was fabulous.  I think you can notice the glaciers in the pictures.  I did not go that far up.  Had I snowshoes and crampons and I would have.  It was such a great day to be hiking.

I used this trip to try out my new tripod thingy.  The legs are about six inches long and bendable to attach to tree branches, trekking poles, or whatever.  I went with the standard "tripod on a rock" setup for a selfie.

I was amazed at how many skiers and snowboarders I saw.  They'd hike up and then ski or board down.  I saw at least twenty of them on the mountain.  I was thinking, "That's a pretty good idea" and "it would be cool to put skins on skis to go up."  Another trip, another trip......

I made my way back down and checked out the visitor center.  It's pretty nice.  There's the usual Ranger's Station, a model of the mountain, a store, and some displays.  I recommend stopping in if you go.

I left Paradise heading east toward Box Canyon.  I'd never been to that part of the park.  I found the sign in the picture below on the ground on some very smooth rock.

The canyon is a slot cut into the rock.  The picture below was taken from the bridge on the road over the canyon.  The picture does not do the view justice at all.  I was wondering how far down it was and then.....

..... I found this sign on the top of the stone rail on the bridge.  I hiked along some trails at Box Canyon for a bit.  The sun was starting to go down and I still wanted to get to Grove of the Patriarchs so I didn't stay long.

Grove of the Patriarchs has many very tall and very old Douglas Fir trees.

To give some perspective of their size I took some random pictures of people on the trail as they passed close to one.

From the parking lot the Grove of the Patriarchs trail is a one mile loop.  If you're going to Mt. Rainier National Park I recommend this as an easy, but very scenic stop.

And of course there's my favorite pedestrian suspension bridge there.  It's maybe three feet wide and moves as you walk across.  There's a sign that says something to the effect of, "One person on the bridge at a time."

My trip to the park was a wonderful Saturday spent.  It felt good to be out in the cool air taking in the fall season.  All the pictures from Saturday can be found HERE.  As always, I recommend if you're headed that way to look at them, you click the "slideshow" button.

I've three days of work this next week and then some time off.  On one of those days I'll probably head back to the park.  There are some areas I didn't have time to get to.  On another of the days off I'll likely head back to Victoria, B.C.  I imagine fall in that city will be spectacular.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I'd threatened to go camping this four-day weekend but opted to not.  Instead I did get some bike riding in.

Friday was a rather low-key, rainy Friday.  I spent the day catching up on some reading and doing domestic chores (do a load of laundry, have a beer!).  By Friday evening the rain was gone.

Saturday I took the Surly Big Dummy from my place, down the hill, and met co-worker Dan at the last-of-the-season farmer's market.  After a really good apple, we departed east bound along the waterway.  After a few pleasant miles we stopped a Manchester State Park for a ride around/explore session.  I was pleasantly surprised how nice this park is.

We departed Manchester State Park retracing our route back to the downtown area of Port Orchard, WA.  It was getting to be late afternoon and I was getting hungry and thirsty.  We opted to stop at Whiskey Gulch (mostly coffee shop but does sell beer and no whiskey).  One Panini and one beer later and we split company headed for our respective domiciles but not before I had one of Whiskey Gulch's impressive bacon oatmeal cookies.  Oh my, those are fabulous!

Another co-worker pointed out that Tiger Mountain would be closing to mountain bike traffic at the end of the day Monday.  Evidently, Tiger Mountain gets a bit muddy during the rainy season.  Officials close it to keep it from getting rutted out.

I picked up co-worker Dan at 8:30 AM and by 9:45 we were riding Tiger Mountain.  We explored an out-and-back trail and then hit the gravel road (closed to vehicles) for the long, steep climb to the summit.  My estimation is the road was 8% to 10% grade the entire way up.  Much sweat and effort later and we rendezvoused at the summit.  Clif bars consumed, water chugged.

I must say, the trail coming down was quite impressive.  It had excellent flow, high banked curves, plenty of jumps, and was quite technical in spots.  The longer climb was soon forgotten.  I managed to not crash.  Given the wettish conditions and my lack of mountain biking most all summer, I was expecting to given the speed of the descent and the technical nature of the trail.

Next season I'll be back to Tiger Mountain.  It has wonderful trails.  There are many we didn't have time to sample.  As much fun as I'd had camping and backpacking this past summer, I did it at the expense of not biking hardly at all.  I'm sort of bummed about that.

I am working my ass back into condition.  There are many places around that don't close for the rainy season.  I'll be doing much more riding over the winter and into the sunny, dry summer next year.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekend Activities

Today I get a partial paycheck from the government.  The partial paycheck will be the last one I get until congress can fund government operations.  I'm working for I.O.U.'s right now.  Given that, I'm feeling like I should not be spending money.  Supposedly, we'll be paid for this time if/when the government is rolling again.  We'll see.

Today is my every-other-Friday off.  Monday is a holiday.  A four day weekend for me.  I'm thinking I might do some car camping.  The weather is supposed to be only sometimes rainy.  I think the National Parks are still closed so I'd camp elsewhere.  There are plenty of "elsewheres" around here.

Of course, I could play ping pong

Or maybe I'll make some nice "inspirational" wall hanging things.

Nah, I think I'll go car camping.  Seems more fun.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


A greater portion of this past summer was spent either car camping or backpacking.  I didn't do as much biking as I normally would do.  Given the great weather we'd had this summer I haven't stepped foot in a gym since spring.

I'm now three weeks into CrossFit.  Well, since it's Wedneday, two-and-a-half weeks.  I like it for many reasons but an important one to me is it is helping me increase my flexibility.  I've struggled with that for a while.  And, even after this short time I've been doing this, I can already see improvement.

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Letter To My US Congressional Types

I contacted my US Representative and US Senators via their online email thing.  The message to each was the same:

I've had enough of the finger pointing and political posturing.  It is time for you people in Washington, D.C. to get to work.  In addition to the federal employees who are not getting paid, how many small businesses are being hurt due to loss of income from our National Parks being closed?  Playing games with people's livelihoods while congress is getting paid for doing nothing is pretty low - even by congressional standards.  Get to work or resign so someone who is willing to come up with solutions can.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Looking Forward

How fun would one of these be if a person wanted something more cabin like but portable and (fairly) easy to transport to a very remote place?

Mountain Hardwear Yurtini from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

It also has a bug proof sleeping compartment thing

Mountain Hardwear Yurtini Sleeping Compartment from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

It's a bit spendy unless a dude knew he was going to use it a lot.  Nevertheless, I think it's pretty cool.  I'd like to see one in person.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Being a federal employee, yesterday I was given notice, along with my co-workers, that we were going to get vacation!  Without pay!  Way to go, Congress!  You're getting paid but we're not.

How many incumbents will I vote for next election?  Same as every election - zero!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Study Time, Land Ho

If I didn't mention it yet, here you go.  If I already mentioned it, sorry for the repeat.  I've signed up to get re-certified as a Wilderness First Responder.  I'll be attending the classes November 7th - 9th at Olympic College in Bremerton, WA.  The classes in Bremerton mean a short commute for me, not much for travel expenses, and I get to sleep in my bed each night.

I've taken out my textbook and my notes from the week-long class from almost two years ago.  I'll be studying up from essentially now until the class.  There will be a written and practical exam at the end.

Separately, it is getting time to find some viable land parcels.  I want to have my ducks in a row when it comes time to pull the house building/home ownership trigger.  A co-worker has some extra acres.  I'll be looking at those.  I'll also be looking at other areas.

I'd like to have a few acres.  I don't like having neighbors right on top of me.  And, if the land has some contours to play with, some singletrack would be nice.  Perhaps a pump track as well.

This coming weekend there will be a home improvement type expo at the fairgrounds.  I'll attend to get the low-down on all the newest technology.  I'll incorporate as many energy efficient techniques as I can in this place.

I hope to bring the home building thing to fruition next summer.  My fall back position is to buy something existing.  What I know for sure is I'm tires of apartment living.  Having my own place set up to my liking would be so much better.