26 August 2010

Climbing in Fremont Canyon, WY

Fremont Canyon is a special place. It's a narrow granite gorge channeling the North Platte River. The North Platte (wikipedia) is one heck of an interesting river. It takes a long time and 3 states, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, before if finally marries the South Platte to form the Platte.

Mia & I haven't climbed there for at least 15 years. Besides a new picnic shelter and crapper, it hasn't changed much. The river was big this year. Imagine getting lowered to a spot 100' above the river and hoping you can climb back out!

The climbing is definitely scenic, as well as the camping. You can't see the gorge behind our camp but it's there and 250' deep at that!

A few more pics are here! There's even a decent climbing pic that Julia captured - to prove we are still at it. Oh yeah, definitely look at these guys and how they bring their dogs on their ATVs. I couldn't stop laughing!

Julia starts 3rd Grade!

Julia is getting big! She is SO excited to start 3rd grade. Here she is at the bus stop. Don't laugh at those legs. They are made of steel and can out hike most of you! haha

17 May 2010

Family Canyon Trip - Snow, Fun & a Pileup!

The canyon we did was great - Angel Cove Canyon!

Gettting there and getting back was heck though. Vail Pass was closed driving out, so we had to take the South detour over Fremont Pass to Leadville, then Tennesse Pass to Minturn where we connected back to I-70. Luckily the passes weren't bad.

I mention only one canyon because it rained early Sunday morning. Bob, Leila & Garrett left, then it started snowing. As we were 10 miles from blacktop, we got decided to get out while we could.

Except for the driving, everyone had fun. The kids really enjoyed the slides in the canyon and playing in a big sand dune afterwards. Leila had some fun of her own!

We salvaged Sunday w/ a hike at Fisher Towers. The towers are amazing! We saw a climber summit the thin corkscrew tower. This tower is called Ancient Art. Click on the picture for a larger view. You'll see the sheen off the climber's helmet.

We were lucky driving home. Between Copper Mountain & Frisco, it was a blizzard of horizontal snow and a whiteout in places. A westbound driver waved us to slow down. I couldn't see anything ahead but I started carefully pumping the breaks. Then we saw the problem. A semi had jack knifed across I-70. Cars were piling into each other, right & left of us, along the sides of the road to avoid hitting the truck. Of course, this left me to drive the ever narrowing funnel - which ended at the semi. Nowhere to go but forward - unless I wanted to pile into the cars along the side of the road. I thought I should have stopped 1/4 mile earlier so I must have been sliding quite a bit. I was focused on stopping and that I did - 15 feet in front of the truck. I yelled for Mia & Julia to get their coats and shoes on because we were bailing out of the truck before someone crashed into us - from behind. Luckily Mia saw a pickup threading it's way around the semi and through the ditch to the safe side of the semi. We followed and parked - breathing a sigh of relief. Then we got out to help others. I've never felt so helpless. Parents and kids in shock - walking around barefoot. A woman dropped a cell phone in my hands. She could no longer hold the phone. 911 was on the other end. I tried to describe the 40 car or so pileup and it's location, when the adrenaline started to subside and I started shaking. We helped the family back into the car as the EMTs arrived. Other people brought blankets for the family. We could have done that but were too shaken up. The EMTs had worked their way here from the uphill side. No fatalities at least. They said everyone was being cared for so we drove off - leaving dozens of wrecks in our wake. We offered rides to many but people needed to stay with their vehicles. We were the only East bound car on the road as we passed another small pileup Westbound. None of this even made the news. Too many accidents to cover on a nice spring day in May - May 2nd.

Much thanks to Dave Pimental for his writeup of this and other canyons here.

All pics are here, with a fun slideshow (only 19 pics) here!

28 April 2010

Spring BoyZ Canyoneering Trip

Here's a fun slideshow of our canyoneering trip to Utah. Bob Wood, Chris Haaland, Roger Schimmel w/ the new canyoneer Chris Kulish participating. Your favorite subject, Steve Mestdagh was along too. We did the 2nd fork of D Canyon the first day and Boss Hog the 2nd day. I had forgotten how fun Boss Hog was!

19 April 2010

Julia's 8th Birthday & Slumber Party

We didn't really know what we were getting into. Really we didn't. Nine girls overnight couldn't be that bad. First there was playing on the tree fort. The pic below shows Haley climbing up, Kyle sliding down.

Then face painting. Amanda was the expert face painter. She did Julia and a bunch of the girls. I should have taken a picture of the result of Amanda's face after Mia botched it. Luckily Amanda did not hesitate to wash it off immediately. Pictured below is Amanda, Calley and Julia.

Musical chairs followed. This turned very competitive but ended short of blood staining our asphalt. Following is a video of the training session. I decided to delete the competitive video (ahem .. some may call it evidence) of charming 7-8 year old girls head butting each other and chairs flying against the house. This behavior might have been induced by blasting Linkin Park's New Divide.

Then there was the whacking of the piƱata shown here by Jamie. Note the whacking stick is only a blur.

Then make your own grilled pizza, present exchange, roasted marshmellows, searching for tooth brushes, brushing teeth, searching for animals the kids couldn't sleep without, then sleep .. or NOT as the case would be when you have wall to wall mattresses and futons.

Then there was the episode of the horned monster which floated in the air followed by one call home by a crying child. We were worried that if one left, they would all leave. After that was the 10:30pm snack. They they escorted each other to the bathroom until 1 am in the morning. (See mention of monster above.)

Then it was quiet until 4 am. I woke at 4 and wondered what happened? Did they die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning? I could see the national headlines .. then I fell back to sleep exhausted.

Luckily, they were not so active the next morning.

Although later some caught a 2nd wind.

The full set of pics are here!

06 April 2010

Spring Break in Arizona

1. The start of our Arizona spring break trip before it really started snowing, 2. Steve & Jula having breakfast, 3. Steve climbing at the West side of Cochise Stronghold, 4. Mia & Julia @ Saguara NP East, 5. Julia leading a 5.7, 6. Montezuma's Castle

What a week! A big snow snow storm hit Thursday night and continued all day on Friday. We picked up Julia from school and headed South on Friday afternoon. Of course, Raton Pass on the Colorado/ New Mexico border was closed. We bought some toys for Julia and a Rain-X wiper at the Walmart, in Trinidad, while we waited. Don't bother w/ Rain-X wipers. They're good only for throwing up in the air and shooting w/ a shotgun. I'm glad I only bought one. After a few hours, the pass briefly opened so we could sneak through. We stopped at Motel 6 in Raton exhausted from the stressful driving. At least I was exhausted. Then Julia got sick - and not just a little. It was good we were not camping out. I'd be the one outside with her when she was doing her duty from both ends in 15 deg weather and howling winds. Lucky we were, alright.

The drive South thru New Mexico was incredibly beautiful with all the snow in the junipers and pines. I've never seen so much snow at low elevations. I'm sure the cars decorating the roadside landscape didn't think it was pretty though. One accident closed down I-25 just North of Sante Fe. A half hour wait and we again pointed the juggernaut South toward nice weather and dry roads - which occurred at Albuquerque.

We arrived at Cochise Stronghold, in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, that evening. Yes, this was the hideout & eventual burial ground of Chief Cochise of the Chiricahua Apache. (Interesting history of Cochise here.) The location of his grave is a secret. The ones that buried him took this secret to their graves.

During our stay, Mia picked up Julia's sickness. The whole east side campsite, heard all about it. The next day was my turn.

Between climbing at the east and west sides of Cochise Stronghold, we camped deep in the Chihuahuan desert. Ten miles from Mexico and nothing around but Creosote bushes and Ocotillo. The sunset, stars and sunrise were spectacular. We hit Bisbee and Tombstone during this diversion also. The Queen Copper Mine Tour at Bisbee was worthwhile but the mining museum was even better. Driving North to the West side of the Stronghold, there was a town called Tombstone. Tombstone labels itself as "the town too tough to die" and is where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday,Virgil and Morgan Earp fought the Clantons and McLaurys on October 26, 1881. Indeed, gunshots echo throughout the town as you, and modern day gunslingers, walk the boardwalk. Re-enactments of this famous gunfight happen daily. Step right up!

The west side of the Stronghold was very remote. We saw few people and no climbers. The climbing at the Stronghold was good but we only grazed the flanks of this convoluted range. On this trip we only did sport routes but we'll be back for longer routes when Julia is older.

A couple days near Tucson finally gave us the warm weather we were hoping for. Tucson has great climbing & hiking. We did a bit of each. Driving back home we stopped at Montezuma's Castle. This was a neat place. Julia received a junior ranger badge from the ranger Mary White, who showed her how to make a God's Eye - like the Indian children of the past.

The full set of trip pictures are here!

03 January 2010

Julia's 1st ski tour

We have been hesitating to get Julia out ski touring because it means a second set of ski equipment. Kids grow out of equipment every year or 2 so the cost adds up. Anyway, we rented some skinny skis and headed for East Portal - near Rollinsville. As we neared Nederland, it was obvious East Portal would be too windy. We detoured to the town of Eldora and skied West. Julia had fun - especially on the way down. She's used to having her heels fixed to her skis so she fell A LOT! There were more rocks in the snow, in the parking lot, than I remembered. I was going way too fast, hit the embedded rocks and crashed badly. I've been doing that a lot lately - crashing, I mean.

Here's a shot of a bundled Julia.

Christmas 2009

A loving family, a white christmas, a nice tree and good friends. What more can you ask for .. except nearby relatives? Here's a slide show of a dozen pics and a short video of our 32 person sit down dinner. After starting the slideshow, click the symbol in the lower right of the slideshow screen to view full screen.