Boundary Waters Canoe Trip 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 07:56 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I took a much-needed week off work to join my parents and three of their friends for a canoe trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness in upper Minnesota against Canada.

I got lunch with Daimon and his wife in Minneapolis - a real treat since the last time I saw him was for his wedding 5 years ago. Then a van full of excited southerners towing a trailer and 3 canoes showed up and whisked me north. We stayed in a small motel between St. Paul and Duluth that night as the rain poured down. I hoped the weather forecast was right and we would have lighter weather during the next week. Luckily, I convinced the rest of the team to take a detour to get Betty's Pies in Two Harbors on or way to our campsite and put-in at Fall Lake Campground. We had pie for dinner and we had pie for breakfast. It was fantastic.

The next day, we headed north. We portaged around Newton Falls to Newton Lake, and quickly reached Pipestone Falls, and portaged again. On the first one, Mom and I found someone with a cart to help bring our gear across, but on the 2nd we were on our own for the 1/4 mile walk. I threw the canoe on my back for the walk, but halfway through the middle thwart broke - so we set it back in place, carried about our business, and started dreaming up campsite remedial actions. Back on the water, we paddled our way up Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake and saw a Bald Eagle leave his perch and cruise the shoreline. We did a quick, albeit jungley, hike to Azion Lake for lunch. The entire day and all the lakes were glass. It was quiet and eerie. Eventually, we found a chipmunk-operated campsite on the south-side of Pipestone Bay and set up camp around 1:30pm. With plenty of time before dinner, the whole gang took a swim and then Steve, Kurt, and Andreas fished while the rest of us heckled them.






The next morning, Dad cooked some of his legendary pancakes while Andreas and I fashioned a new yoke for the canoe. Using a hand saw, we were able to notch a section of pine tree to do the job (and it held for the whole trip!). Needless to say, we got a later start. In general, canoeing is such a relaxed way to travel through the world, aside from the portages, of which we did have one to cross over to Back Bay. At first the weather was calm, but eventually a south wind set in. Mom and I struggled into a moderate headwind through the shallow waters of Back Bay and wondered why there were thousands of dead insects on the water surface. Too cold? Natural life cycle?

The group separated some, but we regathered on an unnamed island on our way to Hoist Bay when we ate lunch. When we got to Hoist Bay, we took a 90 degree turn ENE and the winds turned to our favor. We slid past Canoe Island and Norway Island before finding a suitable, unoccupied campsite on Washington Island. More swimming. More Fishing. And Mom and I cooked Quesadillas for the crew. Steve served up a couple small-mouth cooked in southern spices.






The next day was difficult. Winds rotated to the North and we were battered making our way up the US-Canada border to United States Point. The chop was getting large enough that Dad and I were politely asked to stay close to the Andrea/Mom canoe (we rotated teams). This day I got my first taste of paddling "the barge" which was our only plastic canoe. The other two Kevlar canoes slid through the water with an estimated 76.3% less drag. After fighting the wind and chop, we turned the corner and headed West toward Basswood Falls. Surprisingly, even with the wind at our backs, the waves still made this a tough stretch. This area does not allow motors, so we were suddenly alone - at least for large portions of the day, which was nice. It felt like a wilderness area. We stopped off for lunch on a beach and looked at Canada. M&A snuck into Canada, while Dad and I may have drifted into international waters. Definitely a different scene than our southern border. Eventually, we found a campsite we called, "Camp Blowhole" because it was on the blowhole of the island that looked like a whale. It was well sheltered and we pasted the time looking at the moss and lichen that covered the island. Mom, entertained the group with a crossword puzzle that lasted a surprisingly long time (days).





We decided the leave the tents up and do a day trip to Basswood Falls the next day. We walked down the Basswood River for about a mile inspecting whatever flora and fauna (eagles, an otter, and more chipmunks!) we came across. That night we tried to catch the Northern Lights - Andreas said it would be the highest probability of catching them that night based on the NOAA data. But we didn't see anything except a wonderfully starry night.




The following day we battled another headwind south toward Pipestone. We hoped we could float through the creek from Jackfish Bay to Pipestone, but beavers had dammed it, so we had to run another short portage. On the other side, we stopped off at an awesome cliffside campsite to take in the views and rest a bit for the final push south. We paddled another hour+ into the gale until we made it back to our first campsite, where we were greeted by Charlie T. Trouble our favorite food-stealing chipmunk. Lathered on the DEET and killed a handful more mosquitoes, the state bird, for the 5th night in a row. The weather held off until that night, when a ferocious thunderstorm came through camp, but the rain had stopped by morning.



The final day was fairly easy, even with the two portages. We knew the way and a few of us were ready get off the water. It was a fun trip, great to see the world from a canoe, and the bugs were actually manageable.


larger
GPS data
Approximate Distances:
Day 1: 6.8 miles to Pipestone Bay
Day 2: 10.3 miles to Washington Island
Day 3: 9.8 miles to "Whale Island"
Day 4: 5.45 miles, day-tripping to Basswood River
Day 5: 10.7 miles to Pipestone Bay
Day 6: 6.6 miles to Fall Lake
Total: 49.65 miles of fun + a few miles of canoeing on Day 0 to go fishing with Steve.

And Here's a video my Mom put together of the trip:

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Josh's 30 Birthday  
Thursday, August 10, 2017, 10:52 AM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Like my 30th Birthday, my Mom wanted to do something fun for my brother for his 30th. She created an elaborate medieval/fantastical plot involving a bunch of people in the family. I had three roles: the first was to give Josh clues to start a treasure hunt that my parents would conduct to give him Amtrak tickets to Chicago (where he would meet his cousins and a family friend); the second was to give him a time and place where he would get a weapon (super soaker) for the final battle with the evil king; and the third was to be taken hostage, rescued by Josh, and help him kayak down the river battling river enemies to the king.

For the first clue, since we are both getting into cybersecurity work, I thought it would be fun to create do something with encryption. I sent him the following message:

Lord Marcel,

Nearly 40 years ago, Knights Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman created a tool for exchanging information between kingdoms. I must use this tool to securely send information from the land of Adobe as there are many eyes watching our movements.

Your secret code was recently sent via text. The public key is (n = 597782322723352841, e = 65537).

Use your code to decipher my decimal messages by converting to hexadecimal and then to text. As an example, 454340527577251408658717599750907599391754895552930391484449 is an unencrypted base 10 birthday message.

Please await my next letter for instructions.

God speed,
Earl of Tillay

P.S. 16172526842824332 486461013351423796 372855876819966270 173013308343788726 175628482683316976 51457655426288031 112532939420200262 103102526154905960 212110150840885429 116036075239775253


I sent him the private key in a text: "162568843699643261"

Without going into too many of the details, Josh was required to perform RSA decryption of the coded message. The description of how to do that is here. And the python code to do that is here (for all your programming nerds).

A few days letter, he sent me a message indicated that he figured it out and I sent him the coordinates for his first clue for the scavenger hunt that my parents put together. He managed to complete that and get his tickets to Chicago. Yay!

The next round of puzzles (to give him the water gun) was a little more involved. It started with me sending him a link to this image: http://adventurejay.com/stereoclue.jpg



which, read adventurejay.com/josh.pdf which had a bunch of clues. The solutions to the puzzles are here.

With a couple hints, and a couple required corrections on my part (whoops), the solution was determined to be "421261450043257479" or "/c3.pdf" when decrypted. That led him to adventurejay.com/c3.pdf.

He got back to me fairly quickly with the solution: White Fire Mayhem. And I told him where he could meet up with someone who would give him his water gun :) It's not easy turning 30!

For the extended, weekend party, Jess and I flew to St. Louis. The first night we had dinner at Josh's with Mom and Dad. Then we drove down to Washington, MO to pick up Grandma and take her down to the Huzzah for a beach picnic and float. We also visited grandpa in the old folks home.





The following day, we woke up early and Dad, Josh, and I competed in the Wood River Triathlon. Dad did a great job with the swim (most people just walked on the pool bottom and should have been disqualified) and came in 21st out of 234 with a 8:15. I jumped on my Dad's (small) road bike and did my best to ride the turny course. It was six laps with six 90 degree turns, so it was hard to keep the speed up. I managed to take a wrong turn into the staging area after my first lap (not much signage at this event), which probably cost me ~20 seconds. (I've got all my excuses lined up.) In the end, I averaged 20 mph for 33:20 and 25/234 although I would have been 17th without my navigational mistake. Not too bad. And Josh suffered a couple laps (4 miles) to bring us on home with 2nd out of 10 for the teams (the first group was pretty stacked).




After that we headed back to Washington, MO where we (tastefully) shackled Josh and put him in his own van with instructions on how to find me. I left in my parent's Prius with Mom and Jess, while Dad, cousin Tim, and aunt Holly came separately with the kayaks. There were a few complications with instructions, but eventually I was freed of my captors' restraints and on the water with Josh in a couple kayaks loaded with water guns and water balloons. Ready for battle, we navigated through the drunk rafts and eventually came across captured Maid Jess along with three in the king's legion. There was a water battle, and I don't really know who won, but I'll say it was us.





We jumped off the cliff and floated down to Uncle Jim's place on the Meramec. There Josh vanquished the evil king and saved the day! We played around in the river a little more, BBQed, and eventually headed back to WashMo to rest. The following day, I had one last visit with grandpa before indulging in a bottle of Chambourcin at Montelle Winery and catching our flights back to ABQ - although the trip was ultimately delayed a full 12 hours with back-to-back mechanical and weather issues.






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Vegas, Baby! 
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 09:27 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Jess was getting together with old friends, Kristen and Keith, in Vegas for the weekend and she invited me out to stay with her. I said, "Sure!" We all met up at the Luxor on Friday morning and then went out to the Rehab pool party. Their friend, Josh, just moved out to Vegas so he acted as our official tour guide. Beach balls, swimming and loud music was a great start to the trip. It was super warm so the margaritas were tasting especially good. We all headed out to First Friday on Fremont St. where they have live bands in addition to the booze, gambling, street performers, and outdoor alcohol vendors. After strolling up and down the well-lit street with movie screen canopy and ziplines we ubered back to the strip and worked our way through the casinos back to the Luxor for bed. Nothing too insane, but it was fun.









In the morning the group went over to the Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. It was short but pretty nice with a few tube walkways. The gang then headed north along the strip hitting up casinos, bars, and any shiny attraction along with way. We had a great steak dinner at Mon Ami Gabi across from the Bellagio, before the rest of the crew took off for the airport. Jess and I nearly ran to catch the Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand. I think this show was the highlight of the trip. The hydraulic stage was awesome and the way that used it to play out different fight scenes was spectacular - especially when they were using the 'arrows' to traverse the stage.






The last day, I had to gamble a little just to say I tried it. Jess and I bet on black and won. Then we bet on 12 and lost. I played a couple hands of blackjack and lost. I did double my $1 in the dollar slots, but ultimately lost about $50 over the course of the weekend. We we're very good gamblers - but Keith and Kristen managed to win $200 at the Buffalo slot machine (and probably spent similar quantities to do so) and Josh won $1000 with a royal flush on bar-top poker on Fremont St., but with the quantity of time he spends at such things that does make sense (he's a blackjack and poker dealer and has a strong affinity for slot machines). I can see the appeal though - it's a rush to see the next card or roulette wheel spin.

Jess and I went to the Bodies exhibit at the Luxor. I had seen it in L.A. 10 years ago, but it was still fun and educational. We headed up to New York, NY to ride the roller coaster, but they had it shut down due to wind when we got there. Instead we wondered through Cesar's Palace, Mirage, and Treasure Island and got ice cream. So I think I can say I've done Vegas now and I did a little gambling, so I can cross that off the old bucket list.



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Mountain Collective Ski Trip 
Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 08:32 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Jeff and I took the A-liner camper around to 5 Mountain Collective ski resorts over two weeks. We'd been planning this trip for years, and actually wanted to go up to Canada to ski 3 other resorts on the pass, but work/life obligations got in the way. At any rate, here's a movie that I put together of our excellent trip!

"The lightly anticipated and highly sensational "Dirtbags on Skis" has it all: powder, costumes, bad decisions, crashes, humor, and a healthy dose of bromance. This film, brought to you by Why We Do It Productions, will leave you wondering how they did so much skiing without a GoPro."


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Aspen and Telluride for New Year's Eve 
Monday, January 2, 2017, 06:23 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Jess, Jeff, Sheilah, and I took the camper up to Aspen for New Years. Jeff and Sheliah got a place with some other friends in Snowmass but I scored a deal through the mountain rescue community to crash at Mountain Rescue Aspen's cache to save some cash. Keith gave us the grand tour of the multi-million dollar facility with all their cars, snowmobiles, climbing wall, kitchen, locker room, laundry, etc. It's truly impressive.



On New Year's Eve we hit Snowmass and Jess and I skied for 1/2 day before Jeff and I went out to find bigger lines. The snow wasn't fresh but it was still fun to explore a new place. We hit KT Gully, Possible, Split Tree and at the end of the day, Jeff found a ~8' drop at Rock Island. I couldn't commit to the cliff - and ultimately wouldn't hear the end of it for 24 hours. For NYE, we found a little bar called The Red Onion in Aspen where Keith knew the bartender. We snagged a booth and Jess and I rang in the new year with champagne and a kiss.



(Cliff I chickened out of)


The next morning, the slopes were unsurprisingly and pleasantly empty. Jeff and I went over to Aspen Highlands and beat ourselves up on frozen bumps in Steeplechase bowl before Highland opened. We caught the snow cat to the halfway point with a pile of stoked skiers and then hoofed it to the highland peak summit at 12,392'. The views were wonderful and the run down Ozone was wonderful. At lunch we caught the bus to Aspen Mountain and linked up with Keith, who's on their ski patrol. He directed us under a couple closed ropes to a little place patrol "reserves for themselves and their friends." It was only a few turns, but they were the softest we'd found in the last couple days.








That night I dropped Jess off with Mario and company to drive back to ABQ, while Jeff and I headed to Telluride. We stopped at Lance and Bobbi Jo's in Ridgeway for the night and camped out on the street. Leigh, Justin, and Arthur were also there so it was great to catch up with their family.

In the morning Bobbi Jo loaded us up with egg and bacon bagels and we drove the hour over to Telluride. We found a place to park in the 72 hour lot and then began exploring. I quickly fell in love with the place because they had a whole cirque to play. Sadly Palmyra Peak wasn't open, but we took a couple laps in Black Iron Bowl and hit a great powder line in the (unnamed?) chute on skiers ' left. That night we headed to Smuggler's Brewpub for dinner and watched the dramatic Penn State vs USC Rose Bowl Game. After making friends with the locals, we agreed to ski backcountry the next day with someone. In the morning, I said I texted him saying that I would need to borrow skins because I didn't have any, and I never heard back. Oh well. Instead Jeff and I did a couple laps on Bald Mountain, Revelation Bowl and the frontside steeps. Ultimately, after 4 days of hard skiing, we threw the towel in the early afternoon and headed south.










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Christmas 2016 
Sunday, December 25, 2016, 04:28 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week back in Southern Illinois and Missouri for Christmas. I caught a ride from Josh down to Alto Pass and we started right away with tree-decorating, Christmas songs, and overeating. The rest of the family came down the next day and we hiked up to Bald Knob Cross in a light drizzle. It was the 27th annual winter hike for my dad and I, but I can't remember it raining any other year.







Kathy, Twy, and Gabe joined for caroling and a hilarious game of reverse charades. Grandma stole the show with her ice skating impression and knack for being one or two cards behind. We also got in a family game of HORSE, held the family annual photo competition, opened way too many gifts, and Tim attempted to show me how to Ripstick.









Before flying back to the Southwest, I visited the uncles in St. Louis and my grandfather in the old folks home in Washington, MO. The family time was great.




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Red River Race Camp and Bull-of-the-Wood Yurt 
Monday, December 19, 2016, 04:49 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Jeff and I took the Aliner pop-up camper to Red River and snagged a perfect little camp spot in the forest by the resort parking area. We skied a 3 days with instruction from the Lobos alpine team. It was especially great to ski with Nick because he grew up in Taos and is one of only a few NM racers to make the team. By the end of the three days, I was feeling good on my skis and running gates as well as I ever have (mediocre). Unfortunately the camper was an ice box without reliable heat and the temperature dropped to 1 F. Our breath put a layer of frost on everything in the interior of the camper. One of the perks of supporting the Lobos is that they sometimes offer corporate cup racers tickets to basketball games - so I was lucky enough to snag a seat in the box seats at the Pit later that week.





A couple weekends later, we broke with tradition and moved the Bull-of-the-Woods Yurt trip up to Dec. I brought Jess up with me on Friday and we skied a day inbounds in a whiteout blizzard. It wasn't that fun with the high winds. We met up with Spencer and hiked up to the yurt. I borrowed Leigh's sled and used it to schlep a 1/6th barrel of Marble Pils up the mountain. With me thoroughly weighed down, Jess and I were about the same speed so it worked out well. It did take a very long time, especially through the 5-6 downed trees, and I hurt pretty bad making it up from Taos Ski Valley (9,300') to Bull-of-the-Woods Meadow (10,800'). Fortunately, Spencer was able to break trail for most of the upper stretch.







Jeff came up later and strapped a box of pizza to his pack. In one of the trees, the box popped open and littered the trail with pizza slices. He tried to gather them all up, but managed to miss a couple. Later, Briana was coming up the trail and said that she was feeling really hungry but didn't to take the time to dig through her pack for food; when what should appear in the center of her headlamp glow, but a slice of pizza from the trail gods! She said she didn't even think twice about it and just picked it up and ate it. Once everyone made it up, we cranked the fire and drank merrily.

The following day, Jeff and I took a little tour up to Bull-of-the-Woods Mountain. The snow conditions were extremely unstable and the slope by the trail keep releasing as we hiked up. On the summit, it was freezing cold and the winds were howling. We concluded we couldn't ski anything steep, but we could work down the spine. A few turns into the descent, we dug a pit to check conditions. There were 40 cm of heavy dense wind slab on 30 cm of facets: a very bad combination. The column test failed with one hand tap at the boundary, and the Rutschblock test showed the whole upper layer slide on the facets. Scary! I was starting to think we might have bitten off more than we should have, but we skied the most conservative line we could find through the trees and quickly linked up with a mountain bike trail that took us back to the main road/trail. Definitely very scary conditions for any backcountry skier. Back the yurt, even more people trickled for night 2, making our total party crew 15 people.





Sunday, we cleaned up and skied back to the TSV. My sled was loaded with trash and I had to hold a power wedge all the way down the steeps. Unfortunately, on a couple of the dead tree crossings, the trash bags were punctured and I leaked a few items. Jeff was behind me though, so it helped pick up my mess. Back at Taos, it was chilly but clear and Jess finally got to see the place. We skied the backside for a few laps and then hit the Bav at the end of the day for dinner. Good times in the mountains. But then I spent a couple weeks recovering from a cold that was shared around the yurt...

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Niagara Falls and an Aussie Reunion 
Thursday, December 8, 2016, 10:02 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I traveled to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for the 2016 IRED conference. I had a great view of the falls from my hotel and snuck in a trip on the Hornblower (e.g., Canadian Maid of the Mist) at the end of the conference. There is sooo much water there. If we could only pipe that to New Mexico!








The other fun piece of this trip was I reconnected with a lost friend, Adam, in Buffalo. We hadn't seen each other in 12 years, but had done a few great trips together when we were both foreign exchange students at the University of South Australia. I couldn't believe how young and excited about exploring I was at that point in time. It was so cool to see him again! And it wasn't long before we were reminiscing of our adventures:
- The overland trek in Tasmania, where I did battle with the opossums and tassie devils; we climbed to the top of the acropolis, and cranked the heat by burning coal in a small cabin by Lake St. Clair.
- Camping on the beach in Freycinet National Park where we named the camp wallabies Wallace and Gromit.
- Watching sunrises in Uluru in the red centre.
- Tim Tam Slams on the Legendary Ghan train ride from Adelaide to Alice Springs.
- Cheering on Port Power in Aussie Rules Footie.
- Drinking wine in the Adelaide park for Forth of July.
- Goofing off on the Kangaroo Island tour.
- My junk bike with the bent front wheel and how I was too cheap to take a cab back to town after the pubs closed so I walked the 10 km train line from Glenelg to downtown until the sun rose one Saturday night/Sunday morning.
- And all our classmates, that I have long lost track of...

I was happy to meet Adam's wife and kid and take a walking tour of Buffalo. The town was clearly in a period of revitalization and the waterfront was awesome to stroll.




Unfortunately, I had to take a last-minute trip to DC for the halloween weekend, but Briana hosted a Monday night party for a few folks. My costume this year was an injured cyclist - how original!


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Chaco Canyon with Parents 
Friday, November 25, 2016, 09:54 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
My parents visited Albuquerque for the week surrounding Thanksgiving. We had a small, but sweet, thanksgiving feast at my place and ultimately decided to explore a little of the southwest with the camper. Mom was especially excited to try it out, that was until the heater failed on a 20 degree night.

After battling the washerboard, potholed, dirt road for miles, we popped up the camper in the Chaco campground and had a sandwich lunch. It was cold but the sun warmed up the canyon nicely. We toured Una Vida and the Petroglyphs and then took the first 80% of a guided tour of Pueblo Bonito, until the guide repeated the same thing for the 4th time. On our way back to camp, we stopped at Casa Rinconada and watched the visitor center video. We cooked up turkey soup and played backgammon and gin rummy back in the camper. The stars were spectacular in the cold clear night. Unfortunately, the contact in the thermostat was corroded so the heater wasn't working for most of the night and it was very chilly.











The following day, we hiked from Pueblo del Arroyo around the Pueblo Alto loop. The views of the valley with Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl from the rim were worth the extra effort.






Next, we made an attempt to reach the San Antonio Hot Springs lookout on the rim so my Mom could soak, but the road was a mud bog and dozens of large trucks were out there cutting down christmas trees and rutting out the road. My dad suggested I should probably give up once the hitch was dragging through the mud. Just then a crew of 6 or more lifted trucks and jeeps came our way and I had to back all the way down the muddy road with an audience. It didn't go great and I let my dad help with the last 30 ft. So we cut our losses and camped off the road there in the wilderness just off NM-144. Dad whipped up a fire and we cooked dinner in the camper. That night it snowed about an inch. After admiring the snowy pines, I set to extracting the family from the Jemez wilderness and heading home. We originally planned to visit Bandelier, but with the snowy road, I figured it was better to avoid the road through Valles Caldera. Instead we visited the Jemez Springs Church and got lunch at The Range Cafe. It wasn't a completely successful trip, but a good test for the camper and fun mini-adventure with my folks.




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Moab Canyoneering Trip  
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 09:01 PM - Trips
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Jess and I joined a mostly AMRC crew in Moab for a weekend of Canyoneering. We joined Justin and Craig in Arches and started off the adventure with a warm up lap on U-Turn Canyon. I was relieved to see that Jess was a natural and hardly blinked when it came to steep cliffs or exposed rappels.




The following day, Arthur and Leigh joined our group for a trip through Pool Arch ("Rock of Ages") Canyon. The first rap down next to the arch is just spectacular! Then the barefoot obstacle course to get to the last couple rappel is pure fun. Oh and that last rap is pretty stellar for the view!







At that point the gang split up and Jess and I went off to do our own thing. We debated about what to do in Arches (hike, driving tour, canyon?) but settled on going to Elephant Butte - another technical route. Justin had warned me that the route-finding was tough - and it turned out he was right because I was left guessing a couple times before finding the first rap station. To get there required one awkward low 5th class move that left me thinking for a couple minutes. Once I was up, I put Jess on belay from the other side of the saddle and she made her way up with the rope. The first rap looked out on the fins of the Elephant Butte area, but required me to reclimb a little of the end to pull the rope. At this point, I convinced Jess to head up to the summit of Elephant Butte. It's only 5653 ft. but the the highest point in Arches National Park, so the views were stunning in all directions! Then we went back to retrieve our packs and realized we needed to head out a different valley - 15 minutes later we finally found the rappel station and were on our way back to the car through the Garden of Eden. We escaped the canyon just as the sun was getting low so the lighting was perfect with the dark storm front passing us to the northeast. I decided we had better take a sunset stroll through the Windows and we watched the sun drop over the horizon from a comfy seat at North Window Arch.






Back in camp, we cooked dinner and Jess won the hearts of everyone when she pulled out the s'mores. Lance carried on his usual jokes, and the Moab marathon crew joined the fireside party.



Our final Sunday morning, we finally got some sun! We decided with all the recent rain it would be too wet in Dragonfly, so we went to do Cameltoe Canyon. It was an interesting area north of the CO River at Gold Bar, but we didn't do the best job of route finding (I blame Justin), but eventually did get to a cool oasis-y little canyon with plenty of vegetation, medium-deep pools, and one moderate rapel. It ended up being a good length trek because we were able to have a group lunch and hit the road by 2pm.




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John Muir Trail and Death Valley 
Monday, September 12, 2016, 09:14 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I linked up with my Dad for a backpacking trip from Mammoth Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows stretch of the JMT. We rented a car and cruised up to a little campsite at the Grandview Campground in Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest outside of Big Pine, CA. We arrived at about 10pm on a Saturday, so it was no surprise all the spot were taken. I worked my charm with one of the campers and we popped our tent up on the side of the meadow for a quick rest. The next morning, we headed into Mammoth Lakes and hiked the Sierra High Route from Crystal Lake TH to a red pumice cone and cliff face that overlooked all the lakes in the valley. Dad did great, even with the altitude - but I was carrying all the gear. We returned to town to finish our last minute shopping and have a flight at Mammoth Brewing--complete with a metal/rock band.





The following morning my Dad went to the ranger station extra early to make sure he was first in line for the JMT passes and we easily secured a pass to hike to Tuolumne for the next day. At the ski area hotel we met John, Andy, and Dave--all of whom were classmates at my Dad's high school in St. Louis and hiking the full JMT. After hotel room beer, my dad and I drove down to Red's Meadows to camp and hike around the Devil's Postpile area. While the photos of the national monument didn't impress me much, I did really enjoy checking out the postpile and seeing the basalt columns up close. They were formed when a lake of lava solidified in the valley.



The following morning, I dropped the car off at the ski area where our shuttle from Tuolumne would drop us off in 4 days, and shuttled back into Red's Meadow. The 5 of us tossed our packs on and headed into the Sierras. The 3 hiking veterans were in serious shape after 17 days on trail and they didn't waste time in out-climbing us. I hung back with my Dad and we slowly worked our way up to Trinity Lakes for lunch. My Dad was taking rest breaks every 10 minutes or so on the climb, so I moved his bear canister into my bag in exchange for the tent, which shaved about 5 lbs off his pack weight. We continued our haul up to Rosalie Lake for the night. Since my Dad was taking his time, I took the opportunity to talk with other hikers (and as my hiking colleagues noticed, I seemed to talk especially long with the solo female variety). We finally made the drop into camp at Rosalie Lake and set up camp overlooking the lake. Andy and Dave pulled out the fly rods and managed to snag a nice Rainbow Trout for dinner.






The following morning, the crew woke early and quickly packed up camp - you get fairly efficient after 18 days! We dropped into Shadow Lake and then crossed a pass to Garnet Lake. The crew of 3 left Dad and I straight-away again and it became clear that we wouldn't be hiking with them at all. I knew this bummed my Dad out because he was hoping to spend time with John. But I was there to keep my Dad company and we explored the Sierras at our own pace. We slowly climbed up another pass, by Ruby and Emerald Lakes, and rested at Thousand Island Lake for lunch. There wasn't much cover here so we hunkered down under a bush to eat sausage and cheese sandwiches, pistachios, and energy bars. Island Pass wasn't too bad, but down at Rush Creek Trail we expected to see the gang camped out--so when we didn't, my Dad struggled to keep going up toward Donohue. Then the rain rolled in. We layered up in rain gear and trudged uphill in hopes of finding our compatriots. After about an hour we did find the camp and my Dad got to drop his pack! We filtered water, setup the tent, cooked dinner, pulled out the whiskey, and before long, high spirits were returned to all.







The next day, we tackled Donohue Pass and Dad was in surprisingly strong form. After snapping a couple photos on top, we carefully moved down into Lyell Canyon. The trail dropped and dropped into the valley. The bear canisters still felt really heavy, so I suggested we eat lunch along the creek. With the hardest part over, we took our time cruising and watched the deer and chipmunks in the blue bird day. At the Ireland Lake turnoff, we found a note addressed to us from the other 3 guys. They were in a rush to finish off the trail and decided to push past our camp to Tuolumne that night. My Dad wasn't going to cover the last 5.5 miles so it was a sad we wouldn't share our last night on the trail with the crew. At least we scored a nice campsite in the valley where we could finished off the whiskey and eat a so-so dehydrated dinner with a delicious apple pie dessert. It was nice to have this quality time with Dad to talk about my career, plans for world domination, etc.





The following day we finished off the hike to Tuolumne Meadows in the morning sun. The thing to do apparently was to indulge on burgers and frosties at the Grill, so that's exactly what we did. Then went to Tenaya Lake to relax on the beach for a couple hours. From that vantage point, I could tell there was certainly a lot of climbing in the area and I was wishing I had my rack and a trad partner to go exploring. Maybe next time. Dad and I took the first shuttle back to Mammoth, helped few other JMT trekkers hitchhike to their condo, and then drove south to Taboose Creek Campground for the night. The next morning, we found a 60-year-old man heading to the highway - he bailed on the JMT after struggling with the altitude, so we gave him a lift down to Lone Pine where his truck was waiting. He vowed to go back and finish the trail next year. These older folks are definitely tougher than I am!





It's so rare that you can calibrate your altimeter with a beer.

Dad and I turned our sights East and drove into Death Valley. As we descended toward Stovepipe Wells the temperatures climbed from the 90s to ~110. We decided to take a hike in Mosaic Canyon, but when we weren't in the shade it was HOT, "but a dry heat." The canyon did have some nice polished marble slot canyon surfaces... that you could fry an egg on. We hiked the Salt Creek Trail (somehow a fish lives there, even though it was bone dry), checked out the Borax Works, and then found some shelter in the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. We ate lunch in the AC in the rental car because it was too hot to sit outside. On our way out of the park, we completed the Artists Drive, hiked to the Natural Bridge (at this point it was 117F!), and walked around Badwater (the lowest elevation in the US at -282 ft). I was thrilled to see the temperatures drop into the double digits as we exited the park - who goes to Death Valley in the middle of the summer?










We tried to get a spot to camp at McWilliams Campground by the Lee Canyon Ski Area, but it was full. Fortunately, Dad spotted a rustic camp area and we snagged a free spot nearby, right about (36.342202, -115.646307) if you're interested. In the morning, we did the Bristlecone hike around to the ski area, spent a couple hours cruising the Las Vegas Strip, and then I caught my flight back to the real world.





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Rainy bikepacking trip - Durango to Moab with SJHS 
Wednesday, August 10, 2016, 08:39 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
It was a rainy week we chose to ride from Durango to Moab this summer. The 7 day, 6 night hut-to-hut trip was spectacular but packed with rain and mud. The ride is 215 miles of singletrack and dirt roads across the high alpine San Juan to desert slickrock and supposedly 25% tougher than the Telluride route that I (mostly) did last year.

Day 1 the crew left from DMR on a Monday for Bolam Pass Hut. It was a challenging 3600' of climbing up to 11,400' at Bolam Pass with tough grades, but we made the distance before the afternoon rains rolled in and got some nice photos from the top of the pass of Lizard Head. Then it was on to the relaxing hut life away from electronic distractions. Jason and Briana cooked up a great pineapple curry curry for dinner.




Day 2 we climbed 3400' to Black Mesa Hut. We elected to do the singletrack alternate in the morning, which was fun but challenging with all the river crossings. I gently crashed in one of the creeks when I caught a submerged rock I wasn't expecting. We ripped wonderful singletrack all morning and found some wild strawberries to go with lunch. The weather held out for a while, but one the final climb to the hut, the skies opened up. It was miles of cold, wet riding and I was exhausted. Unfortunately, I got out ahead of the group and was forced to do my own navigation, which took longer than it should have because I was only using a map and not the GPS. In the end, Mike, Kendrick, and Scott caught me on the final climb that seemed to take forever and we soggily rolled up to the hut completely wiped out. We opened up the hut, made mac'n'cheese, drank a Dale's and passed out in my sleeping bag for an afternoon nap. The rain later broke and gave us a great rainbow and sunset up on the hill overlooking the Wilson massif.







Day 3 was much easier to get to Dry Creek Basin. We cruised it in less than 4 hours, took a great swim break at Groundhog Reservoir, and dried out in the sun down in the desert. That evening, the monsoon began about 4pm. It rained hard and would not stop until about 12:30 that night. We watched as the dirt turned to mud. Things weren't going to be pretty in the morning. On the bright side, as we were pinned down for the evening we wrote a great story in the journal about the local yeti and declared it the "people's choice" winner for the log book.




Day 4 we could barely make it the 50 feet to our bikes without packing inches of mud on our shoes. We walked our bikes out to the road, but even pushing my bike the drivetrain filled with mud as the tires coated in adobe mud. After a non-thorough cleaning, we headed down the gravel road and luckily didn't collect mud. We took the "less mud route" and managed to not get too stuck on the mostly flat ride to Wedding Bell Hut. The final stretch was muddy but it had dried enough that we managed to get through to the spectacular Wedding Bell Hut overlooking the Dolores River and canyon. We picked out a great spot on the rim and eat quesadillas and drank beer, and life was good, for a little while....







Day 5 was a nightmare. We woke to heavy rain and watched as the road turned to puddles and then rivers. By the time we had breakfast, washed the dishes, packed, and cleaned the hut I new things were going to be interesting. At first we managed to ride, but the mud slowly packed up on all of our bikes and by 2.3 miles into the ride everyone had ground to a stop--drive trains, brakes, and stanchions were completely coated. After a long debate and a few spotty phone calls, Jason worked out a shuttle for the day from Greg (a Paradox Valley farmer who we had planned to dine with that evening). We threw our bikes on our backs and walked the 2.3 miles back to Wedding Bell Hut. It was hard. Spirits were low. Fortunately, a couple hours later Greg arrived, we loaded 8 bikes on his pickup roof, and piled into the back of the bed. He barely made it out and we fishtailed through the mud for 90 minutes to make it back to civilization. At Greg and Marty's, we cleaned up, washed the bikes, and were served a scrumptious dinner of egg salad, greens dish, burgers, and pineapple upside-down cake. Everyone cheered up and we were ready to knock out the morning's climb.








Day 6 is the toughest. It was 5300' of climbing up into the La Sals to Geyser Pass Hut. We were lucky the temperatures were moderate and we all made good time up the hill. We ate at Buckeye Reservoir, took a few photos at the CO-UT state line, and then finished the final, punchy, demoralizing climb to the hut. The weather was nice that evening, so we settled into the cow pasture and watched the mountains, clouds, and drinks disappear into the night.






Day 7 is the big reward for the trip: the whole enchilada down into Moab (7500' of descent!). I felt strong and toughed out the climb to Burro Pass in a single push. I chatted with the female MTB guides and some campers (with goat sherpas!) at the top. Then we worked our way down Kokopelli and Porcupine into the desert heat and Moab. We grabbed dinner and a drink at the Moab Brewery and drove all the way back to burque.





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Crested Butte Bike Week 
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 07:34 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Spencer and I met Josiah and Briana mid-afternoon at the North Bank Campground to shuttle up to Doctor Park for a MTB ride. The weather didn't look too bad as we left and car at 3pm - just a few spotty clouds. ~1200' of climbing later we found ourself at the edge of a storm. There was a distant rumbling of thunder that seemed to be working our direction, so we didn't waste time and pushed up the ridge. It got worse, so we did a check to be sure everyone was still in for the ride. We were essentially at the summit of the climb so it seemed 50/50 for which way we headed down. We continued, but things worsened quickly. The cloud-to-cloud lightning changed directions and started striking near us. I started yelling out the distances to Spencer: "0.8 miles away," wait 10 seconds, "0.4 miles away," wait 3 seconds, "0.1 miles away," flash-bang. "Shit!!" Spencer stopped before the descent at the edge of the meadow. I made a hasty decision and decided the group should make a run for lower ground and screamed, "GO GO GO!!" And Spencer took off at spence-speed through the single track. It started to rain and hail on us and we were flying 25+ mph through a lightning storm. Crash-bang! It was right on top of us!! I have near ridden a bike with such extreme focus. A crash now could mean death! The trail got technical fast as we exited the meadow into the forest and I eventually lost Spencer. Around a couple tight switchbacks I felt comfortable stopping and waiting for Briana and Josiah to re-emerge while I finally donned my rain jacket. After 3 minutes I started to worry. After 5 the storm had lightened up a bit and I started re-climbing the trail to see what happened: mechanical, injury, lightning strike? Luckily a couple minutes later, they showed up and said that they had taken cover before entering the meadow, which Briana said that the San Juan Hut System Biker's Bible recommends. I said that my preference was to get off the ridge at all costs because splash currents exist if the lightning hits nearby trees - and on the ridge that was likely. At any rate, we were happy to be safe and enjoyed riding the mud all the way down Doctor Park through rough rock, smooth sand, and then techy sedimentary layers. Great ride except for the near-death experience. Briana and I huddled in the restroom in the cold rain while Spence and Josiah ran shuttle. We were cold but safe.




The house we VRBO'd was great: right on the main drag with easy access to everything in town. Karl, Rose, Tony, and Laura joined the crew later that evening. The next day we did a nice lap up Tony's (Upper Loop) to the ski area, Snodgrass, Lupine, and back on Slate River Rd because it looked like rain. By the time we were back at the house, the weather looked much better so I went out on my own to do lower loop trail up and around Budd Trail. A great day out with 28 miles with 2500' of climbing.

Back at the house, we were positioned right in front of the chainless race finish. Did I say that this house was perfectly located! Plenty of interesting characters, clothing choices, and "bike" mechanisms came ripping down the trail. The whole town came out to see these characters:

Large



That night, we stayed up late playing Rock Band, billiards, shuffleboard, and darts while Mel, Bonnie, and Dave made the Friday night drive up.



Crested Butte is wonderfully bike friendly with racks everywhere and no one bothers to lock any of them up. It's great to take a cruise to the grocery store or to the bar and not worry about your bicycle.



In the morning, half the crew headed to the ski area to run downhill laps, but I decided to go with Rose and Karl to get some climbing and reduce my chances of another crash. Hit the ski area, climbed Westside to the top of the ski area, dropped Luge to some combination of other trails, Snod, Lupine, on to the awesome Gunsight Connector descent through tight aspens, and lower loop back to the house. After a shower and stretch, we grabbed a pizza dinner and danced the night away to Trout Steak Revival at the Crested Butte Music Festival. Once back, Spencer and I jumped in on the Bridges of the Butte 24-hour bike tour. We did a couple laps and talked Tony into doing one with us, and then talk Mel into riding with us for our last lap on the seat of Spencer's cruiser. The last lap includes a couple spontaneous bridge parties too. What a wild night!




On the way out of town, we shuttled another Doctor Park ride, but this time it was sunny and wonderful! Spencer, Josiah, Briana, and I jumped in the icy Taylor River to clean up for our nice dinner at Garlic Mike's. And then it was the long haul back to the Burque.






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Portland and South Sister 
Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 08:26 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I had nearly two weeks in Portland for the PVSC conference and 1547 meeting. I knocked out my presentation and chairing duties by Weds, so that left plenty of time to eat donuts, check out a few of the brewpubs, and eat well. The conference dinner was at the Portland Timbers stadium too! There wasn't a game, but after a tour of Providence Park, they set up gambling stations for the solar nerds; I won at blackjack but lost at craps even with Jack's advice.






Originally, I was planning to come back to ABQ for the weekend between the business trips, but decided I'd cancel the flights when Kelley invited me to climb South Sister with her and her friend Allison. Pretty much all I brought on the "business" trip was a suit and a couple nice shirts/pants, so I made an REI run to rent camping equipment and get a jacket for the ascent. Kelley found some yaktrax at the scratch-and-dent sale in Bend for me, so I was ready for 5000' of climbing in tennis shoes and jeans!


Road tripping to Bend and beyond.


Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

Kelley, Allison, and I camped at Soda Creek Campground and my photovoltaic grid integration colleague, Brian, joined us in the morning for the hike. We weren't more than a half mile into the 6.2 mile hike before we hit the snow. I was very happy that I had the yaktrax and Allison was nice enough to loan me one of her poles. Allison had gone walk-about from her hotshot lawyer job in in New York City a couple months prior, bought an Outback, and set out on a year+ tour. She was hitting the west hard with nonstop trail running, climbing, and mountaineering adventures, so she zipped up the mountain. I did my best to keep up. With a summit of only 10,358 ft, it wasn't too tough. Kelley got nervous on the steep icy parts and Brian struggled with the altitude and cramping, but otherwise the climb went great in perfect conditions. I brought my uncle sam hat for the U.S. Copa America games, so I wore that on the summit pitch and much of the descent to try to get a few laughs. Plus it went well with my glacading trash bag diaper and backpack that read "rental". The team stopped off at the incredible Crux Fermentation Project in Bend for dinner and a drink. The city has a great vibe and it was fun to explore a little of it on a beautiful early summer weekend.







On the way back to Portland, I took the long way and visited Yaquina Head to see the tide pools and soak in the ocean ambience. The weather turned a little, but it was still a fun to play with anemones, urchins, and starfish.



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Bareboat Chartering Certification in San Diego 
Saturday, May 28, 2016, 11:02 AM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
After sailing in the BVI and Grenadines, I understand the allure of sailing to remote anchorages around the world. I constantly think about the seas in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Thailand, Australia, etc. The first step in making that dream true is to get a bareboat certification. In this case, I went with the American Sailing Association (ASA) and signed up for the ASA 103/104 class. To regain my touch on the tiller (or wheel), I went out early and sailed with Jason on Tuesday night, Weds, Thursday, and then took the class Fri-Sunday. 6 straight days on a boat! It was wonderful even with the May gray on the bay during the week.

Tuesday, Jason and I practiced picking up a mooring ball and anchoring by Shelter Island. On Weds, after getting sick Chama comfortable at the house, we biked down to the Marina. We sailed the 24' Newport Neptune to Peohe's Dock on Coronado for a big Greek dinner and then anchored in Glorietta Bay for the night. The following day we practiced man overboard drills and worked on the finer points of sail trim. As we were coming back to Shelter island we saw that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier was coming into the bay, so we sailed out the channel to greet it. In our little sailboat we waved to the navy crew on the deck. Then we biked back up to Jason's house.

Friday, class was focused on motoring skills: prop walk, prop wash, backing into a slip, docking, spring (lining) off, standing turns, etc. Ironically, I did better backing into the slip than I did on docking maneuvers.

The following day, we practiced anchoring and then sailed up to Mission Bay. It was a fun sail in the ocean with ~5 ft swell. I got good chunk of time on wheel. At the end of the day we were coming into the anchorage at a very low tide, and the instructor, Ed, asked that I swing wide so that I could come up on our anchor spot from the downwind direction. I obliged and ran aground! Luckily we were at idle and I kicked it to neutral and then back into reverse and was able to get us off the muddy dredge bank. There are two types of sailors, those that have run aground and those that lie about it. Now I can choose which I would like to be. We anchored, took the ASA 103 test, and then setup the anchor watch. I ended up with the 3am-5am slot. Ugg. During my shift, I popped out of the v-berth hatch every 20 minutes to check our position and feel the rode. We were fine unless the winds shifted, so I monitored that closely.

In the morning, we took the ASA 104 test, which was far more difficult. I ace'd the 103 test, but I missed 6 out of 100 on the bareboat test, which was somewhat disappointing. We did have an A+ crew of 4 people, however: Ty was a Navy Doctor, Ben was retired coast guard, Jason was chief instructor for the Torrey Pines Sailing Club, and then there was me. Luckily, with a good crew, running drills is a lot easier. We all went through the MOB drills, hove-to, keefed the main, and sailed anywhere Ed told us to go. Overall, I was very pleased with the class because I came away feeling confident in my skills and I felt comfortable chartering a 35-40 ft boat with the right crew. Looks like this will need to happen soon!

To celebrate, Jason and I had a great seafood dinner at the C Level Lounge on Harbor Island. We toasted to our new sailing accreditations, and then I jumped on the last Southwest flight back to the desert.









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Car-camping Tour de Utah 
Saturday, May 28, 2016, 07:57 AM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
My uncle spent some of his 20s and 30s in the West and always wanted to reconnect with this part of the country. After retiring at 64 in St. Louis, he made good on that dream and I decided to help him see some things that he would normally not be able to. He also told nonstop stories of 'how it used to be' without the crowds, endless rustic camping site, and far fewer rules.

I landed from my Atlanta work trip at 4:00. Randy's car was packed up and we were on our way by 5:30. We hightailed it to White House Campground past Page for the night. After a short night's sleep we entered the North Coyote Buttes raffle in Kanab. The 6 mile hike felt too big for Randy, so he was hoping that we wouldn't win the pass, but I really wanted to see the wave, so I had my fingers crossed we'd win. The room was packed with about 80 people looking to get one of the 10 slots. I was shocked that we were drawn midway through the raffle! Randy was bummed. I picked up our permit for the following day.

We then headed into Zion, through the tunnel and landed one of the last campsites at the South campground after sweet-talking the ranger. The weather for the weekend was not expected to be good, but we hopped on the tram and headed up the Virgin River to see the sights. I hadn't been to Zion since I was ~10 years old, so it was great to see the place again. We settled on trying to go up Angel's Landing and I told Randy he could stop up at any point. It was a very slow hike, but my uncle did manage to make it up Walter's Wiggles to the Scout Lookout. I decided to jog to the summit, but it was packed with people and the going was slow. Sidetracking the trail for efficiency, I watched as the dark skies closed in, and by the time the wind and first heavy drops of rain hit, I bailed. Randy didn't have any rain gear, so I knew we needed to head down. Then the rain really came in with a few blasts of lightning, but it cleared out a half hour later as we finished the canyon stretch. It was a good idea to bail.




We grilled up a monster steak and ate beans and rice at camp as the rain came back. It poured all night. In the morning, we took a rainy hike to Emerald Pools. The waterfalls were on high after all the rain. It was nice and without the endless stream of people Randy cheered up a little. He kept talking about the West that he knew where there were only a few people. He also loves embellishment, so there's nearly no way to know if anything he says is accurate. In fact, recounting things that happened as little as 5-10 minutes prior will be twisted in ways to make the experience seem more emotional. Randy will also begin many of his stories by saying, "This is a true story..." which makes you wonder if he doesn't say that, it must be a complete fabrication.




At any rate, we managed to make it back to the 4Runner and out to House Rock Valley Rd as the rain kept coming down. The road can be impassible after rains because it's normally dirt, but quickly turns to mud. Randy said we'd make it, but grew more skeptical as the depth of the mud increased. We had the Toyota sideways on many, many occasions, but forward momentum was retained and we plowed deeper into the Vermilion Cliffs area.

In the end, Randy decided to save his back and not risk another rainy hike, so I headed off to visit The Wave. The whole hike was spectacular and The Wave was gorgeous too. Something about those swooping lines is so peaceful and mathematical. I snapped a bunch of photos and wondered my way out. I took a new way out and ran across a huge heard of long-horned sheep. That was awesome. Randy and I headed south to get out on what was supposed to be an easier road, but took a wrong turn and nearly got stuck again. It was hairy driving and Randy was exhausted by the time we hit pavement.




The next day, we headed up to the north side of Zion to Lava Point Campground, but it was closed because the road was flooded. After hemming and hawing for an hour about crossing the overflowing lake, we made a run at it and got across. There was no one on the other side and we had a quiet lunch at the Lava Point Overlook. My original plan was to camp there and then do Pipe Spring Canyon, but it was a long approach, bad weather, Randy hadn't seriously rappelled, and the campground was closed. So I left that on the to-do list. We did find a nice spot to camp just outside the park on Smith Mesa Rd. And as an added treat there was a little canyon walking distance from our camp site.



The following day we circled around to Bryce Canyon across a snowy Cedar Canyon Rd. We had lunch at Rainbow Point and then worked our way into the Escalante. I suggested checking out Golden Cathedral from Egypt TH. On our way out, we found a neat canyon that was nearly impossible to get into but I could free climb out of, so we decided to give it a look. Randy rappelled using a harness for the first time, but didn't like it much. He rather hand-over-hand the line. Inside the slot canyon, we walked a ways down and then came to a rap ring. Interesting, I thought; so this is a real canyoneering spot. But without knowing the length of the canyon, difficulty, weather, or longest rap, I decided it was time to call it a day. I climbed out on gradual slope on the West wall, tossed the rope down to Randy, and he pulled himself out. We then found a killer campsite overlooking Glen Canyon National Park near our trailhead. I flipped through the canyoneering books around the campfire and found our impromptu adventure: Egypt 1.



The next day, I pushed Randy to his limits and we hiked to Golden Cathedral. It was a ~9 mile round-trip hike down into Glen Canyon, through a number of river crossings, and then up to the cavern. We took it slow, but made steady progress. He later called this the "hardest hike of his life." Excellent. The Neon Canyon portion was the funnest for me because it winds its way through the sandstone and then dumps you out at the cathedral. The climb out was toasty once leaving the Escalante river, so I wouldn't recommend this hike for any time in the summer. We kicked back in our camp chairs on the rim of the canyon, cracked a beer, and watched the sunset across the UT canyon country.







The next morning, we decided to reattempt Egypt 1. On the way, I scoped out Egypt 2, which starts with an 80 m rap from the road. That's cool! But Randy wanted no part in it, so we went back to the far more mellow Egypt 1. The beginning was great with some 10-15 ft rappels and tight crawls through the narrow slot. It gets surprisingly deep quickly. The end had one spot of mud that I stemmed across, but Randy took a swim. Luckily the Escalante warmth was upon us and he started to dry quickly. He later said, "That was the craziest thing he's ever done." Perfect.





The next day, we considered exploring Robber's Roost, but it was too far out of the way. Instead, we made a quick stop at the Dan O'Laurie Museum of Moab to learn about the history of the town. Randy was livid at how Moab had grown since he was there in the 80s. It didn't seem that bad to me. We then shot south toward Canyonlands. Instead of fighting for a place to camp in the park, we took an side road in Indian Creek and had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, the next front was rolling in and there were 30 mph and intermittent rain storms. But we got lucky the next day and got to see some of Randy's old favorite Needles spots. We hiked the rock behind Squaw Flat Campground and did the Slickrock Hiking loop. He spared no opportunity to talk with the rangers about how it was when he was there decades ago, how he nearly got swept downstream in Salt Creek when you could drive to Angel Arch, and his love of Peekaboo campground.

But our time was up and I needed to get to Cortez to register for the 12 hours of Mesa Verde. We got squared away in town, ate some authentic Mexican food from a hole-in-the-wall joint, and met up with the crew at the race start.

Spencer led off the team, I rode 2nd, and Josiah was our 3rd man. Spencer crushed his first lap in 1:22. I was riding hard, but then the rain/snow/sleet started again (just like last year!!) and soon the trail turned to mud. All the people that had passed me, I was suddenly dropping in the mud pit. Maybe I have more experience in those conditions? I was just happy to make it too the finish line. 1:36 first lap wasn't terrible. Plus, my back had tightened up with my backpack. The trail was dry for my 2nd lap and I improved to a 1:30. Randy watched the excitement from his camp chair and particularly liked the little jump the group built at the start of the racecourse. The big question was whether I would have the "joy" of getting a 3rd lap in. Spencer took the baton with 1:35 before the cut-off time. So I waited, fully kitted up, to see if he would make it in. He did, with 5 minutes to spare. I rode a completely flat, unmotivated 16-mile lap in 1:39 and came into the staging area just as Josiah cracked an Elevated beer for me. Hurray! The the party really kicked into high gear around the bonfire back in camp.






To wrap up the trip, I treated Randy to monstrous breakfast burrito from Dona Maria in Farmington. He said it was "The best burrito he ever had." Great. Then it was south on 550 and back to work reality.

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Taos Scavenger Hunt, Work Travel, and Spring Paragliding 
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 01:41 PM - Work, Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I talked Jason into letting me borrow his Aliner camper indefinitely but after getting ahold of it, there was so much rat damage it seemed a little overwhelming. I spent 8 hours on Thursday and Friday cleaning out the rat poop and mopping up the rat urine stains. I washed the curtains, oiled the jacks and hitch, bought a new battery and wired it up with a switch on the hydrogen gas capturing box, and then spent 3 trips to autozone to get the proper 7 blade to 4 pin trainer adapter to have brakes and turn signals with the outback. It was a lot of effort, but in the end, the smell was tolerable and I rolled out of the driveway before it was completely dark. Driving that 2000 lb box up the mountains was a stressful experience, but the 2.5 L outback managed well and it held 70 mph up La Bajada hill at 4200 rpm. In TSV, Jason helped me park the Aliner in the middle lot and we turned in after getting the heater working and messing with the battery charger for an hour.




The following morning Jason and I formed "Team Happy Dog Lips" and competed in the New Belgium Scavenger hunt. We spent a couple runs at the beginning trying to find a paddle on a run with mythological connections (Castor, Pollux?) and a German gentle giant who helped the poor (St. B?). Well, it turned out to be on Rubezahl (!), so we wasted a good hour doing some extreme scavenging. Then we took one on Reforma to catch the chicken, and one on Trescow with Victor, before coming to our senses and skiing to the Bav. Luckily everyone was already there! With the help of Briana, Josiah, Spencer, Kat, and others, we didn't found the tutus, Yeti, Park Ranger, and a bunch of other wild things around the mountain. Yay for crowdsourcing! Toward the end of the day, Josiah got a crew together to ski a topless (well, shirtless for the ladies) run down Al's and we got a loads of shout outs from everyone on the lift. Gotta say that was one of the funniest runs of the year ;) Then it was on to the party at the New Belgium tents, RVs, Tim's, St. B, and points in between.





That night, Taos got 3" of snow, but the wind loaded up some places to 6-8". No one else got up early but I nabbed fresh tracks on Al's, Inferno, Walkeries (3 times in a row), and Wild West before anyone joined me. Some spots were nice and fluffy, but others were windswept and crunchy; the variable conditions were actually quite challenging for the skinnier Nordica Top Fuels and I wrecked a couple times. Sadly I didn't have anyone there for make fun of me.

Monday I flew to San Francisco for the SunSpec meeting. It was good to see all my colleagues, and continue the good work that I'm doing with their trade alliance. I met Timothy and his wife for dinner at Mikkeller's and sampled some of the SF beers. IPAs were good, but I'm still struggling to find the appeal of sours. From there, I flew to DC for a microgrid workshop. Abe's trying to create a massive testing lab consortium and I seem to be getting roped in as one of the leaders. Fortunately, I found time to visit Pearl and Paul and their son, Lee, on Thursday night. As some of my favorite people from my NREL/Boulder formative years, it's so good to reconnect and see how life has taken people in different directions. I got to read Lee's bedtime story. It's nice to have friends across the country.






Returning from DC late on Friday night, I picked up some sort of cold-like illness. I was achy, had chills, no appetite, a headache, and generally just wanted to sleep the rest of the weekend. I had hot and cold episodes all night but recovered fairly well on Saturday while I ran errands and worked through my list of household chores. Saturday morning, I still wasn't 100%, but I got out to Rio Puerco to take the first paragliding flight of the day the Chuck, Jim, Rich, Max, Spencer, and 3 tandem fliers. I only got 1500 AGL, but the air was smooth in the early morning, so I didn't complain much.


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Patagonia: Nahuel Huapi, Navimag, and Torres del Paine 
Monday, February 1, 2016, 08:29 PM - Trips
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Here's a big one. I did 3 weeks in Patagonia with Jeff and Jack. We trekked the Nahuel Huapi Traverse in Bariloche, Argentina, caught a boat ride from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales through the Chilean Fjords, and spent 9 days completing the circuito completo in Torres del Paine. The trip took us through incredible country as you can see!

Final itinerary:
Saturday, Jan 16 - Santiago and flight to Puerto Montt
Sunday, Jan 17 - Tour bus from Puerto Montt to Bariloche
Monday, Jan 18 - Nahuel Huapi Traverse. Villa Catedral chair lift and hike to Refugio Jakob
Tues, Jan 19 - Nahuel Huapi Traverse, Trek to Refugio Laguna Negra
Weds, Jan 20 - Nahuel Huapi Traverse, Hike out via Refugio Lopez
Thurs, Jan 21 - Return bus to Puerto Montt, Chile
Friday, Jan 22 - Puerto Montt fish market and tienda exploration
Jan 23-25 - Navimag Cargo Ship Cruise
Tues, Jan 26 - Travel from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine, camp at El Chileno.
Weds, Jan 27 - Hike up to Las Torres View and trek to Puesto Seron
Thurs, Jan 28 - Hike to Refugio Lago Dickson
Fri, Jan 29 - Hike to Campamento Los Perros
Sat, Jan 30 - Hike past Campamento Paso to Campamento Grey
Sun, Jan 31 - Hike to Refugio Mountain Lodge Paine Grande
Mon, Feb 1 - Rest day. Take Lago Pehoe boat around to Pudeto.
Tues, Feb 2 - Hike to Campamento Italiano. Climb to Britanico.
Weds, Feb 3 - Hike to Cuernos.
Thurs, Feb 4 - Hike to Las Torres. Bus to Puerto Natales.
Fri, Feb 5 - Bus to Punta Arenas, tour Cerveceria Austral.
Sat, Feb 6 - Tour of Isla Magdalena to visit los pinguinos.
Sunday, Feb 7 - Flight home.

Many photos here.


























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Ringing in 2016 in Taos and Silverton 
Sunday, January 3, 2016, 06:40 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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After Christmas in MO and IL, I headed back to the snow and partied with Jason, Victor, and Jeff by skiing the Taos NYE torchlight. There was a great turnout in the ski valley and the snow was wonderfully soft. Afterward Jason and I hiked up to Goldmine and illegally dropped the Kandahar Chutes. It was fun until the choke with all the small trees. I stayed the night in Ojo Caliente with Spencer, Bonnie, Dave, Sammy, and Laura and jammed in the new year with drums, guitars, and a ukulele. We skied Taos the following day and I got a few ridge hikes in - the snow has been really good this year.






Spencer and I went to drove up to Silverton to use one of our free Sundays and entered the Clauson Classic. There were points awarded for silly things and for serious things (like hauling logs to the billboard. Spencer and I started off strong and topped off at the billboard well in the first 10 people. The skiing was terrible - very chattery and exhausting when we were trying to go fast. We skied the chute under Pope Face and took the road back around. And did it all over again only this time slower. And then we did it again, only this time slower again. And I was really beat up by this point. The hour long hikes from the top of the chair at 12,300’ to the Billboard summit at ~13,200' were killer in ski boots. Spencer and I then did one more hike, this time with a massive log in my backpack (bonus points) up to the ramp entrance. I was dead. Spencer and I took our time skiing the frontside through an avalanche path and stopped off in Concussion Woods for a couple beers in celebration of our feats of strength. Then we went to the after party and tallied our scores. I think it was close to the 50% mark, Spencer hauled a few more logs than I did and weaseled out some bonus gnar points from the judges for wearing pink boots, hand carrying his board (like a fool), telling cancer stories, and carrying extra logs so he might have broken into the top 10 (of about 80). Didn't matter much though as the winner did 7 or 8 billboard hikes (he ran). Actually, the winner is fittingly on the US national skimo team.




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Christmas 2015 
Friday, December 25, 2015, 05:02 PM - Trips
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It was nice to be home for the holidays but my grandfather's health has been visibly weighing on the family - especially my grandmother. Alzheimer's, dementia, senility, and weak knees have put him in an old folk's home in a state of perpetual confusion, where nothing that has happened in the last 10 years or so. But he was thrilled to see me and exclaimed "Jaybo!" when he saw me. That said, short term memory has been vaporized by the mysteries of old age. It was particularly hard to hear grandpa talk about how proud he was of my father and everyone in the family. There was an unspoken understanding that I would most likely not see him again - and the same for my brother. We took grandpa back to his Washington home (about 4 blocks away) for Christmas presents and dinner, but the following day he couldn't remember what happened.

In the last 6 months I had read through a book of my grandfather's poetry. I was struck by a number of themes: acceptance (satisfaction?) in his life and his difficulty with growing older and becoming a greater burden and embarrassment for my grandmother. My grandpa commanded language better than I ever will and it was tough to see how his mental capacities had eroded over the years - especially since he was fully aware of the degradation. Yet, at the time I was reading grandpa's poetry, I was struggling with some powerful emotions surrounding my dating struggles, difficulties connecting with people, and the inability to reconcile my life choices. How could I selfishly ski every weekend when I should be doing more for the community? Why fly around the US and world to chase feelings of freedom and adrenaline when I know those flights are destroying the planet? Was my current research path going to result in the global impacts I wanted? And so forth. Those questions remain unresolved and still trouble me today, but I found a lot of comfort in my grandfather's words and I'd like to share some of them for the rest of you. Here are a few verses from the book of poems "When I Be Still" by Rod Johnson.




Sitting By, Frisbee in Hand
Senior citizen stage
confusing
choosing to go along
with family belief:
I'm out of it--
Or for real out of it.
Probably both.
So now what?

Is my life-long way
sitting on the bank
watching life's messiness
pass by
accelerating--
or am I evolving
to take integrity's road
to God energy
LOVE?
"Let go and let God"?

Am I more
coward than spirit?
Hiding out or
being in not of
the world?

I limit
second chakra energy
the "Honor of one another"
the wade into life's stream.
What is life about
if not to live fully?
What would such be like?
A perennial question.

Now this question
has another out: Age
How much do I use it?
How much does it use me?
How much from pre-conscious?
From beliefs? Habits?

Unanswerable.
Come and go of tides.
Yet one
to be pondered
pulled apart
played with
tossed back and forth
like a Frisbee.



Scampering
squirrel scampers high
twig to twig
head first to ground
digs but for a moment
back up
around
over over
ever different
only purpose fun
pleasure in being
so it seems to us porch sitters
we few no longer
desperate for survival

how busy be my fellows
what thrills us?
makes us feel alive?
roller coasters haunted houses
grandkids picking their ways

we use age to lean back
celebrate such energy
relive the show

ah yes other shows
purposeful business
force heaven into being
hold high one-way beliefs
that resent the every which way

that squirrel
smarter than we

Harder
The tide of time
Keeps rising,
The waves lap higher,
The surf pounds harder
Or so with age
It seems
Easy to be knocked
Off balance,
Fearful one will be.

The wise say to
Go with the flow,
Enjoy the ride,
No need to collect
More toys,
No need to sweat
The swells of the sea,
Just be,

One joy
Of aging
Is observing
Such wonders:
The marvel
Of forgetting,
The discovery
Of new creaks,
The surprise
Of needing
To catch breath,
The inclination
To sleep in spurts,
The effort
To bite life off
Given less oomph,

A bit harder,
To adjust,
To find joy that is
In each re-
meaning moment.

Hunger
In this out materialist world
Time is money.
Painting maybe makes 5 cents/hour
Poetry even less
So why do they pay?

When an image grabs one of us
More than for prettiness, pertinence
Painting becomes a joyful emergence
Perhaps like the high of drugs
Without withdrawal symptoms
More like meditation and prayer
Calling us from deep within
Adrenalin jumps, brain gulps, I'm driven,
Drawn to a different colored space.

So too with poetry
Words come when they come
Capriciously
Muse blesses with live phrases, fresh constructs
Drops them in poets' ever salivating mouths
Ambrosia
We love the chewing, swallowing
Digesting, building highs
But often we're stuffed with basic nutrition
Calories to keep the engine chugging, meeting
Commitments in what's called the real world.
Still our mouths stay sagape
Impatient for such elusive necessities
Our jaws triggered to clamp down.

Up-Springing
Long have I scanned,
settled for overviews,
filled with assumption.

But with this April's quickening,
my slowing down, growing old,
less dependent on independence,
my kneeling in loam planting,
the earth has pushed me up
like it sprouts
of which I am a part
subject to the same forces,
invites me to look about,
join pond wee goldfish,
backyard squirrels, rabbits,
its exquisites,
native birds missing winter hand-ons,
they and trees color-tipped for come-ons,
garish to soothing,
red, rust, burgundy, yellow, white,
lavender of rebuds most prefuse,
flower even more wildly experimenting,
the perennials readying to herald the annuals,
all among barely peeping green leaves.

Time to wake up,
Live worlds within worlds.

Gruel
I think of out leader of conviction
Spellbinding us with drowsing takes
Spooning us what slides down.
Gruel.
But, like undernourished kids,
We're beginning to crave solids
Ready to chew on all the squalor
Thanks to New Orleans' scream.

Leave it to us Americans
Who thoughtlessly gulp mush
When what we need
Is our own good heads
Mount our fresh steeds
And gallop into the fray.

Family centered (Excerpts)
….
Family is relationship;
Relationship, energy.
Energy seen blue from space.
In the joy of dancing through our lives
Everything mingles in a splendid
Spindled swirl
All held in the white hand of Love
And Mother Earth.
….
Love possible in family:
Parents crazy about a kid no matter what
Respecting her thinking for herself
Not buying any illusion of separatedness,
Steadfast bonding with penalties.
She pushes away yet ever tethered
Needing interface for self-definition,
Paradox creating lifelong
That kid in each of us.

The void among the sculptured heads
Undifferentiated energy.
Those who resolve the paradox
Awaken to find all is one,
The core meaning of family.

Christmas 2015
The family also shared gifts and ate a lot of good food. We also held the 4th (?) annual photo competition. I spent a few days back in Alto Pass, helped out my dad with some chores around the house, cooked dumplings with Mom, and hiked to the cross.






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