Aug 28

Faust

Gounod’s Faust, with Angela Gheorghiu (Margeurite), Roberto Alagna (Faust), Bryn Terfel (Méphistophélès), and the Royal Opera House★★★★★

Though Gounod wrote several operas and much other music, the opera Faust remains among the best and most compelling works. It is a wonderful liberal adaptation of Goethe’s Faust to the opera house. Unfortunately, it is not so commonly performed. Betsy and I saw it in Chicago at the Lyric Opera house many moons ago, with Samuel Ramey playing Méphistophélès (i.e., the devil). Yet, the music is most delightful, and the storyline modestly faithful to the Goethe story and thus far more interesting than the standard Italian tragic opera. In this production, it was staged in 1800’s Paris, which isn’t exactly where Goethe scripted his Faust story, but fitting for a French Gounod adaptation. Most the scenes were well done, though a few were a bit outlandish and distracting, such as the bleeding statue of Christ in the first act, and Méphistophélès cross-dressed as a lady in the last act. Having Alagna and Gheorghiu fulfill the Faust/Marguerite rolls was quite fitting, especially when they were singing the love scenes, since they were (at least at the time of this opera production) a married couple. Both were superb actors as well as top class singers, and Terfel was equally capable, though sometimes criticized for not acting devilish enough. I have another production of Faust which tends to put one asleep after the first act, this production doing the opposite. It is a worthy opera to watch, and would be enjoyed, even by those who dislike opera.

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Aug 26

PhilSmithCollection

The Philip Smith Collection ★★★★★

Philip Smith was chair of the trumpet section for the NY Philharmonic Orchestra for many years, starting in 1978, and only retiring recently. He also taught at the Julliard School (which suggests that he had a huge, possibly direct influence, on Wynton Marsalis), where he also studied music. Much of his early trumpet education was from his father, playing in Salvation Army bands. Smith’s style of performance is distinctive and being quite melodious, and singsongy. His technical capabilities are at the top of the realm of virtuosity. What was most notable to me was his ability to blend in with an orchestra without standing out: it was more like an orchestra with a trumpet, rather than a trumpet with an orchestra. The resulting sound was most outstanding. In this collection of three CDs (two of which needed to be downloaded from iTunes), Smith performs both baroque/classical as well as modern pieces, some of which were written specifically for Smith. It is a most worthy collection to have of an outstanding trumpeter.

ArtOfTrumpet

The Art of the Trumpet, Håkan Hardenberger ★★★★★

Håkan Hardenberger, a Swedish trumpet player, makes distinction for having a very fluid, crisp style. He performs a combination of the traditional baroque/classical pieces as well as contemporary. His technical expertise, especially with tonguing, produces a very crisp sound that few trumpeters possess. He  never sounds brassy, but keeps a pleasant tone to his playing. Certainly he stands as one of the contemporary trumpet greats.

NakariaiovTrumpetPianoNakariakovTrumpetORchestraSergei Nakariakov: Trumpet & Piano, Trumpet & Orchestra ★★★★★

This set (of actually two separate albums) are a collection of single CD’s which have been previously published. Nakariakov made his first CD (in the Trumpet & Piano album) when he was only 15 years old, and even then he has a wonderful virtuosic sound. His performances are a mix of the standard baroque/classical trumpet repertoire as well as modern stuff. He plays a combination of instruments, including a flugelhorn. His technical brilliance is unprecedented, save for a few giants like Maurice Andre. Oddly, he doesn’t do Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto, which is probably one of the most demanding pieces in the whole trumpet repertoire to perform well. Owing to his young age, we can expect many more years of the most superb trumpet music from Sergei, and perhaps even hear more from Bach.

 

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Aug 09

WonderlandTrail2015-17

Wanderlust 2015

Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu den Bergen von welchen mir Hilfe kommt.
Meine Hilfe kommt von dem HERRN, der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat.
Er wird deinen Fuß nicht gleiten lassen; und der dich behütet schläft nicht.
Siehe, der Hüter Israels schläft noch schlummert nicht.
Der HERR behütet dich; der HERR ist dein Schatten über deiner rechten Hand, daß dich des Tages die Sonne nicht steche noch der Mond des Nachts.
Der HERR behüte dich vor allem Übel, er behüte deine Seele; der HERR behüte deinen Ausgang und Eingang von nun an bis in Ewigkeit.
Psalm 121

The lead photo is taken from Mirror Lake, in the Indian Henry Hunting Grounds region of Mt. Rainier

Jon and I did the Wonderland Trail about 9 years ago, and even then we discussed the possibility of doing the trail in the opposite (counter-clockwise) direction. For those who don’t know, the Wonderland Trail is a hiking trail that circumnavigates around the timberline of Mt. Rainier. It is 93 miles long, with additions that generally make for a 100 mile walk. A few people have run it in a day or two and some killjoys hike it in 4 days, but most will spend 7 – 14 days. A distinct aspect of the trail is that it is typically either going up or down, and rarely is flat, so that by the time one gets all the way around the mountain, they will have climbed at least 20,000 feet in elevation. The trail was built in 1915, and so this year was special in being the centennial year of the trail. The trail has changed much since 1915, and is constantly being revised, as weather and mountain dynamics do not leave for a totally stable walking surface. To do the trail, one must obtain camping permits in order to stay at the camping spots along the trail, and this year, they were particularly challenging to get, in that there were a record number of applicants, and 80% had to be turned down.

We felt blessed in that the weather was near perfect. A week before the trip, the weather was very soggy on the mountain, and the night after we came back, there was heavy rain. We experienced only a few drops on our tent the third night, and had intense fog on the 6th day, coming up the Cowlitz Divide to Indian Bar and over Panhandle Gap. The trail was in exceptionally good condition, with all bridges intact, and no major diversions. Our feet never got blistered, and we got home feeling quite good, with minimal soreness.

On such a long hike, daily routines are necessary. I would usually get up at sunrise (05:30) and Jon soon after. We’d have two cups of coffee and some breakfast bars for breakfast, get the tent down and the packs loaded, and were usually on the trail by 06:30 to 07:00. We would do lunch about 10:00-11:00 in the am, and finish hiking between 13:00 and 15:00. We would quickly set up the tent and unpack our sleeping bags to dry out, pump water for drinking and cook dinner. Several days were special, in that at Mystic Lake and Indian Henry’s, Jon and I took special time to enjoy cigars and wine, while bathing in the beauty around us. At Longmire and Sunrise, we were able to stop into the cafeteria to have real food, which meant a hamburger and Rainier beer at those locations.

One of the delights of such an adventure as this is in meeting people. Now, when you are many miles remote from any road or civilization, the number of people you meet are few and far between. On the Wonderland Trail, there are four types of folk that you encounter, which include…1) the day trip wanderers, many of whom have never set foot in the woods before, and typically found close to the main tourist access points, including Mowich, Sunrise, Paradise, and Longmire. These people tend to be unsociable. 2) Trail runners: these are super-skinny (cachectic) people doing a long distance point to point run, usually 35-50 miles, frequently female, getting picked up distant from where they started, 3) sectional hikers, usually people who are seasoned hikers on a limited time schedule, and 4) complete trail hikers. The complete trail hikers became easy to detect, some of them being on their first day, some on their last, and many in between. The in betweeners were often seen twice if they were going in the opposite direction from us. There were many solo hikers (often female), some quite old hikers (like a solo lady at age 70), and a few large groups. The one large group we saw had a person distinct as a girly-man (man in a Scottish kilt). There was a father-son team consisting of a mainland Chinese man with his 8-10 yo son, a 35-ish female with her 8 year old son, and a 40’ish female with her 20’s daughter, all of them successfully managing the trail. Among the complete trail hikers, there tends to be a fellowship, where you would often stop and chat for while, getting information on the trail, and the best campsites, water spots, etc. for where you were headed. You would concomitantly share advice with your fellow travelers.

The way in which you pack and what you wear on the trail make all the difference in the world. I remember my very first backpack trips as a kid, using backpacks and equipment from a local military surplus store, wearing waffle-stomper shoes, wool coats, and total disregard for weight. We also tended to return home miserable, sore, and with feet heavily blistered. Nowadays, I use an Osprey Atmos 65 pack (to limit how much I can put in), an Osprey hydration unit, summer Feathered Friends down sleeping bag and pillow, a small propane gas stove and titanium pot, high tech jacket and rain coat, and carry nothing that would be frivolous. My boots were Vasque leather boots, the same I used 9 years ago for the Wonderland, and once again, they held up well, with no blisters or foot problems. I did spend much time attending to my feet, using a sock liner underneath REI CoolMax socks, as well as applying an anti-friction ointment to the feet every morning. I used a egg-crate style foam mattress to sleep on, which was a mistake, as the ground was extremely uncomfortable, and will probably go with a Therma-Rest NeoAir pad for future ventures. We used the Big Agnes Copper Spur 3 which was just roomy enough for two people and light. I used REI UL hiking poles, which prevented any falls the whole trip, and was great security for crossing streams and treacherous ground, as well as protecting the knees up and downhill. Things I might do different would be that I would consider bringing a bear vault rather than worrying about hanging your food all the time, and consider bringing an iPad with a lightweight solar charger. I’m tempted to get a Garmin eTrex 35t to record my activities, like I do with bicycling adventures. I would also explore different foods, that would be lightweight, cheap, and efficient, and easy to make on the trail, with minimal dishwashing. Freeze dried foods are popular but not overwhelming filling or tasty. I’ll probably bring more cheese (heavy!!!!) and sausage. Pepperoni sticks oddly don’t last well, but Landjäger (German sort of pepperoni) does quite well in the woods, as well as summer sausage. I’d truly love to find how to bring sauerkraut on backpack trips, but would have to ask my German friends/relatives how well sauerkraut keeps in an unrefrigerated environment after being opened. Gummibären remains the best trail snack food, though Good-and-Plenty’s were easily devoured, slightly different than my impression on cycling trips. It’s odd how tastes differ so radically at home, on the trail, and on the bike.

Day to day events.

Day 1 – Mowich to Golden Lakes. This was a simple downhill, followed by a very long uphill. The campground was next to a beautiful lake where Jon went swimming. There was moderate anxiety still at this time as to the weather, and whether were still capable of a 9 day venture.

Day 2- Golden Lakes to South Puyallup River. Our permit stated that we were to go to Klapatchee Park, which is high up, and unusually beautiful. We were warned that there was no water at Klapatchee Park, so Jon and I both carried about 10 lb extra water up about 3000 ft climb from the North Puyallup River, only to find ourselves before noon at Klapatchee Park. Wishing tomorrow to be a shorter day, we took the risk of going on to the South Puyallup campsite, and stayed in the group camp site, only to be joined in pitch darkness by a solo lady hiker from New Zealand. There was plenty of room in the group site, and it was not problem for us.

Day 3- South Puyallup River to Devil’s Dream. This day took us up yet another very long climb to Emerald Ridge, and then around to the marvelously beautiful Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground. We had lunch, wine and cigars at Indian Henry’s, took a short side hike into Mirror Lakes, and then collected water at a lake on the way down to Devil’s Dream. The sky turned cloudy, and so for the first time, we put a fly on our tent, and got about 20 drops of rain that night. The clouds went away the next day.

Day 4 – Devil’s Dream to Paradise River. This was 11 miles but with minimal climbing, making it a very easy day, and wishing we had books along to read. We arrived at Longmire in order to pick up our first cache, had lunch at the Longmire Inn, and headed up to our campsite, which was unusually quiet, with us as the only occupants that night.

Day 5 – Paradise River to Nickel Creek. The was also 11 miles with minimal climbing, and thus quite simple. This took us over the entire south side of the mountain, following the road that goes along the south side of the mountain up to Paradise and then over to Ohanepecosh. There were numerous day hikers and kids on the way.

Day 6 – Nickel Creek to Summerland. This was a hard climb day, first ascending the Cowlitz Divide, running up the Cowlitz Divide to Indian Bar, and then going above the timberline to Panhandle Gap. It was cloudy all morning, and so there was minimal visibility, but very comfortable for a hard climb. The clouds parted at the Panhandle Gap, and we descended into Summerland in beautiful sunshine. During this section, we thought that our friends Russ and Pete would meet us on the trail, but never saw them at all.

Day 7 – Summerland to Sunrise. This was a long low-grade descent to the White River, and then on a trail paralleling the road to the White River campground. Approaching the White River, we saw a search and rescue team going up, thinking they might be going after Russ and Pete. There was a slightly treacherous crossing of the White River, followed by a long steep ascent from the campground to Sunrise. The mountain was spectacular, and we were able to pick up our last cache at Sunrise, as well as have another burger and beer. Being rather high up on the mountain, the night was chilly, with a slightly cold sleep.

Day 8 – Sunrise to Dick Creek. Our original plan was to stay at Mystic Lake, but I knew that the lake was beautiful, but the campsite was quite inconvenient, with a long distance from the lake, and no close sources of water. Dick Creek is a very small campsite, but overlooks the Carbon River Glacier and very beautiful, so, we changed. The hike was with perfect visibility of the mountain, and we were able to spend over an hour having lunch, wine, and cigars at Mystic Lake, while Jon took another swim in the lake. There was still a moderate amount of climbing before we descended onto the Dick Creek campsite.

Day 9 Dick Creek to Mowich. This was our last day, but with probably the second most amount of climbing, since we decided on the Spray Park alternate, which takes one from the Carbon River all the way up to the top of Spray Park, over 3500 ft of elevation gain for the venture. The day started out cloudless, and as we got to the high point of the trail, clouds started moving in, so that by the time we were down through Spray Park, the mountain could no longer be seen. We arrived back at the car completely intact and ready for another adventure.

To end (before the photos), I need to include my favorite wandering songs…

Wem Gott will rechte Gunst erweisen… with Heino.

Joseph von Eichendorff, 1788-1857

Wem Gott will rechte Gunst erweisen,
Den schickt er in die weite Welt,
Dem will er seine Wunder weisen
In Berg und Wald und Strom und Feld.

Die Trägen die zu Hause liegen,
Erquicket nicht das Morgenrot,
Sie wissen nur von Kinderwiegen,
Von Sorgen, Last und Not um Brot.

Die Bächlein von den Bergen springen,
Die Lerchen schwirren hoch vor Lust,
Was soll ich nicht mit ihnen singen
Aus voller Kehl und frischer Brust?

Den lieben Gott laß ich nun walten,
Der Bächlein, Lerchen, Wald und Feld
Und Erd und Himmel will erhalten,
Hat auch mein Sach aufs best bestellt.

and also

Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann

(note: there is an English version which does tragedy to the song)

Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann,
Und mir steckt’s auch im Blut;
Drum wandr’ ich flott, so lang ich kann,
Und schwenke meinen Hut.

Refrain 1:
Faleri, falera, faleri,
Falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri, falera,
Und schwenke meinen Hut.

Refrain 2&3:
|: Hei-di, hei-da, hei-di, hei-da!
Und schwenke meinen Hut. 😐

Das Wandern schaffet frische Lust,
Erhält das Herz gesund;
Frei atmet draußen meine Brust,
Froh singet stets mein Mund:
Refrain:

Warum singt Dir das Vögelein
So freudevoll sein Lied?
Weil’s nimmer hockt, landaus, landein
Durch and’re Fluren zieht.
Refrain:

Was murmelt’s Bächlein dort und rauscht,
So lustig hin durch’s Rohr,
Weil’s frei sich regt, mit Wonne lauscht
Ihm dein empfänglich Ohr.
Refrain:

D’rum trag ich Ränzlein und den Stab
Weit in die Welt hinein,
Und werde bis an’s kühle Grab
Ein Wanderbursche sein!
Refrain:

Photos

Fresh at the start of the hike

Fresh at the start of the hike

Golden Lakes

Golden Lakes

Typical VERY smelly outhouse

Typical VERY smelly outhouse

Meadow heading out of Golden Lakes

Meadow heading out of Golden Lakes

headwaters of the Puyallup River

headwaters of the Puyallup River

Jon at Klapatche Park

Jon at Klapatche Park

Me at Klapatche Park

Me at Klapatche Park

St. Andrews Lake above Klapatche Park

St. Andrews Lake above Klapatche Park

Stiff climbing out of the North Puyallup Drainage

Stiff climbing out of the North Puyallup Drainage

West side of Mt. Rainier

West side of Mt. Rainier

Jon looking quite fresh

Jon looking quite fresh

Treacherous trail heading up to Emerald Ridge. This trail was being reconstructed.

Treacherous trail heading up to Emerald Ridge. This trail was being reconstructed.

Suspension Bridge across Tahoma Creek

Suspension Bridge across Tahoma Creek

The mountain from Indian Henry's Hunting Ground

The mountain from Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground

Jon relaxing at Indian Henry's

Jon relaxing at Indian Henry’s

Most of the wildflowers were gone by now. This is at Indian Henry's

Most of the wildflowers were gone by now. This is at Indian Henry’s

Burger and Rainier Beer at Longmire

Burger and Rainier Beer at Longmire

Reflection Lakes on the south side of Mt. Rainier

Reflection Lakes on the south side of Mt. Rainier

Climbing up the Cowlitz Divide toward Indian Bar

Climbing up the Cowlitz Divide toward Indian Bar

Clouds engulfing us on the Cowlitz Divide

Clouds engulfing us on the Cowlitz Divide

Above Indian Bar headed toward Panhandle Gap

Above Indian Bar headed toward Panhandle Gap

Jon taking a breather at Panhandle Gap.

Jon taking a breather at Panhandle Gap.

Coming off of Panhandle Gap toward Summerland, the Gap kept the clouds back so that we could see the mountain

Coming off of Panhandle Gap toward Summerland, the Gap kept the clouds back so that we could see the mountain

Summerland, in competition for one of the most beautiful places in the world

Summerland, in competition for one of the most beautiful places in the world

Afternoon mountain view from Summerland

Afternoon mountain view from Summerland

Early morning alpenglow at Summerland

Early morning alpenglow at Summerland

View of the mountain ascending toward Sunrise

View of the mountain ascending toward Sunrise

Jon enjoying a burger and beer at Sunrise

Jon enjoying a burger and beer at Sunrise

High on a ridge out of Sunrise on the north side of Rainier

High on a ridge out of Sunrise on the north side of Rainier

The terminus of the Winthrop Glacier

The terminus of the Winthrop Glacier

Mystic Lake

Mystic Lake

Meadows below Mystic Lake

Meadows below Mystic Lake

Mt. Rainier above Seattle Park and north of Spray Park, clouds beginning to move in.

Mt. Rainier above Seattle Park and north of Spray Park, clouds beginning to move in.

The end of our journey and ready to do it again.

The end of our journey and ready to do it again.

 

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Jul 06

Cougar Lakes-5

Cougar Lakes Backpack – 03-05JUL2015

This is the annual backpack trip that I do with the Flanagan grandchildren. This trip included Patrick and Sammy, as well as Andrew, Jon, and myself. We originally considered doing Rachel Lakes/Ramparts in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but decided instead on Cougar Lakes. I had been here 3-4 times, the first with Aaron Hughes, and afterwards with Tim Schmidt, later with family. It is just outside of Rainier National Park, but demands a lengthy drive to get to the trailhead.

The drive to the trailhead was a bit unnerving. The road was gravel for six miles, and in much worse shape than I ever remember. Andrew’s Corolla barely made it, and probably bottomed a few times. It wasn’t nice. The trail, after ¼ mile, demands that one walk across a shallow, but swift flowing stream, which we accommodated by switching into water shoes. The trail is a total of six miles, with about 1600 feet of climbing. At 4 miles, the trail passes by Swamp Lake, which is actually a beautiful lake surrounded by rocky cliffs and forest. The trail to Cougar Lakes is unmarked and unadvertised. I had trouble finding it on previous backpack trips. There is no mention of this trail in the most recent guidebooks. I guess the forest service would like to limit the number of people visiting this lake. We saw 5-6 other groups, but for the most part, were completely alone, without anybody else in the near vicinity. Cougar Lakes is pleural because it is actually two lakes, separated by a narrow isthmus, a smaller Little Cougar Lake, which you first see, and the most picturesque, as illustrated above. The second lake is larger, where we camped. Both have much fish, and are great for swimming.

Cougar Lake from our campsite

Cougar Lake from our campsite

House Rock from the larger Cougar Lake

House Rock from the larger Cougar Lake

Early morning view from our campsite

Early morning view from our campsite

Happy backpackers

Happy backpackers

The camp

The camp

Dishes out to dry

Dishes out to dry

Little Cougar Lake

Little Cougar Lake

We spent two nights at Cougar Lakes. The intervening day was restful, with the kids going on a short exploratory hike, but mostly spending time skipping rocks, and swimming, or relaxing in the tent. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Both Patrick and Sam stated that they wished they could have stayed more days.

Frodo and Samwise

Frodo and Samwise

Jon and Andrew

Jon and Andrew

Me with the hobbits

Me with the hobbits

To celebrate our hike, we stopped at Wallys in Buckley, where Samwise got his first Waltimate burger, measuring about 8 inches across, with probably 2 lb of meat. He did get some help eating it. Frodo got his Waltimate burger two weeks before after another hike.

The Waltimate burger

The Waltimate burger

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Jun 17

Portland to Puyallup-10

 

Day 1 (13JUNE2015)


After a calm morning of knowing that I had packed everything, Betsy and I headed off to the Amtrak station to meet Russ and ride the Amtrak from Tacoma to Portland, where we would begin our grand adventure. We had done much recent roadbiking together, but our last tour was a few years ago. At the train station, I had discovered that I forgot my touring cycle shoes, which are bicycle shoes that had a mountain bike style clip that attaches the foot to the pedal. After a quick decision, I left my bicycle with Betsy and dashed back to Puyallup to get my shoes. I could have easily made it on time, except that this was the first day of the US Open golf tournament in Tacoma, and traffic was suddenly horrid. Finally arriving just five minutes late to the train station, Betsy and I decided we would outrun the train in our car, and catch Russ at the next station. Each station, we were just a few minutes late, and ended up going all the way to Portland to catch Russ. Finally, at 3:30 in the afternoon, we were on our bikes. We decided to skirt Portland by taking the bike route on Marine Drive, which follows the Columbia River. We got to Troutdale by 5:30pm, where we settled in at a cheap hotel, and went out for Chinese food at a very marginal diner.

Russ riding along the Marine Drive Trail, with the Columbia River and Mt. Hood in the distance

Russ riding along the Marine Drive Trail, with the Columbia River and Mt. Hood in the distance

Day 2 (14JUNE2015)


This was our most beautiful day, and we were soon on the Old Historic Columbia River Highway. It was not a challenging ride, but we had not been touring with fully loaded bikes for a while, so it was getting the legs used to this sort of riding. This was a Sunday, and every beautiful spot was over touristed, so we rode on and stopped only briefly at the more popular places like Multnomah Falls. There were quite curious onlookers who had numerous questions about cycle touring. We crossed the Columbia River at the Bridge of the Gods, a hairy-scary experience riding on a grate high across a large river, with a car right on your tail. We finally decided to go as far as possible that day without having to camp, and to remain in civilization, which led us to the sleepy town of Carson. There was actually a great restaurant- brewery in town for dinner, but the accommodations were a slightly run-down set of cottages next to a golf couse about a half mile off the road. We were actually quite content, as the owner manager was a most friendly and informative fellow, and the accommodations were more than adequate. See http://sandhillcottages.com.

Russ and I posing at the  Women's Forum Viewpoint.

Russ and I posing at the
Women’s Forum Viewpoint.

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls

Overlook of the Bridge of the Gods from the Washington side

Overlook of the Bridge of the Gods from the Washington side

Our cottage in Carson.

Our cottage in Carson.

Day 3 (15JUNE2015)


We headed out early, and there were no restaurants open for breakfast at 7am in the town of Carson. Russ and I ended up eating breakfast at the local Carson market that had coffee and breakfast sandwiches. This was actually a great deal since it allowed us to chat with more locals. The ride demanded climbing over a 3000 foot high pass, appropriately titled Oldman Pass. It wasn’t too challenging and we arrived in Swift Creek Reservoir right when the temperature was starting to get too hot to ride. It was my first granny gear day. The granny gear is the smallest gear in the chainring, in which are the three gears in front on a triple chainring. It is called the granny gear since you can gear way down for long fatiguing climbs with a heavy loaded touring bike. There was no restaurant in the area, but a convenience store that had cold beer and frozen pizza. The cabins had no electricity and certainly no WiFi or internet. https://www.eaglecliffcamp.com Lighting was with propane gas lamps. We met a couple, George and Megan, who had been on touring bicycles the last three months, riding from Florida in a meandering path through the US, and enjoyed some pizza and brandy with them, accompanied with delightful conversation (sorry, but no photos of them). Note that the Garmin for today and tomorrow are not accurate, since they will understate our time, feet of climbing, and distance. This happened since we were in dense forest with tall mountains on both sides, preventing the Garmin from getting an accurate gps reading.

Old man Andersen at the pass.

Old man Andersen at the pass.

Old man Feucht at the pass.

Old man Feucht at the pass.

The cabin at Swift Creek Reservoir, called Eagle Cliff Store and Campground.

The cabin at Swift Creek Reservoir, called Eagle Cliff Store and Campground.

Day 4 (16JUNE2015)

Today was another early start day, with another significant pass to cross. Elk Pass was more of a grunt than Oldman Pass, but we felt great at the top and continued on. This was another granny gear day. At the summit of Elk Pass, we saw an RV with a guy that was obviously a bicyclist getting out of the RV. We stopped to talk, and he offered us a coke and a large piece of cold watermelon, asked if we would stay for lunch, and explained that today was his day to sag a group of seven cyclists doing the Sierra Cascades route from Canada to Palm Springs. Once we left these folk, the ideas with Russ and I discussed fast and furiously how we could also do such a thing. The ride was spectacular. Russ and I decided to do a variant of the Sierra Cascades route by riding Cline Rd. and avoiding much of route 12. Cline Road was quite spectacular, though a bit more hilly than route 12. Later on route 12 we met a young man, riding without a helmet, heading home to Eugene, Oregon. He had been on the bike for 5 months, going places like to Hanoi, Viet Nam. I was amazed at how long distance cycling has taken off in the US. Later, after we pulled into Packwood, got a hotel, went out to dinner, and then stopped by the grocery store, we again met George and Megan, and talked them into staying at our hotel. It was the same hotel that Russ and I stayed at several years ago when we did a touring loop around Mt. Rainier.

Overlook of Mt. St. Helens, and a valley that was completely wiped out by the volcano. It is now growing back quite nicely.

Overlook of Mt. St. Helens, and a valley that was completely wiped out by the volcano. It is now growing back quite nicely.

A very friendly cyclist pulling duty at manning the SAG wagon, but also being very hospitable to us.

A very friendly cyclist pulling duty at manning the SAG wagon, but also being very hospitable to us.

Deep forest on the ride to Packwood

Deep forest on the ride to Packwood

Russ at a river crossing on Cline Road

Russ at a river crossing on Cline Road

Day 5 (17JUNE2015)


Home. It was a 72+ mile venture. The weather was phenomenal, and we had one pass to go over, 1500 feet of climbing over Skate Creek. The climb was over about double the distance of the other 1500+ foot passes, making it much easier to get over. It still was a long plod, now in entirely familiar territory where we had ridden many times before. We stopped for lunch at the back porch of an abandoned house on Ohop Lake, and rode on. The only disgusting part of our entire ride was that of the last 10 miles through South Hill and Puyallup, with nasty traffic, no bicycle shoulders, and mean drivers. We were glad to get home.

Our view of Ohop Lake

Our view of Ohop Lake

Russ preparing a sandwich on Ohop Lake at an abandoned house.

Russ preparing a sandwich on Ohop Lake at an abandoned house.

After a ride, I immediately unpack everything, and jotted down ideas and thoughts for the next trip. I had no idea how beautiful this trip would be, and the weather was absolutely perfect for our adventure. It’s not only a delight to ride, but also to meet so many other bicycle enthusiasts, as well as hotel managers, local personalities, and people on the road. Bicycling is NOT a lonely sport, though it mostly is just you against the road and hills that it gives you. Each day of the ride, we felt a little bit stronger, and could have kept going, should the journey had demanded it. Neither of us were terribly sore, and we were blessed with no major injuries. Both of us are eager and ready for more adventures. Hopefully, next time, it might be with my brother Gaylon, who is eager to do a cross-country tour. With all the people we met who have been on their bike on the road for over 5 months, it is no longer looking like a highly unusual plan.

 

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