Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another ho-hum day in June...

...starts with a ~30 minute drive to get from the 4500' desert to the ~10,000' alpine. Pahk the cah, loose the hound, grab the packs, then start walkin' through the deliciously cool woods.

No trouble enjoying the scenery along the way.

This spring has been long, cool, and very, very wet. Not that us desert dwellers are complaining.

The slow start to summer simply means that the alpine has taken a long time to open up. Normally dry meadows are overwhelmed by puddles, puddles have become swamps, swamps have morphed into ponds, and ponds into lakes. Not that Fang is complaining.

Fang contemplates the essence of frogness.

Despite thousands upon thousands of dollars and years of therapy, we're still unable to get him to lighten up and enjoy the moment.

Plenty of reminders that we aren't alone.

After a leisurely hike we arrive at our destination.

At roughly the same time we're reminded that winter is never far off at 10,000'.

Unpack and rig up...

...then crouch and sneak to see what you can see.


Fang tries the direct approach.

Although rarely successful on his own, he's still willing to help us out.

After hours of rain, snow, sun, wind, and giggles, darkness approaches and we grudgingly begin our walk homeward.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Roughly 100,000 words.

Two mandatory warnings: The text in this post is superfluous, and there are 90+ pics. Continue at your own risk...

Every few years (more often if you're less set-in-your-ways than I am) you'll have an experience that falls outside the reasonable range of expectation. Meaning simply that what you expected and what you got did not match up.

That happened last week, and I'm still reeling a bit from it. I'm simply unsure of how to even begin processing all of the new sense data that was gathered. That uncertainty is a good, rare thing (for me) these days, as I've gotten into a bit of a rut with work and riding and a refresher was in order.

I'll spend months sorting and categorizing the experiences in my mind, but there's no need to wait to share the visuals.

Loading up the car, listening to a book, and just letting the countryside unfold as I creep closer to my destination has become a favorite form of therapy.

I'll do it if I have to, but covering ground at night (whether afoot, by bike, or even in a car) just cuts across my grain of late. How can I learn about a place if I cannot receive visual sense data from it?

(Yes, I had a lot of time to think on this last trip, and have been in major geek out mode ever since...)

So once the light fades from the sky I'll find a place to circle the wagon and then settle in til sunup. Cook a simple meal, read a different book, simply 'be' horizontal.

Waking, a short walk is in order before anything else. Checking in on the local residents, you might say.

Early morning light...

...and some of the things you see when wandering around engulfed by it.

Whom would *you* expect to see while crossing Coyote Wash?

Oo. Don't forget your galoshes.

Death. And then, life.

This one flat stopped me in my tracks. Just stunning.

Not so much the former as the latter.

Aspirin, ibuprofen, morphine, and gin have all been known to cure what ails ya. For me, nothing is more restorative than time spent on alpine skinny trail with likeminded souls.


Dave and Chad were a hoot to ride, camp, and generally hang out with.

If you're in their company and *not* laughing, you need to pull the ipod outta your ears and pay attention!

One of the no-longer top secret details of my new uber frame pack: The Mike & Ike department.

DH nearly leapt outta his shoes when he saw it, and LW dug her hand in there too. It's not like a gal can ever have enough red 40 in her diet...

Back to the grind.

We finished the day off with an ice cream binge, campfire tales, stargazing, then blessed sleep outdoors, if not actually down in the dirt.

The ensuing day, more time spent with Dave and Chad meant more laughs and good vibes.

The overall theme of the day was relaxation, though it got strenuous later on...

Brief detour on the way out to camp.

At camp.

Cathedral-esque grove along the Rainbow Rim.

Big grins on this trail--swoopy, flowy, fast and carvy.

Favorite memory (of many!) from this day involved chasing Dave at high speed down a narrow tunnel of trail, both sides lined with blooming cliffrose. The always exciting game of cat-and-mouse was elevated substantially as he'd brush and bash his way through the blooms and my nostrils would be filled with it as I motored along behind...

Hard to beat finishing a fun ride as the golden hour fades into night.

Another campfire to wind down with, then blessed sleep.

The view from camp at sunrise:

Hard to wrap your brain around that ^ view.

Almost 9 years have passed since I last rode this canyon. That's about 8 too long. Dave acted as very patient and informative guide.

Although the pic fell far short of my hopes, I love the contrast of colors and landscapes in just a few square feet. Red to green, swamp on rock.

Such a striking backdrop for some really fun non-tech riding.

Dave hammered out the hills on his single tallish gear. I felt obliged to follow suit, and remained shiftless on all but one climb throughout the day. I take back what I said earlier about alpine skinny being the most restorative thing I know--desert skinny aboard SS's comes darn close.

Did I mention the swoopdiddlyiciousness of this trail system?

Unseasonably cool June temps were a treat all through this day. Though the temps have crept high enough that going back this weekend won't happen, some version of this trip needs to take place in the fall.

Who's in?