Gorgeous Mountain Day

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...Collapse )

Hiking Log: West Highland Way + Ben Nevis

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!Collapse )

Later: Day 2

Hiking Log: Schreiber Meadow Loop

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 picturesCollapse )

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.

Hiking Log: Enchanted Valley

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 ValleyCollapse )

Enchanted Chalet hike (27 miles)

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
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 RobinCollapse )

Yesterday was Excelsior to High DivideCollapse )

Back at the car.
excelsior

Distraction

I'm working on another entry about my trip, but I was reminded to send a link to the webcomic Scandinavia and the World to a Danish woman I met. The comic is drawn by an artist in Denmark, but my new friend was unfamiliar.

This led to too much time looking at the latest comics, which led to clicking on a bunch of extra links (explanations of the comics, since they refer to current events). Which led to looking at porn search terms from different countries.

SatW was making fun of Iceland's porn interests, but I think Hungary ("scat") and the Czech Republic ("castrated shemale") are weirder. But hey, what do I know? Common American search terms are boring. Trust me, the average set of search terms that lead to my Flickr account are often racier.

Landmannalaugar Trek

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.Collapse )

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!Collapse )

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.Collapse )

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...Collapse )

Hiking Non-Logs

I went on two wonderful hikes over the last two weekends: Mt. Ellinor with moodyduck and 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 prettinessCollapse )

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

New 'Zuki

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.

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canyonwren
All my life I'll read the sky

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