25 September 2006

Bear sightings: Mama and cub on the Big Bluestem Trail

This is mama bear. Here's a picture of both, mama and cub. (As usual, click for a larger image and much larger image options.)

The bears were seen in Boulder Open Space, on the Big Bluestem trail. Trail map here.

What's most amazing about this is that I had the camera handy!

19 September 2006

Climbing the Curecanti Needle

The rain fell heavily as Bob, Chris, Chuck & I talked about whether to pack up and paddle in or to go to the Telluride Blues & Brews festival. Tough decision ... Chris said we should check out Curecanti Needle from the Pioneer Point. We drove over, heaters on. It was cold. Not enticing boating weather. (Image to left, courtesy of ghostdepot.com - click on image.)

The view was spectacular as was the wind. The rain tapered off so we decided to go for it. I wondered what we were getting into as we carried the boats, climbing gear, beer and camp gear down to Morrow Point Reservoir.

Being the least familiar with paddling inflatable kayaks, I was plied with the threat of tsunamis from dam releases, fierce rapids and other jokes - as they turned out. Despite these fears, I survived the inital rapids in decent form. After paddling about 4 miles, we reached the Needle with stable weather, and headed up to scope out the route potential on the West face.

Bob & I ended up doing a nice, thought provoking 5.10- line. First ascent of this route? Maybe but who really knows .. or cares. Fun is fun! (Well, maybe that last stretch of offwidth/ chimney wasn't fun but ...) Chris & Chuck found a fun line around the corner.

It was getting dark as we rappelled off. We paddled across to the other side for beer, camp, dinner and a welcome campfire. It was a cold night. Next day we did some fishing and I caught a kokanee salmon. They guys thought we'd do better later. So I released it. What a nice fight that fish put on. It turned out to be the only fish we caught.

Getting back to the trailhead was a chore. The Blue Mesa dam was releasing - meaning we couldn't paddle close to the trailhead, due to the current. Lot's of work getting the gear to the trucks but what a hell of a weekend trip!! Climbing, boating, fishing, camping and oh yeah, Chris's single malt!

Paddling this water was a dream. Rock walls overhead. Scoping new routes, thinking of the lunkers down deep .. I might have to move down here.
Trip photos here.

13 September 2006

I'm a star! The Lonestar Mountains music video is out!

As reported in the I'll be a stunt man! and Steve Mestdagh - the stuntman posts, this filming action was no hoax! The video is now out.

Once Mike, the amputee, is shown, I'm the climber in all the vertical filming. All 5 seconds of it. Don't blink while watching. (This leaves me 14 minutes and 55 seconds of fame still to come.) The music is pretty good too. It's nice to be part of this film and see how it was made.

The video is here. [Edit: Seems like the previous link is no longer available. I couldn't find it anywhere else either. Too bad, you can no longer view the action .. ]

11 September 2006

Climbing at Wild Iris, Wyoming

You'd think with 7 climbers, we could get some decent climbing pics but no! All I have is a nice shot of a vacant Cowboy Poetry wall, right - click to enlarge, and a beautiful sunset.

It was nice to go as a group of parents with kids. The kids sure liked it! We climbed with Cammie & Steve Muller, Linda & Helmut Tsingstad and Dianne Dallin.

Driving home we took the scenic route to avoid the Labor Day traffic. From I-80, we headed South to Saratoga, Wy and stopped. Yes, we had a problem. My fishies, Mia and Julia, just had to go the the local hot springs. The hot springs adjoin the public pool which is not hot. Hot springs are free, pool isn't. Saratoga is a nice, Mayberry like community.

After the dip, we drove south through North Park in Colorado. Walden to Grandby to Grand Lake and over Trail Ridge road to Estes Park and home. It was a beautiful drive and no traffic. Longer? Yeah but it was worth it!

10 September 2006

Stopping at Dad's house on the way home

We stopped for a few nights at Dad & Moms house on the way home. They live in Elwood, IL. The backyard is beautiful this time of year. In the picture to the left, dad is showing off his yard to Mia.

Here's some more pictures of the family at the house.

On the drive out, we also stopped at Dad & Moms. We took a trip to Chicago's beautifully redone lake front area. Here's some pics from that day.

09 September 2006

Niagara Falls lives up to the hype

Since we were driving by Niagara Falls, we had to stop. I figured it was mostly hype and just a big tourist attraction. I was wrong! Very impressive.

Definitely check out the pictures here and witness the awesome power of water.

Best campsite of trip - Winner is .... drumroll, please

The best camp of the trip was in New York on the South shore of Lake Ontario at Lakeside Beach State Park. We were lucky and found a site right on the lake.

More pictures of this site here.

08 September 2006

Maine, Lobster and the Sea

We drove over the Kancamagus Highway thru the White Mountains to get to Maine. Everyone we had met said it was spectacular. For us westerners though, it was mundane. Lot's of trees and nice views but ... When the leaves change, I'm sure it's beautiful.

Every time we visit a new region, we think how it would be to move there. I was really excited about Maine. Living on a remote rocky coast, living with the changing of the tides ... I could move to a place like that, if there was climbing nearby.

It was not to be. While the towns & sea were beautiful, it was hard to see the nature without wearing special blinders. These blinders would have to change the rows on houses on the shores to rock and trees.

Anyway we found many spots of beauty and one damn good lobster joint. It was great sitting outside, at a picnic table, watching the gulls over the bay as we ate lobster. Sharing the table, was a family that knew how to eat lobster. They showed us how! The lobster joint was so busy, I'd feel bad publicizing it. Send me a mail if you're interested in location.

Acadia National Park was a place of beauty, see the 2nd picture. Visit during the week because parking is limited. Good climbing too. Most climbs are accessed from the top of the cliff, meaning you have to rappel down or be lowered off. Both techiques were needed when Julia climbed, since I went down with her (see below). Here's another spectacular picture of an unknown climber at Acadia NP.

All Maine pictures are here.

07 September 2006

Climbing in Rumney, New Hampshire (Na-hamp-sha)

We arrived in early afternoon, headed up to the cliffs and hopped on the rock. It was immediately apparent this was a special area. Well textured and easy to get used to .. for us. We found the grading to be a bit inconsistent but who cares when the routes were so good. The best camp we found was Swain Brook Campground. This was about 15 miles from the cliffs but after a number of lousy camps, we needed a decent one.

The next day, Al Torrissi drove up from Andover, MA. Al and I are old climbing partners. He made the poor decision to move back East about a decade ago. It was great to see him and have him show us around.

We headed up to Bonzai cliff to climb some ridiculously overhanging, mostly juggy routes. The picture of me, to the right, is one of them. What a riot! Here's one of Mia. My favorite was Peer Pressure, 5.10d. This was one wild route, starting with a looong reach at the bottom. Once I climbed past this (yeah, I fell a few times), it was a joy until the top where it overhung in both directions. I pulled it off but barely. Julia had fun on a climb also.

Bye to Al, as he drove back in his new Prius. We headed back to camp and talked about where to go tomorrow. We decided to do a bit more climbing here and then head to Maine.

All of the Rumney climbing pics are here.

06 September 2006

The fishies (Mia & Julia) demand a beach!

We had to hit at least one beach, on the trip. Mia directed me to Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.

Climbing at the Shawagunks

The 'Gunks, near New Paltz NY, has the best all around trad climbing in the country. A 5.5 climb next to a 5.10 next to a 5.8. Yeah, we squeezed in some climbing on The great Mid-Atlantic / New England road trip also.

Here's a pic of Mia leading the Horseman, a wild 5.5.

I lead two 5.10 climbs also in our 3 day stay, Retribution and Nosedive. Both strenous and thought provoking. Mia lead Son of Easy O, 5.8, which has a slabby, fingery crux. I was paddling for all I was worth to not fall!

We were limited to leading routes with anchors at the top of the first pitch. Didn't want to leave Julia alone below. This is a great place for older kids because of the easier routes. We'll be back in a few years when Julia is older.

Once in a lifetime family reunion

The O'Hara/ Kohlepp reunion was pretty overwhelming. Most of the relatives were from the East. I knew Uncle Tom and Aunt Beverly. The Gruendel's from St. Louis were there as well as my sister, Laura, and her daughters, Sarah and Christine. So I knew 10 people by face.

I remembered many more and I met them. Based on the family history, I figured the reunion would be a beer sloshing event w/ sloppy hugs, pats on the back and hilarious laughter filling the hall. The beer was almost absent. Everyone was intent on figuring out what family line the next person was born from. It was great! I remember 2 older girl relatives visiting us, in Illinois, from Baltimore when I was young. I re-met Ann Marie and Joyce. What a pleasure! I remember having a crush on Ann Marie and told her so. We got a good laugh out of it!

The great Mid-Atlantic / New England road trip

The excuses for this road trip are pictured at right - Aunt Beverly and Uncle Tom Kohlhepp! A once-in-a-lifetime family reunion in Baltimore, Maryland. (Mary Ann Bacon was also a major force in organizing the reunion. I've never met her though).My Mom, rest her soul, grew up in Baltimore. I'd see over 120 relatives. Many I haven't seen in 40 years to never! Couldn't pass this up.

Mia & I talked and ran the numbers. If we flew, our options would be limited and more expensive. If we drove ... well, we could camp, climb and explore the East like we do in the West, in theory anyway. Also we could visit my parents in Illinois enroute, in both directions ... and it would be cheaper. Decision made. Three weeks vacation hesitantly obtained.

For those who want to see the pictures NOW, instead of wading through subsequent posts ...

Look here!