Cold Adventures - January 2017  
Saturday, January 28, 2017, 04:27 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
I attended an excellent scenario-based AMRC training on a brutally cold, windy Saturday morning. Hans and I we're on the strike team with Aspen and we discovered a patient had fallen off the limestone band of the Sandias near the Tombstone. Hans and I traversed around to reach the subject, while Aspen sorted out her plan for extraction. I clipped in the subject, before noticing it was a prospective member of the team and fellow Sandia ski team captain, Evan! Hans attended to the broken leg, while I worked on securing the patient to another tree above and boiling water for hot soup/tea. Frank came down and we loaded Evan on the skedco and worked him up the limestone band. I cleaned up the ledge while others hauled the patient to the parking lot. Car-to-car in 2 hours! Not bad.









The next day, Sunday, Jess and I joined Jason and his new dog, Dante, for a Embudo loop hike up to Oso Pass. Similar to this. It was actually a pretty solid hike of 8.5 mi with 2400' of climbing. Dante was loving every minute of it too!




The next weekend, I was lured up to Taos with a 10-12" forecast. I drove up early on Saturday, but without any signs of a storm, went to Black Rock Hot Springs with Bonnie, Dave, Josiah, and Briana. The camper banged its way through the mud and snow to John Dunn Bridge and to a wonderful little spot overlooking the Rio Grande. After a nice long soak, we headed up the hill to the ski valley for the St. B party. The next day only had about 3-4"--a complete disappointment--but we all made the most of it by hitting all our favorite steeps.








The next weekend, it was only calling for 2-3" but the snows came, and they came hard! Jess and I went up and skied with Jeff on Friday for a great powder day. We hit an untracked Donkey Serenade for deep powder turns and lapped the What Chutes and Highline. Unfortunately, I choose very poorly for my last run in the Waterfowl Area where I dropped the lip and got about 1/2 turn in before hitting a big rock and then pinballing for 30 feet through a rock garden while my skis skittered across the obstacles. It was awful, but I was luckily uninjured. Now I remember why I never enter from that spot!






(This looked good, but it was a rock garden!)

Saturday was the first Corporate Cup race of the year at Red River. It was snowing like crazy so the conditions were a little questionable. I skied my standard middle-of-the-pack speed. Then Jeff, Jess, and I explored the limited, but untracked terrain in Red. The Aspens were particularly nice. At the end of the day, Jeff decided to stick around for a Sunday pow day at Taos. Jess had to work, but we found a ride back for her with some of the Lobo team. Back at the camper, I had to shovel for a good hour to dig out from a day of heavy snow.




It snowed fat until 11pm and Jeff and I wondered around the TSV happy in the fact the next day was going to be excellent. Bonnie spotted us and made us come in to the Blonde Bear for a beer, but we turned in early. The next day was a 13" day at Taos and one of my favorite days on skis. Not much was open early, but Jeff and I got waist-deep fresh tracks in Pollux and Castor. Then we slipped over to an untouched chute in Lorelei Trees and lapped hikes: Cuervo, Sauza, Billy Sol/Two Bucks, Wild West, and Juarez. I showed Jeff the cliff that spenser hit in Sauza. I chicked out, but went for it and completely cratered. We found one of his skis 200 feet down the mountain! At the end, we linked up with Briana and Dave for a couple runs. What a killer day!






(Jeff sending the Sauza cliff)

(Jeff's missing ski... after cratering)

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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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Lost hikers in TWA Canyon and the AMRC Rescue Challenge 
Thursday, December 8, 2016, 10:39 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
I responded to a mountain rescue pageout for a couple lost hikers in TWA canyon. The last cell phone ping we had, put them on the trail directly under the tram, so Justin, Aspen, Leigh, Frank, Pete and I caught a lift up the tram to the top to search from the top while another team headed up Domingo Baca. As it turned out the ping was way off - and we were at the coordinates when the other team found the patients (approximately 1 km away). They were in good condition, so we walk them out with the other team.







Andy put on another skills-based rescue challenge this year. We did rappelling, ascending, knots, mechanical advantage, and crevasse rescue stations this year by the Eye of the Sandias. It went much smoother than in years past, and we finished up close to noon so we could hold the annual party on time. This year, I proudly earned my 5-year AMRC service pin.






Oh, and we've started up the Karl and Rose weekday night rides again. These are dark and chilly, but a great way to get a few MTB miles in during the winter.


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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
Posted by Administrator
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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Birthday Super RTM and Snowzobra/Gelande Quaffing 
Thursday, October 20, 2016, 08:52 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I spent my birthday doing what I love: pushing through my limits in the mountains. I combined two of ABQ's hardest road rides into something a little insane. A ride that totalled nearly 11 hrs door-to-door (10 hrs in the saddle), 108 miles, and 10,000 ft of climbing. I did the "round the mountain" ride starting about 8am from my place, down Lead to the Bosque Trail and fought a north headwind to Bernalillo. I climbed past Placitas and hit the gravel stretch around 10:30am. That part is brutally relentless climbing over rocks, gravel, and dirt at a crawl for 7-miles. By noon I intersected the paved crest road 536, but turned right to climb the 2000 ft to the top of Sandia Peak. I summitted at 1am and ripped down the hill to have a big lunch burrito at Lazy Lizard. This is the point where any normal cyclist would go home, but instead I stashed my backpack under a tree and reclimbed the 4000 ft to the top of Sandia (in a relaxed 2 1/2 hrs). I didn't think I would make it, but the legs didn't cramp and the podcasts took my mind off the knee pain. I limped into the top and snagged a summit photo at nearly 5pm. From there it was nearly all downhill. I tucked into the standard 40 mph descent, turned right to Tijeras, and rode into a blinding setting sun and up-canyon wind back to my place at 6:45pm. Overall the body felt good the whole day. The Cytomax hydration and Taos Mountain Bar nutrition seemed to work for the extended effort. Unfortunately, my phone had some trouble holding a GPS signal and I didn't get my official stats for what may be the hardest century ride in the state!



2nd Sandia Peak summit of the day after 10,000 ft of climbing!


Birthday dinner: beer and ibuprofen.



I also hosted this year's Snowzobra "Pray For Snow" Party. It was perhaps the best year yet--which is saying a lot because this party has had some rather storied history including ice luges, flaming skis, a full matanza feast, and that one time we made the nightly news. But this year we had 75 people show up to burn the Snowzobra and I started Albuquerque's First Annual Gelande Quaffing Championships. Oh and I also went the extra mile to weld up a monstrous, 12' tall effigy skeleton made of rebar to appease Ullr using Supra's wire-feed welder.

I also built the setup for Gelande Quaffing - a drinking game that originates from the darkest recesses of ski culture (Jackson Hole). This was the centerpiece of this year's festivities so I had everyone cajole their closest friends and remotest colleagues to partake in the event. 4-person teams caught airborne beer with one hand to score points. I was convinced that the Josiah, Spencer, Sam, Jay team would be unbeatable, but when it came to the championship round, a few beers were dropped (Spenc and Sam!), and we fell 19-20 to a co-ed team (Kelley, Laura, Dave, Nathan) that threw a perfect game of 10 for 10 handle catches.





More on Gelande Quaffing:




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South Boundary and Tim & Sharon's Wedding 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 08:11 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
A tradition as old as Snowzobra, the masses have gathered at Garcia Park for mountain biking bliss. This year we timed the Aspens perfectly. There were bonfires, keg beer, one very rough icing, a broken finger, nudity, 4 flat repairs (on the same bike), and somehow 10 people cruised through the golden leaves back down to Taos successfully.








On Sunday, the group split up and Briana, Spencer, and I mountain biked up to Frazer Mountain in TSV. It was a horrible series of 25% grade climbs to the top and I was embarrassed that Briana beat me to the top. The views were amazing and the crest ride and singletrak return was super fun. It was definitely the $10 to ride out toward Wheeler.




The next weekend, I went to Durango for Tim and Sharon's wedding. I stayed with Mike and Allison on Friday night and Mike and I got a great ride in on Saturday morning down Haflin Creek Trail. It was incredibly steep, but super fun and the views were stunning.

The AMRC crew showed up in force as usual for the wedding. The ceremony was simple and sweet in the aspens outside of DMR. Then we went back to the ski lodge for dinner and the highlight: the AMRC crew sang Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker's "Love Lift Us Up" in red wigs (Tim and Sharon are gingers). I led the male part and Angela sang the female part, and I hope no videos of the performance ever appear on social media!






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AIT, Golden, Jeff's Birthday, Brewfest, and points in between 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 07:24 PM - Work, Weekend Fun, Week activities
Posted by Administrator
Here's a bunch of random things:

AIT Visit. I hosted a couple colleagues from the Austrian Institute of Technology in the lab to work on hardware-in-the-loop testing of a smart inverter. It was great to have Roland visit, as the two of us have shared some fun times in Japan, India, and France.




NREL meetings. I had a bunch of GMLC meetings in Golden, which sounds boring--and it was--but Spencer lives 5 minutes from NREL and he had a spare mountain bike! We rode over the mesa to dinner and had a couple local brews along the way. It was great to ride again with my ex-housemate while on work travel.

Flying. I went paragliding again - I took my 30th flight and finally got my P-2 rating!



Bike and Brew. Jeff had a bike pub ride for his birthday. He had a good time.



AMRC Brewfest. I survived 12 hours of volunteering at the AMRC Brewfest. Love that event because I see so many of my friends.



UNM talk. Thursday, I gave a talk at UNM on my solar research. "The Science & Society Distinguished The Public Talks are co-sponsored by the Albuquerque Section of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and its Life Members Affinity Group, Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society), the UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy, and the UNM Division of Continuing Education."

AMRC mission. The next weekend I responded to a stuck climber at Diablo Canyon - but the rest of the team beat me there and got them free before I could be fielded.

Tennis. Jess and I played about 20 minutes of tennis before getting completely soaked in a monsoon deluge.


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Talia's Wedding at Hunter Mountain, NY 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 07:20 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
In a not-so-well-thought-out plan, I caught the last flight to Albany NY on a Friday night. I got in at 12:30 and barely got my Avis rental before they closed up shop in the airport. I drove 1.5 hours south toward Hunter Mountain and hoped that I could find some sort of camping. I lucked out and ran across the Kaaterskill Forest's North/South Lake Campground. Of course it was 2am and pitch black so I meandered through camp until I found an empty spot and threw my tent up. I was woken up by a somewhat irate woman at 7am who was convinced the spot I had taken was her family's. I politely packed up, explained my situation, and took off. I never did figure out how the system worked because there wasn't a pay station, but I was rested enough to begin to explore this new part of the country.

I opted to hike up to Kaaterskill Falls, once a very famous place for painting and poetry, now it's a hot spot for Instragram and facebook check ins. The falls were spectacular even with the low flow rate. I was also thankful to get a little exercise before linking up with the crew.





Paul, Pearl, baby Lee, Dro, Nicole, Rebecca, and I rented an AirBnB a couple blocks from the Hunter Mountain ski lifts. The crew of former NREL interns has stayed remarkably close over all these years and this did act like our 10-year reunion. All these folks are such incredibly intelligent and hard working people. (Excluding the toddler, I'm the only one who didn't have a Ph.D.!)

We picked up where we left off, goofing off and talking energy policy. We met up with the wedding crew that evening for dinner and and drinks. Russell also showed up with his girlfriend - and it was great to see him happy again.

The next day we squeezed in a hike with Lee. Dro and I provided the entertainment by chucking giant rocks into the creek. Lee loved that!





Then we loaded up on the ski chair and were whisked up to top of the mountain for the ceremony. It was a beautiful day and Talia looked so happy. I hadn't been to a Jewish wedding before, so it was fun: they really do that chair dance thing! We partied the night away and had a fire back at the house where we (once again) plotted world domination.




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Sandia Hikes and Flying at the Craters 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 06:27 PM - Weekend Fun, Week activities
Posted by Administrator
Taking advantage of the nice Sept weather (i.e., dodging the recent monsoons), Jess and I hiked La Luz from the tram after work one Thursday night. We got out of the parking lot a little after 5pm, so I knew that we were going to struggle to make the last 9pm tram. There was a great sunset and then it got dark around the rock slide. I pulled out the headlamps and we pushed on but we skipped the upper shortcuts because they were so steep and Jess's calves were tired. We finished off the 9-mile, 3900 ft climb at 8:50 and grabbed the last tram back down the hill - that was a close one!






Not much later, JJ and I hiked up to the TWA crash. The Domingo Baca Trail was well marked up to the crash site, but then we kept going to the crest and it got mighty steep and then the trail vanished for the last 500 ft. Why? I have no idea, but it's probably to keep La Luz hikers from inadvertently dropping down the TWA canyon. It was really cool to finally get up to the crash site because this incident was the start of the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Team where I volunteer.






It's also green chile season! :)


Paragliding at the Craters in AZ
Aug 26th I flew out and back to Berkeley for a work trip. I landed back in ABQ at 7:30pm and drove 4.5 hours to outside of Leupp, AZ to a paragliding site called Sheba Crater. I was dogsitting Jason's pup, Chama, so he got to accompany me on the trip. It was a warmish night and I slept in the Outback with the rear hatch open so I had more foot space. The coyotes howled through the night so it was nice to have Chama there to keep an eye out. He didn’t seem to be bothered by them.



At 6am, a storm rolled in and provided a great rainbow in the early morning. When the rain finally started, I let Chama into the car with me and I took a couple minutes to warm him up and help dry him out when I noticed he was trembling. He slept by my side until I got up around 7:30am. Five of us paraglider pilots met up that Saturday morning at Sheba. Spencer brought his smaller Border Collie/Terrier mix, Ellie, and Chama played for a while. The rain started again so we went to Flagstaff to get coffee and wait out the storm. At 11:00, we drove an hour south to another paragliding site called Apache Maid. No one flew because the launch was difficult and mid-day thermals are typically unfriendly.





We drove back to the more beginner-friendly Sheba launch site. Since the wind was from the North, we decided to move again. Chasing the wind is common for paraglider pilots. We went around to an easy launch site on the North side of Mirriam Crater, a larger volcano next to Sheba. From there, we kited and took a couple sled runs off the bench to the field below. The flights were less than 5 minutes each but it was still good to finally get into the air. At the end of the evening, toward sunset, the winds shifted East so I never got a final flight. Instead, we had a couple beers and then drove to Flagstaff to get dinner.






Afterwards, I noticed Chama had not eaten anything. He had been going through waves of serious illness (possibly heart cancer) over the last 6 months and not eating was common. I drove the ~30 min to camp near Sheba at 10:45 (35.268832, -111.405448) and Chama barely moved when I opened the door for him. I thought that was strange. His head was on my sleeping bag. I said, “someone had a big day” and I helped him out of the car. He walked around a little and I set his food out for him. As I was getting my toothbrush and tent out of the car, I also noticed Chama defecated in the car. I was worried at this point. I knew Chama was beginning to re-enter one of his low points. (A few month before he developed terrible ascites, didn't eat or move for 5 days, and came within a hair of death.) However, he was mobile now and seemed strong all day, so I figured he was ok. I was completely exhausted so I quickly setup my tent and collapsed into bed. When I got out of the tent at 7am Sunday morning, I walked over to check on Chama. The food was untouched and he was lying under the car. I said, ‘Good morning, Chama!’ but there was no response. I gave him a nudge. There was no movement. I instantly felt my heart sink and I pulled him out from under the car. He was warm and flexible but I could see there wasn’t any breathing and his tongue was unnaturally hanging out of the side of his mouth. I held him a little bit and looked into his open eyes. “I’m so sorry Chama.” He must have expired 30-60 minutes prior. I packed up camp quickly, let the guys know that I would be leaving (they were still in bed), and drove back to Albuquerque to arrange the cremation per Jason's request. Telling your friend that their dog has died is absolutely awful. If Chama suffered, he didn’t give any indications. We knew he was fighting something chronic that would eventually claim his life, so I was happy to him a great day in the wilderness of Arizona before he went. I saw a smile on his face all day long.
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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
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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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Big Sandia MTB and Leigh and Justin's Wedding 
Monday, July 18, 2016, 07:51 PM - Weekend Fun
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Josiah and I hatched a crazy plan to mountain bike to the top of the Sandias from Nob Hill last weekend. We hit the road from my place at 2:30pm in 101 F temperatures and rode up Route 66 to Tijeras, rested a hot minute, and then rode to Lazy Lizard for an early dinner of pizza and beer. We then started the real adventure and biked up Bill Spring to Oso Corredor to Tree Spring to 10K Trail as the sun set. Those trails are very punchy and we ended up walking a good percentage of the techy spots. But once we spotted High Finance and knew we were running short on time, we pushed our bikes as fast as we could up the ski area to the top and stepped into High Finance at exactly 9pm (closing time!) They were nice enough to get us some artichoke dip and a beer while the other patrons cleared out.

At about 10pm, most people were gone and Josiah and I geared back up for the descent. We had just climbed 6000' and were tired, a smidge tipsy, it was dark, my tire pressure was low, and the trail was impossible to ride in the scree field - but I tried my darndest anyway. Needless to say I eventually got sucked into one of the rock traps, OTB'ed, and broke my bike light attachment. I used a little duct tape to get it back on there, but it failed completely soon after that. My two headlamps were both too weak to ride with, but Josiah had a powerful one so he gave me his light. We pieced our way out of the rock piles and eventually the trail became rideable again for the bottom 4 miles. We hit pavement sometime after midnight. We finished the cruise back to Nob Hill. It was a slog and I was beat up again! 6000' climbing over 55 miles in 10.5 hours!


Bigger

Last weekend, I went up to Leigh and Justin's Wedding in Red Feather Lakes. Along the way, I spent a day in Fort Collins with Spencer for his birthday. First we did this wonderfully awful Horsetooth ride up to the towers. The climb was 1500 ft in 3 miles and included 3 pure interval segments at 20+% grade. Now I know how Spencer got so tough when he lived up there. Then Spencer and I did a proper tour de Fort Collins and visited Road 34, CSU, New Belgium, Odells, and Equinox. Then it was up to the wedding site at Leigh's parents' place on Dowdy Lake.



A good chunk of the wedding attendees camped out and were mountain rescue folks, so there was no shortage of fun to be had. Saturday and Sunday mornings I mountain biked around in the forest around their house. Tobi and I climbed up Mt. Margaret one morning, L&J and crew showed me a great hidden lake, and there was a massive lake party after the ceremony with kayaks and SUPs - I managed to lose the kayaking/beer drinking race because I couldn't easily get to Ang and the beer took a brief swim when I asked her to put it on my paddle: instant disqualification :( The wedding itself was simple and wonderful. Lance presided over the whole thing and got in a few great laughs as usual, and it was the perfect mountain location for my favorite mountain people.






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Arkansas Rafting - Browns Canyon, Royal Gorge, and Upper Bighorn 
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 09:04 PM - Weekend Fun
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Jeanne, Andy, and I drove up on Friday to Salida for a weekend of rafting and kayaking on the Arkansas for our 4th of July. We got very lucky to snag a great camp spot overlooking Silver Creek right at 38.405045, -106.126021. Nearly every spot was taken by the time we got up there, but the rain must have scared someone off because we discovered a dry patch in the shape of a tent footprint there.

Saturday we dropped off a car in town and headed up to Ruby Mt to run Browns Canyon. It was a cold morning and since we were expecting rain in the afternoon, we went up to Buena Vista so Andy could buy a wetsuit. It definitely paid off. We ran the class 3-4 rapids from Ruby Mountain to Salida East in Daniel's 16' boat with 8 paddlers while Aaron and Ren rowed their 12 footer. It was a long day on the river, but lots of fun. Daniel guided on the Arkansas for 5 years so he could point out all sites, give us some history of the place, and tell tall tails of guiding (e.g., full moon trips).

Aaron and Ren flipped in Big Drop, when they hit the big drop. We dried off in the last of the sun before the rain hit. My dry top and wetsuit were well suited for the weather. Others were less comfortable. Below Stone Bridge it got more mellow and I took over as skipper for about an hour. At first I wasn't great giving the rowing commands, but did get better by the end - I only hit about 5 rocks! To top off the day Aaron flipped the boat in the play hole 10 feet from the takeout and Daniel had to throw the rescue line and pull them into shore.








We grabbed dinner and a drink at Elevation Brewing before heading back up the hill to camp. That evening Aaron and Ren also came up to our spot with their Westfalia. It was great to have the dry camper since it was raining most of the evening. They pulled out the BB guns and we took turns shooting beer cans out of the tree. Could there be anything more America for the 4th?




It took some debate but we finally decided to load into Daniel's boat and run the the Royal Gorge (Class 4-5) to Centennial Park. We ran shuttle and headed into the Gorge around noon at a respectable 2000 cfs. Daniel had guided this stretch too but it was still exciting. For one, I shifted into the front spot and got hit with my fair share of waves: there were major wave trains on all the Class 4 spots and we got knocked around pretty well in the narrows. Daniel said he felt like Sunshine Falls and Wall Slammer could be considered Class 5 at this level. It was awesome - just like I remembered it from my CO summers in 2006 and 2008. That night everyone came up to the camp and we had a great BBQ party.




Unfortunately, Crystal got a flat on the drive back Sunday and Cami found a flat Monday morning. We got the spare on easy enough, but what are the odds of two flats in 12 hours!? Needless to say, they were interested in getting new tires before making the long drive back to ABQ, so Jeanne, Andy, and I were left to float the Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon on inflatable kayaks alone for our 4th of July. It was sad the whole gang couldn't join, but we made the most of our 10-mile fun float to Rincon.





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Crested Butte Bike Week 
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 07:34 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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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:

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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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AMRC MTB mission, skydiving, and paragliding practice 
Monday, June 20, 2016, 10:12 PM - Weekend Fun
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The team was called out for an injured mountain biker on King of the Mountain. I tossed my MTB in the back of the car thinking I could ride it in reverse quickly to find him, if needed, but by the time we hit incident base, the firefighters had already spotted the patient and the helicopter was directing AMRC toward him. Zak and Justin were first on scene and then Frank, Craig, and I arrived to provide litter support. I walked up and instantly recognized the injured guy, Misha! I was just at a party with him a couple weeks ago and I've seen him biking from time to time. He had endo'd the 2nd drop on KOM and broken his pelvis. Luckily, we had a nice easy shot straight down the ski hill to the parking lot. I think the whole thing wrapped up in about an hour - nearly record time! We're all wishing you a quick recovery, Misha!



Saturday, Melanie and I drove down to Belen Municipal Airport to skydive. Kendrick had been begging me to go for close to a year, so I had to make due on my promise and hurl my body out of a perfectly good plane. I opted for a tandem, over the first jump course because that meant, "Less thinking, more falling." My colleague Robert and his girlfriend were also wanting to go, so they joined us at the dropzone. We signed the 200-page waiver and proceeded to wait a good while, because only two tandems could go at a time in the tiny 1950's era cessna. I jokingly said that I was glad we didn't have to land in that POS.

It was about 1pm, before Mel and I got our turn. I had freaked out a little on the drive down, but felt calm waiting in the hangar, going through the short instructional class, and boarding the plane. There was a giant dust devil as we walked out the tarmac, which gave everyone a little pause, but the pilot and instructors decided we were good to go. It was a 100 degree day, so we were happy to climb to 10,500 ft AGL (above ground level). At 9,500 ft we spun around and got hooked to the instructors. I was still feeling pretty good. We opened the door and I was still feeling good. Mel got ready and vanished out of the plane and I was good. I got to the door, got me feet on the step, and actually felt great to finally be doing this. The earth was so far away, how could I possibly hit it? All my paragliding's probably got me slightly anesthetized to heights. I leaned my head back and two slow rocks later we pitched out of the door! We immediately inverted and rolled back around. The instructor pulled the drogue chute to keep us at about 120 mph (not 200 without the chute), and I felt us reach terminal velocity. It was awesome! I held my arms out and legs up and it seemed like the ground wasn't moving toward us at all. I checked my altimeter and we were already at 6000' AGL. Holy shit we were falling fast. At 5000', I got the signal and I reached down to pull the ripcord. The chute opened and kicked us back hard. I gave a thumbs up to the camera and took the riser controls. Brian knew that I was a paraglider pilot so he let me fly. The canopy was super stable so I pulled hard left and right to put us in a solid dive, it was so much fun. 5 minutes later, we lined up the dirt landing zone and plopped down. Success!










Sunday, I drove out with Justin to paraglide in Tome. I've grown rusty but got a little kiting experience in the LZ. I got one nice sled ride from 1850 AGL on tow before things got bumpy. Still having trouble getting into the harness, which is a major annoyance, but certainly no safety risk. Now it's just time to finish up this P2 stuff.


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Portland and South Sister 
Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 08:26 PM - Trips
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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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