Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Weekend getaway

Do you ever run across that place where in the back of your head you think, maybe I should never tell anyone about this place? You don’t want the secret to get out and have your little discovery get ruined. Well we found one of those places this past weekend and I have to share.

Shortly after we moved here I was surfing around the internet searching for cabins to rent. Growing up my family always went to a cool little cabin in a Georgia state park and I was searching for something similar in this area. Well I happened to run across a little place called Scottish Lakes Highcamp. This place was much more rustic than where I went as a kid but I was instantly in love with the place just from the website and vowed we would make it up there.

Two years later (last weekend) Natalie and I loaded up after work and headed out to the parking lot below Highcamp. I say we headed to the parking lot because it is a little involved (in a great way) getting to the cabins. First we drove about 2 hours, due to Seattle traffic, up I5 and over on highway 2. We passed over Stevens Pass, with the ski slopes all lit up for night skiing, and after a few more miles we arrived at our parking lot. We parked the car, did a little gear inventory to make sure we had everything and shortly our first shuttle arrived. We hopped in an old 4runner and were driven 4 miles up into the mountains, thru a forest service gate, way back in the woods where we transferred all of our stuff into a sled behind a snowmobile. There was only one other passenger for the 8pm shuttle and he took up a bobsledders position on the back of the sled while Natalie and I rode behind our driver on the snowmobile. We motored another 4-5 miles up a snow covered road way up into the mountains where we were driven past a few cabins and to the front door of our home for the weekend.

We were staying the weekend in the Larkspur cabin. The cabin was a simple A frame design and was perfect! There was no power or water in our cabin. We had a little propane light, a few oil lanterns, a two burner stove, and best of all a little wood stove that heated the whole place. A fire was already burning away and our cabin was all lit up when we arrived. We could not have been happier.

We quickly settled into the silence…. Ahhhh the silence was so nice… I broke out a beer while Natalie poured herself a glass of wine and we just took it all in. What a place.

In the morning we woke up to cloudy skies and after making a little starbucks instant coffee (surprisingly good), and having a few scones I picked up the day before, we decided to go for a little snowshoe. We stopped by the lodge to pickup a map and see who was in. Nobody was around so we picked up a map, decided on our route, and headed out. The trails were fairly straight forward and after altering our plan a little we ended up at picnic point. After a little snack break, it was picnic point after all, we headed back to the cabin.

Saturday night it is a tradition at highcamp that the lodge has a potluck and everyone brings something to eat and drink along. We were not so sure about it but decided why not check it out. What a great time! We got to meet the owners, several of the employees, quite a few guests, and chatted the night away. After the festivities wound down (we all ran out of wine) we headed out into the cold. We had thought ahead however and instead of going back to our cabin we headed to the wood fired (that’s right, no power so wood fired) hot tub. The water was 110 degrees and felt great. Now this is living!!

Sunday we woke up a little earlier so that we could take advantage of the day. We were both a little bummed that it was Sunday already since we had decided we never wanted to leave. We made some coffee that turned out a little soapy due to our water container having some dish soap in it, made bagels with salmon and cream cheese, stoked up the fire, and read our books for a while. A little later on we figured we still had time to sneak in one more snowshoe so we headed out to wedding point. The clouds and fog were still with us which limited visibility but it was an amazing view all the same. We slowly headed back to our little cabin paradise to clean up and get our gear packed up for the ride back to the car.

After a return snowmobile and 4x4 drive down the snowy road we arrived at the car and headed back into town. We will certainly be back. Hopefully we can get back later on this winter and get in some backcountry skiing. If not then the mountain biking in the summer is supposed to be great too. Either way, I can’t wait to see our little cabin again.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Its a toaster!!

Once I start posting I can't stop. Thought I would put up another quick post about our new car!! Natalie and I finially decided just to go for it and traded in Fear This (the 1998 Ford Escort ZX2) for a 2010 Scion XD. We test drove a lot of stuff and never planned to get a Scion but after the test drive we were hooked. Coming back from work in Shelton yesterday I got 41mpg. Pretty sweet!

This has made me laugh all week.

Well it has been a while since I posted last but life work, busy, blah, blah, excuse, lazy, etc.... So I was working at a client site last week and this picture was pinned to their printer. For some reason I can't stop laughing every time I look at this image.

I really plan to catch up soon on posting. Slick Lettuce (aka Sean McAndrew) is headed into town next week so we are psyched. More later....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A halloween to remember

Click on the picture to link to the full album

Well Saturday night we all loaded up and headed out to our favorite dive bar. We were not sure what to expect as the Barnoff has its own character and we thought we might be the only ones dressed up. Turns out everyone, including the bartenders, was dressed up. The place was packed with mermen, hall and oates, ghostbusters, pinguins, oscar the grouch, cookie monster, and the list goes on.

Our crew was dressed as T-paine'esk rapper (Jake), spider lady (Kay), witch lady (Stephanie), greenman (Ross), hippie (Natalie), and emo version of myself (Thomas). We managed to grab one of the last tables and had a great night. At the end of the night Ross and Stephanie took first and second place in the costume contest raking in $150. I think they came out well ahead on cash that night.

Two weekends in a row of dressing up has boosted our collection of costumes down in the garage. What party will be next?

Natalie is headed out to LA this weekend to visit friends and I plan on taking it easy around the house. Well, I have to get in a 10 mile run as training for the Seattle 1/2 Marathon but other than that I plan on taking it easy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dress as your worst picture party

So this past weekend we had a dress as your worst or most embarrasing picture party. The idea is pretty self explanatory and everyone certainly stepped it up for this party.

We started with a few rounds of beer pong, mixed in a little flip cup, then moved to my place and for twister, then finished up the night over at Ross and Stephanies place playing Beatles rock band. A great time just like the good old days...

The pictures say it all. They are here (click me)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And with that a brewery was born!

So my neighbor Jake and I have been talking about brewing beer this winter for quite some time. This weekend we made things happen. We headed over to Bobs Homebrew supplies in the university district Saturday morning. I had read a little bit about this shop on the internet and the word on the street was that Bob's cost a little more but with the advice you got it was worth it.

Well all the reviews were dead on. We walked up to the counter and said "we want to brew beer this winter but have no idea what we are doing." The only input we had was that from what we had read we wanted to skip bottling and just go straight into a keg as that seems easier. We knew we would need a little more equipment but what the hell, lets go for it! Bobs response to our statement that we had no idea what we were doing was "not a problem, feel free to roam around the store and I will get together what you will need." Wow, no "you guys are stupid so you should get out of my store and read a little?" Nope, Bob was great and shortly we had everything we would need.

While Bob was rounding things up we picked out what our first beer would be from a list of recipes on the wall. We settled on a Porter since winter is quickly approaching and will almost be here in a month when the beer is ready.

So we hauled everything home and put it all in Jakes garage with plans to brew our first batch on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon Jake and I got together at my house since Natalie was off at the ballet and tried to figure out what order we should do all of this in. We decided to start the keg reconditioning (would take 2 hours) and while it was doing its thing we would get started. So after wrestling the keg into the bathtub and adding the sanitizing agent (Natalie, we did not do this in the bathtub)(everyone else, yes we did) we headed downstairs to start cooking.

I never realized how much was involved in brewing. First you have to start drinking beer from the fridge and then there are lots of steps after that. :) Anyway, we got everything rolling along and for the most part had every step knocked out without too much trouble. The directions said it would take us 3 hours and it took 5 but hey, it was our first time. We only forgot one step which was to take a gravity reading before sealing everything up but that should not be too big of a deal.

So right now we have a sealed firmenter down in Jake's garage with a little airlock on top which will release oxygen as the yeasts eat away at the sugar and create carbon dioxide. I went down in the garage yesterday (Monday) and we already have action down there. We have about 30 bubbles a minute coming out of the airlock so the yeast is down there doing its thing. In 10-14 days we get to open things up and transfer to the secondary firmenter so fingers crossed until then.

And with that 9310 Brewery was born!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Engaged in the San Juans!!

Well this past weekend was one I will remember forever.

All the pictures here (click me)

After a crazy week of work, going to see Pearl Jam (awesome show!!), having dinner with friends down at the lake, working more, cooking out with Laura and Dan at their house, and then working more, being crazy busy with life in general..... whew.... well I surprised Natalie with an overnight trip to the San Juan Islands.

Natalie knew we were going somewhere but I did not tell her where. To be honest, until Thursday I was not even sure where we were going. I had quite a few plans up in the air but it all came together perfectly in the end and I managed to grab a reservation for Saturday night.

After a nice night out downtown with just the two of us Natalie and I woke up to the alarm clock beeping away at 6:30am Saturday morning. We managed to roll out of bed, grab our stuff and be driving away from the house by 7. We headed an hour and a half up I5 to anacortes and caught the ferry over to Orcas Island.

This was our first time into the San Juans and I have to say I was blown away. If you took western north carolina and flooded it with an ocean it might look similar. The ferry ride was a little over an hour and when we pulled off of the ferry we were in paradise. We stopped at a little b&b/restaurant for lunch. After enjoying a great lunch and a tasty beer while looking over the harbor we hopped back in the car and headed off down the island.

We took a little detour up to the top of mt constitution (highest point on the island at 2000ish feet). From the top you could see the san juans stretching out to the ocean, mt baker peeking up above the clouds, and Victoria BC just to the west of us.

After oooing and ahhhing for a while we hopped back into the car and headed down the road to Doe Bay Resort which I have no other way to describe except that it is a hippie resort. Many of you may be thinking at this point of dirty smelly people driving a VW bus that was hand painted but this is not what I mean. Everyone was super friendly, showered, but the place had a cool community feel to it. There were a mix of camping sites, cabins, and my personal favorites the domes and yurts. We had a dome reserved which is essentially just that, a canvas dome up on a wooden platform with a bed over by a window. We were overlooking a bay that looked out into the north sound of Orcas Island.

So we got all of our stuff moved into our dome and walked over to our picnic table which looked back into the bay. We saw a little seal swimming around down there and watched him for a while. Well while Natalie was checking out the seal I snuck the ring out of my pocket. She turned around and started crying instantly. After quite a bit of crying and smiling she said, "I did say yes right because the answer is yes!!".

We spent the rest of the afternoon taking it easy sitting in chairs overlooking the bay and saying wow a whole lot. Natalie checked out the ring in every type of light we found. I loved looking away from the bay and catching her just staring at the ring. We are both so excited but vowed not to talk about how, when or where we were going to get married that weekend so we could just enjoy the moment.

After a while we headed to the hot tub. Everything in the resort faced the water and we soaked away any stress we might have had left from the week while we watched the sun sink into the water. Ahhhhh....

After dark we changed and headed over to dinner which was made from all local organic produce (most grown on site) and it was amazing. Natalie had a salmon dish that was fantastic and I had some artichoke ravioli (the chef would probably hate me calling it ravioli but I forgot the real name). We agreed it was easily one of the top 5 meals we have ever had.

We were pretty wiped out after dinned but managed to walk down to the water and stare are the moonlight on the bay for a few minutes before the cold got to us. We headed back to the dome and loaded on the covers before passing out.

In the morning it was hard to get up. The air was so nice and cool and clean and the bed was toasty warm. Eventually we pried ourselves from the bed and headed over for breakfast. Breakfast was just as good as dinner the night before and I found myself eating even though I was full just because I did not want to leave anything that good behind. We took our coffee down to the bay and hung out for a bit not wanting the weekend to end.

Eventually we had to head back to reality and it settled on quickly when we barely made the ferry. I had to work that night so I had to be back if it meant I had to swim. We had a backup plan in place where if we did not make it onto the ferry I was going to jump out of the car, run onto the ferry (leaving poor Natalie to wait 2.5 hours for the next one) and then I was going to catch a ride with some complete strangers that I met and had agreed to give me a lift. Luckily it all worked out and we were one of the last cars they could fit on for that run. We went up on deck and had a beer and a pretzel to celebrate our good fortune and to watch the islands roll by.

What a weekend!! So sad that it is over but it is just the beginning of a new chapter in an amazing adventure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rachel Lake Rain Storm

The weather this summer has been amazing. Up until this weekend you could make plans and just count on it being sunny. This past weekend I thought this would continue even though as the week went on the forcast kept getting worse.

We had made plans with our neighbors and Dan and Laura that we were going to head up to Rachael lake, fish, maybe hike to the top of Alta peak, camp out and have a relaxing weekend. Well the origional plan was to go in friday after everyone got off of work. About mid week I got a call that my friday appointment was having quite a bit of trouble and it was probably going to take a while to get them sorted out. So the plan was revised to Ross and Stephanie going in Friday and we would meet them in Saturday.

I am glad that the Friday plan was changed because I did not end up getting home until 7:30pm so there was no way we would have made it in.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. Natalie and I woke up to rain lashing against the windows. Hmmm, that does not look good. Ah, I am sure it will clear up.

Dan and Laura met us at our house and after a quick coffee stop we headed out to the mountains. We had the windshield wipers going the whole way out to the trailhead. Why are we doing this again? Oh yea, it is going to clear up. The weather forcast said rain until about 11am and then clearing. There was a 30% chance of rain at night but that would just pass over I was sure.

Well we made it out to the trailhead and the sun did start to poke out. Hmm, guess the forcast was right. I sure was glad we did not bail on the trip only to see the sun come out.

About 3/4 of the way in we ran into our neighbors Ross and Stephanie. They had a great time camping but at the last minute their dog sitter had cancelled and they had to bring the dog along. Sadie was soaked and just to pumped up to be stuck in a tent another night so they were headed back. Well looks like we are down to 4 tonight.

The trail is a pretty flat 3 miles followed by the last mile up to the lake being straight up. We made the push and arrived at the lake. The visability was very good considering it had been raining all night. The wind was whipping and we quicklly changed into warm clothes and set out to find a spot to camp.

After quite a bit of searching (people in Seattle seem to go camping no matter what) we found a great site right on the lake. We were tucked into a great pocket where the wind went right over the top of us. We were in such a beautiful spot, we had warm clothing, and the weather was starting to clear. Just does not get any better.

We got camp setup and I even got a few minutes of fishing in before the rain rolled back in. That 30% chance of rain stayed with us for the rest of the afternoon and night. Boooo.... Luckily we were all able to get setup in a dry tent and after hiding out for a while we decided "to hell with it, lets get some dinner going". All that wine and food we had carried up the mountain was not going to eat and drink itself.

I have to say I love camping with Dan, Laura, and Natalie because everyone just rolls with whatever happens. We could have been all bumed that the weather did not work out but instead we all threw on gortex jackets and headed out into the weather to make dinner and drink our faces off. We had a great time catching up and enjoying the weather for what it was. Thanks guys, it was a great time!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What a great weekend last weekend!

Well last weekend was a great one. I took Friday and Monday off to head out to Monica and Dave's wedding. I caught a red eye out of town at 10pm thursday and landed at JFK at 6:00am where I met Katy, Mike, and Mary Beth. We all carpooled it an hour or so to Stamford CT where we caught a few hours of sleep and then kept pushing on to Lakeville CT.

After getting in around 3ish we settled in and visited with everyone until the rehearsal dinner. It was great getting to see so many people and meet some many family members that I have not had a chance to meet yet. Everyone was in great spirits and ready for the weekend.

The weather was not really cooperating but none of us really cared, there was a great group of people around and we were going to have fun with or without the sun.

The ceremony Saturday was great. A buddy of Dave's married them with style. He was a funny guy and kept things going along great, although not so much in order. My favorite line of the weekend was when, about halfway through the ceremony, he said "for all of you following along on the program...well...don't. I have accidentally made up my own order and that is what you get when you ask a disorganized hippie to administer your wedding."

Saturday night the reception was a great time. The party moved to the bar after the dance floor closed and around 2:30am a swim in the lake seemed like a great idea and a large group of us headed out. There was a perfectly good heated pool out back but the lake was calling.

The morning rolled around way too fast and it was time to pack up and leave. We headed back to Stamford CT where we stayed with a friend of Katy's. We recovered from our hangovers over some great pizza.

The weekend went by way to fast. There were so many people I would have liked to visit with more. I was only hit with one "so will there be a wedding next year" the whole weekend and it was thrown in so sneaky that I really was not prepared and had no answer. I think my response was "asdf;klhrjgfiuha". So good to see everyone and can't wait to do it again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Moving to a new web address

In the spirit of change this blog is packing up its bags and moving to a real domain name. You will be redirected automatically for a while but the new address is www.sunguilt.com.

So at this point I guess a little explanation is in order.

Sun guilt is a term that I came up with for an affliction I have. When the sun is out (and if you read this blog then you realize that sometimes it does not even have to be out) I feel that I have to be outside playing. I can be laying around in the sun down at the lake, hiking, it really does not matter but I cannot allow myself to sit inside under any circumstances.

The theme of the blog will stay the same. I am still posting about trips, people, places, etc.

In the next few days there will probably be a few issues as the new domain is registered and things are redirected but everything should migrate over shortly.

Monday, August 24, 2009

North Cascades At Last

Well after two years of living out here Natalie and I finially got a backpacking trip to the North Cascades going this past weekend. Guess that really says something about the amount of hiking in the area.

For some reason all of the trips I plan seem to start out pretty straight forward in the planning stages and then morph into something much more by the time we are hiking. This trip was no exception. The origional plan was that we would get up Saturday morning, grab some coffee and head up the road. The drive is about 3.5 hours but that would be pretty nice too since we had never been to the area. Once we got to the trailhead we were going to hike up to Easy Pass (not an easy 4 miles with 3300 feet of elevation gain) and then back down the other side to Fischer camp which would be a nice 6 mile push.

Well things went according to plan until we stopped in at the welcome center to get our backcountry hiking permit. Turns out nearly all of the campsites in the area were spoken for (can only reserve 24 hours in advance and in person) so our leisurely 6 mile backpack in turned into a 9 miler. There was a day when I really did not think that 9 miles was very far but in those days I did not have huge mountain passes to go over. I don't want to make it sound like I am dissapointed that the trip got longer because I do love that sort of thing.

Well the push up Easy Pass was everything we thought it would be. It was hard work but we took our time and got up without too much trouble or pain. The view from the pass was amazing. We spent quite a bit of time saying ooo and ahhh and the top and then decided that these backpacks were not going to carry themselves to our campsite and headed down. We immediately set into steep switchbacks and dropped 2000 feet in about a mile and a half. We hiked down through the valley that we had been looking down on earlier and after a few miles we were "in the timber".

Many sections of the trail felt like Linville Gorge because in places the trail became faint and there were several major blowdowns that were fun to reroute around.

As the sun began to fade, which was early since we were under a thick canopy, we pull into camp. What a spot! We were under the trees so there was not any dramatic Hurricane Ridge'esk view but through the trees you could make out the huge cliff faces surrounding us, we were right on the banks of a glacier fed river, and there was not a single noise except for the trees creaking in the wind. As wiped out as I was I headed straight for the river to rinse off. Natalie said I was crazy and the water was going to be freezing seeing as how it was straight snow runoff. Nah, I am tough, it is just cold. Well it was so cold that it took me a couple of runs in before I could actually force myself to go underwater. After a little toweling and a brief period of shivering I was very refreshed.

We spent the night chatting and just enjoying being out in the woods by ourselves. We also managed to down the entire bottle of wine that I carried in. I have never slept so well on a camping trip in my life.

The morning was cool and crisp which made it tough to get out of the sleeping bag. After a little work we managed to pry ourselves out of the toasty bags and make some coffee. After a round of oatmeal we packed up, worked on our torn up feet for a bit and headed out.

The hike out was beautiful. The day before was pretty since we were looking up at the glaciers hanging on a range in front of us but this was even better. The whole hike out we were looking up into the valley we had hiked down and off in the distance we could see the pass we were headed over. There were waterfalls coming down the cliff faces from snowmelt and the wildflowers were all blooming in the valley around us. Very very cool.

After 4 miles of gradual climbing up the valley we hit the switchbacks to the pass. The push up the 2000 feet of verticle in 1.5 miles was not nearly as bad as we thought it would be and before we knew it we were up on the pass. On the way up we did take a long break to watch a marmot on a rock above us whistle to all of his friends below.

We spent a long time relaxing our backs and feet at the top and then headed down to the car. We made it back to the car a few hours later and pulled our shoes off to reveal our mutilated feet. At that point I think we both wanted food so bad it did not phase us too much.

We had both seen a little greek place on the way in and had our minds set on dinner. I think we would have been crushed if the place had been closed but it wasn't and we gorged ourselves until we could not hold another bite of pita and hummus if we had too.

It was a great trip and I can see why everyone is always talking up the North Cascades. We will be back as soon as we can.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Forgotten pic from Mt Adams

Forgot to post this small world picture. So last weekend as we are hanging out on the summit of Mt Adams we run into this guy.

This guy not only was from Boone NC (note the hat as the giveaway) but he worked at Lees-McRae at one time. Whatttt!!?!?!

Weekend of Ahhhhhhh

All the pics here (click me)

This past weekend was just the Dr ordered. Ever since getting back from the TAT trip I feel like Natalie and I have been rushing to fit in everything we could before the sun went away again and the mountains were covered in snow (hopefully). This past weekend we went out of town but on a 100% relaxing trip.

We met the gang saturday morning over at Walter and Courtney's place and hit the road for the northern entrance of Mt Rainier. We entered the park right by Crystal Mountain (where we usually go to ski in the winter) and headed over Chinook Pass. On the way up we got two jaw dropping views of Mt Rainier. I had my camera all packed away so no pics of that but just google Mt Rainier and if you see a good picture that as what I am talking about. I had not been past the Crystal Mountain turn off and never realized what I was missing up there. Beautiful craggy peaks peaking over tree line and just the tiniest bits of snow on the top. I could go on and on but I will spare you my drooling over mountain views. Anyway, shortly after going over the pass we were at the turn-off for our home for the night.

The cabin belongs to Courtney's family and sits on the American river and inside Mr Rainier park boundries. The cabin was built in 1910 and is one of my favorite places in Washington so far. There are only 3 rooms, the bedroom/living room, the kitchen (complete with the origional wood burning stove), and a little bedroom. We had power and access to an outhouse. How can you not love a place with an outhouse?

We spent the entire day Saturday hanging out by the river, taking the occasional dip, drinking beer, reading, playing ladder golf (my new favorite outdoor game), and not having to do anything. Put simply we were in heaven for the day.

We all had big plans to play board games all night but our oldness kicked in and we all found ourselves passing out in our chairs by the river. So nice to not have anything we had to be doing.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat. More swimming, drinking, and taking it easy. But all great things must come to an end and around 3 we packed up the cars and headed out. It was sad to leave the peace and quiet of the cabin and good friends but it was a great weekend.

A few pics.

The cabin

Ladder golf action

Our hostess

The river we took it easy by

The parting shot

The crazy parting shot

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mount Adams

All the pics here: (click me)

If you have followed our adventures you might remember the pictures from our Mt Saint Helens climb last year. In the pics and writeup you might remember a few pics from the summit of St Helens where Adams was next door. Well the rough plan was to climb Adams next and this past weekend we made it happen.

Mt Adams is the 2nd highest peak in Washington state after Rainier. The south face of the mountain is known as a great first mountainieering climb since it is not very technical. All you need to climb the mountain is crampons, an ice axe, and a lot of energy. We managed to get together a gang that had all of these things and we all proved it this past weekend.

The week was a little crazy with work, life, picking up rental gear from REI (and some had to search around town for crampons when REI ran out) but in the end we headed out of town Friday afternoon. Natalie and I rolled out of Greenlake about 4:45 and after fighting through traffic we picked up Dan from his house around 5:30. Traffic was the theme for the day and by the time we got to Auburn area, picked up Laura and Matt from work, ate (mexican what else?), and got to the campsite it was midnight. We setup camp in the dark and were all passed out quickly.

After sleeping in Saturday we packed up camp and headed up the mountain. The first day was a climb from camp (5200ft) to what is called the lunch counter (9200ft). All of this climbing is done in 3.5 miles and completely kicked my ass. Even without gear it would be tough but after adding in all the ice axes, crampons and other climbing gear I think everyones pack was pushing 50lbs. It took us about 4.5 hours of hiking and popping through a hail storm before we got to our camping area. The camping areas on Adams are setup as stone rings since you are above tree level and the wind rips across. Luckily we found three great campsites next to one guy (Joe) who was already setup and kicking back. When we first rolled up I was thinking, man this guy is going to hate that we are butting into his private space looking up at the summit. Turns out Joe was up there solo and was happy to have camp mates. We all got along great and ended up climbing with Joe all the next day.

Saturday afternoon was a blur of setting up camp and trying to cram some food in our faces. I was so wiped out that I really don't remember much except for finishing Dan's dinner and deciding I was too lazy to cook my own. We all sacked out before the sun even set with the plan that we would get up at 4am to start the climb.

Well true to our hiking past everyone, including Joe, slept through their alarms (we knew he fit in) and we ended up peeking out of our tents at 4:30am wondering what had happened. It was pretty cool looking out of the tent and seeing headlights dotting the slope from other climbers who had started out on time and were making their way up.

After a lot of dragging ass we managed to start the climb at 6am and were shortly slogging up the first snowfield. The snowfield was steep and we all shortly settled into a step step breath rythem. It was beautiful being out there. All we could hear was the wind whipping by and gradually all of the surrounding peaks lit up with the sunrise.

The first section was a 2000 foot climb up to a false summit. By the time we hit the top the sun had risen and you could see Mt Hood clearly over your shoulder. Everyone way psyched hitting the top of the false summit.

As we were hanging out behind some rocks taking a break we met crackers. Crackers was the most bad ass little dog I have ever met. This tiny dog ended up making it all the way to the summit.

After a nice break we all packed away the crampon and ice axes for the push to the summit. This late in the year the summit got enough sun to where we did not need anything more than hiking poles to make it up. We crossed some scree fields and at the base of the final push we crossed the Adams glacier.

We had a 1000ft push at the end but since it was free of snow I think we all found it was not as bad as the fist bit earlier in the morning. Before we knew it we were out of breath but at the summit. Woohoo!! Hang out and smell the sulfer of the volcano!

This summit was just over 12,200ft and had amazing views. No matter which direction you looked you saw a volcano. To the south was Mt Hood, to the east was Mt Saint Helens, and to the northish was Mt Rainier. It was really cool looking back on Mt Saint Helens and thinking that last year we had been looking over at Adams thinking how cool it would be if we could climb it one day.

After about an hour we headed back down to camp. We hiked back to the false summit and that is where the real fun began. The first snowfield that we had climbed gained 2000 feet and had taken us about 2 hours. On the way down we could slide through the glissade chutes and made the descent in about 15 minutes. These chutes were over your head at the top and you were cruising once you dropped in. To slow down you could lean back on your pack or dig in your ice axe. There were tons of smiles on the way down.

Natalie dropping in

Having a blast!!

We all defrosted a little and headed back into camp.

After breaking down camp we loaded up heavy packs and dropped from 9200 feet back down to the car at 5200 feet. About 2 miles from the car all conversations turned to food. Luckily we had beer, chips and salsa, cookies, and other great stuff waiting for us at the car. We relaxed at the car for a bit and then followed Joe to a great brew pub back in Hood River. I don't think I have ever eaten anything better in my life. The drive back to the house was a killer but we rolled in about midnight, took quick showers and passed out.

I have to say a special thanks to Matt for showing us the ropes and making sure nobody stabbed themselves in the face with an ice axe. It was a great weekend and I can't wait to get out and do it again. You just can't beat a great group of friends getting out in the woods.

Next weekend is a relaxing one hanging out at a cabin by Mt Rainier and I can't wait!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 21 - All great things must come to an end

Mileage - 190 (if things had gone according to plan it was only 150)
Ride Time - 10.5 Hours

The day was a bit of a late start since Palmer and I were having a blast at the Casino last night and did not get in until about 1:30am. We went in to grab some food and check out the casino and ended up playing craps for 4 hours. Luckily at Oregon casinos they do not give you free drinks as you play so other than feeling tired, and a little lower on money, we were ready for the last day. After stalling a little and putting up a blog post we loaded up and hit the road.

The day started out great. We cruised down some really beautiful logging roads and were making great time.... then the re-routes started. I think the thing with the Oregon section is that there is so much logging the roads tend to be constatly changing. Once you get sucked into the spiderweb of roads it is tough to find your way out. Our first re-route ate up about 20-30 miles of riding and at least an hour and a half or more. Our short day to the finish was quickly expanding.

Eventually we worked out way out of the spiderweb and then ran into the landslides that we had read about but were hoping had been cleared. Well these were still there but luckily we were pretty good at finding re-routes by this time and managed to get back around to the trail pretty quickly.

The last 70 miles of the day has to be the longest 70 miles I have ever ridden. I was having to manually scroll through the route on the gps as we rode due to a glitch in the gps so every time I scrolled to the next screen full of route I was sure it would be the last... well every time there was just more out there. We just kept running up and along the razor thin ridges. Really pretty but at this point the sun is starting to head down and I wanted to see the pacific by dark.

Eventually we started loosing elevation. All I could think of was this was the point in the trip when the captain comes on the radio and tells you were are beginning our dedscent and thanks for using this airline. In my head it was "this is the trans america trail speaking, we are beginning our descent to the pacific and hope you have enjoyed your bumps and bruises this last 4300 miles.. we know you have choices in which trails you ride and are pleased that you chose this one..." In the end we came around a corner and could see Port Orford below us and the sun getting ready to sink. We pulled in to town just in time to ride out to the beach, snap a few victory pics and try to let it sink in that we had just ridden across the country on dirt bikes. 4300 miles, at least 4000 of it was dirt or trail, and we were unhurt on motorcycles that for the most part were operational and able to get us to Portland the next day.

Little did we know that the adventure had not ended. We had much more in store. As we were getting everythind loaded back up on the bikes and off the beach before the tide came in it dawned on us that we had focused so hard on the trip itself that we had not really thought about the hotel for the night. Normally this would not be an issue but we were at a costal town in Oregon on the 4th of July holiday weekend. See where this is going? Yep, no hotel rooms anywhere. I pulled up a list of hotels in the GPS and started calling... sorry no vacancies.. 40-60 miles each way up and down the coast every hotel was sold out. Hmmm, that is not what we had planned.

So since it was going to be a long night, it was only 9:30, and we had not eaten since having a Gatoraide for breakfast we thought we should find some dinner. At first we could not find anything that was open. Where were all these people that had filled the hotels? Just as we were giving up I spotted an old flat roofed building with what looked like beer signs lit up in the window. We were in luck and a bar, that served food, was open. We walked in covered in dirt and wearing our filthy riding gear and were immediately accepted. The band was great, the beer cold, and I had my 5000th BLT sandwich of the trip for dinner.

At this point I was ready to throw a tent out anywhere and get some sleep. I asked the waitress if the police would care if we camped out in the park just down the road and she said w would probably get kicked out but she would keep thinking on where we could stay. As we were finishing our food out waitress came over and said she thought she had an idea on who to ask about camping. "There is the guy over at the bar that lived in the shed behind my house for a while, I bet he will know where you can camp..." Lewis, our camping advisor, came over and introduced himself. "So you guys are looking for a place to camp? I am camping at a spot just down the road right now and you guys could probably fit in there if you wanted. Of course you would have to camp where I pee." This guy said all of this with a straight face and I 100% believe that he was offering up his pee spot for a campsite. We gratefully said we did not think that was a good idea but did he know of anywhere else? "Well there is one place... you had out of town on 101 and right after the bridge just turn left. Look on your left immediately after the turn and you will see a bunch of concrete barriers with no trespassing written all over them. Just behind those barriers is a great flat spot and nobody will see you back there." Well we were so tired this seemed like a great idea so we finished dinner and headed out.

We were quickly over the bridge and then, right where he said it would be, there was a concrete barrier with no trespassing written on it. There was a small berm of sand to get over but at this point we were so tired we just pointed the motorcysles over and hit the gas. On the other side we were astonished to see a great area for camping. The ground was level and sandy... perfect!! We setup the tent, stopping and turning off all the lights only when a car drove by, and crashed out for the night. I have never slept so well while camping in my life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 20 - Life is great again

mileage - 210
ride time - 9 hours

What a next to last day! For the most part today was straight up gravel cruising. Things got a little interesting when we got to a land slide.

We unloaded both bikes and wrestled them up and over the rocks and roots. We prayed that there would not be any more of those since we were not sure we could find the energy for many more. We did run into several more blocked roads but nothing this size and with a little stacking of logs we were able to get over them.

Eventually the roads smoothed back out and we got back up to speed.

As we were crossing the first blocked road a truck pulled up and after finishing up moving the bikes we got to chatting with the guy in the truck and he told us about some water falls we should check out.

Well as we were crusing along we saw a sign for the falls and decided to check them out.

They were super cool! The only thing I could think of is sliding rock in NC with a giant deep pool next to it. You could just slide down the rocks of you could slide off the side into the pool. Even better you could climb up and jump down into the pool. Here is a shot of Palmer taking the jump

We got back on the road and headed to our gas stop. Turns out the gas station was closed so we were going to be pushing it making it to the next fuel stop. We figured that as long as the roads stayed smooth then we would make it just fine. Well about 20 miles later we were routed into a 4 wheeler trail. The trail was narrow but seemed well used so we figured we would be fine. About 5 miles in the trail headed straight up. When I say straight up I mean it. I have never ridden a motorcycle up anything like this. The first section was steep but the front wheel stayed down just fine. On the second pitch it was so steep that my front wheel floated up a few times. With a little speed, luck, and a little bull riding like style we were on top. According to the GPS this trail did not go anywhere but we followed the route anyway and it just worked out. Before we knew it we were cruising down logging roads and hoping they ended up somewhere.

In the end we made it to a gas station and headed to the hotel.

As usual we just got into the hotel and are wiped out. We are planning to dig deep, grab some food and check out the casino down the road.

Day 19 - Not a great day until the end

mileage - 170
ride time - 9 hours

Well today was the first day that was really just not very good.

The quick summary is just locked gates

Then the trail dissapeared into a pile of rocks. Knowing how tough we are we pushed on through them.

Turns out it just kept getting worse and worse. In the end we wore ourselves out and then had to turn around and go back. I have never seen so many mosquitos in my life. At one point we were turning the bikes around and I had at least 20 (if not more) of these blood sucking monsters on my riding pants. This was the first time this trip that I was very happy to be wearing all this gear in the heat.

So after we turned around we tried to re-route in the spider web of forest service roads we were on. Seems that in Oregon the gates are locked unlike in Nevada where they just have a sign that asks that you close the gate behind you.

In the end we fought our way to Cresent Oregon and the day turned around. To start off our hotel room was themed. Seriously this was nuts! We had antlers on our light shades, light fixtures, an antler on our ice bucket and best of all we had bullets in our toilet seat cover. Check this out...

Also next door was this store.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 18 - Ever just have one of those days?

Mileage - 250
Ride Time - 9 hours

Today started out pretty normal, we were lost in the first 10 minutes. Our "trail" just ended in a field. Well we did a little re-route and were back on the road. After about 30 miles I noticed that my tachometer was not registering anything. At first I thought, oh well who cares. Never really use the tach anyway. After a few more minutes I realized my temp gauge was not registering anything either. So I pulled over and turned off the bike to check things out. After looking at the bike and deciding the best thing to do was to just keep going I tried to turn the bike back on and realized that all of the electronics on the bike were dead.

Luckily the KLR is a product of the 80's and super low tech so we could just roll start it and things would run. The problem with roll starting all the time was that if I stalled at the bottom of a hill we would have a hell of a time pushing it up enough to roll start it again.

So Palmer and I had to decide if we should turn back to a town that we knew had cell service but no mechanic shops or if we keep going and hope the town in 30 miles had a shop. We decided to let the GPS re-route us to the next town thinking that it would only take real roads and not the trails we were scheduled to take. Well a few miles later our road the GPS sent us on turned into a trail and then ended on top of a mountain with nothing in view. At this point we had wasted about half a day and decided to cut our losses and head back to the town we had come from.

So outside of McDermot Nevada we picked up a cell signal and called our buddies at Valcom Motorsports back in Colorado. I talked with PJ and after he pulled up the wiring diagram on his computer we decided it had to be a fuse. I thanked PJ and Palmer and I proceeded to pull the Red Devil apart. After digging down to the fuse box, that was cleverly disguised so we could not find it at first, we discovered that the main fuse was blown. After replacing the fuse the bike fires up and runs great with the exception of my turn signals and brake light. My turn signals do not flash anymore and the brake light just does not work. Who needs those anyway right?

So after wasting away the day we told Nevada goodbye and hit the highway to Oregon. After getting into the hotel I pulled the bike back into many pieces only to discover nothing.... really just nothing. So the plan is to keep pushing ahead and Palmer is going to be my brake lights.

For now I am happy to call it a crazy day and hit the sack.

Day 17 - Sagebrush still smells good

Mileage - 160
Ride Time - 10 hours

We can't figure out why but today seemed like a very long day. We were riding Nevada again today and the terrain was not extremely challenging but we are worn out. I think it was that we were riding trail all day and never really got a break on a real road. We were riding through grassy tracks and sage brush constantly. These sage brush were not messing around today, those things were like trees. I had my feet pulled off of the pegs several times from either the sage mini-trees or the rocks they were hiding.

Nevada still continues to surprise me with how beautiful it is. We passed the same mountains of sage and canyons of grass and creeks as yesterday but today we also mixed in some old homesteads. We also got the chance to climb up and over several large bluffs that reminded me of a small version of the grand canyon.

Here is a pic of the "roads" we were on

Bad pic but some cool horses we ran across