Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A few of Crash's favorite outdoor pics of 2010

As we wrap up the year I thought I'd go back through some of the pictures I've posted this last year and share with you a few of my favorites. I may add a few more but this is a good start. Enjoy.

Above: This little mountain king snake was a rare find, and quite a treat (until he started biting me).
Above: I got this picture just last week. The lady bugs, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, had blanketed a small area of the forest. As I passed through I collected quite a few of the airborne ones.
Above: God-rays over Upper Ojai.
Above: Manzanita clinging to the ridge that ascends Hines Peak.
Above: Myself, taken by Dave Rivas while ascending St. Jean Couloir on Split Mountain. That's Red Lake below. This route really kicked our ass the whole way to the summit. The glissade down the chute was wild.
Above: I took this shot of my wife Ruth on a beautiful blue-bird day at Big Bear. This picture says "easy cruisin'" to me, and I've got the hots for that boarder chick.
Above: I shot this beautiful bear print a few weeks ago on the Horn Canyon Trail in Ojai. These tracks, and the tracks of her cub were still warmer than the surrounding soil. I followed the tracks up the trail for over a mile.
Above: I got this shot of Dave Rivas as we climbed Middle Palisade. I like everything about how this shot is framed, the exposure of the climb and the contrast of the glacier below.
Above: I found this tarantula (dead) floating down Matilija Creek on top a clump of algae. I just think this is a really cool picture. Pardon.
Above: I nearly stepped on this beautiful butterfly frozen in spring-water and sediment.
Above: Myself, at the false summit of Middle Palisade. Dave Rivas took this shot while I was looking around, momentarily confused about which way to go. We had just raced up the peak in capitol style. It was a good day.
Above: Self portrait looking down the north-west ridge White Mountain at sunrise. I was feeling pretty good about life right then. Taken using iphone.
Above: This shot was taken in Horseshoe Meadows, a High Sierra paradise.
Above: This picture of a high sierra lake at sunrise has gotten a number of hits on Flickr.
Above: I got lucky all the way around with this shot of the transient waterfall that runs off a mesa near Bear Heaven, Los Padres NF.
Above: How many of my favorite photos have originated in Tar Creek? I do know that every time I go down that canyon I see something in a new light.
Above: Even with a wide-angle lens (which I didn't have) I couldn't have really shot the enormity of the Big Narrows.
Above: I really like this self-taken shot. Atop White Mountain. I like it's sense of space.
Below: I went for an unusual perspective when I got this picture of Nevada Falls in Yosemite.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The best Christmas present I hope to never use. Rollin' with SPOT!

So here's what I got for Christmas, SPOT. This nifty little device locates or tracks you. In tracking mode (which I haven't tried yet) the SPOT takes a GPS waypoint every 10 minutes, which allows you to create a plot track for your movements, speed, distance (I'm not sure yet how user-friendly the plot-track interface is, but it sounds cool). The SPOT allows one to send up to 10 contacts a preprepared message via email & text message that can be customized to the recipient. For instance, I may say, "Doin' fine, happy, dirty, and tired. No problems." to several friends and send a more personalized message to my wife.
The real genius in this little gadget is it's ability to send an SOS anywhere in the world. When activated, the people at SPOT will contact the appropriate agencies to initiate rescue, and notify designated contacts. This service comes with a one year subscription of $99. For an additional $14/year a SPOT subscriber can purchase a $100,000 Rescue Insurance policy that covers costs associated with helicopter rescue, ground transport, and medical expenses. So, for $113/year I have a silent partner on my solo trips.
Those of you who know me are aware that most of my trail days are spent solo. I like being alone but I also realize that there is no safety net in the back-country. This device won't activate itself if I get brained by a falling rock (but then, I'd be a vegetable anyway), but it does provide a huge, potentially life-saving service. In many of my posts I have tried to relate that personal safety in the mountains is the hiker's responsibility and that if at all possible one has a responsibility to get oneself out of the jam they got themselves into. This SPOT is me living the line. I figure this gadget is a bit like a never need one until you NEED one. It's the best little Christmas present I hope to never use.

Matilija Falls, 12-24-10

Christmas Eve. What to do? I could (and did) clean the house. Presents are wrapped. The Christmas prime rib is brining in kosher salt and rosemary. The pie is made. Wow, I guess I'll go for a run. Why not take a peek at Matilija Falls?
I only had a few hours to devote to being outdoors and didn't get started until about 10:30. I remember scrambling up this canyon after the "biblical flood of 2005" and I expected the creek to be running swift and high, though in the end, the creek was easily negotiated. I made up it to the west falls, the double falls on the left. The canyon is in good shape, no significant changes ala flood waters, mud and rock slides where you'd expect to see them. T'was just a very pretty Christmas Eve, running one of my favorite canyons.
My only gripe for the day is that my camera battery died leaving me with the crappy camera on my iphone, so, sorry about some of the image quality, or lack thereof. Merry Christmas!

Snow Summit after the storm, 12/23/10

First turns of the new season! About time! I spent all of last week watching the rain park over SoCal, watching the rain wipe out the local resorts, praying for the snow level to drop. Last Tuesday the temps dropped enough to deposit 2 fresh feet of white on Big Bear. Ruth and I got there early and got on the runs while the off-trail tree stuff was untracked. Ruth got to take her shiny new Christmas snowboard/bindings for a spin. Verdict: LOVE.
The weather stayed cool and the snow held up until after closing time. I got alot of time in the trees and the snow was great. I have to admit that we were very surprised by the lack of crowds, considering the overnight snow-fall and the Christmas holiday. Great Day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crash's Best of 2010

Hey, folks. Another year has come and gone. Nuff said, end of post.

Not really, though the year being over part is true. I usually do one of these year-end wrap ups, though I'm trying something different this time around. No, I think I'll restrain my more cynical side this year and just re-cap all the good stuff. I have plenty of material, however, I'll make this brief.

Let's start with the mountains. Dave Rivas and I had stellar runs up Middle Palisade and Split Mountain. Later in the summer I was able to put two additional 14ers in my bag, Mt Langley and White Mountain. As for the local stuff, I was able to do multiple runs up Chief Peak, Topa Topa Peak, Santa Paula Peak, and Hines Peak (and combinations of the above). The local day hikes are too numerous to recount, though I do recall having some stellar days.

This was my year for reptiles. I saw three different king snakes this year which was neat. I witnessed a rebound in the local horned toad population (I hadn't seen any for the longest time). I saw numerous rattle snakes. Old Matilija "Phil" almost got me as I stepped off a ledge. I look forward to seeing him again next spring even if he is a grouch.

Ruth and I had a bunch of good getaways: San Francisco, Breckenridge, Mammoth, Yosemite and more. Though our ski season last year seemed meager, we did get out for about 17 days. Not bad for SoCal natives.

Ruth's VW Passat did what VWs do...died. Thus, the shiny new Infinity G37 in my garage. We're supposed to close on a very profitable and well-timed mortgage refinance within days, which will improve our future economic forecast (saving money and paying out less of it is always nice).

On the pop culture side, my favorite book of the year was Stephen King's Dark Tower, over 7,000 pages of dream-like escapism. Phenominal! My favorite albums of the year were the latest offerings from Deftones and Slayer (not everyone's cup'o tea, I know). The films that stuck with me were, "Restrepo", "The Town", "The Fighter", "127 Hours" and "Despicable Me". My favorite quote of the year: "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.".

This year was a remarkably "low-injury" one for me. I had a couple of poison oak exposures, neither of which was severe. I really jammed my big toe in my mountaineering boots and the nail keeps threatening to jump. I tore up my arm (again) trying to boulder near the level I used to. Alas, where the mind leads, the body does not always follow. This getting older stuff is crap. I'm not the first to lament that youth is wasted on the young. That's me not being cynical, just real.

So in retrospect, this was a good year for me, though of course there have been the usual issues and some unanticipated ones. In the next couple weeks I hope to wrap up some outstanding issues and stressors that have remained unresolved. It would be good to start the new year with nothing more on my plate than the goals I set for myself.

I got plans! I've got a few things on my tick-list come spring. In the mean time I'll be out there hiking the local trails, snowboarding, and looking forward to knocking the Palisade Crest for this spring's mountaineering trip. Keep reading, sending comments, and doing the voodoo that you do!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chief Peak, 12/06/10

Just another gorgeous SoCal day. I decided to make a run up Chief Peak, mostly because the approach via Horn Canyon is long, steep, and unpleasant (which is where my head's been at lately). I'm glad I've put some miles down these last few weeks because it's looking like I'm going to be working overtime for the foreseeable future as a result of a co-worker's two herniated cervical neck disks (and the surgery to fix them). Which just sucks all the way around.
It's good to be specialized in the workplace unless there's not enough other people qualified to do your job, in which case, you're hosed, especially if you're very selfish with your free time, as I am. It appears that I'll be seeing a lot less blue sky for a while and that makes me sad.

I got going a bit later than I usually would, which may have been a good thing because just minutes into the walk I found myself following a very (as in, still warm) pair of mama and baby bear tracks. I decided to stay alert and unconcerned. I never did see the bears and shortly before The Pines Camp (below) the tracks left the trail (note: bear clawed tree in foreground).
Up on the ridge, I had traded "bear country" for "grand vista country". Unlike my last trip up Chief, which started and ended in the rain, the rain had come through the night before leaving behind endless miles of crystal clear views.
Another difference between this and the prior outing was the approach to the summit, which I'll call the SSE Ridge. This is actually the most direct way to the summit from the Horn Canyon approach. Pretty simple really, follow the obvious cat-track at the SSE flank of the peak until it ends, ascend the rocky ridge to the summit.

Below: Hines & Topa from the west

I had a great day, didn't see another soul all day, got some good mileage (15), and generally enjoyed being by myself. See, most of the time I am my own best company.
Below: Horn Canyon

So, I suspect there will be fewer posts for the next however long it takes to get some replacement help for my injured colleague, which makes me the second-most bummed person in that equation. Maybe I'll just have to write a few essays I've been storing away.