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
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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
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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
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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
Posted by Administrator
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:

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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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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Road Rash: A Gimp's Life 
Sunday, June 5, 2016, 12:58 PM
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Tuesday, Spencer and I decided to do an after-work road ride down the bosque and then back on N. Diversion Channel. As we were heading down Lead between I-25 and Broadway, I was drafting super close trying to make the light and launch an attack on the bridge climb. Spencer pointed out a manhole cover on the left so I instinctively shifted right, but at the same time, overlapped his rear wheel 3-4 inches. I could see what was about to happen, so I tried to hit the brakes and whip my front wheel around his rear, but I was too late and laid the bike over in the gutter at 33 mph. I got lucky and slid up a driveway and didn't impact the curb full on. My hip got the brunt of the trauma, but I also roughed up my arm and broke my helmet (I think on the driveway). Spencer didn't go down and was able to come up and lend assistance and take photos. We straighten my seat and headset, and I limped back up the hill to my house. The worst pain came when I tried to scrub the debris out of the wounds in the shower. Some crying was involved.





For the next couple weeks, I was mostly out of commission. For Memorial Day weekend, I BBQed with Elise Saturday and car camped up by Cedro Peak with Melanie. The following I DD'd for my friend Jeanne, who was competing with her Babes in Brewland team in the "Battle of the Beer Geeks" as part of the ABQ Beer Week celebrations. They ended up winning with a fruity saison - though I may have voted for one with a little more hops (don't tell Jeanne).





I watched the US fall to Columbia 2-0 in the kickoff of the Copa America with the US Outlaws and then joined Melanie for a drink at Marble for her birthday Friday. Saturday, a big group of 14 mountain bikers rode the Manzano Monster Loop. I ran out of water 3/4 through and bailed at Juan Tomas Rd. Between the lingering injury and my dehydration, it seemed the best idea; I still got a solid 26 miles of riding with the scabbed/tight hip, so that made me happy. Sunday, I went to the Kirtland Air show. I didn't stay long because I could see the planes doing flips, barrel rolls, and other aerial maneuvers from my backyard too.






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Bareboat Chartering Certification in San Diego 
Saturday, May 28, 2016, 11:02 AM - Trips
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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
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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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Briana Bday, UNM Ski Team Banquet, Meow Wolf, Atlanta 
Friday, May 27, 2016, 07:13 PM - General
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Briana threw a swanky party at Effex for her birthday. It was fun.


Our team took 2nd (again!) in the UNM USSC Corporate Cup - but the banquet is always nice and great way to applaud the scholar athletes on the UNM ski team.


Elise and I took the railrunner up to Santa Fe and did a nice 35 mile bike loop around town and explored Meow Wolf - an interactive art piece that left us guessing for hours.



I gave a talk at Brookhaven NL and luckily got a free Saturday morning to explore Fire Island off Long Island. The lighthouse was a great backdrop to my walk on the beach.



I also made a work trip to Atlanta to try to drum up collaborative smart grid research projects with Georgia Tech; but I also got a great Vortex burger and revisited Rocky Mountain Pizza and a couple bars in Little 5. Gotta say that I don't miss Atlanta all that much.

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Taos Closing Weekend 4-1-2016 
Friday, April 1, 2016, 06:26 PM - Weekend Fun
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I've been super behind on updating the blog, but I'm going to try to catch up now...

Per the annual ritual, we got the Bull of the Woods Yurt for Taos' closing weekend. Briana, Josiah, Lisa, Mike, Ximena, Jeff, Sheilah, and myself skinned and snowshoed to the yurt Friday evening and met Spencer at the yurt. He came through with his threats to bring a pony keg of La Cumbre Elevated up to the yurt(!) but said that the climb nearly killed him. We proceeded to run through all the standard games: jenga, twister, heads up, etc. until about 3am.

Saturday, a smaller crew did a backcountry lap behind the yurt but the snow was so sticky that we didn't bother going to gold hill or doing a 2nd lap. Still a fun little shot down that hill on about 70 cm of rock-solid facets. We were at least a little productive and ran some beacon search drills around the yurt in the afternoon for kicks. Dave, Bonnie, and Cat joined the party on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, unfortunately, the snow had melted significantly so we had to walk much of the descent. In bounds, there was still plenty and we did our final rounds to Kachina, Highline, West Basin, Bav, and points in between. The pond skim moved to the backside and was fairly lame, so we made tracks and partied like it was closing day. A moderate protest of locals built up at the end of the day because they closed Highline early (3:45!) - but eventually a couple patrollers came up to give us make our final Juarez run. (Thanks Dave Hahn!) Fantastically fun weekend to end the season!









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Taos Scavenger Hunt, Work Travel, and Spring Paragliding 
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 01:41 PM - Work, Trips, Weekend Fun
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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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AMRC MRA Recert - March 2016 
Sunday, March 6, 2016, 09:43 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator


Mountain rescue teams in the MRA (Mountain Rescue Association) are recertified every 5 years by peers in their region - the rocky mountain region in our case. This last weekend I helped the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council (AMRC) pass the recertification with unanimous positive votes for all 5 scenarios. I led Search Team 3 in the first scenario (search) to look in the hideout climbing canyon for a 67 year old who activated his SPOT device (simulated). The low angle followed and Justin and I led a final team to the base of the technical for a wheel carryout but just as we got involved, the scenario was called. On the high angle, I led Team 3 into the field and brought the litter and other technical gear to the top of a cliff by the Tram base. I assembled the litter, helped with the main front-pretension system, and then ran the main for the lower. At the end of day one, we gathered at the cache for a nice BBQ dinner and drinks. It was great to meet all of our MRA colleagues and get some excellent critiques - many of which I personally took to heart.





On the next day, I messed up from the start and forgot my skins at home so I had to make a run back home before the scenario. I was lucky to rejoin the team at the old triangle grocery and be assigned to the strike team. Kerry put me on the beacon search with Justin and Mike and we cleared the field in record time. I took the right flank and easily cleared the field - Justin stole my beacon at 2.4 meters saying it was his :). I ran the flank, found clues, and ultimately ended up on the probe line that hit the final patient. On the winter technical, I led the technical team to the top of the recert hill, built a "brilliant" bollard, and assembled the raise system with Mike. Everything went smoothly and we passed unanimously.




On a personal note, in the last 5 years on the team I have only seen it grow stronger, faster, fitter, smarter, and more capable. I owe so much to my teammates for their mentorship, trust, and confidence. This team has been my family in Albuquerque. Through their support, I have been fortunate to lend my skills to dozens of people in need to save lives, limbs, digits, and offered closure for grieving families. I feel honored to be on the team and to be there for the New Mexico outdoor community.
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