Sunday, January 29, 2017

Town Loop - 3 mile section

Today was mainly for training purposes. It helps to know if you can walk 6 miles before you put yourself in a position to snowshoe 6 miles. So we walked half the loop around our town and saw a few areas that we'd never been before. The Arboretum is always very pretty to walk through. With the more recent significant rain, it was more green and there was more water for the ducks to swim around in. With that rain also came some downed trees. One in particular was a large redwood, which was pretty sad to see. The middle portion of the walk was behind some businesses and along a creek/slough. So it was beautiful on one side and buildings on the other. But still nice. Then into a more residential area behind apartments. With a farm on the other side... some cows were lounging and watching what was going on. About that time it was three miles so we turned around to head back. We stopped for a snack (crunchy sweet potato fries) and ate those as we walked toward home.

All in all a successful training walk. I need to loosen up my hip flexors again so that's good to know. Get to stretching!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Matterhorn Loop - August 2016

(53 miles) Trailhead at Twin Lakes, parking at Mono Village Resort, "nine strong women."

Day 1 (~7 miles) - We started out in Crags Campground where we each grabbed a bear can and either a stove or fuel canister. We had to drive to Annett's Mono Village where the trailhead is, register the cars, and then start out through the RV park.  So the start was nice and gentle through the RV park. We got a few comments, questions, and encouragements. Then it started out gradually up and I'm thinking, oh yeah, I can do this. And then it got real... quick. We passed Barney Lake and then it was up and it was rocky. This was billed as our most difficult day so no surprise that it just kept going up with lots of rock steps. One mule train passed us going the opposite direction. As they were coming toward us, we all looked at the leaders for advice about where to go on the single track with a pretty good drop and mules coming at us. Basically we just pressed ourselves against the upward rock and one of the leaders told us to hold on. lol No incidents. I did struggle with how I felt about the mules traveling over that terrain with all the weight of humans' gear. Everyone else seemed to think they enjoy the work and that they enjoy the 8 months of the year vacation.

We made it to the top of the lollipop stick and "hung a right" toward Peeler Lake. It would have been helpful to know that "Hey! We're at the lake!" does not mean we're done hiking yet. To find camp, we had to continue up and down the rocky edge of the lake... probably another mile. But we found a great site with an obvious kitchen right on a creek. I camped on the granite with a nice granite shelf next to me and a tree for hanging things. Views in every direction!

My campsite

The view from my tent

Day 2 - A "recovery" day through Kerrick Meadow with a bit of a non-recovery climb up Seavey Pass. The meadow was incredible! The trail was about 8 inches wide so we really had to watch our steps. That was difficult since I wanted to look around all the time. As the day progressed, it did get very hot in the wide open space. At some point we crossed a river that was low but still enough to get our feet wet. But one of the group fell on her butt in the water and then couldn't get up because of her pack. Not too dangerous in this situation but a reminder for those harder river crossings to disconnect the waist belt. I think she actually ended up being grateful for the wet pants because of the heat. lol

Eventually we began climbing up Seavey Pass. At that point, another member started feeling sick with gastrointestinal issues. She climbed Seavey like a trooper and we took it a bit slower. We passed a lake, whose name I don't know, where there were a few campsites but they were too small for our group. So we kept climbing just over the pass to a hidden campsite that would fit us. As we started getting settled, the leaders came by and said there was a better site just on the other side of some rocks. So we picked everything up and moved to the new site. I just carried my tent with the poles in it. lol The lake next to the site was pretty sludgy so we had water to cook with but no one swam in it. I did take the opportunity to wash my shirt but it didn't help much. I and another member of the group set up just to the side of the kitchen. That was good for less distance walking while there. BUT... at night I realized that the kitchen is where the bears will likely go first. Oops! But, aside from getting up to go to the bathroom 3 times in the first two hours of the night, all was well.

View from the campsite over the sludgy water

Day 3 - A downhill off Seavey Pass for about 3 miles before taking a .4 mile detour for some swimming, relaxation, and lunch at Benson Lake. While there, a mule/horse train went through with two wranglers(?) and one customer. It was my day to serve lunch and PB&J on tortillas it was. After lunch and some foot maintenance, we headed off for Smedburg Lake where we would spend two nights. It was flat coming out from the lake but then began to climb for a couple miles. The climbing intensified the last 1.5 miles. I was not feeling well by this point so those last miles, including the climbs, were torture. Others did not struggle nearly as much so it was not likely "that" difficult. It was just my day to struggle apparently. At Smedburg Lake, we made camp on the granite on the southwest side with a high kitchen overlooking the lake. Our neighbor was a young man named Seth who asked if he could cook us some fish. Uh. Yeah! About six of us shared a trout but even with just one bite, I could tell it was scrumptious! Dinner was tomato soup and polenta stew.

Day 4 - A rest day for four of us while the other five did a dayhike to Surprise Lake. We made pancakes for breakfast and then my time cooking was over for a few days. The dayhikers said it was awesome and beautiful but I enjoyed hanging out at the lake swimming, doing laundry, and reading. When the other five returned, three of us were doing yoga. Volunteer Peak watched over us and was a beautiful site at every stage of the day.

Volunteer Peak

Day 5 - After a rest day, it was not too easy to get up and get going. But I definitely felt rested. Off we went to finally make our way into Matterhorn Canyon. Wow! We made our way over Benson Pass, which did not seem too much. As we traveled through Matterhorn Canyon, we were approaching Burro Pass, our main goal for the day. We stopped for lunch at the headwaters of Matterhorn Creek. A few drank directly from the creek since there is no crossover above that point. No one got sick so must be okay. I didn't risk it. After a good lunch (hummus and crackers), we headed out toward Burro Pass, which we'd had trouble pointing out while sitting for lunch. It was not where we thought it was but we were close. It was a hot dry climb up numerous switchbacks for about 45-minutes. When we reached the top, there was a snow drift that we were able to play in to cool off. The 360 degree views were amazing! Totally worth the work it took to get to that point. Aside from dropping from aircraft, there is no other way a person could get there and that felt incredible. This was the only day we saw no other people. All day. Just us! About 1.5 miles down from the pass and through a meadow, we made camp on the river in a beautiful granite and wooded site. I found a wonderful freezing cold "bathtub" in the river to sit in.

Matterhorn Canyon

Day 6 - Another day, another pass. This time Mule Pass. Not much creativity in naming these passes. Ha! Another hike through a meadow with a bit of minor ups and downs and a build up to the pass. It was much less elevation increase and we planned to eat lunch at the top. But once we got there, it didn't seem like a great place to stay. So we continued on a bit further and found a rock overhang with some rock fall and snow where we ate lunch. We crawled under the rock and found a great place to sit, soak our feet and eat lunch. I had the most comfortable chair during this time that I had the entire trip! Ha! Over Mule Pass and on to Crown Lake. All gradual downhill. Ahh! We could see Crown Lake from a ways off and could see that there were people on the northeast side where it looked like the best sites were. When we finally got to the lake ourselves, seven of us waited until the two leaders ran around the entire wilderness looking for a place to camp. We ended up staying put where we were. The walk to the lake was about .5 miles but worth it for the cold relief. The night was cool and clear with lots of shooting stars and we stayed up a little later than usual talking and playing cards. Our last night out. 

Day 7 - We got up early and started out a bit slow. I don't think any of us wanted to be done with the trip. Even though we also wanted to be done with the trip! Off we went toward Barney Lake. The first part of the trail was pretty gentle up and down but then the rocks and boulders took over. Another mule train passed by going up. And before I knew it, I could see the beach on Barney Lake where we were heading. And then... we were there. Sitting on the sand eating lunch... Babybell cheese, crackers, and some nuts. Some swimming and some feet soaking. Then other groups starting showing up and it seemed like it was time to get out. It was through meadows with ongoing "just one more look" at the scenery we were leaving. But, as one of the leaders said, "we can smell the barn!" and were hiking faster than we had the entire trip. Despite our speed, the trail seemed to keep going on and on. Several of us had to go to the bathroom so that didn't help matters. The trail basically ends at an RV Resort at Mono Village Resort so there were bathrooms... with toilets... available. Wahoo! Back at the parking lot, we got our boots off asap before sharing any last thoughts, feelings, etc. Then it was time for some food and drink before heading home.

An incredible adventure with some incredible women! I would totally recommend the Matterhorn Loop to anyone wanting to disconnect from electronics and the rush of life.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Snowshoeing Sierra-at-Tahoe

While our friends were downhill skiing, we had planned to cross-country ski. But the snow is a little slushy and the trail was quite short so it didn't seem worth taking out the equipment. Instead we donned our snowshoes and went tromping around near the snowshoe trail provided at Sierra-at-Tahoe. It is a lollipop loop that passes a tubing hill that seemed mostly for kids.

It was a nice area and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere... until a car drove past on a road that we could see from the trail but didn't know we could see. lol

So if you find yourself in the area and you just want a quick get out, this is a pretty good place to go, particularly if you have children who might want to take advantage of the tubing hill.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stebbins Cold Creek Canyon

Ah those stairs! Love them. The trail starts off Highway 128 where the parking is pretty limited. It's a pretty gentle hike for the first mile or so and then... the stairs. But, once up the stairs, it's a more gradual ascent. There's a nice place to stop for a rest where three trails intersect. We went right, up the spine. It's a pretty steep climb but the trail is well maintained. Any time you want to stop for a rest, there's a beautiful view any way you look. Lake Berryessa is the most obvious scenery that you'll see. Once you make your way over the spine, it's down down down via several switchbacks. It's also where you'll run into more people coming up the opposite direction.

Once you get down, the traffic will probably be worse so be careful walking along the road to your car. Then head down for a bite and/or drink in Winters. Lots of cute places to check out.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing - Big Sky, Montana

I went snowshoeing yesterday and cross-country skiing at about 7000 feet today. I got to Big Sky, Montana yesterday and haven't had any issues with headaches or any other altitude issues. I've been drinking water like crazy so I'm sure that is helping. I'm also not drinking coffee after my usual one. In the past when I've been here. I've had coffee all day. Uhh… why?

Anyway, the snow has been great. I could definitely feel the lack of oxygen but I haven't really feel limited at all. I was pleasantly surprised!

Snowshoeing takes off from Big Sky Resort and crosses over the ski hill into the woods where the Zip Line then flies overhead. The trail is easy to follow as it goes in and out of the woods, sometimes paralleling a ski run. At the top of the trail, you can go right or left. I went left, which took me to a Yurt where they apparently host dinners for people who are carted up there in some kind of motor drawn sleigh. The trail is back the same way but with more familiarity, it was more comfortable to go off trail a bit.

Skiing was at the Long Mountain Ranch where the trails were very well groomed. About 10 of us took the shuttle from the resort. We climbed pretty consistently for about 3 miles and then realized that we wouldn't be able to make the entire loop we were trying to complete and we needed to catch the shuttle. The downhill was pretty interesting after not cross-country skiing for two years. I snowplowed a lot of the way down and then tried the groomed tracks. My body didn't remember what to do on a corner and my mind wasn't quick enough to adjust. So the skis went out of the track and I slid across the skate ski track and fell into the powder. POOF! Didn't get hurt at all but I couldn't get out. lol Gary, one of the two men I was skiing with, was waiting for me to come around the corner to get a photo of me. He said he didn't take a picture of me when I fell but then teased that maybe it would show up randomly somewhere. I hope he did!! He also had to pull me out of the powder. About 2 minutes later, Marshall came around a different corner and he fell too. We continued down toward the ranch and ran into the 7 other people in our party who had been taking a lesson. So we all got to finish together.

A great few hours out in the cold fresh air of Montana getting some exercise. Awesome!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Cold New Year in the Redwoods

We spent New Year's Eve at Samuel P. Taylor State Park hidden from the sun. There weren't many people there on December 30th but it seemed pretty populated for December 31st. Most people seem to have celebrated New Year from a different time zone, us included. But there was a bit of noise at midnight for a few seconds… and then silence.

We had a couple visits from raccoons while we were still finishing dinner. We learned from last time to put food away right immediately but they didn't even have the manners to wait until we were done eating. One of them actually got away with a box of crackers! Bugger! I don't know if it was the same one or not, but we had another visit later after all the food was put away. It walked up on the table and seemed to look at us like we were not following protocol by having put our food away. We made noise and, of course, it took off. But with our headlamps, we could see its beady little eyes looking at us from a tree with his bandit mask on.

We also used our Dutch Oven for the first time and I followed a very easy recipe for Monkey Bread…. basically cinnamon buns. I burned the bottom in the fire a little but the rest was baked perfectly and tasted awesome. I just need to learn some of the finer points of Dutch Oven cooking. Good first effort though!

For future reference, camping in the redwoods in the winter is just a tad cold. The sun doesn't penetrate the cover so the ground never warms up and the air is always chilled and humid. Even Jambo was cold! Can't complain too much with what the midwest is going through with their constant below 0 temps. But I can comment anyway.

Finally, we were in Site 14, which we did not reserve. It was right next to Site 16, which we had last time. Site 14 was a good site with just enough space for our tent with garage attached. The car was able to block us from people driving by and there was good tree cover between sites so it was pretty private. I would stay in that site again at SPT SP.

Endnote: Just an FYI that we spent Christmas in Las Vegas. So we had the full spectrum of celebrations this season!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Honeymoon - Newport, OR - Day 5

Last day of our honeymoon. We both woke up very early and noticed that it was raining. Apparently Bozo had been up for a little while and couldn't get back to sleep. Then we opened the sliding glass door to hear the rain and the waves and she was out! lol How are we ever going to sleep at home again??

Up around 9am for breakfast, which wasn't too bad for a larger hotel. They had square egg patties that Bozo made into a little sandwich. The rest was the usual bread, cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal fare with a waffle maker to boot.

During our breakfast we also saw the news about the LAX shooting. We had seen bits and pieces here and there but chose not to listen further until today. We just didn't want to disturb our minds with the information. Our flight today was not impacted and it seems like only flights from home that may connect with LA are impacted. So, we were on schedule. Until there was a mechanical issue and we needed to change planes. But it was only about half an hour delay so that was okay.

Our drive from Newport to the Portland Airport was beautiful. It alternated from sunny to foggy to rainy and back again. We were going through forest much of the time and took a bit longer route through Salem to avoid getting on I-5 quite as quickly. We stopped at a Country Pride restaurant at a truck stop and had a good fried lunch. The server was awesome! Apparently we looked like we were in a hurry so she rushed us along. We weren't in as much of a hurry as we apparently looked. But it was good to have fast service! When we got off at the last exit before the airport for gas, it was raining and started to hail just slightly. I yelled, "NOOOO! We have to get under the gas station cover!" We hadn't gotten any extra insurance for the rental car. lol The last thing we needed was hail in our last 10 minutes with the car! No worries. The hail ended quickly.

No trouble returning the car and the shuttle from Alamo Car Rentals to the Portland International Airport departures was about half the time as it was to get to the car rental. That was a nice surprise! We had planned for at least 20 minutes since that's what it took to get there.

Nothing much different at the airport except TSA had black bands on their badges. There may have been more security but it wasn't overwhelming and getting through was just as fast. Though I have to acknowledge that we are both middle aged white women and have the privilege of not generally being the ones profiled. So others' experiences may have been different during this time particularly.

The flight was mostly uneventful. Just a bit of turbulence that made the flight attendants sit. I kept saying that as long as he was handling coffee, we were okay. Then he sat. Arrgh! Didn't last long though. Because of the plane switch, we missed our city bus and had to wait an extra 45 minutes. No big deal in general but the waiting time was beginning to add up and we were ready to just be home.

Finally home, all was intact… with the pungent smell of burlap still in the air! lol We made a quick trip to the post office and picked up a package…. a gift… from REI! Yes!

The Honeymoon was exactly as a Honeymoon should be! And now we settle back in to our lives!

Remember to move the clocks back an hour tonight!!

View from our room at the Elizabeth Street Inn