Friday, May 30, 2008

Pre-climb jitters

I have that small pit in my belly today. He shows up prior to most of my mountain excursions. I see him right before a tattoo session, too. He balances the excitement of the climb tomorrow (and the joy of the art inking my skin). I have no reason to be edgy. I know what I'm doing. I trust my team mates. The objective is well within our capabilities. I still feel this "what if?" in my nerves. I feel the "what am I doing?" hanging in the air.

It's a good feeling. It's my double check. It's my safety catch.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oh the train!

The train is parked right outside the back door of Macforce. Parked
between me and my car. Several pedestrians have hopped across the
train to get to a bus stop or to the waterfront. Even if I jumped the
train (not exactly a safe move) I'd still be stuck. The train sits
between my car and every bridge and overpass across the river. The
train also prevents me from driving surface streets home. So I sit and

Kill me now (last night)

Couldn't make it to the gym, and had to dash home to let the dogs out after work. So I did a workout at home. Simple workout:

100 Burpees

Took me 14 minutes. Gah.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ready to go

All our backpacks ready for the trip down Siouxon Trail.

Backpacking Siouxon Creek Pics

My pictures from Saturday and Sunday are here.

Nat posted his pictures here.

I'll put together a trip report in a little bit.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Hunchback Mountain saga, chapter 1

The first time I tried climbing to the top of Hunchback Mountain was on my wedding day almost 3 years ago. I wanted to do a hike in the morning. Hunchback sits close to Welches, right off highway 26 at the Zig Zag ranger station. (This is less than a mile from the Resort at the Mountain where Dev and I got married.) The guidebook characterized Hunchback Mountain as moderate to the first viewpoint. So that morning, I round up my two brothers and my two groomsmen and drive to the trailhead. I took a liter of water and one clif bar. I dunno what the other guys carried. Not much. We toiled up the switchbacks in 90 something degree heat. Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that Portland hit 105 degrees that day. Welches hit 95 degrees that day. So we get near the top of the ridge. All five of us are dying; wilting in the heat. We turn around and start down the trail. I get slower as we get closer to the bottom. The incline is killing my knees. My legs get a little shaky. I have to rest a lot. We make it back to the car. Sweaty but alive. And then drive back to Welches to get ready for the wedding.
I shower and shave. I get dressed. I walk across the property to get to the spot for the wedding pictures. And then I get a splitting headache. And then some nausea piles on. I grit my teeth and smile and get through the pictures. Dev can tell that something's wrong. Finally the photographer finishes. We make a beeline for the resort bar. I sit in the air conditioning and drink a coke. And just sit for a few minutes.
Ten minutes before I was due at the end of the aisle I felt right as rain. Heat exhaustion didn't kill me, and neither did Dev.

Round 1 goes to Hunchback Mountain.

Busted knuckes are the price of glory

Nate and Sue and Keith and I went climbing on Sunday. The picture above shows what my hands looked like after a few rounds of crack climbing in Oregon basalt. I had so much fun; I finally started to get the how of jamming. Nate and Sue put up several routes each without seeming to struggle. Keith and I had a harder time of it. We climbed until just shy of 3 'clock. Then the sun got pretty intense. We scrambled across the giant basalt blocks that form the base of the crag and then slipped, skidded and slalomed our way down the steep and not very well graded trail.

Here are some pictures.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hunchback Mountain round 4

I got shut down on Hunchback Mountain today.
I got farther than ever before. I made it to Rimrock Viewpoint in an hour. Pretty zippy. Kinda. I was soaked by the time I got up there. I continued on but kept losing the trail. Lucky for me, there is only one ridge for Hunchback. If I went too far left or too far right, then I would get corrected by the significant altitude loss. So I wandered back and forth a little bit. Kept to the top of the ridge, as near as I could tell. Walked on the snow when I had to. Walked on dead plant matter when I could. Stepping over dead trees. Tripping on downed branches. Skipping through semi-overgrown tread paths. The day was good. I'll post the full previous story soon. Here's some pics from today.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Last weekend pictures

Pics from my visit to the Evergreen Aviation Museum last weekend are up here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Research paper

I started checking out some of the details for my hopeful ascent of Mt Rainier this summer. The National Park Service has some really great information on their website. I downloaded a slew of PDF files. I need to hike up to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet to get a preview of the lay of the land. I thought it might be this weekend, but with the warming temperatures and the high potential avalanche danger, I decided that I need to postpone the scouting trip. In researching the trail to Camp Muir and the roads and such I found out just how much information the National Park System posts to their respective sites. I found a file that has just the compass bearings and landmarks from Paradise to Camp Muir so that a hiker can get down safely in the case of whiteout conditions. I found an elevation profile chart of the Wonderland Trail that circumnavigates the 93 miles around the base of Rainier. I found several iterations of trail and climbing maps with mileages and elevations. Just a great level of detail. Awesome.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Climb for Me

Nat, Steve and I are bailing on a climb of Mt Hood that we were starting tonight. The weather looks bad through tomorrow; cloudy and cruddy. Rain and snow through Wednesday morning. Then the sky clears up tomorrow, but the mercury goes high. The Northwest Avalanche Center has projected avalanche danger above 7000 feet (Mt Hood's summit sits at 11,2237 feet) from Thursday through the end of the weekend. And maybe longer. Potential big wet spring snow slides. Avalanches that can loose the entire winter's snowpack in one go.

So it looks like we are going to stay home for the next few days instead of burning a vacation day for no summit and no fun.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Big Airplane

Dev, Randy, Candy and I went to the Evergreen Aviation Museum yesterday. Lots of airplanes and replicas. And I had really mixed feelings.

On the one hand, the fighter planes from World War II and all the historic planes and replicas of planes in the museum are undisputedly cool. They just appeal to some part of the male psyche I guess. And most of the WW II planes are actual decommissioned aircraft from that war. The docent who hangs out near the B17 Flying Fortress flew 30 missions in WW II. Then he got called back up for service in Korea. He's pretty close to the last of those pilots. Entered the service when he was 17. Gave some of his best years to fight a huge threat to the world; an admirable life path.

On the flip side, the museum is pretty much a shrine of adoration to the hyper-masculine "Warrior Male" ideal. It celebrates the service of a soldier as the highest ideal of citizenship. I can appreciate this to some extent. The world needs warriors to protect the weak from the brigand; I'm certainly not naive enough to believe otherwise. The wise sage and the selfless aid worker are equally laudable and admirable ideals, like The Peace Corp. Or Doctors Without Borders. The closest thing to civilian service mentioned by the museum was the revolution in US Mail delivery by air. I'd just like a little less complete Rah Rah with my history, I guess.

That said, Evergreen does have a great deal of history in a very small space. It's a worthwhile afternoon of wandering, wondering and drooling.

Oh, and the Spruce Goose is friggin' huge. I expected big, but this thing is gargantuan!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. And to Dev's mom. And to Lori. And
Kelly. And Jenna. And to all the other moms that I know!

In-laws in Town

Dev's mom, Candy, and Randy came into town as part of their vacation
they got here Friday afternoon. Dec and Candy walked in the doggie
dash yesterday morning while Randy and I chatted about submarines and
mountains and DB Cooper. When the ladies returned from their canine
pilgrimage, Candy said "Oh my gosh, I've never seen so many dogs! Dogs
in their own outfits and owners dressed up like their dogs!"
We got home from that and prepared for dinner by taking a long nap.
Pizza from Ken's Artisan Pizza followed the bliss of naps and preceded
the ambrosia of dessert from Pix. Then, cards for few hours.

Friday, May 09, 2008

New boots

I have feet and fit issues. I've been through most of REI's boots selection and failed to find a boot that works for me. Dev refuses to go shoe shopping with me any more. Salespeople at REI know me on a first name basis and quail when I walk in to the shoe department. Until the boots in this picture. I spent 15 hours on my feet in these boots last Sunday.

On my first day wearing them.

No blisters. No bruises. A few sore spots. Somehow I think that after 15 hours in ANY pair of footwear, I'd have some sore spots.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lost in the Woods

Funny thing about GPS units, they tell you where you are, but not where you want to go....

I signed up for a 16 mile hike on Sunday with a guy whom I've done some longer and faster hikes this winter. Jeff is great; he knows navigation, he's very fit and he pays attention to the condition of the party. So I gather Nat and Dan for this hike (as conditioning for some of the climbs we want to do this summer). We meet in Portland and head of with Jeff and a few others. Laura works with Washington Search and Rescue and hike with Jeff a lot. Shortish and a really strong hiker, I like going on trips with her. Virginia and Shannon (a guy) are on the hike too. I've never met them but Jeff knows them and figures they're strong enough for the day ahead. And Tom is with us too; he's a great guy. He got me involved in leading hikes for the Mazamas.

We get to the trailhead and set up a car shuttle (the hike ends at a different trailhead than the start.) And we're off. We cruise up Defiance in just over four hours on the Starvation Ridge trail. About two hours in on the way up we put on our snowshoes and truck on in snowshoes until late in the afternoon. Most of our route Sunday is still snowbound. We had fantastic weather at the top of Defiance. I could see the Hood River valley and Mt Hood wreathed in some low clouds with the top poking through. Crystal clear sky over us. We met a couple of other Mazamas on top; chatted with them a while and ate lunch.

Jeff led us down a southeast ridge from the summit so we could work over to Green Point Mountain. We dipped down into the valley area between the mountains and wound our way past a few snow covered lakes. We started up a rise and decided we need to lose the snowshoes for a bit. The slope angle was about 35 degrees and a little steep for snowshoes. We took turned kicking steps up the slope and gained the ridge top and followed the ridge to the second summit of the day. We still had great weather and incredible views. The cookies I brought as a group snack were a big hit. I felt good. The weather was nice.

We started down off the summit and back the way we came for a little bit. We hit a trail junction (visible only as a large clearing in the trees) and headed off on a general heading on the plateau. We tromped along like this for another hour or so. The according to the maps and the GPS, it was time for us to descend a few hundred feet to gain the trail for the way out. We descend and hit a snowfield. No trail. Jeff seems puzzled. He consults with 2 gps units. He checks his maps. We start traversing across the ridge to intersect the trail. And we traverse. And we traverse. And light starts failing.

We hit the top of the ridge that has the trail we want. The trail is not in sight. We know it's to our west and below us. Somewhere. But the sunset just started and we're 3,000 feet above the trailhead. We move to the bottom of a snow covered rock field to lose 300 or 400 vertical feet fast while we have light and an open space. Jeff gathers us together. We make the decision to move into the trees in the dark and go downhill as much as possible without cliffing out somewhere. We take a quick group inventory; everyone has spare clothes, a space blanket, some sort of pad, extra food, a headlamp. Almost everyone in the group has cell phones. We make calls to wives and boyfriends and explain that we aren't lost, exactly, but that we will be delayed coming home. I call Dev and tell her the situation. First thing she says is "Oh God" quickly followed by "They're all Mazamas on the hike, right?" I know she'll be fine as soon as she says that.

We all pop on our headlamps and jump into the woods. We descend carefully in the darkening wood. Jeff moves pretty fast; he's good at this bushwacking thing. Over the next 2-3 hours we go down steadily except for one 60 or 100 foot drop. The slope gets steep and the dirt just slides when we put our feet in it. The vegetation doesn't work as an anchor or a handhold. So we move down this stretch carefully and slowly and one at a time. It feels like an hour goes by while the eight of us move down the slope. Some of us slide a little; some just sit down and slide a bit on their bums. We all make it safely down and regroup again. Jeff leads off one more time and within a very short time we find the trail. We're still about 1800 feet from the trailhead, but it's only 11:20 pm and I feel strong. We regroup again and then speed stumble our way down to the trailhead. Shannon, Virginia, Laura and Dan drive off to the Starvation creek trailhead to get the cars for the ride back to Portland. Tom, Nat, Jeff and I hang out for a short eternity at the Wyeth Campground trailhead. I pull my feet out of my boots for an almost orgasmic sense of relief. We bundle up during the wait since cold air from a creek blows through the parking lot. I doze a couple of times very shortly. I don't even know how long it takes for the cars to get back to us.

And just like that, my first adventure in being lost is done. Twenty one miles and 6600 vertical feet. Three GPS units and 5 maps. And a new pair of boots. Eight backpacks got home safely that morning.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pictures from my mini-climb up Indian Point last week.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Just finished reading Annapurna today.

Climbing outside tonight after work. Nice weather. Hopefully dry rock. Playing with my rock gear. Big smile.