Tag Archives: Beautiful

Backpacking over Labor Day, in Northern California: Sunday and Monday

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Backpacking over Labor Day, in Northern California: Sunday and Monday

It’s been a while since I’ve actually packed up my pack and gone on a solid backpacking trip. I think the last time was back in 2013, maybe? And even then, it was a solo excursion – no group shenanigans for me. Just a man in the wild, alone with nothing but his wits and a ton of random gear to keep him safe.

So going backpacking with a group of five was definitely a new experience for me, especially since we’d be exploring the mountains of the West Coast…

Sunday, 06-September-2015

before heading to bed the night before, there’d been a debate between everyone about what time to get up in the morning.  The final decision, amazingly, had been, “Meh… whenever.  Let’s not set alarms”

So we slept in!  We slept all the way ’till like 9:30 or something!  it was super decadent, completely amazing.

And then when we opened up the tent flaps and looked out?  When we surveyed the domain of our campsite?  A perfect vista… literally the best view of mountains that I’ve ever seen, this amazing view over a beautiful alpine lake.

Breakfast was relaxed, but thankfully a certain Sarah brought along a really nice Aeropress, so we had some coffee along with the oatmeal.  And then… we just relaxed.  Didn’t really do anything for most of the morning; just threw some stones into the lake, played a quick game that could sort of resemble curling, if you didn’t know what curling was (basically we threw a big stone, and then tried to get close?  So sort of Bocce ball?).

Then we threw some more stones into the lake, and then had lunch.

After lunch, boredom ensued, so a quick mention of “That far peak looks like a cool place… let’s go hike up to it!” leads to scrambling, route-finding, and finally attaining a perfect ridgeline. More lunch is had, and then Sharia and Josh head down while Sarah, Dave and I press onward toward the mini-summit.

Which is beautiful! A ridgeline traverse leads to a steep section, and some nice semi-technical climbing (by the way I go, at least). Then we chill at the top to enjoy the views.

Heading down is a bit more technical; Sarah & Dave’s route-finding skills come in quite handy a few times, since there’s no real obvious trail, and there’re a ton of small cliffs that kept blocking our path.

But once we got back down to came we went right back to relaxing some more, then drank some more beer and ate some dinner.  Sarah even showed us all up by taking a swim in the lake… which was impressive, and made me a little concerned for her sanity if we’re being honest.

Two notes:

  • Yes, I said drank beer.  On a backpacking trip.  See… Dave had bought this system that comes with concentrated beer, which you re-hydrate and carbonate, and then can drink as if it were normal beer.  I tried to mix it up twice, and… well, I’m not allowed to mix the beer anymore :/
  • Dinner was mountain house meals.  If you haven’t had them… a quote that came up was that Mountain Houses are designed for “when you need some dynamite to blow up the brick shit house you’ve built in your colon”.  They’re tasty, but… yeah.  Definitely camping food in the best of times.
    Mine?  Well, it looked different, so everyone asked about it.  It’s a “pro pack” that I got in college, and had left over since then.  They asked when it expired.  I said never.  They asked me to check.  I found out that it had expired in 2013.
    I still ate it.
    I only slightly regretted that decision later.

Then, it got really cold really quick.  So we spent some more time stargazing, and headed to sleep sleep early again.

Monday, 07-September-2015

Up EARLY. Like… we’re walking by 7:15, and at the bottom of the boulder field a little after 8:00. The boulder field isn’t easy, by the way, and takes some more mad route-finding skillz, yo.  Dawg.

(Ed note: they weren’t Ben’s route finding skills.  Sarah and Dave led the way again, to great success)

As we walked out, I got hit by how tired and unused to backpacking I actually was.  I mean… I’m in good shape, but I was getting pretty worn out really quickly.  We pressed on and made it to the cars without any incident, of course, but still.  It was something of note, that I decided to keep working on during the week.

One possible reason that came up though, was the elevation that we were at.

  • The trailhead was at 6,400 ft above sea.
  • The campsite at Big Blue Lake was at 6,900 ft
  • The final peak that we hit was at ~7,500 ft

Those elevations don’t really exist in New England… so I’m taking solace in the fact that I was getting tired too quickly because of the elevation.  Not because I hadn’t been backpacking a year or so.  Totally not that.

Anyways.

We got back to the car, right?  Then we drove!  We grabbed some burgers in Yreka, explored town for a bit, and kept moving along.

Ashland was a “take a break from driving” stop; we grabbed some of the fancy sulfery water and ate ice cream! Took a walk through the park (played on a small climbing wall, listened to a guy rocking it on the Cello), then hit an amazing coffee shop, which is above a book store, and has an amazing back garden… basically an oasis of amazingness in the bone-dry Western Oregon.

The rest of the drive back up to Portland was pretty standard…

Backpacking over Labor Day, in Northern California: Friday and Saturday

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Backpacking over Labor Day, in Northern California: Friday and Saturday

It’s been a while since I’ve actually packed up my pack and gone on a solid backpacking trip. I think the last time was back in 2013, maybe? And even then, it was a solo excursion – no group shenanigans for me. Just a man in the wild, alone with nothing but his wits and a ton of random gear to keep him safe.

So going backpacking with a group of five was definitely a new experience for me, especially since we’d be exploring the mountains of the West Coast…

 

Friday, 04-September-2015

Friday was a simple day – Sarah and I had most of our gear packed independently, so we just took a bit of the evening to review what we’d packed, make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, and distribute the group gear between ourselves. That’s something I’ll have to get used to – not having to carry an entire tent for just myself, and not having to have a complete cook set for just myself. Getting to split the weight is really a nice bonus, though figuring out food for multiple people is definitely a new challenge for me.

 

 

Saturday, 05-September-2015

Saturday… well, it started early.

We met up with Dave at his house at 6:30, so that we could get the long drive done before the afternoon really got going. But that meant that we had to get going painfully early… which is clearly always cured via delicious breakfasts.

We hit Carl Jr’s instead. It wasn’t bad. But please believe me when I say it wasn’t ideal either. Greasy delicious fast food is amazing in the moment, but fast forward a few hours when you’re still in the car… well, it was the best we had, and I’m not complaining. The burger was definitely tasty, and the coffee woke us up. So that’s what matters.

Our goal was Yreka, a town that Mike & Liz & I had camped in back during my roadtrip. Kinda crazy thing – I actually remembered a lot about the town, and was able to safely and successfully navigate the group to find the ranger station. See, we needed to get a fire permit (even for campstoves) due to the obscene fire danger in California. We didn’t find one there, of course, but it was a solid starting point.

We found a place to get the permit, realized that everyone was at lunch right around the time that we realized that we were wandering into the back office of a fire station, and got ourselves a permit.

We linked up with Sharia and Josh, Sarah’s friends who were joining us. We drove up the trail, parked, put our packs on our backs, and started into the trail.

Thing about backpacking – it’s a lot of walking. The overarching trip makes for a good story… but the meat comes from campsites and summits. Not really the walk itself…

That being said, it was beautiful, and I had lots of excellent photo opportunities.

There was hiking.

There was, in fact, more hiking.

We found a lake! It was very pretty!

We found a boulder field. It was very steep!

I got tired. I kept climbing up the boulder field for, by my estimate, forever. I stayed tired.

Then, we hit the ridgeline. My brain exploded a little. You know those pictures of mountains that you see in Patagonia ads? Yeah. I think this was literally one of those places. This was the kind of scenery that I’d been waiting for my whole life. When I started backpacking, these views were what I wanted.

Hang out, take in the sights, split up the campsites and relax. We all heated up a bit of dinner dinner, stargazed for a bit, and headed to bed with the best views ever right outside our tents.

 

Christmas in Arizona: Breakfast with BFC, followed by some sad farewells.

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A southwestern Christmas – Vacation in Arizona

Sunday, 22-Dec-13 through Saturday, 28-Dec-13

 

Saturday, 28-Dec-13

  • Up and at ’em! For real this time, and we actually get out of the house before 8:30!
  • Instead of taking the usual mode of transport, my Dad’s fire-breathing Diesel pickup truck, we take a slightly smaller and more efficient mode of transport – the motorcycle. It takes me a bit of time to get used to being completely exposed, especially while doing 70 mph on the highway, but I do get used to it after a little while.
  • We link up with Greg and Cindy, the folks from Oregon that I’d met earlier in the week, and all ride out to a diner. It’s a nice 20min ride, and I love the sun and wind and everything. We had turned around right after leaving the house so’s I could get goggles, and I definitely appreciated that decision. I can’t imagine how it would have been without them, but with them was quite enjoyable.
  • Breakfast at the diner was a great time – It was the monthly Bikers for Christ meeting, a motorcycle group that my dad belongs to, and I enjoyed getting to talk and hang out with all the guys there. We ate, drank coffee (possibly more than was necessary), and had a good time.
  • After breakfast, we rode back to the house, more than a bit somberly since it was only to grab my gear and head back toward the airport.
  • I get a call: strange number, and no one replies when I ask who it is. So I hang up.
  • I get another call: same strange number. This time I wait a bit, and get rewarded with a robot voice telling me that my flight it going to be delayed by an hour. Ok! Awesome, get to hang out at home for a bit longer, chatting and relaxing with everyone (Puppies included). But it’s only a stay of execution, and before long we’re in the truck again, heading to the airport.
  • I get my tickets, and since there’s no line at TSA we grab a cup of coffee and hang out in the Arizona sun one last time. It’s nice, and we chat and sip the coffee as long as we can before I head through security.