canyonwren: (coffee)
Went up the Mountain Loop Road to check out the state of the ice caves. It was a gorgeous hike up--I was the one-woman advertisement for Microspikes, though. It's a popular trail, so many people were there. No one had footgear with good traction except for me, and the trail was thick with ice. I got up in record time, but had to stop and demonstrate the spikes multiple times. A few people are definitely going to head out and buy them.

The caves are looking fantastic. There's an extra little arch in front of the main cave, which is large enough for a person to stand under. And so they do. I spotted about 5 people posing under the arch, although I didn't see anyone venture into the main cave this time. A bunch of people  decided to slide down the hill above and to the side of the caves, though, which isn't the brightest idea ever. Every year, I wonder if there's going to be another fatality. People just won't take the warnings seriously.

Still a lovely day and nice energetic hike.

Ice Caves

A few more... )
canyonwren: (coffee)
Overall mileage: Exactly 100 miles
Day 1 mileage: About 12 miles (Balmaha to past Rowardennan)
Buttkicking Factor: Really, not that tough. Just long.

I've been stalling on writing this up because the final trip report is going to live on my WordPress. I want other people looking for information about the trail to find it more easily. I'm going to start working through it here, before I start forgetting. This is mainly going to be a photo post, though.

Entire Scotland Photoset on Flickr, if you want to cut to the chase.

Day 1 - Glasgow --> Luss (by bus) --> Balmaha (by waterbus) --> past Rowardennan (by foot)

So, pre-Day 1. I'd spent close to two months planning and hashing out different strategies for attacking this hike. The big question was, "Do I have time to do the whole thing?" The answer was really no, so I decided to start the hike from Rowardennan, on the shore of Loch Lomond. This meant skipping the first (boring) day of the hike--rural, mostly on hardtop-- and regretfully missing the second (nicer) day over Conic Hill and dropping down into Balhama. Then, at the last minute, I had an extra day open up. I was still intending to start at Rowardennan, so got on the bus in Glasgow first thing in the morning (i.e., the morning after I arrived), and set off for Luss.
Narration and photos! )

Later: Day 2
canyonwren: (coffee)
Still on the agenda - finishing my photos and actually writing up the hiking log for my 6-day West Highland Way + Ben Nevis (Scotland) journey. It was amazing and beautiful, and I need to get to it before the details start fading from memory. My feet are still peeling. I think the memories are safe until the body heals, at least.

Today I finally did Maple Pass Loop.
Mileage: 7 exactly
Buttkicking factor: I don't know. I'm in pretty good hiking condition right now, so it didn't faze me at all. 2.5 late season North Cascades Stars?

I tried to do this hike a few weeks ago, but the forest fires were burning and there was too much smoke in the air. My eyes were burning as soon as I got out of the car, and I was worried that my asthma would kick in if I tried to hike in it. That said, I am so pleased I waited (even though that meant doing the long drive out there twice). The views today were out of this world.

There's not much else to talk about. I didn't find it a particularly strenuous hike, but I'm also at my late summer peak hiking fitness right now. (WHW + Ben Nevis was 100 miles, and I've been out every weekend before that since June.) One of the best things about it was the route down was along the spine of the mountain. I adore thin ridge hikes! They're not particularly common to find on established trails, so this was really lovely.

But absolutely hilarious coincidences for the win! Nearing the top of the pass, before heading down on the ridge walk, I passed two people with a lovely dog. I didn't pay attention to the people, but admired the spotted dog and petted him. Then I came home and loaded up my pictures onto my Flickr. At the same time, one of my Flickr contacts loaded his pictures up. The dog! IT WAS HIM! I guess we've never actually met in person. It's so funny... we've been chatting online for years, and here we just passed breezily on the trail. It's probably happened before - I occasionally catch signs on the hiking boards that I did the same hike as someone I knew online- but never quite like this.

A few pics )
canyonwren: (coffee)
Hiking Log: Scott Paul Trail to Park Butte Trail, following the ridge along Schreiber Meadow (South Mt. Baker)
Mileage: 8
Time: 4 hrs, 10 minutes
Buttkicking Factor: 2 "getting in shape" Mt. Baker stars out of 5. I took the route up Scott Paul and down Park Butte, which may or may not have been easier than the other way around. It did not seem to be a really tough hike, but I'm also getting in decent hiking condition again.

I cannot believe I forgot my camera. Yes, I took a few shots with my phone, but although the Samsung camera is decent, it just didn't capture the amazingness of this hike. For such a breezy hike, this was downright luscious. The alpine meadows were a rainbow of color - fully blooming pink heather, blue lupines, yellow daisy-like flowers, mauve daisies, white bunches of something I used to know. ("Flowers that I uuuusssed to know...." That'd be a great song, less whiny than the original hit.)

I'm very partial to alpine meadows, and this was a good one. I've been up to Schreiber on and off since I was a kid, but I don't think I've ever hiked the entire loop. I don't think the loop existed before a few years ago. The Scott Paul branch of the trail is fairly recent, I believe. In any case, this was the best, most picturesque jaunt I've been on in a while. There was one dicey water crossing, but decent with a pair of trekking poles. Amazing views of Mount Baker and various glaciers, flowers in riotous colors like a circus tent, ridge walking, valley walking in what is the graveyard of an ancient glacier, an amazing swingy bridge, high peaks everywhere, and finally, blueberries perfectly in season. 10/10, would hike again. Would hike again tomorrow, if I didn't have to work.

A few phone pictures )

This was also the maiden voyage of my Inreach satellite communicator/safety beacon/GPS device. I received a message from a pre-arranged tester. I sent messages back. I tracked my progress. 4 or 5 people watched my hike remotely on the web portal-- my beacon pinged my location every ten minutes, and overlaid my progress on a map that they could access. If the lady who followed my river crossing had lost her footing and was swept away, I could have hit the SOS button for immediate SAR notification--more or less--with my exact coordinates. (Or, alternately, gone to help her.) Overall, a good day.

Here's a screenshot from the Inreach web portal. Each blue dot represents the location ping every ten minutes. Cannot believe the resolution on their maps!

Screen shot 2014-08-17 at 9.45.40 PM

ETA: That short distance between the two dots on the right hand side? That's where I had to climb over a freaking enormous tree. Took forever.
canyonwren: (coffee)
Part 1

I'm way overdue for these, although Camp Muir was just last weekend. Enchanted was the 2.5 day backpack the weekend before. As I'm probably going to go out again next weekend, I should at least put down a few passing words. This weekend was an attempt and failure. I tried to choose one away from the fire influence, but when I got out there (a three hour drive), a very short time outside the car led to extremely burning eyes. My lungs were fine, for the moment. 24 hours later, my eyes are still burning. I simply can't tolerate wildfire smoke, it seems.

The two other hikes I wanted to do this month are right out, as both are too near the fires. (Both are Enchantment-area.) I am so fucking brokenhearted about this. I wish I'd done Chiwakum more recently than 2009, when I backpacked up there with Francie for a few nights. Someone on Facebook posted a picture taken from HWY 2, and I knew exactly where it was. The flames reached the top of the trees. Personally, I felt like throwing up. The individual? Posted something like, "Woo! S'mores! Hahaha! Too soon?" Yeah. Too fucking soon.

Enchanted Valley )
canyonwren: (coffee)
I haven't had the energy to write up this hiking log over the last week, and I'm off again in a few hours. Until I get to it, here's the actual Chalet. You can see how it is undercut by the river.

Chalet undercut by river
canyonwren: (coffee)
Project "Condition for my next 100-mile hike" continues. I wanted to do two two-fer weekends in a row, but both of these hikes left me completely blasted. Next weekend, I'm doing a 26 mile/2 day backpack, so it'll be my first two-fer in quite a while. (Through heavy bear country, too. Woo.)

Last weekend, I set off to do Tuck and Robin )

Yesterday was Excelsior to High Divide )

Back at the car.
canyonwren: (coffee)
My summer hiking getaway was to do the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland, which runs from the Landmannalaugar area, up and over volcanic highlands, and down to the wooded gloriousness that is Þórsmörk. I held onto the possibility of continuing on the Fimmvörðuháls route to Skógar, but ended up only hiking to the pass and returning for a second night in Þórsmörk due to threatening weather. (And the presence of a sauna in Þórsmörk.)

Kilometers: ~64, with the jaunt up the pass to stare at Eyjafjallajökull.
Buttkicking factor: Not bad. I thought it was a pretty easy hike overall.

To start, Iceland is the perfect place to play that old game of "The GROUND IS MADE OF LAVA!" Because, you know, it is.

Click to get inundated with photos. )

The next morning I was up before any of the other hikers, hoping to hit nice morning light while out on the trail. The day was definitely less foggy and started off in a gentle downhill beside the local steaming vent and then several ice caves.

The second day of gorgeousness! )

The third day was the hardest day, although it truly wasn't that physically demanding. For fitness, the first day felt like I had legs of lead. The second day, I was still kicking into gear. The third day, I was feeling fine, but the terrain was an endless slog of volcanic debris fields. VERY windy and not as pretty as the previous two days.

More photos! Lake Alftavatn to Botnar in Emstrur. )

The walk into Þórsmörk! I'd been looking forward to this for a while. This area is a mountain ridge between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull. It has a warmer climate than most of Iceland and has far more vegetation. Birch trees, some other planted trees, moss, ferns, other shrubs, and so on. When the eruption happened in 2010, some months after I'd been there for the first time, the entire area was apparently covered in ash. There's no sign of devastation now, though. All the ash has cleared away and the area looks just like it did in 2009.

Day 4. Started off the morning... )
canyonwren: (coffee)
I went on two wonderful hikes over the last two weekends: Mt. Ellinor with [ profile] moodyduck and [ profile] thewronghands, and the Foss Lakes Trail solo. I really should write up hiking logs --I've been increasing slacktastic about doing this. I don't know if I've actually written any this year, although I've been out numerous times. Ah, well. Here are a few pics. If I get my act together, I'll actually write them up wit h more photos later.

Random prettiness )

Yeah, I'm tired. That's all you're getting out of me right now. :D

New 'Zuki

May. 13th, 2013 09:20 pm
canyonwren: (coffee)
Suzuki Crossover S4

A little AWD crossover Suzuki S4. This is a much better trail car than the Sunfire and I've wanted one for quite a while. I didn't trade in the Sunfire, since they only offered me $100 for it (ha!), so I have to sell/donate it soon.
canyonwren: (coffee)
Went out into the San Juans with my dad's newly restored Thunderbird boat. It's almost exactly like the one we had when I was a kid, just sized down a bit. I missed that boat so much and am delighted he replaced it. A few pics )
canyonwren: (coffee)
Last weekend was my annual Coastsavers weekend, so I returned to my adopted beach for the fourth or fifth year in a row--I'm losing track. Last year, I attempted to camp at the trailhead for the first time. The Park Service offers free camping that day, assuming many of the people who show up this early in the year are there to participate in the coast clean-up effort. Some do, some don't. It's always funny to see the campers and boy scouts heading out on the 3-mile walk to the beach, all baffled by the incoming loads of trash. Anyway, after last year's effort at camping next to a bunch of "bros" who were practicing their loud and casual sexism late into the night (really, that's all you guys have to talk about?), I was reminded about how much I hated car camping in crowds, and didn't bother this year. Stayed at my favorite inn in Port Townsend and made my way out first thing in the morning.

Raining this year. This is normally not a big deal to me. I go hiking in the rain all the time. However, the Ozette triangle has wooden boardwalks for a significant portion of the trail--at least 2 of the 3 miles. These are made of old wood, and bare wood, and get slick as hell in the rain. I put on my pack and walked out semi-quickly and VERY carefully.

The awesome thing is that all the stewardship is really paying off. Of course, there is still a lot of marine debris on the beach, but this year wasn't as dire as it has been. People have been staying on top of the tsunami trash, and therefore anything else floating up. (This was my third time out in a year, and I know Coastsavers sponsored another event last fall. It's making a difference.) There was still plenty of crap out there, but I was actually expecting it to be much worse. I spotted tsunami trash aplenty last year, but this year, not so much. The enormous styrofoam floats have all been broken down and/or carried out, and they were the worst remnants of the storm.

I still managed to load my pack completely full and balance two more bags on each side. It wasn't the heaviest load--still had a ton of styrofoam--so I tackled the worst thing I saw that day: a heavy ship sink. God only knows where it came from. It's buoyant, since it apparently washed ashore with some other wooden wreckage (pallets, not obvious boat wreckage). It took all my spare straps to get that thing on my backpack, bolstered up with some scavenged rope. The weight was pretty high on my back, so threw my balance off a bit, but portable. Carrying that thing back on the boardwalk was SO not fun, though. I had to walk at a snail's pace or risk falling, which meant it took close to two hours to haul that thing to the dumpster. Still, the Park rangers and Coastsaver folks at the staging ground reacted with appropriate enthusiasm, gave me cookies, and sent me off with a cheery, "See you next year!"

A few pics )
canyonwren: (coffee)
Once [ profile] thewronghands was done learning even more ninja badassery, we decamped our lovely business hotel in the Ayase district and headed off for the distant mountain town of Iga. If I remember correctly, this required about a million years on a train. The bullet train was quick and efficient, but we parted way with it and climbed aboard a local train winding down toward the coast. Slowly. With many stops. Many, many stops. It was getting pretty late by the time we hit the last train change, and fully dark when we boarded the ninja train up the mountain.

Seriously, the ninja train. This was our first clue that the birthplace of Ninjutsu was really, truly, a THING for the town. Oh, yeah. Actually, the first clue was the shuriken painted on all the light fixtures on the train. Subtle, but a lovely warm-up to the kitsch that awaited us.Ninjas of Iga Ueno! )
canyonwren: (Kitty Love)
Thank you to everyone for being so supportive about the loss of my cat. Both on here and on Facebook, it's helped get me through some really tough days.

I was curious about what I could find regarding other cats dropping dead at the vet's office, so I did a lot of reading today. I've come to the conclusion that Tashi must have had heart disease, and probably had it at the advanced stage for the last six months. It is hard to diagnose in cats--for example, one symptom is sudden death in a stressful situation, like grooming or a vet visit.

Talk about kitty heart disease )
canyonwren: (coffee)
I'm not someone who deals with grief well--I never have been and I'm really aware of that tendency in myself. So, because I'm utterly failing in self-care at the moment, I'll distract myself by creating another post about Japan. Cut for a brief moment of wondering about shock and a quick bit of more brain-spinning processing. )

On our second day in Japan, I walked [ profile] thewronghands to the Budokan for her seminar, then bravely tackled Tokyo mass transit to find a park with blooming cherries. I'd been considering joining her for the workshop, but I'd mysteriously arrived in Japan with a damaged ankle that was not made better by hiking near Fuji. I still don't know what happened, but the area around my anklebone was horrifically sore and the entire thing had swollen up like a baseball. I was walking around on it only because I was not going to hang out in a sterile business hotel in Tokyo after flying all the way there. But no ninja training for me.

I didn't go to one of the more amazing gardens, because I wasn't sure how Japan Rail intermeshed with the subway system and wanted to make it easy on myself. I figured it out later, and to my dismay realized it was all pretty easy. Ah, well. I ended up at Inokashira Park. The cherry blossoms were just starting to come out, but the people were out in droves, admiring them.

Inokashira Park )


Apr. 10th, 2013 04:50 pm
canyonwren: (Kitty Love)
For those who knew her, Tashi passed away this morning after a brief illness. She was 17. I'm heartbroken about it, due to the circumstances. I took her to the vet for sub-q fluids to help perk her up, but she became so stressed while there that she went into respiratory failure and died. Needless to say, I'm pretty traumatized by it. I was not expecting to bury her today.
canyonwren: (coffee)
Let's see how my memory is, nearly two weeks later. :) I usually try to write travelogues as I go, but didn't do it this time. No excuses, except that [ profile] thewronghands was doing such a splendid job of it. I think this will mainly be a photo post.

Let's see if I can sum up. )
canyonwren: (coffee)
Apparently in breeding plumage.

Kyoto egret


Mar. 29th, 2013 01:10 am
canyonwren: (coffee)
I'll write about the Japan trip this weekend, most likely.

In the meantime, cherry blossoms and Fuji! )
canyonwren: (coffee)
Registration is open for this year's Coastsavers! Pick a beach and be part of the effort.

Washington Coast Cleanup 2012: April 20th


canyonwren: (Default)
Jen Kleis

November 2014



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