Monday, December 21, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas

Mt. Baldy covered in snow.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

My gift arrived a little early this year...the results of the most recent imaging show NO SIGNS OF ACTIVE DISEASE!!!!

So I'm just gonna go ahead and consider myself to be cured of this little cell replication problem. Hakuna matata!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In Search of Fall Colors

Autumn sneaks by here in So Cal---the skies remain sunny and blue, and temperatures still reach into the 70s and 80s, even at Thanksgiving. And with a dearth of deciduous trees here in the desert, very little gives away the season. Only the colored ribbon of Big Rock Creek wash belies this spring-like weather.

Thanksgiving weekend resulted in the first good snowfall of the year in the local mountains, just in time for the roads to open November 30. With a school fundraiser and Christmas on the horizon, a venture to Valyermo for mistletoe was in order.

The newly snow-covered San Gabriels made a beautiful backdrop to the wash of fall colors that give away where water runs off the hills to drain in the desert sand. We stopped along the road still west of Big Rock Creek wash, where the deciduous trees were a bright yellow and dry rusty red. Even the cattail reeds were beginning to bronze and rust.

Mts. Baden-Powell, Burnham, and Lewis.
"Been There; Climbed Those!"

West of Big Pines Hwy.

As I walked along the road, snapping pictures of the few autumn leaves we desert dwellers can actually see without driving long distances, DH climbed a few roadside trees. Among dead branches hung huge clumps of parasitic mistletoe, of which DH relieved the tree. DS gathered up the clumps in a trash bag. In a few minutes time, I had some pictures and they had enough mistletoe for the fundraiser. Just one of the reasons why we love living here!

Looking toward Mt. Williamson.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Blue Autumn

I'm still here; still going. But I haven't felt much like writing; I am still dealing with the recent deaths of people I love. I did get out of the house one Saturday and took a drive to see what roads are open. We were able to go up Big Pines Highway and out Highway 2 as far as Vincent Gap before we hit the road closures still in place after the Station fire. The rangers at Grassy Hollow told us the roads would be opening November 30.

East Blue Ridge's dirt road is now closed until the end of ski season. Mountain High already had at least one slope running. We stopped at Jackson Lake, now severely low at the end of the season, and ate our picnic lunch inside the van as it was less than 40 deg outside. A stop at my favorite crack seed shop outside the islands, and then we were home.

I am really jonesing to go hiking again; hopefully the forest will open when the roads do on November 30. But all the back roads, like 3N17, close from November until May. So we may have to find somewhere else to play for awhile!

Skiers at Mountain High resort.

Jackson Lake.

Where I'm standing used to be underwater.
Now the cattail cleanup begins!


Devil's Horn moon.

My picnic view (from inside the van).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Still Going

I've been working on the post for the second day of the Sierra backpack, but unfortunately DS decided to share a cold with me. Then, I received news that a close family member had tragically passed away. So working on the trail report ground to a sudden halt as my life became surreal as I tried to absorb the shock.

This has been a bad year for losing people for me, so I feel doubly blessed to still be here myself, still raising my family.
While I was on the road traveling home from the funeral---a long slur of time, miles, and decades---I was treated to the beautiful sight of Mt. Shasta in the morning sunlight.

It reminded me that I'd like to hike it; maybe not to the summit, but at least see how far I can make it before ice and snow turn me back. I'll do SOME ice and snow, as on our Mt. Whitney trip; but I just can't do the real stuff anymore.

Life is still good, and I am still blessed. May God bless my family and friends.

Take the highway.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 Sierra Trip, Day Two

2009 Sierra Trip
Ansel Adams Wilderness

Day Two: Thursday, 9/10/09

From Camp to Lake Ediza
~1.5 mi
8670' to ~9300' elevation

I believe I have finally achieved the right combination of sleepwear and gear, as I was com-FY! My base layer is actually comprised of two layers, including one of Ultrawear (developed for the astronaut program). The ThermaRest Z-Lite and Big Agnes pads insulated me from and kept me off the ground, no matter to which position I turned. The down pillow rolled perfectly to support my neck or head, whichever way I needed, as I slept. And that Phantom 15 was TOASTY warm!

I always tell my body to wake up so I can catch the sunrise, and it didn't let me down this time. I woke up to see the sun hitting the Minarets and starting to illuminate the valley. I snapped a few pictures and then laid back down. And was so comfy, I went back to sleep for awhile!

Finally DH got up and started boiling water for breakfast. We ate cinnamon oatmeal and drank hot chocolate in silence, listening to the sounds of morning. We watched the sunbeams hitting more and more of the meadow until the sun itself crested the rocks and struck my brother's tent. No way he could sleep through that! Soon he, too, was boiling water and fixing scrambled eggs and bacon.

With a only a short hike ahead of us before we would spend the rest of the day fishing and lounging around Ediza Lake, our pace this morning was once again leisurely. We broke camp and hit the trail at ~8:30 a.m.

Sunrise on the Minarets.

Breaking camp.

Hitting the trail to Lake Ediza.
The river is to my left; the trail is heading to meet it.

We started out walking in patches of deep shade waiting to be chased away by the still-climbing sun, but it wasn't long before we had to stop so I could peel my base layers off. And we actually saw people, traveling from Lake Ediza toward the PCT junction. They told us it wasn't "much further---less than an hour." 'Course, they were coming DOWN; we still had to climb UP!

Still water means level land!

Looking back.

Admiring more falls... before we start climbing up!

Soon after we started climbing up higher, we were stopping for me to peel off my sweatshirt, too. We were warming up quickly as the day settled in! My brother seems to have adapted to the higher altitude now; he is often in front of us now and rarely stopping, unlike yesterday. We are already at altitudes a couple thousand feet higher than anything east of the Mississippi River.

To be continued...

We were obviously close; we began our climb up the rock "wall" that dams one end of the lake. Soon we came to a fallen tree cut to make a bridge across the river rushing down from Lake Ediza. If the water weren't cold, it'd make an awesome jacuzzi!

The natural rock wall the helps create the lake above us.

My brother crosses the log-bridge first.

View from the log-bridge.

The moon above the river and distant Mt. Ritter.

We climbed up and rounded a bend and suddenly, there was the lake -- our first view of it as we passed the funneling end where the river down begins.

Our first glimpse of Lake Ediza.

My brother admires the sight while waiting for us to catch up.

Crystal clear High Sierra water --- mmm!