Thursday, January 27, 2011

Social Distortion at the Majestic Ventura Theater

A quick mention regarding Social D's show last Tuesday...awesome. Mike's still got that gasoline gargling growl. Their new stuff is great, with hints of ZZ Top, Hank Williams, and John Hooker coming through. During the long set they played many of their classics, songs I'd forgotten about even. The first time I saw them was in 1989 in Isla Vista at UCSB and they still kick ass all these years later. I'm a D fan for life. Here's my crappy cell phone pic. Now, time to kick this cold and get back to trail-work.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mt Baker, Cascade Boarding.

I thought I would share some pictures from last week's trip to Bellingham and the Cascades. My parents both live in Bellingham and Ruth and I go that way, too infrequently, to see my parents and to board Mt Baker, home of the world record for single season snowfall.
Above: Mt Baker
Below: Ruth & Sonia
Our first day of boarding we were accompanied by Sonia & Randy, friends of ours from down south. They were in Washington on plans of their own so it was nice to get a day on the slopes with them. And what a cool day it turned out to be. 6-12 new inches of snow, with more coming down. I had a great day getting reacquainted with Baker.
Below: The Nooksack River
Ruth and I spent that first day pushing around perfect sugar powder. There were no lift lines. The food at White Salmon was still good and the lodge cat made an appearance. The white continued to fall from gray skies. I had already uncovered many of my favorite tree trails and bumps and jumps. By mid-afternoon an icy breeze had sprung and a fog began pouring down the mountain. Time to call it an amazing day and a nice evening catching up with my parents.
Day 2 out of 3 dawned gray, gloomy windy and rainy in Bellingham however Ruth and I did sally forth on the off chance that the weather on Baker, 53 miles away, was somehow miraculously ideal. This was not the case, so we went back to Bellingham and hung out for the rest of the day. That evening Ruth and my parents and I had dinner at North Fork Pizza with Ruth's super-nice great aunt, Sharon. Good food, good people.
Above: Sunrise on freshy
Below: Ruth, zooming on by
Below: Pow-day!

Above and below: Mt Shooksan
As you may have guessed from the pictures, our third day at Baker was just stunning with 6 new inches overnight. This is why we board Baker. Take a look at these shots! Blue sky, powder, and possibly the most picturesque views of any ski resort in America! It was our last day and we charged it until the lifts stopped.
Above: Guy hiking up to the out of bounds stuff
Below: The Cascades across the way

Above and below: an eerie fog drops over the ridge

Above: End of the day
Above and Below: Ruthie
Thanks, Mom & Dad for everything. It was nice to see you.
Below: Chuckanut Falls

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peakbagger's 1 day Ojai Triple Crown. Sisar>Hines>Topatopa Bluff>Chief>Thatcher. 28 miles, 7,000 feet of up, 13 hours.

Must start 2011 with a bang. My sick mind devises a linkage of peaks which, perhaps has been done, but I've never heard of it. This route starts in the dark at the Sisar Road trailhead and ends in the dark at Thatcher School, between which, I will ascend Hines Peak, Topa Topa Peak, and Chief Peak. These peaks are all very familiar to me and to the blog, but lately I have been thinking about high mileage linkages and it occurred to me that these three peaks could be put together as a 28 mile one-day walk with 7,000 feet of ascent for a little spice. Crazy right? Yesterday I did it.

The day started at 03:00 when I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. So I got up and hydrated. Drank a bunch of coffee too, of course. A bit after 04:00 I left the house and drove up to Thatcher School in Ojai. My good friend Cliff Griffiths is an early riser and he agreed to meet me at Thatcher and give me a ride into Upper Ojai and all the way up to the Sisar Rd trailhead. Thanks again, Cliff! As we bounced up Sisar in his pick-up we got a sign that this would be a great day. A pair of handsome juvenile foxes crossed the road in the glare of the headlights. Cliff went on to Tar Creek that day and I started what I'm now calling The Triple Crown.
I started in pitch black, walking through an eerie wood, the cold breeze creating a multitude of small noises. Little things stirred outside the cone of light from my lamp. It was chilly and I moved quickly. I made good time as the sun rose. I stopped only briefly at White Ledge before moving ever upward to the bench on the ridge. Here I stashed some hi-tech muscle recovery drinks. My plan was to pick them up on the return trip toward Chief Pk.
I continued east up the fire road to the saddle and started strolling toward Hines, the plan being to knock out the toughest and the tallest peak first. After a break at the Ladybug junction I made short work of the climb up Hines, which was mostly free of snow. I did the usual summit thing: pictures, logs, texts and such while taking in the incredible panorama on this extraordinary January day. The descent was uneventful and I was on my way to Topa Topa.

Done with Hines, sitting atop Topa. Taking in calories and caffeine and NSAIDs and water. Absolutely blocking all thought of distance or time. Those are irrelevant. I will get there when I get there and it will be what it is, but I will get there.
I trudged through the endless miles of ridge road until at last I was at the ugly base of Chief Peak. It's pointy summit protrudes into the fading sky. It tries to look bigger and tougher than it really is. Chief peak is a fraud, it ain't hard. It's just one step after another like this whole damn day has been. My mind is in control. I climb the peak, sit on it's summit, breath it's air. 7 miles to go.

I descend from Chief to the road as the sun begins to set, and ramble through the next many miles. I pass through the Pines and know that I am close. I notice that I have a moon shadow. I take a break to stare at this bright 3/4 moon and the winking stars and I realize that this day has been one of the best days I've had in a while. Every part of the day was beautiful, mild, clear and bold. I realize that I feel pretty good for having walked 26 miles so far. Yes, a very good day.
With a bright light over my left shoulder I decided to walk the remaining 3 miles to the truck without using my headlamp. It was just too fine an evening to use artificial light, even in the darkest forest bottoms. I walked quietly to the accompaniment of frogs and crickets and even negotiated Horn Canyon's 4 creek crossings without difficulty, which considering my proclivity for falling in moving water is surprising. This was a really nice night walk.
Well, I done it! Here's the time-line:
Sisar Road (start): 05:35
White Ledge Camp: 07:05/mile 4.5
Bench on the Ridge: 08:10/mile 6.5
Saddle: 09:05/mile 8
Lady Bug Junction: 09:55/mile 11
Hines Peak summit: 10:30/mile 11.5
Topa Topa summit: 12:15/mile 14
Chief Peak: 15:10/mile 20
Horn Canyon Trail: 16:40/mile 24
Thatcher School: 18:35/mile 28 Total Time: 13:00 hrs