Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
It looked like Edelweiss was seriously tracked up, so we decided to head for Christmas Bowl. The run down through Powder Reserves was okay but noticeably stiff snow, maybe cream-cheese-light. It has been very warm the last couple days (40F in the valley, upper 20s up high) and we were wondering whether it was heat-affected or wind-affected or both.
The laps on Christmas Bowl were good, the snow was in much better condition. After two laps, Bob and Jill headed out to cut a christmas tree (more on that in a moment), while Andy and I did one more lap and then skied out Chivers Ridge to the bottom. As we got into lower elevation stuff on Chivers, it was still skiable but very stiff; fortunately it had not been sunny, just warm.
Our next-door neighbor Mary has been the coordinator for the US Capitol Christmas Tree this year, being delivered from Jackson Wyoming to Washington DC. That 67-foot Engelmann spruce has pretty much consumed her life for the past six or seven months. Yesterday was the official lighting at the Capitol; Dave and Petra flew back there to visit and join in the fun. We decided they should have a Christmas tree to welcome them back home tomorrow. Hmm, Bob had a tree permit and a saw. So it's not the Capitol christmas tree, it's more like the lowercase Christmas tree.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The creek crossings in East Fork were fine, not great, but good enough. There was a skin track up to Moose Brush and surprisingly enough it was an excellent track, a nice angle, not too steep. Guy & Janet had never been to Moose Brush before, so they were drooling over it during the approach. There were plenty of good lines left. After leaving the main bowl, I got over just barely on the right side of the spine of the ridge, and found a very nice section of totally untracked for 100 yards or so. That was a much easier route out than going the left side of the ridge, and then having to dodge through the pines the rest of the way.
It was their first day out in the backcountry, so we didn't do any laps. It was snowing an inch an hour starting at about noon, with relatively light wind, the existing tracks were filling in very nicely. Sweet!
Just past the old Fabian Ranch buildings, the existing track started curving west toward Burnt Wagon Gulch. I was surprised to see that nobody had been north to Jenny Lake. In a civic-minded mood I went ahead and started breaking trail; the snow was about a foot deep but not particularly heavy. However, it wasn't clear to me that I wanted to do 2.5 miles of it!
Heading north from the Fabian Ranch, there is an open area about 1/2 or 3/4 of a mile, and then the usual route jogs east into the trees and then north along a wide shallow stream that is usually frozen in midwinter. Unfortunately, the route along the edge of the stream was blocked by two new downed trees; very large downed trees, as in I couldn't find a way around them. I spent about a half hour trying to find a way through the trees and deadfall, and eventually gave up. I did "X-out" my ski tracks, hoping that nobody else tries to follow them into the trees. Maybe there will be a passable route after there is more snow, but for now it appears to be deadfall hell.
Back in the parking lot, I saw Tim and Sarah; they had just come down 25 Short. They said conditions were excellent, they skied the center avalanche path all the way down (conditions are stable for now, good thing) to the Valley Trail and didn't have any problems with thin cover.
Friday, December 3, 2010
At the top of the pass at 11:00 am there are still plenty of parking places if you can get to them. First you have to shovel through the 2.5 foot wall of snow from the plowing. The earliest cars have been plowed in, have fun with that. We decide instead on a Mail Cabin tour. The Coal Creek parking lot is mostly plowed, there is easily a foot of new there.
There is a track up to East Fork of Mail Cabin, and from there I start breaking trail. Not bad when I can stay on top of the old track, and heavy going when I can't. Mike and Lynne, some old friends from Idaho Falls, catch up with us and share some trailbreaking until they peel off up to the west. We plan to head for the forks, but don't get quite that far. Chris is having blister issues (it is early season, remember!) and the trail breaking does get tiring. We stopped just short of 8000' for some lunch. I dug a snowpit, with a few taps got a easy Q3 shear at the fresh snow interface, and the next shear (CT18) was right at the ground (about 4' depth). The column stayed intact, just detached itself from the ground.
Chris's feet had had enough, so we declared victory and skied back out. On the way back over the top of the Pass, the parking lot was still mostly snowbank. Speaking of snowbanks, the banks on the west side are a good 6' high, as tall as they ever were last winter. And it's only December 3rd...
Friday, November 26, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
From Kachina Bridge, it is another 3.0 miles up Armstrong Canyon to Owachomo Bridge. Unfortunately, there had been a flash flood in the canyon recently (within a week or so). About a mile up the canyon, the flood formed a debris dam that blocked the very small creek at a narrow cliffy section. It was too wide for me to jump across, and deeper than the length of my hiking pole. It was a cool day, and I had no interest in swimming. I didn't see a likely bypass route so I turned around and called it a day.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I had a couple days for hiking in southern Utah after the San Juan trip. Since I'd never been to the Cedar Mesa area and it was right nearby, what better time. My friend Sue told me that Moon House was her favorite, so I got directions and the required permit from the BLM Kane Gulch ranger station and off I went. Eight miles of dirt road (high clearance in spots), and another mile of 4wd high clearance (easy, though), and then about a mile down into the canyon and up the other side. Very cool place, some painted decorations that I hadn't seen elsewhere. There are a number of other ruins in this canyon, and probably most of the other canyons around here as well.
I also had time for a hike from Kane Gulch RS down to the Junction at Grand Gulch, about an 8 mile round trip. I finished that right at dark, and 10 minutes later it was raining. Perfect timing, but the evening rain made me wary of any dirt road travel for the next day.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Picasa photo album
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Yet another perfect fall day. Guy wanted to scout some moose hunting locations in the Big Holes west of Driggs, so we decided to go up Red Mountain but take the long way in via Dry Henderson Canyon and come back out Patterson Creek. A long hot day with some demoralizing ups-and-downs, but the views were spectacular. The trails up high are mostly used by dirt bikes and are in poor condition for hikers.
GPS info at EveryTrail.com
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
With a south-facing hillside, a sunny day, and no wind to speak of, it was downright hot on the climb up. Here's Jill about halfway up, view to the southwest...
And looking north from the summit (elev 8383), with South Park in the foreground and the Grand Teton in the background. A fire on the Idaho side is creating some smoky haze.
Looking northwest from the summit toward Teton Pass
2.1 miles and about 2100 vertical feet, not really a trail just follow cowpaths and bushwhack for most of the way.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
So in Ljubljana I rented a red Mitsubishi Colt with 60 000 km on the clock. As the gents on Top Gear would say, it's rubbish. Worse yet, the left rear brake has a most extremely annoying shriek that sounds like metal-on-metal to me.
A day later and 100 km away I'm sitting in an outdoor cafe in Bohinj, a small resort village near the Julian Alps, enjoying an espresso in the sunshine. I heard that same shriek from the street, and turned around to see a red Mitsubishi Colt rounding the corner. What I could see of the license plate was the same as mine, because I had the keys in my pocket! This can't be good, but then again who in their right mind would steal a Mitsubishi Colt?!?! Nonetheless, after I finished my espresso I walked briskly back to the parking lot a half-mile away to find my red Colt sitting there undisturbed. What are the odds of that sort of thing happening at all, much less twice? (And it has never happened to me in the U.S.)
In the morning 36 hours later, l checked out of my hotel in Bled and walked to the hotel parking lot..
|Mine's the one on the left|
Monday, September 20, 2010
My Slovenia photo album on Picasa
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Postojna Cave is huge, supposed to have over 20km of passages, with 5.3 km open to the public. The first 4 km or so of the tour is by electric train, and the rest is on foot. Although it is beautiful, the tour is quite the industrial tourist experience; there were about 400 people on the 11:00am tour, about a fourth of them were in the English-language group. With all the heavy rains outside, it was very drippy in the cave.
Then I headed a few miles down the road to Škocjan Cave.This cave was really interesting, slightly smaller but just as impressive. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, rare because the underground river that formed it is still there running through it, and you walk along the river (well, usually 100 feet above it) for about 500 meters. This cave is a lot less overrun with tourists, only about 40 people on the 3pm tour.
The rains continue, TV news has pictures of flooding, etc. The river that runs through the cave was at 10 m3/s yesterday morning (about 1000 cfs), fairly typical for this time of year. This morning it was 25 m3/s, and by the 3pm tour it was at 129 m3/s, yeah about 13000 cfs! It was a raging brown torrent through the bottom of the cave. That section of the cave is called "Murmuring Cave" cause of the water flowing through, bit today it was altogether different. The guide said with the forecast rain tonight, it was likely they would not conduct tours tomorrow because some of the lowest walkways would be submerged!
Friday, September 17, 2010
Ljubljana (population about 275,000) is the capital of Slovenia. To me it isn't anywhere near as handsome as Zagreb. Oh well. Maybe I just got off on the wrong foot here, with the drunk who tried to physically accost me on the platform at the train station (no harm done, fortunately). It doesn't help that the weather is changing, becoming cloudy (on Thursday afternoon) and raining a lot on Friday.
|Ljubljana Castle on the hill|
My Slovenia photo album on Picasa
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Through astounding coincidence and good luck, my mother's cousin Branko (my grandfather's nephew) just happened to vacationing in Croatia at the same time we were! Branko grew up in a nearby village, and came to the USA as a young man in the early 1960s; he has lived in Chicago for many years. He was very kind to take me on a tour of the old home village area. We borrowed his wife's cousin's Pontiac Firebird convertible (it's a long story!) for an afternoon's drive from Zagreb up into the hills northwest of Karlovac. Riding around on hilly one-lane roads in a big American convertible was an interesting experience in its own right.
Anyway, thanks to Branko's memory and some directions from local residents, he and I found the place where the old family farmhouse was. There are numerous villages called Hrašče or similar names in Croatia (it means "oak trees" or something like that), so this one is now officially named Svetičko Hrašče meaning it is near Svetice, where there is a well-known monastery and old church. There is no way that I'd have found it on my own...
Wow. The house that my grandfather grew up in is long gone, but it was very moving to be at that same place and feel the geography of the surroundings.
Visiting this area was the highlight of my trip to Croatia. Branko, thanks again!
Pictures on Picasa web album
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The city was once the capital, in the 18th century. I think I read that it is the 2nd largest city, after Zagreb. Scenic town center area, the highlight is the Stari Grad "old town", a 12th century castle with some huge embankments to create a moat that were added later like in the 16th century. The castle is in pretty good shape, having had several restorations over the years most recently in the 1980s.
The town cemetery is also unique with enormous hedges 12 feet tall around every plot, to create a very attractive gardens effect. The cemetery manager didn't want individual monuments to compete with each other, so the hedges dominate everything else in the cemetery.
Monday, September 13, 2010
We went out to Jarun, a city park with a man-made lake with beaches (including a nude beach!), and a 2 km rowing course that became very busy in the late afternoon.
Jill and I spent a day and a half wandering around Zagreb, and I can't get over how much I like this city. It didn't hurt that we had lovely sunny days. And of course you have to like a city that celebrates scientists and engineers, like this local hero Nikola Tesla...
Zagreb and Varazdin photo album on Picasa
Sunday, September 12, 2010
After the day off for winds, we crossed to the island of Šipan for the next three nights. The crossing was short, perhaps a kilometer to a smaller island that gave us some shelter, but all of us agreed that it was no fun at all. We had four-to-six foot swells coming in from the sea on our front left quarter, and a stiff breeze with wind-driven waves on our back right quarter. We all gritted our teeth, paddled hard, and everybody manged to avoid capsizing; but it was a white knuckle adventure for a good half-hour or so.After that crossing, we had shelter from the swells and some of the wind, so we paddled around to the far end of Šipan. The next day we completed the circuit of Šipan. For the final day of kayaking, we paddled over (and back) to the mainland village of Trsteno where there is a very nice historic botanical garden. We had sunshine and glassy water on the way over; on the way back some light rain moved in but without any wind or lightning. It was very cool to be paddling across and listening to the sizzle of the raindrops on the calm seas.
The islands are beautiful. There were some interesting caves, a few beaches (that we didn´t stop at, unfortunately), and amazing clear blue waters. The water temperature was a little bit too chilly for me to do any comfortable swimming, perhaps 17-18C. Oh well. The weather pattern seemed to be sunny mornings with afternoon showers, but our guide Đivo said that was not really typical. There were eight people in our group: another couple from the US, a couple from Scotland, a guy from England, and a woman from Scotland originally who now lives in Switzerland. The group got along very well, everybody was an experienced paddler, so it made for a great trip.
Elaphite Islands photos on Picasa
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Okay, two nights stay in Dubrovnik to see the old walled city before we start our sea kayaking trip. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. For much of history, Dubrovnik was an independent republic until Napoleon took it over in the early 1800s. When his empire fell apart, it became part of the Hapsburg empire.
The walled city is maybe a kilometer across, filled with tourist shops and cafes, but a beautful place nonetheless. The paving stones in the main street are polished to a nice sheen by all of the foot traffic.We did the obligatory perimeter walk of the wall, lots of wandering down narrow side streets, up and down steep alleyways that are basically staircases, gelato in street cafes, and a tram ride up the fort overlooking the entire city. The weather was cooperative, not too hot for all the walking we did. There are a lot of tourists here, as you might imagine; it would be too crowded here in August!
Photo album on Picasa
Friday, September 3, 2010
That´s the Croatian name for Plitvice Lakes, a beautiful national park that was the first stop on our trip to Croatia. It is a chain of lakes and travertine waterfalls through a lovely limestone canyon. We hiked a loop around most of the lakes in the park, for about 9-10 miles of hiking. A good deal of that was on boardwalks over small pools and waterfalls. The boardwalks were just wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side comfortably. With the crowds of tourists, most of the time you couldn´t walk at your own pace, unless your pace is that of an elderly Japanese tourist. Oh well... it was a nice day and a gorgeous place, a good start for a vacation.
The drive down from Zagreb was uneventful, there are big signs at every turn pointing the way to Plitvička Jezera, and it is on the main road south from Karlovac. Finding our way through the outskirts of Karlovac was the hardest part, and that wasn´t bad.
After hiking a lap around the park, we still had part of the afternoon left, so we made a dash for the Dalmatian coast and the Adriatic Sea for the evening. An hour and a half later, we were in Senj. The hairpin turns on the road down to the town were very interesting. Then we headed south along the coast to Karlobag; I didn´t get to sightsee much because the road -- narrow, twisty, turny -- was getting pretty much all of my attention. After dinner in Karlobag we headed up another huge series of switchbacks to gain a few thousand feet and get back to the inn after dark.
After two nights here, we headed back to Zagreb to catch a flight down to Dubrovnik. My mothers cousin Branko is arriving in Zagreb just a couple hours before our flight, so we get to see him and his wife at the airport. We will meet up with him later in the trip for a tour of the old village where my maternal grandfather is from.
Photos from Plitvice Lakes (Picasa album)
Monday, August 30, 2010
After we left the counter, I noticed that we had been moved up to the front of the plane in Business Elite class. Sweet! I had never heard of getting upgraded for free on an international flight. We're only silver medallion on Delta, so not like we have gazillions of miles. The flight is full, with a standby list, so obviously Business Elite didn't sell out and they upgraded some of us to make room in the back.
So this should be pleasant experience, arriving in Paris after a comfortable 10.5 hour flight. Jill says,"hmm, what if we get to liking this too much?" The first one is free, as the saying goes...
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
After spending all morning and part of the afternoon on chores and such, we needed to get out for some exercise on a gorgeous August day. We'd heard that the fireweed bloom was looking pretty good up on Phillips Pass, so decided to go for a late afternoon hike up there. A perfect day, warm but not too hot, the fireweed was looking good.
Phillips Pass at EveryTrail
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Another river trip! We did a 7-day trip on the Main Salmon, courtesy of Mike's daughter Alice who scored a launch permit in the lottery. Eighty miles from Corn Creek to Carey Creek, we spent one night indoors at the China Bar Lodge. The weather was mostly good except for the night at China Bar; we would have been cooking in the rain that night, so a great rib dinner indoors was quite a treat.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I went hiking up Mail Cabin canyon from the highway. Here's a view of Windy Ridge, 3 miles from the road, that we ski in the winter. Wanted to follow the trail on up to its junction with the Mike Harris trail, and follow that on south to Mosquito Pass to link up with Saturday's hike. I stopped a half-mile short of Mosquito Pass because I didn't see any need to drop down 500 feet to the Pass, only to turn around and hike back up to where I was.
Seems this week has been sponsored by the letter 'M'. First Mosquito Pass on Saturday, then the Mike Harris trail to Oliver Peak on Monday, and today Mail Cabin Canyon and the Mike Harris trail to Mosquito Creek drainage.
Trip details and more photos at EveryTrail
The trail junction with the Mike Harris trail is not where it is shown on my quadrangle map (Palisades Peak, 1966) or on my TopoUSA software. I spent some time looking for the ridgeline trail that runs south from the saddle at elev 8620 and found no sign of it. The only trail I found is the one shown by the black GPS track outline here. The section of green-and-gray dashed trail was nowhere to be found. Click map to enlarge.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Going for a multi-sport day, Eric suggested a late afternoon kayak trip down Alpine Canyon. I didn't have that much energy, so we did an evening raft trip instead. Dropped off a vehicle at the South Park bridge, picked up the raft, bought some sandwiches for dinner, launched from Wilson bridge at six o'clock straight up, and landed at South Park about 8:45 using just about all the available daylight. The fishing was slow, but it was a lovely evening to be on the water. Lots of new snags this year in that stretch of the Snake River!
Monday, July 26, 2010
We spent a few minutes trying to find the trail down into Elbow Fork of Palisades Creek. The topo maps show it, and there is a forest service trail sign nailed to a tree, but no evidence of the trail itself. Apparently it doesn't get much use...
Trip details at EveryTrail
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I've been wanting to get up here for many years, but never made it for one reason or another. The trail is well-maintained for the first couple miles of trail from the end of the road, but the remaining 3 miles or so to the Pass have not been maintained in quite a while. Lots of downed trees, overgrown stretches, etc. I'm glad I didn't try it on a mountain bike, it would not have been fun. The lower two miles had evidence of regular horseback usage, but the upper trail didn't appear to have been used in quite some time; the only tracks I saw were elk and deer. On a gorgeous sunny Saturday in late July, I didn't see another soul, just a couple of elk. Wow. The wildflowers were spectacular.
I hiked the trail south from the Pass, wanted to find the junction with the trail that comes up from the East Fork of Palisade Creek. I didn't find any marked trail junction, or any other well-defined trail, but I think I found a good candidate. Guess I'll just have to come up the East Fork and find it that way.
Trip details at EveryTrail
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
An absolutely gorgeous summer day in Jackson Hole, clear skies and practically calm winds... time to get out the sea kayak! I paddled from Spalding Bay over to Bearpaw Bay, not a long paddle but a nice start to the season. Also did a short hike from the lake over to a smaller unnamed lake; it turns out to be connected to Jackson Lake as a lagoon when the lake is full like it is now. Water temperature was 65 degrees in the shallows near shore.
Trip details at EveryTrail
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Jill, Katie, and I decided to go for a hike around Phelps Lake. Unfortunately the parking lot at the Rockefeller Preserve was full with a line of cars waiting! So we drove to the Death Canyon trailhead, hiked up to the Phelps overlook, down to the lake and out the north shore to the road, and then followed the road back around to the trailhead. The wildflowers are looking good, it's still too soon for huckleberries, and Death Canyon looks as beautiful as ever. We stopped for lunch at the jumping rock on Phelps Lake; we didn't jump in (brrrr!) but a few other people did.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Yay, a river trip with Jill, Katie, and Eric (and Dave, Petra, Matt, Mike, Keener, Chris, Dan, Julie, and Steve). Eric won in the lottery for a Gates of Lodore permit, on the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument. Four days on the river, gorgeous scenery, good friends, good weather... hard to beat!
I'll post other photos to a Picasa album when I have more time.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Upper Palisades Lake, Idaho at EveryTrail
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Garnet Canyon at EveryTrail
Saturday, June 26, 2010
The views are better if you ride north-to-south, so you have better views of the Teton Range.
Teton Rail Trail (partial) at EveryTrail
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
and kept going on up above the lake into Horseshoe Bowl. There is a trail leading up out of the northwest corner of the bowl, so we followed that until we ran into too much snow at about 9500'. Great views looking north to the Grand, and every other direction for that matter.
Trip details at EveryTrail
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The trail notes on the map say "lots of interesting side canyons to explore". We didn't explore them on this trip, but wow we plan to go back. Spending a couple of nights would be the way to check out all the side canyons.
The Capitol Reef Field Station (affiliated with Utah Valley University) is located in this canyon, what a beautiful setting.
More pictures and GPS log at EveryTrail.com
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
More pictures and GPS details at EveryTrail.com
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
We hiked about a mile downstream, staying up on the slickrock, before it was time to turn around. Doug P and his daughter Lexie hiked downstream on/in the creek, all the way to the top of Lower Calf Creek Falls, and then bushwhacked their way up to the highway. (And yes, it did rain!)