Saturday, October 24, 2015

October in Newfoundland

I am a bit backlogged as far as trip updates, life seems to be very busy at the moment. However, I had such a great time on a recent trip to Newfoundland that I would feel bad if I didn't share a little.

It had been 9 years since my last visit to "The Rock" and I had never been when there was no snow, so I was curious to explore the outdoors more. Lori had already been visiting for a couple of weeks by the time I arrived, so she had time to get reacquainted with friends and family. Stan, also decided to join us and it was his first time.

The day after arriving ( I got in at midnight), we drove four hours from St. John's to Bonavista, Lori's hometown. It is a beautiful town on Bonavista Bay in the midst of a renovation to many of the heritage homes. Although the fishing industry has seen an almost complete collapse, tourism is starting to revitalize the region. Lori's family has lived here for around 7 generations and it was great to tour the area and get a sense of the deep connection she has for this place.

We drove Dad Hayward around while visiting places and came across one of the boats he had built years ago. It had been abandoned for some time but it was really interesting to hear how he built boats, from cutting down the right types of trees for the frame to the final finishing touches.

Lori and Dad Hayward

Stan and I had a great walk one morning from The Dungeon to Cape Bonavista Lighthouse. We managed to get out just before sunrise and catch the beautiful morning light.

The Dungeon

Stan enjoying the view

Cape Bonavista Lighthouse

Lori also took us on the Skerwink Trail near Port Rexton. It is a very scenic 5 km loop along the ocean that Lori's step dad helped to build.

That same day, as Stan explored the town of Trinity, Lori and I went over to the site where the movie Random Passage was filmed. We had the place to ourselves and the grounds were covered in ripe blueberries and partidgeberries.

Random Passage site

Kearley's Harbour
One of the other great things about Bonavista is the sunsets, every evening there was an amazing sunset. Both of the following pictures are right outside of Dad Hayward's house.

We also had a few days to spend in St. John's with Lori's sister. It was definitely a whirlwind of visiting and socializing.

"The Gut" in Quidi Vidi

Wendy and Lori enjoying excellent food at Mallard Cottage

A view of Fort Amherst and Cape Spear
I really enjoyed St. John's, as far as cities go, its a good one. People are very friendly and the views are great. I definitely would like to go back for a more extended visit.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park 5 day loop

I recently made a trip down to King's Canyon and Sequoia National Park for a five day backpacking trip with a couple of friends.

The original plan was to try a mostly off trail route using Andrew Skurkas new mapset for the High Sierra Basin Route. But after thinking it through and due to concern that there may still be persistent snow on the north slopes, we modified the loop to be completely on trail. Total mileage ended up being about 63 miles with 17,000 feet of elevation gain.

the route



Day 1 (~13 miles) Road's End to Roaring River

We had a leisurely start after sleeping in until 6 and managed to hit the trail by slightly after 8.

Obligatory start of trip photo

The first mile is flat and heads east through mostly coniferous forest. But after that it was pretty much all uphill until we made it to Avalanche Pass at 10,000 feet. I think we all quickly realized that the higher altitude was going to be a challenge for us sea level dwellers and we had to slow down our pace considerably.

looking down towards Road's End

climbing Avalanche Pass

Avalanche pass itself was a bit of a disappointment, it sounds really epic and cool but there is actually no view, the pass is completely tree covered. After lunch we started the descent down to Roaring River ranger station. The trail become a bit more difficult to follow and was also quite steep in places. After a long descent with alot of sliding around on loose rock and pinecones, we made it to our first camp along the river. Surprisingly, that 13 miles took us almost 9 hours and was pretty exhausting.

Day 2 (~ 15 miles) Roaring River to just past Gallats Lake

After a nice sleep and breakfast, we broke camp and headed towards Colby Pass. Jacob got all fancy and made breakfast bread, which looked better than my granola.

Breakfast Bread

The first five miles were through the river valley and were pretty enjoyable. Mosquitoes were out but not terrible and there were some beautiful meadows.

Big Wet Meadow

Looking down to Big Wet Meadow

The climbing started after we passed Big Wet meadow and continued steadily towards the pass. We were all going pretty slow and took a much needed lunch break at Colby Lake. It was a fantastic spot and we were really tempted to spend the night there but ambition and common sense overruled and we pushed on after a refreshing swim. The final mile up to the pass is really steep, with many switchbacks. I was definitely feeling the altitude.

The top of Colby pass is spectacular with wide views to the east and west.

Colby Pass

near Gallats Lake

The rest of the day was downhill to our campsite on the Kern-Kaweah river.

Moonlight over the Kern-Kaweah

Day 3 (~ 14 miles) Kern-Kaweah river to just south of Forester Pass

For some reason I had it in my head that today was supposed to be an easy day. I guess I should have paid attention to the elevation profile a bit more. We descended for the morning until we joined up with the High Sierra Trail. After that it was a steady climb up the valley and then east across to the PCT/JMT. My stomach was bothering me for a good part of the day, another sign that I wasn't acclimatized. I think the other guys were not feeling too hot either. Despite not feeling 100%, as soon as we hit the high country and everything opened up I was really, really happy to be out there.

more climbing

map check

We joined the PCT and started north towards Forester, the last time I was here everything was covered in snow and I could pump out 25 miles a day. This time around, I struggled to do 15.

looking south on the PCT near Forester Pass

Locus gear pyramid tarp

Day 4 (~ 13 miles) south of Forester to campsite on Bubbs Creek

We hit Forester in the morning and despite it being the highest pass we would cross, it was one of the easier ones. The last switchbacks up to the pass are steep but they went by quickly and very soon we found ourselves looking down. Today I had a headache, which didnt really go away until we made it to our last camp, which was at around 8000 feet.

Looking north

After Forester it was literally all down hill. The scenery is amazing and we took numerous stops to photograph and enjoy the view.

looking back towards Forester Pass

view down to Vidette Meadow

Peaks along Bubbs Creek

the last camp

Day 5 (~ 8 miles) Bubbs Creek to Road's End

Sleeping next to the creek was great, it seems that the noise from the creek provides for wonderful dreams. We packed up quickly and cruised the last 8 miles to the car.

Bubbs Creek trail

looking up Paradise Valley

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The melon fields of Yuma and a failed attempt at Garrett's Arch in Joshua Tree

This is the time of year where I am required to work in Yuma. Normally, I suffer through the experience and come away thankful that I live where I live and have the life that I have. This time was a little different. Our melon trials were planted in an earlier slot (you may recall I was in Arizona in early February, that was to  plant them) and we really lucked out this time with some incredibly pleasant weather. This was the first time to evaluate a trial in Yuma where the temperature stayed under 100.

The difference this made to my state of mind was like night and day and I actually enjoyed my time there. It helped that we had a lot of great materials to evaluate and brix were going through the roof. Brix is a measure of sugar compounds, and makes the melons taste sweet, this year was a landmark, we were getting brix as high as 19, in western shippers! I know I know, this means nothing to 95% of you but you can take my word that this is really great.

Getting up at 4 am is not my favorite thing to do but at least there are nice sunrises.

Of course, no trip to Yuma would be complete without a stop over in Joshua Tree National Park.

Our goal this year was to find Garett's Arch, reported to be the largest arch in the park and hidden in the Wonderland of Rocks. This landmark is a little easier to find than some of the other hidden gems we have discovered, there are at least GPS coordinates.

Rakesh and I started out at the parking lot for the Barker Dam and followed a well defined trail up to the Wonderland Ranch. I had been here before so this was nothing new, but still interesting to find the ruins of a pink house. I wonder why it was pink?

After the ranch we used the garmin gps, normally for driving, to navigate towards our goal. This is not the best application for this type of gps but we figured it would be good enough. We knew the right direction, it was just a matter of moving through and around the terrain to get there.

This is probably too much information but I had an emergency bowel movement, without any form of toilet paper. Normally, this would not bother me too much, but out here there really are not any nice leaves to use, sticks and rocks had to suffice. You can use your imagination...

After doing some minor bouldering we found an old stamp mill where they used to process rocks for gold dust. This is one of the cool things about roaming around out here, the relics of abandoned dreams are everywhere.

There were a few rusting trucks as well, always fun to play around on.

Eventually we made it to where our GPS said we should find the arch and we were very disappointed. It really didn't look like much at all. Well, it turns out that we entered the wrong coordinates, the car GPS only takes degrees and minutes but not seconds and we didn't realize this. So... fail, no Garett's Arch.

not Garrett's Arch

But at least we had a good time and it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be a beautiful sunrise and sunset.