Palisades Lakes Trail

August 8th, 2017

I am busy completing all of the hikes found in the Mountaineers “50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park” 1988 edition. After today, I have only 3 hikes left to have essentially done them all. It is a pity I waited so long to do this hike. The view above is the upper Palisades Lake, which is at the end of the maintained trail. The wildflowers were out in this bloom. It was sunny. For the photographer, the only real problem was the haze from forest fires in Canada. The temperature was perfect, and the trail was immaculately maintained. Except for the trail to the first lake (Sunrise Lake), I took all the side trails to trips around the lakes that I passed. The first was Sunrise Lake, seen from the Sunrise Lookout. I’ve seen this lake in the past, thinking that it was impossibly far down, but actually is a very pleasant hike to get to.

Lupine and Indian Paintbrush dominate the floor of the forests.

Flowers along the trail

There were a number of large and expansive meadows bordered by the rock cliffs of the Palisades

Clover Lake was the second lake on the trail.

I passed Clover Lake, and then Pete Lake, which had a campsite. There was also Tom and Harry Lake which I could not find. I hiked on to the Upper Palisades Lake, going a little beyond to see an overlook of the Lower Palisades Lake, reached by a primitive unsupported trail. On return, there was a short grunt up to Hidden Lake, which is a gem very worth the effort to get there.

Hidden Lake

View from the Hidden Lake trail. On the horizon is a flat spot, which is the Sunrise Lookout, the start of the trail.

More flowers, with Pete Lake sticking out

The Garmin data is slightly skewed in that I forgot to turn it off until I got several miles down the road. In reality, it was about 7.5 – 8.2 miles hiking, with 2250 feet elevation gain (approximately). This is just slightly different than the guidebook suggests.

All in all, it was a marvelous hike, and I felt great the entire time. About the last two miles, my left knee started to hurt quite seriously again. I thought that it was healed, but it wasn’t. This made each step dreadfully painful, and slowed me way down. I might have to postpone some hiking trips planned in the next few weeks, and do some cycle touring instead. Bicycling is VERY easy on my knees. We’ll see.

Lake Merwin Hideaway Adventure

August 6th, 2017

Lake Merwin Hideaway Adventure 05-06AUGUST

Betsy and I were invited by my sister Gloria to visit her at her place at the Lake Merwin Campers Hideaway (http://www.lmch.com). We headed out Saturday AM for an 140 mile 2-½ hour drive to an exclusive gated campground, where the residents have a small plot of land with water, sewer, electricity and wifi connected, as well as a boat launch, in-door swimming pool, and other amenities. There are numerous rules to the property owners, but the most important one is that the main structure needs to be an RV/camper unit. Many of the units have a good view of the lake and/or Mt. St. Helens. After a little difficulty finagling our way through the gate, we found Gloria’s trailer and waited for her arrival.

Gloria arrived, we fetched her dog, had a few beers and much catching up to do, before Gloria took us on a grand tour of the facility. It’s fairly large with about 1500 units.

Gloria in deep conversation with Betsy

We did dinner by ordering out pizza, went out looking at a few of the units, and finally discovered a brand new unit very close to Gloria’s.

Then, we discovered that this was the new place where my niece Amy and her husband Josh and four children Blake, Kate, Jack, and Chase would be spending many happy weekends.

It was nice getting to meet them.

One last photo of them and us…

There is one thing missing… what is it???? It’s Lew and Carol!!!! Hopefully, they can make it up soon.

Betsy spent the night restless on a futon in Gloria’s trailer, while I slept out back in my tent. I slept like a log. It’s wonderful to be outside. Though they call this a “camper’s” hideaway, I don’t really consider staying in an RV or camper as “camping”. I need contact with terra firma, the good earth, dirt. This would be an ideal location for my brother Gaylon to move to. I hope that we could talk him into it.

We took off early am to drive back home, telling Gloria goodby, and wishing her the best, as she also headed back to Portland.

 

Eagle Peak Saddle

August 6th, 2017

Eagle Peak Saddle (in Mt. Rainier National Park)

Jon and I hiked the Eagle Peak trail on 29JUL. The day before, I did the Shriner Peak trail. I was a little sore, but really felt good. Running up the trail wasn’t too problematic, in spite of the fact that it was a persistent climb at a fairly rapid rate.

Coming down ended up just a little too abusive to my knees and I ended up with a horrific pain in my left knee which took several days to resolve.

The weather was gorgeous, and we were able to complete the hike before the heat of the day. Here are a few of the photos from the hike.

Going up the trail, near the top

Jon in excellent form

The beauty of the Tatoosh Range in Mt. Rainier National Park

Jon at the saddle

Shriner Peak

July 28th, 2017

Shriner Peak is in the Ohanepecosh region of Mt. Rainier National Park, and is a trail that goes from the road straight up for over 3000 feet to achieve one of the many fire lookout posts in the park, the others that I have visited include Tolmie Peak and Fremont Peak. This hike is far more isolated and strenuous than the other two. Like every good park hike, you are greeted with information at the beginning of your hike.

The weather was absolutely spectacular, making it a little hot in the areas outside of the evergreen canopy that covers the trail. It was about 2.5 hours to get to the top, and 1.5 hours to get down. Here is the Garmin data…

Here is a series of views from going up and at the top… click on the photos for a larger view…

Nearing the summit of Shriner Peak. This is seen from attaining the false summit.

Fire lookout on the top of Shriner Peak

This trail heads off to a camping area at the summit of Shriner Peak

Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams from the summit of Shriner Peak

Looking down from the summit.

Meanwhile, I had an interesting event going up. I saw this lady with 3 dogs ahead of me, none of them on leashes. She was hiking fairly quickly, but then turned around about ½ way up. When she arrived back to where I was going up, I informed her that dogs were NOT allowed on the trail, and especially dogs off of leash. I suggested that she leash up her dogs and get off the trail quickly, since there is a fairly hefty fine for violating the dog park ordinance. She immediately became very offended, insisted that she will NOT leash up the dogs since I didn’t speak to her as kindly as she would have wished, and proceeded on her way. She did note that she did not see any signs restricting dogs on the trail. Here is her photo, as well as two VERY clearly seen signs at the trailhead.

Dog herder on Shriner Trail

The park service is kind enough that even if you flunk out of 1st grade, they provide pictograms to inform you not to bring dogs on the trail. There are VERY good reasons for this regulation. That she was offended by me informing her of this regulation suggests that perhaps she attended some feminist assertive behavior class, that taught her NEVER to take instructions from the male gender of the species. It is exactly clueless folk like this that populate the city of Seattle and lead to the insanity that makes me want to stay as far from that city as possible. Sadly, they have to occasionally locate their presence to the wilderness and perform offensive acts in that location. Hopefully, a park ranger catches her someday and gives her a nasty fine for her belligerent behaviors.

In spite of the encounter with the emotionally unstable SJW, the day was gorgeous, with a small scattering of other wonderful people on the trail. This is a great alternative to running up Mt. Si or Mailbox Peak. I now have a countdown of 5 more hikes to do to complete all 50 listed hikes in the Mountaineers guidebook. Several of these can be performed 2 or 3 in a day, but one (The Northern Loop) will demand a 3 day venture to complete.

 

WTA Pratt River Trail Work Party

July 23rd, 2017

Washington Trails Association Pratt River Trail Work Party 20-22(23)JULY

I do a modest amount of backpacking, and have occasionally encountered trails that were not in the best of shape. I had no idea who cared for the trails, thinking that the forest service did everything. Slowly, I realized how much trail care is actually performed by volunteers. In 2009 in Oregon, I took a 3 day trail design, construction and maintenance course (see http://feuchtblog.net/2009/06/08/4-7jun-trail-skills-college-dee/).  I don’t remember who put it on, but it was a blast. Now that I’m into semi-retirement, I decided to actually do some trail work, and the Washington Trails Association (WTA) provided the perfect opportunity. The Pratt River Trail is within the newly expanded Alpine Lakes Wilderness, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. There was considerable blow-down of trees from the past few winters and so the forest service requested the WTA to help clean out the timber fallen across the trail. Even though I took the trails skills “college”, I was totally clueless as to what this would actually represent. I e-mailed the WTA about issues, such as if we were going to get really dirty, and they suggested not. Actually, trail work means getting down in the dirt, which means that you will quickly become quite filthy. I wasn’t quite as prepared as I should have been for personal hygiene. True, I had my tooth brush, but then, I wasn’t getting my teeth (literally) into the action. My anxiety led me to arrival at the trailhead meeting point early, and was the first person there besides LeeAnn. The entire party ended up being eight people, with two no-shows. I was the only novice in the group, and truly clueless about what we were about to do.

The party was small enough that it was easy to get to know everybody, but several people stood out. The first was Jim. He was the old geezer of the group, but a true gentleman, and the most knowledgeable of the bunch. Whenever there was a question about a complex or dangerous log clearance issue, Jim was the go-to person, and had actually trained a few of the folk in the party. The work was split up into two sawing groups of 3 people, and two others that assisted and cleared brush. I worked with Rich and Jim, and what a treat it was. Jim was an incredible teacher and a real trooper, while Rich was most patient with me being clueless about running the saws or moving logs.

Jim

Rich and LeeAnne. During a break from work, we walked up to a side trail, leading to a giant Douglas Fir tree just off the trail (sort of)

As you can see, we all had to wear hard hats and gloves. The hard hats didn’t make sense to me, because there was no means of securing the hat to your head, and it was constantly falling off, sometimes when you most wished that it would stay on. LeeAnne was the group leader, and she was a real trooper, really fun to have with. Don was another fairly experienced trail worker in the group, who I enjoyed interacting with. Actually, I really enjoyed everybody, including Monty, Dave, and Emily, though I didn’t get the best photos of them.

Don, loaded to take off

The time transpired as follows. We all met at 8:30, and had an introductory safety session at 9:00. About 9:30, we took off on the trail, walking about 3 miles to a campsite at the point where the Pratt River drains into the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River. We set up our tents, prepared a lunch and water for our day sacks, and then took off to start clearing trail. I didn’t count, but with Jim and Rich, our first day involved clearing about 5-8 trees. Some demanded a moderate strategy and multiple cuts in order to safely remove the tree from the trail. Unlike standing trees, the fallen timber may be under considerable tension with bending, shearing and forces of torsion, which could lead to highly dangerous situations if one were not adequately prepared. Jim taught me much about the safest way to attack a log. After cutting a large log, one still had to move it from the trail. Somehow, we were able to move even enormous logs off the trail by sitting on our butts and pushing the logs with our legs out of the way. Some logs were quite complex to remove, and one situation was a cluster of three logs piled on top of each other, all 2-3 feet in diameter, and all under considerable tension. When fallen logs are under tension, one cannot just saw through the log, because as soon as the saw achieves some depth into the wood, the timber starts to close in on the saw, causing it to jamb. In such a situation, three to five cuts need to be made through the timber, with the space between hacked out with an axe. This means that a large log could take ½ a day just to make a single cut entirely through the log. Here is an example of that occurring on the complex log cluster, with one log already cleared.

Jim supervising, with Don and Rich working the 6 foot crosscut saw. Monty stands off in the distance.

The first day was a bit drizzly, and we were very wet walking through intense underbrush covering the trail. It dried out by afternoon, and the next few days were sunny. We were under a dense forest canopy, and so I didn’t need sunglasses or suntan lotion. The work was intense enough that by afternoon, we would be through several liters of water, and the first order of business on returning to camp was to purify more water from the river.

On the third day, Jim was not feeling well at the end of the day, and after some deliberation, decided that he needed to return home a day early. LeeAnne needed to accompany him out for his safety, but was worried enough about Jim, that she asked me to go with, being that I was a doctor and would have a clue if Jim took a turn for the worse. Carrying some of Jim’s belongings, we got him out safely, and I followed him to North Bend, stopping at a McDonalds to get him some root beer, which seemed to pink up his color considerably.  I felt bad leaving the work crew a ½ day early, and hope that the remainder of the crew all got out safely.

Thoughts on the adventure

  1. My opinion of the WTA skyrocketed. They are not just a lame tree-hugging society, but they really care about people, about trails, and about nature.  I had no clue as to how hard it was to clear a trail, as to how much was performed by volunteers, and as to how dedicated many of these volunteers were, some doing 10 or more work projects per year. It makes my adventure look rather trite.
  2. I know that I need to do more of these, and will try to encourage others to get involved at least one a year on a work party. Anybody that enjoys trails should at least once in a while get out and help with the WTA mission, or with Oregon Trailkeepers and other groups that do this sort of work.
  3. I will be MUCH more prepared next time. I don’t need to bring my ultra-light equipment, but instead have my more durable backpack equipment. Three to seven miles is not too far to walk with a 40-50 lb pack, and a few creature comforts would have helped. My ultralight air mattress had a seam tear out, which meant that there ended being a large bulge in my air mattress making it very uncomfortable to sleep the second night. I will bring a more durable air mattress next time. I will also try to develop a little better first aid kit for the types of problems that might happen on a trail. That might add a pound of weight, but should be tolerable. I’ll possibly also take a refresher course in advanced wilderness life support, offered by the Wilderness Medical Society.
  4. I continue to develop thoughts on the concept of “wilderness”. Perhaps certain rules are a touch crazy, like forbidding trail workers to use mechanized machinery (chain saws, etc.) to maintain existing trails. I wonder how many tree huggers are secretly appreciate the dynamite used to create the Kendall Katwalk, or the Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River gorge. I will probably write more on this later, devoting a single blog to my random thoughts on this issue.
  5. I will NEVER again hike a trail without realizing the blood, sweat, and tears that it took to build and maintain that trail. To that I end with my blog with a word of appreciation to all the trail societies (like the WTA, PTCA, Rainier volunteers) that keep up our parks and mountain playgrounds. To the WTA, I might add, sicherlich auf wiedersehen, certainement à bientôt, surely I’ll be seeing you again on a work party.

 

 

Two Hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park

July 14th, 2017

A week ago, Betsy and I took a hike up the Carbon River in Mt. Rainier National Park. The road up the Carbon river was washed out many years ago, and so the park service how keep the road open only for service vehicles, as well as for bicyclists and hikers. It is about 6 miles from the park entrance to the Ipsut Creek campground, where the road ends, and the foot trails begin. It is an absolutely beautiful hike. Here is our Garmin data…

Yesterday, on 13JUL, I took a hike up a trail on the NE side of Mt. Rainier NP, leading to the Crystal Lakes, and then up to a saddle to provide access to the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather was mostly cloudy, but when the clouds disappeared, the view was overwhelming. The above photo is a view of the mountain, with Upper Crystal Lake in the foreground, and below is a view a bit higher up. Here is my Garmin data…

My goal is to finish all of the hikes listed in the book “50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park” by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning. I have only 6 more hikes to go. Several I will be doing with Betsy in the next few weeks. Will keep you all posted. When you have the most beautiful park in the world in your back yard, it’s hard not to visit it from time to time. Last Tuesday 11JUL, I also rode my bicycle from Ashford up to Paradise and back. The weather was perfect, it was cool, and most beautiful, but I did not bring my camera. Here is the Garmin data on that…

Cycle Montana 2017

June 26th, 2017

 

Bicycle tour Cycle Montana with the Adventure Cycle Association

T minus 9 — I thought I’d get in shape for both cycling and hiking by running up Mailbox Peak. Mailbox Peak (the new route), is just outside of North Bend, WA, and is about 4000 feet of climbing over 4.5 miles. It was stupendous. I tried out some new shoes, the Altra Lone Peak 3, and they worked wonderfully. More nice, they have a loop built-in in front and velcro behind to accommodate Dirty Girl gaiters. The “climb” was dry going up, but continuous rain on the descent, and at the top had to endure a bit of hail. I recorded the hike on my eTrex but messed up so that I was unable to download the trip to the computer.

The summit of Mailbox Peak, with a mailbox! And, no, I am not trying to imitate Mickey Mouse with my gloves. I usually wear cycle gloves while hiking since I always use hiking poles, but decided to try out cheap cotton gloves that jewelers use, and actually liked them better.

T minus 8 —Went up to son Jon who lives in Arlington, WA to do a variant on riding the Centennial trail front which added a bit of hill climbing. I was sore from the day before, but figured it was different muscles being used, so it shouldn’t matter.

T minus 7-3 — now I’m really sore since it was a lot of the same muscles (!). . . too sore to do some serious bike rides. So, I sat at home, resisting to feed my face, since I knew that I still needed to loose 10-15 lb.

T-minus 1 — I woke up early Friday morning, with the car completely loaded with my bicycle, and other stuff. It took about eight hours to drive to Missoula. I was able to get to the ACA offices early, where Arlen was able to give me a tour of the facility. It was quite impressive, but unfortunately I wasn’t lugging my camera around to document the event.

T-0 — this is officially day 1 with the ACA, though there is no riding that occurs. Since the event starts about 3:30 pm, I had time in the am to stop by REI where I got some new touring cycle shoes, made by Pearl Izumi. They were remarkably comfortable. The evening intro, orientation and dinner were standard for ACA rides, and the biggest challenge was that of trying to remember new faces and new names.

T-1 — Missoula to Darby, 66.1 miles, 1752 feet elevation gain.
This day was mostly on a public bike path that headed straight south of Missoula, with a few variants to get us off of the main path, which was a very busy highway. The weather was cool but without rain while riding, though it had rained last night. We spent the night in an RV park. Most things in town were closed, but we caught the closing minutes of a brewery owned by the mayor of town to cherish a Schluck of brew.

Our first (and last!) landmark structure, THE COW!!!!!

First bridge to cross, just while leaving Missoula.

Our eager ACA workers, Brian and Sarah

Sarah hanging out with some scraggly old fart dude that came along.

T-2 — Darby to Wisdom  58.01 miles, 3615 feet elevation gain.
Wisdom was heavily infested with mosquitos, as the campground situated adjacent to the mosquito breeding grounds. To get to Wisdom, we had to go over Lost Trail Pass, which put us briefly into Idaho, and then over Chief Joseph Pass, giving us some fairly substantial climbing. I was riding with Cindy von Gillette, who was giving me a substantial challenge to keep up with her on the hills. We got our obligatory photographs on top of the pass, which was also the Continental Divide. On the lengthy descent, we had a lunch stop at a seriously mosquito infested Nez Perce battle site. Further descent brought us to our campsite. It was uncomfortably hot, which led to our retreat to a local tavern for beer.

Cindy in perfect form, climbing the pass.

Welcome to Idaho

Barely made it up the pass!

In the vicinity of Nez Perce Battle Site, buffalos replaced by bovines.

T-3 — Wisdom to Wise River – 38.8 miles, 518 feet elevation.
During the night, Cindy had been throwing up, and a trip to the Krankenhaus (see previous post for explanation) diagnosed profound hyponatremia and volume depletion. This meant that she had to stay in the hospital for at least a night, leading to her dropping out of the tour. Her husband came to get her, and a day later she dropped by (at Fairmont Hot Springs) to get her bags and say goodby. From then on, I rode mostly alone or with Dave von Seattle, and on day 3, the ride was short and hot. A few people did extra miles, but not this kid. The tavern in town was owned and operated by an old Scottish dude who was at times the lead singer for Van Morrison and Paul Revere and the Raiders. After dinner, some dude from Montana Conservation Commission (I don’t remember the exact name) gave us an interesting talk on the loss of the buffalo. The night was too hot to engage in mental cogitation, and I crashed early.

Without Cindy, we were left with two old farts, me and Dave, leaving the herd.

Beautiful Montana

More of beautiful Montana

T-4 — Wise River to Fairmont Hot Springs 39.8 miles, 1690 feet elevation gain.
This was another short day, and ten miles of the route was doubling back of what we did yesterday. I rode with Dave von S, and it was a most beautiful day. The climbing was not too difficult, but it again was quite hot. We went over an unnamed Pass that crossed the Continental Divide, but which we named Chief Running Dave Pass. A marvelous descent brought us to a large resort where we were staying. We went into the hot springs swimming pool which had quite warm water with much minerals, making it hard to swim in, and deprived us of the coolness we needed for a hot day. Still, the resort had enough luxury to make it a nice place to stay.

Dave now barely making it, using a cane he found on the side of the road.

Dave on the continental divide at a pass which is now named Chief Running Dave Pass.

T-5 — Fairmont Hot Springs to Phillipsburg 73.3 miles, 3451 feet elevation gain. This was a 41 mile route, with an additional 32 mile option that I took. The ride was thankfully quite cool, but VERY windy with a predominant Gegenwind (headwind). The first 8 miles retraced our previous steps, but then entered the town of Anaconda, location of a previous large copper mining operation. The climbing was not challenging, save for the very strong Gegenwind making it feel like a 9-10% grade. The optional 16 miles there and 16 miles back to the Sapphire mine was most worth it, with spectacular beauty, and a nice way to put mileage on the day. Phillipsburg was having its 150th birthday, but I decided that a shower and food and sleep were more fitting for me.

 

Always a welcome site, the water break!

Waterfall seen when coming down from Georgetown Lake.

Sapphire Mine addition

T-6 Phillipsburg to Ovando 64.5 miles, 2031 feet climbing
The morning started out freezing cold, with ice on our tents and bicycles. The ride started later than usual, and I was bundled up with mittens and other accoutrements to maintain warmth. Then I realized that I just wasn’t feeling well. Perhaps it was the same crud that did in Cindy von G. I don’t know. Anyway, it was too cold to stop riding, so I did some vomiting while pedaling away on my bike. I’m glad nobody was with me. I continued to feel ill, and it was miserable climbing over a minor pass, though the temperature became acceptable. I was too cold and feeling too miserable to snap any photos, or to really enjoy the sights. The only memory was that of dodging a cow in the road. It was a night with minimal food, certainly NO beer or cigars, and my only effort was an attempt to stay hydrated. Ovando had awesome ice cream at the village store which will go long remembered.  Sorry, but I was too sick to feel like taking photos.

T-7 Ovando back to Missoula 58.1 miles, 1112 feet climbing

I spent the night having runny diarrhea, which continued into all of the next two days. I didn’t wish to worry the tour directors, and knew that I was otherwise okay, so just bucked up and enjoyed the ride. To play it safe, I decided to ride a bit slower, and just hang out (ride) with Dave von S., who is a most pleasant and enjoyable character. There was a minor amount of climbing, but for the most part, the ride was totally flat, if not a bit downhill. I stopped very briefly by the ACA headquarters and said hello to Emma, and then dashed on, wanting to get home before another diarrhea spell. The drive was very smooth, and I was able to hit the front door before 6:30, a 7-½ hour drive for 493 miles.

My tent

Tent village of a herd of migrant bicyclists
crossing the plains of Montana.

The caterers Jack and Kathy talk with Lisa and Fido

The final road

Thoughts on the ride.

  1. I love the way the ACA does tours, and especially their fully supported tours.
  2. 2. The staff were stupendous.
    1. Arlen is just a super guy, and a perfect tours director.
    2. Dave did a wonderful job at handling problems such as a meeting hall that suddenly became unavailable, and sick riders that needed to drop out.
    3. Sarah was most incredible. She was most certainly the most up-beat, cheerful leader that I’ve had while on ACA tours. You could tell that she loved cycling and adventure as she radiated it. I especially loved her rock quotes, which were different at each of the water stops that she handled.
    4. Brian was probably the best bicycle mechanic that I’ve ever seen on the ACA tours or other bicycle trips. And, he was confronted with multiple challenges, such a broken bottom brackets, fractured derailleurs, etc. I would have loved to work in a repair shop with him for a few months to acquire some of his bike wisdom. Besides, he was a super guy that I really enjoyed being with.
    5. Amy was awesome. She is a real entertainer, and especially funny when it came to the “talent” show. What a delight.
    6. Bill was silent, behind the scenes, but always a most pleasant person. He had the job of hauling all the luggage around.
    7. The ACA gets an award for going out of their way to support bicycling. They really stick to their goals and objectives to encourage bicycling. We had people drop into our camp that were on cycle tours, and they were allowed to share our campsite and…

Now that I’ve met everybody, I’ve gone back over the google group introductions that everybody provided, and it is so nice to be able to put a face and personality to each person. My only regret is that the week went too quickly, and there wasn’t enough time to get to know everybody as well as I would have liked. But then, there is always an excuse for yet another tour.

A quote for Sarah

Ich Liebe Deutschland

May 7th, 2017

Trip Report — Germany 20April -06May 2017 with Jonathan ★★★★★

I felt it necessary to return at least once more to Germany, and this time, to also do a long bike ride. Jon became very interested in doing that with me. The plan was to ride from Benningen am Neckar to Krefeld am Rhein, then take the train to Berlin, then Würzburg to see Katja and Hannes, and then home from Frankfurt. In Benningen, we would spend time with Heinz and Debbie, and in Krefeld, with Herbert.

After arriving at the Seatac airport, we were informed that the Lufthansa computers were shut down, and taking a while to reboot. Thankfully, they got everything ultimately fixed, and we were checked in. It was quite easy to get the bicycle on. There was a group from Moses Lake on the same plane, headed for Nigeria for a medical/dental project, and I was pleased to see an old acquaintance, the retired surgeon Jim Irwin.   After boarding the plane, a brief moment of panic ensued when we realized that Jon left a bag in the terminal; fortunately it was able to retrieve it right as the plane was closing its doors. The plane was a 747 and fully loaded. I can’t really describe the flight because I slept through it, thanks to a sleeping pill. Our arrival in Frankfurt and getting our bags with Jon’s bike was uneventful.

Arrival in Germany

Friday, day 1 Much of what happened the first day we don’t remember. We were able to get the bike box to the bike shop without a problem, and get it reassembled. On checking with the Deutsche Bahn, we were informed that we could not take the train route that I had planned and used before, but had to go through Karlsruhe. They gave us a schedule with a number of transfers. At first things seemed ok, transferring in Weisbaden and then Mainz, but on the way to Karlsruhe, we were informed that there was a problem with the track, and that the train would go no further. No advice regarding what we should do was offered. Thankfully for a young student with a bike next to us, we caught a train in another direction, then transferred again, and after a bit of hassle, finally made it to Karlsruhe. Even then, the train to Karlsruhe stopped at every stop like a bus, and ended short of the Hauptbahnhof, making us figure out what to do from there. We were late with that connection, the transfer in Stuttgart was again late, and 20 phonecalls later to Debbie Fuchs, we finally had Heinz just get us in Ludwigsburg. It was a delightful evening with Heinz and Debbie, but jetlag had us zoned early. Debbie made us a wonderful meal with Spatzele, and the things she wanted from America were dug out, making our bags lighter.

Debbie and Heinz Fuchs

Jon and I ready to roll

Saturday, after breakfast, I realized that the bike was missing its front rack. Thankfully, Heinz was able to find it in the garage and it easily installed. The Neckar Radweg was quite easy to follow, and we rarely had any problems with feeling lost. It was a beautiful ride, passing mostly through wine country. I did not record this 30+ mile segment on Garmin. The weather was overcast and cool, with only a light rain, atarting just becore we got to Heilbronn. The owners of a hotel Die Grüne Krone were most friendly. We took showers, went out to dinner at Die Barfüßer, were they brewed their own beer. Beer never tasted so good! It was nice having real German food again.

Riding the Neckar, with a light rain.

vineyards along the Neckar

Heilbronn Rathaus. Probably seen by grandfather on his way to America

Wonderful hotel, die Grüne Krone.

Sunday 23April —  Today was fairly uneventfkul. There was no tain, but  it was mostly cloudy and cold. The Neckar valley was broader now, with fewer wineyards. There were plentiful castles and ancient structures along the, most of which  could not be nicely photographed. A moderate amount of the trail was gravel, but still easy to ride on. The bikes worked well without problem. Arrival in Heidelberg brought back old memories, and Jon and I stayed at a hotel where Betsy and I stayed, the Tannhauser. Dinner was delicious, and Jon and I crashed early, ready for another day.

Jon in excellent form

Typical Travel

Castles everywhere

Gutenberg house

Jon loved the Spargel

Monday. 24April —Today was absolutely beautiful, riding through both countryside and industrial areas. Starting in Heidelburg, we crossed over the Neckar and rode though fields that flanked the Neckar. It was sunny all day, and reasonably warm. The trail eventually ran close to the Neckar as we came into Mannheim, coming right to the junction of the Neckar and Rhein. We decided to stay on the right side of the Rhein until we got to Worms. The bridge at Worms was a mix of the old brick Niebelung Brüke and modern construction. After quickly finding a hotel, we toured the Luther Denkmal, as well as the cathedral (Wörmer Dom), probably a site for Luther’s trial. After a Wörmer Diät of Schweinemedallions und Spargel, washed down with sufficient beer, we crashed for a bit, then went out for a beer, engaging in conversation with a very nice German software salesman from Northern Germany. Bedtime was a little more normal today.

Niebelung Brücke

Luther Memorial in Worms

Wörmer Dom, possibly where Luther was held for trial

Worms city wall

Tuesday, 25April—Last night, the conversation at the bar strongly advised us to stay in Mainz. Unfortunately, there was a Messe in Mainz (convention) which tied up all the hotel rooms well outside the city. Bike travel went quite well, but it was very cold. We were quite bundled up. When we got about 10 miles past Mainz, we looked for a recommended hotel in Heidesheim but they also fully booked because of the convention in Mainz. The most fascinating thing about Heidesheim was a complex of old historical buildings. A person saw us looking bewildered at the structures, and then came out to explain to us that these buildings were used in 1941-1945 by Hitler to house invalids and Lebensunwertiglebens before they went off to the gas chamber. But, we didn’t (couldn’t) stay there. Therefore, we had to make some hard decisions. It was about 5 pm, and Jon was able to reserve a room on the internet in Bingen. We quickly caught the train from Heidesheim to Bingen. Bingen was a lovely town. We stayed at the Hotel Krone, went out to dinner (no photographs tonight), we had regional dishes and wine, and crashed at a reasonable hour. Jetlag was finally moving behind us.

Real food

One of many castles along the Rhein


Wednesday 26April — Both Jon and I slept well. The weather report said “rain” but it remained mostly sunny with no rain, and not nearly as cold and windy as yesterday. Today gave absolutely no challenges to route finding, and no hills, so travel was smooth. We got to see many castles, as well as the Loreley. I also saw a hint of several Rheinmaidens poking their heads up out of the water. Lunch was in the Roman colony of Boppard, also a part of the Hunsrück region of Germany. Koblenz came soon after. We quickly found a lovely hotel in Koblenz, feeling great about our travels.

Die Loreley

Real food


Thursday 27April — The hotel in Koblenz was a fairly small mom and pop operation of an elderly couple, and very friendly. We found our way back to the Rhein, took note of the Deutsches Eck (where the Mosel flows into the Rhein), and rode on. We stopped for lunch in Remagen, after inspecting the remaining support structures of a famous bridge. Lunch was our first Döner in Germany. After arriving in Bonn, we found our hotel, dumped our stuff, and then hurried to the house where Beethoven was born. It was a small but nice museum, but unfortunately, we were not allowed to have cameras in the museum. We had a late dinner before retreating back to our hotel. Tomorrow means a new phase in our travels, in that we will not be bicycling any more. We had to make a change of plans since Herbert was needing to be in Würzburg on an urgent basis. We will spend two nights in Hamburg and then three nights in Berlin.

Deutsches Eck

Bridge at Remagen

First Döner in Remagen


Friday 28April—today makes it one week in Germany. We woke up a bit late, had breakfast, and then checked out. We had a few hours to spend before the train, so drifted around the downtown area for while before heading to the train station. We got to Hamburg late in the afternoon, it was rainy, and the hotel was a bit removed from the downtown area. It took us about an hour to reach the hotel. It was a Holiday Inn, we were able to stow our bikes in the room, and they upgraded us free to an executive suite room. Nice.

Beethoven birth house in Bonn

Saturday 29th April—Hamburg; the walk back to the train station now took us only 40 minutes, and we spent all day walking the city. We went to the Rathaus, Alster area, and the Brahms museum. Jon was able to actually play on a piano that Brahms played on. We had a Hamburger hamburger in the St. Pauli area, and then went to the Speicherstadt area, hoping to get into the model train museum. The wait would have been over two hours, so we skipped it. We saw the new Elbphilharmonie building, a fairly impressive site. Lastly, we slowly wended our way back to our hotel. All in all, it was a successful day.

Hamburg Rathaus

Entrance to Brahms museum

Jon plays on a piano that Brahms actually played on

Jonny eating a Hamburger hamburger in the Reeperbahn Burger King

Typical train station site

Sunday, 30April—This was a busy day for us. We woke up at 4 am in order to catch the 6 am train to Berlin. This train had almost nobody on it, so were able to catch up on the sleep we lost waking up so early. Berlin was mostly sunny but cold. Even though our bikes were loaded, we were able to work our way around the city, visiting many of the usual sites that are in Berlin, like the Seigesäle, the Gedachniskirke, the Brandenburgertor, Checkpoint Charlie, Alexanderplatz, Hackeschermarkt (where we had lunch), and finally checking into our hotel (Ibis) across from the Hauptbahnhof. I zoned out and hit the sack early. Jon wanted to enjoy a cigar, but it was just a little too cold out for that. We were prepared for a big day tomorrow.

Jon didn’t want this photo with Marx and Engels

Brandenburger Tor

Berliner Dom

Inside the Berliner Dom, the largest Protestant church in Germany. The Beatitudes are displayed in the Dom ceiling.

Jon high on the Dom

Monday 01May—Today was supposed to be museum day. We discovered that only a few of te museums were open owing to today being a holiday. So, we toured the Berliner Dom, an awesome work of reconstruction (see photos above). We walked around town, and then hit on the Naturkunst Museum (natural history museum) which held the worlds tallest dinosaur, a trex recently uncovered in Montana, countless stuffed animals, illustrations on how the animals were prepared, rocks, insects, and slimy creatures in glass bottles of formalin. It was a huge but most fascinating museum. Coming back to the hotel, we discovered the Medicine history museum founded by Virchow, a must to see tomorrow. We did a late dinner at a Bavarian style restaurant, and hit the sack afterwards.

Berlin Döner

Berlin Currywurst

Stuffed Knut in Natural History Museum

Tuesday 02May—This was a little lazier day, but for the best, since the weather was cold and drizzly. Jon and I did some more walking around the city, then visited the Neues museum of Egyptian artifacts, as well as the Pergamon museum, which had some major walls and gates brought back from the mid-east, including the Ishtar gate from Babylon, which Daniel from the Old Testament surely would have frequently walked through. It is incredibly beautiful. We had lunch again in the Hackescher Markt, then hopped the train back to our hotel, freshened up, and ran to the train to meet Marike in the Zoological Garten area. Marike pointed out where the recent terror attack occurred. We had coffee, then all three of us went back to the hotel. I showed her my bike (she really needed a new bike), and she decided to take it. We went out to dinner, and finally had to bid her farewell. It was nice to see Marike again.

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche

Isar Tor

Schweinehaxe

Marike enjoys her new bike

Wednesday03May—no pressure today. We caught the 8 am train to Magdeburg, and had three transfers, all of which went well. The last was a little strange, since the train was marked differently from what was indicated, and it was packed to the brim… Sort of. By the train doors, a large group of young students aggregated, blocking entry and exit for everybody else. Then, the train poorly indicated next stops, making us think we might have been on the wrong train, or gone past our stop. But, we ended up correctly, and met Hannes. I rode the bike up to their home, while Jon went with Hannes and the bags. It was pouring down rain, so I arrived a bit wet. It was nice to see Katja and Hannes again, but we expected Herbert to be here. He wasn’t. A phone call to Herbert suggested that he had never left Krefeld, but would come tomorrow. So, we spent the evening chatting with Katja and Hannes.

Thursday 04 May—today was another lazy day. Originally, the Wagners wished to take us to Bayreuth, but then we heard that Herbert would be coming, so we laid low. After breakfast, we went to an area that was a walking path up in the vineyards above the Main. Gustav came along for exercise. It was a beautiful site overlooking the river valley, and we could also see the Radweg that Peter and I had done a few years ago. Coming down, we went through the old city of Karlstadt, and then spent a quiet afternoon waiting for Herbert to come. No Herbert. So, we went out to a phenomenal restaurant, where we went when Peter and I were with the Wagners. The food was incredibly good, and the ambiance was an arched cellar. Once we got home, we finally found Herbert waiting for us. The Wagners (and I) were not too happy that he showed up so late. But, it was good to see Herbert again, and to talk with him. He did not appear in the best health though he had not had medical encounters of a serious nature. The time with Herbert was all too brief before we needed to hit the sack.

Walking with Hans-Jurgen and Gustav

View of the Main from above

Marienweg

Wege Wein – well marked routes through the vine yards

Old city street, with Hans-Jurgen

The restaurant Keller

Herbert at last!!!!!

Friday 05 May—it was an early wake-up and breakfast, and a quick goodby with Herbert. I rode the bicycle down to the train station, and Jon came with the Wagners. The train ride was smooth, but the bicycle car was loaded with young school students, apparently on an overnight field trip. We didn’t get to sit down for most of the trip to Frankfurt. On arrival in Frankfurt, we first had our last Döner, took the bike again to the bike shop, and then went for a walk around Frankfurt. We were able to check in early to the hotel, leaving us free to roam without luggage. We had a very small dinner, repacked al of our goods, picked up the boxed bike to bring back to the Ramada Inn hotel. Bedtime was early.

Saturday 06May—last day in Germany! Neither Jon or I slept well, as there was too much noise outside. We got up by 6 am, completed packing, and headed to the train station. We decided to make two trips to the airport, since we both had heavy luggage, plus a large bike box. That was successful, though we probably didn’t need to get up quite as early as we did. We were able get checked in very easily, and got some duty free shopping done before boarding the plane. We slept on the plane. The only strange event was the transfer in Chicago. I knew that we only had a little over an hour to accomplish the transfer, so ran like mad, dashing through customs, collecting our bags and bike, re-loading our bags and bike, then dashing through security again, and finally making it to the terminal about 2 minutes before the plane was supposed to leave. At the counter, the man told me that I had an hour to go. I had NO idea where that hour came from, regardless of how many times I rechecked our schedule and timing. Anyway, we got home, lovely Betsy was able to pick us up, and was able to get unpacked that evening. Of course, with jet lag, I couldn’t sleep all night, but that’s another story.

Germany was great and it was so nice seeing wonderful friends. My only regrets were being unable to ride the bike more, see the Kretschmars, and spend more time with Heinz and Debbie and Herbert. I would maybe do it more in the summer or fall with a foldable bike, and spend a month or two again at the Goethe Institute.

Fremont Lookout with Enkelkinder

September 5th, 2016


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Labor Day 05SEPT2016 Hike with Flanagan Boys

The Flanagan kids were under Betsy and my care for Labor Day since Sarah was involved and Andrew had to work. We decided that they needed some excitement, so took them for a hike. The hike started at Sunrise, and we took one false turn onto the Huckleberry Creek trail, which led us about a mile and quite a few 100 feet elevation loss, which we had to retrace. The kids were very reluctant to pursue our goal, but the promise of Snicker bars at the Fremont Lookout Tower spurred them on. We did achieve the Fremont Lookout, as can be seen from the above photo. They were rather tired on return to the car, so we awarded them with a trip (at their choosing) to McDonalds.

A gaze down the valley of the Huckleberry Creek trail

A gaze down the valley of the Huckleberry Creek trail

The saddle where the main trail and Huckleberry Creek trail split. The children are squinting from the sunlight.

The saddle where the main trail and Huckleberry Creek trail split. The children are squinting from the sunlight.

Another view from Mt. Fremont. There were many dozens of mountain goats that can be seen. Click on the picture to blow it up.

Another view from Mt. Fremont. There were many dozens of mountain goats that can be seen. Click on the picture to blow it up.

Looking back at Mt. Rainier and Burroughs Mountain from the Fremont Lookout

Looking back at Mt. Rainier and Burroughs Mountain from the Fremont Lookout

The kids a bit colder in the thin air of Fremont Mountain. Sammy discovers here the infamous Stone of Fremont

The kids a bit colder in the thin air of Fremont Mountain. Sammy discovers here the infamous Stone of Fremont

Here are the Garmin hiking stats and route we traveled, just in case you are curious.

White Pass to Crystal

August 24th, 2016

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White Pass to Crystal Mountain on the PCT, 21-23AUG2016

The last trip report had Pete, Russ and I going from Waptus Lake to White Pass. This is now a continuation with just Russ and I from White Pass to Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. It was also two nights, and along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Both Russ and I are now packing a bit lighter, and a bit wiser. To coordinate matters, I dropped my car off at Crystal Mountain, and then Kim Andersen drove us to White Pass and left us to our own devices. The start of the trail was a touch obscure, but we were soon on our way. The first day had beautiful weather with a few scattered clouds, but cool, and no bugs. There was much up and down along the trail, but with lighter packs, we seemed to handle it quite well. We passed multiple lakes, and what I thought would be somewhat monotonous scenery (the long green tunnel) was everything but that. We finally set up camp at Snow Lake.

Day 2, we traversed from Snow Lake to Dewey Lake. It was cloudy the entire day, and most the time, we were hiking in the clouds. We would have had views of Mt. Rainier, which were clouded out today. The scenery persisted in being totally spectacular, and much of the trail actually went through Mt. Rainier National Park. During this hike, I am still experimenting with my Garmin eTrex 30t, and was informed at the end of the day that the battery ran out. Thus, I do not have a complete record. We hiked between 16-17 miles, and climbed about 3000 feet.

Wolkenbergwanderung

Wolkenbergwanderung

Russ waking up at Snow Lake and disorganizing his stuff.

Russ waking up at Snow Lake and disorganizing his stuff.

A hike in the clouds

A hike in the clouds

Russ chilling out at Dewey Lake

Russ chilling out at Dewey Lake

Day 3, we got a little later start of 7:30, and started immediately with a climb up to highway 410 (Chinook Pass). On the way, we encountered Smiles, and then two girls, Old School and Mama Goose, all thru-hikers from Campo. All were putting in 25-30 mile days, carrying packs under 25 lb, and looking as fresh as the first day on the trail. I’m deeply jealous. Maybe 2018? Past Hwy 410, we had another 1800 ft of climbing, reaching Sheep Lake and then Sourdough gap. At Sourdough gap, Russ took off like a jack rabbit chasing the bunnies, and then took a trail off of the PCT, perhaps thinking it was a short cut to Crystal. Fortunately, I caught him quickly enough to correct our course. We continued on the Bear Gap, where there were several trails that took us back to our car. The Crystal Mountain portion of the hike was a little less enjoyable. We stopped at Wallys on the way home, where Russ was able to experience the Waltimate Burger.

Looking down on Dewey Lake

Looking down on Dewey Lake

Heading toward Hwy 410

Heading toward Hwy 410

The never-ending trail

The never-ending trail

From Sourdough Gap, looking back on Sheep Lake with Mt. Adams in the distance.

From Sourdough Gap, looking back on Sheep Lake with Mt. Adams and Goat Rocks in the distance.

From these two hikes, Russ and I both learned the value of going lighter. We were able to talk to many of the thru-hikers and glean knowledge from them as to the methods of their journeys. The common theme was to go lighter, from the pack, to the food you carry, your tent and sleeping accommodations, to your clothes and food. I remain puzzled how many thru-hikers carried cell phones, and yet kept them charged. I saw only a few carrying solar chargers on their packs.

I’ve used the Halfmile maps, and they were extremely helpful in planning the route, and finding your way once on the journey. I was using two year old maps, and the mile markers for this years maps are slightly different by 10 miles. I never needed the Garmin to determine my location, though I’m sure it might help in the Sierras where the route isn’t as clear.

The first hike this year was into Rachel Lake with Peter Tate, and I forgot to bring my trekking poles. It was a totally miserable hike, and I was unstable, falling a lot, and unsure in any sort of tricking footing, like stream crossing. These last two hikes were now with my hiking poles, and what a difference they make. You can hike faster because you can easily catch yourself when you become unsteady. You can lessen the impact when descending. Stream crossing is still slow, but far less unsure. I will never forget my hiking poles again!

Family Fun Idaho Trip with Patrick Flanagan

July 23rd, 2016

I had signed up to do a bicycle event ride with my oldest grandson Patrick Flanagan last fall. After anxious months of waiting and a few training rides, it is finally coming to fruition. For readers, click on images to see more detailed views.

Day 0 — Sunday 17July — we woke up fairly early, Patrick staying over at our house in order to get a jump on the road. The day before, we did a short ride together on the Orting trail, and Patrick was having a lot of trouble with the bicycle. I was able to determine that a few things went out of adjustment and fix them. We drove out I-90 all the way to Coeur d’Alene and then south to Plummer, which was the start of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. Everything checked out ok, and we were able to meet a broad span of ages for kids doing the ride, with children as young as 7-8 doing the ride independently on their own bikes. That seemed to help Patrick think that perhaps he could also do it. *Nota bene-the ACA considers this to be day 1.

Patrick beside our tent, eager to start riding

Patrick beside our tent, eager to start riding

The cooks preparing fabulous food

The cooks preparing fabulous food

Part of the staff, including Mark, Bronwyn, Tom and Don

Part of the staff, including Mark, Bronwyn, Tom and Don

Day 1 — Monday 18 July — This was the biggest day, with 43 miles to ride. The trail had a mile downhill grade for about 5 miles, and then remained mostly flat. The morning was quite cool, but it became moderately warm by 11 am. We left about 7:45, and arrived at the campground in Cataldo at 12:30. Patrick was doing quite well, even eager to go swimming, in spite of this being his longest ever ride.

Patrick at the beginning of the first day

Patrick at the beginning of the first day

Approaching the step bridge

Approaching the step bridge

Opa and Patrick on top of the bridge

Opa and Patrick on top of the bridge

Flat! Beautiful!

Flat! Beautiful!

On the banks of the Coeur d'Alene.

On the banks of the Coeur d’Alene.

Terry instructing Bronwyn in the fine art of watermelon surgery.

Terry instructing Bronwyn in the fine art of watermelon surgery.

Patrick at the end of his longest ever (43 mile) ride

Patrick at the end of his longest ever (43 mile) ride

Day 2 — Tuesday 19 July — This was an easy day, with a short 20+ mile ride to Kellogg. Our first stop was the Old Mission, built overlooking the Coeur d’Alene river just outside of Cataldo. The Jesuits were spreading their influence to the indians. The ride was short from there to Kellogg, and Patrick was exceptionally motivated, being that there was a water park in town. He spent four hours in the water park, and had a grand time.

The Cataldo Mission - oldest existing building in Idaho

The Cataldo Mission – oldest existing building in Idaho

The Snake Pit?

The Snake Pit?

Day 3 — Wednesday 20 July — This was another easy day with lots of shuttling. At 08:30, we boarded ourselves and our bicycles, hopped on the bus, and traveled across the Idaho-Montana border on I-90 to the east portal of the Hiawatha Trail. It is an old section of the Milwaukie line that has been turned into rails to trails. We proceeded 14 miles down this trail, which included a 1.7 mile tunnel at the start, which passed from Montana back into Idaho. After lunch at the base of the trail, we we shuttled back up to the tunnel, in order to go through the long tunnel in reverse. We were then shuttled to the town of Wallace, and rode back to camp, 11 miles away.

The first Hiawatha Route tunnel

The first Hiawatha Route tunnel

Other riders eager to enter the cave.

Doug and Dane eager to enter the cave.

Trestles on the trail

Trestles on the trail

Day 4 — Thursday 21 July — Ride from Kellogg to Harrison. This was our second longest day, but it seemed like one of the easier days, being almost perfectly flat. The total distance was 38.5 miles, which Patrick did without any difficulty, save for the heat. We arrived in the camp at Harrison by noon, taking some time to get our tents set up, and then enduring temperature well into the 90’s. It was a lazy afternoon, waiting for the map meeting followed by dinner. In the evening a few of the boys (and girls) went out for a beer, bringing the event to a nice close.

Camping in Harrison. A hot day beside the Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Camping in Harrison. A hot day beside the Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Day 5 — Friday 22 July —Harrison to Plummer and then home. This retraced all that we had done the first day for the first 15 miles, going 7 miles to the step bridge across the lake, and then a very gradual 5 mile climb up to Plummer. Though the grade was never over 3%, the persistence became a little challenging for Patrick, who was quite happy to make it to the top and achieve the end of the trail. The drive back home got us to the Seattle/Tacoma area right at rush hour, which took almost as much time exiting I-90 and driving back to Puyallup as the time to drive as the rest of the trip.

Back across the step bridge

Back across the step bridge

Eager participants (and Bronwyn) preparing for the climb back to the finish line.

Eager participants (and Bronwyn) preparing for the climb back to the finish line.

Patrick at the completion of his 5 day journey.

Patrick at the completion of his 5 day journey.

Day 6 — Saturday 23 July — North Bend to Hyak and Back. Wait a minute! This isn’t a part of the Family Fun Idaho trip, and I didn’t do it with Patrick, but I did it with family, my son Jonathan rode this with me. It seemed only natural to do it, since this rail-to-trail on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and John Wayne (Iron Horse) Trail is simply a continuation of the old Milwaukie line, just before it ends in Tacoma, WA. This is the last big pass that the trail must encounter on its journey west, and includes large trestles, a very long tunnel as well as smaller tunnels (east of Snoqualmie Pass), and a grade/appearance very similar to the route of the Hiawatha. In fact, the tunnel is 2.3 miles long, more than ½ mile longer than the long tunnel on the trail of the Hiawathas. I knew that I would be riding the Iron Horse Trail in two weeks for the Courage Classic, all the way from North Bend to Cle Elum, about 64 miles, so did this 56 mile jaunt as a warm-up. We were able ride at a considerably faster pace than with Patrick, and a considerably longer distance, climbing over 2000 ft from North Bend to Hyak, which is just on the east side of the Snoqualmie Pass tunnel. Oddly, this trip left me a little sore in the buttocks, which usually doesn’t happen to me. I also got my first flat on a mountain bike, though it was quite easy to fix with a spare tube. The bicycles returned home VERY muddy, and with very dirty but happy riders. The Iron Horse trail goes all the way across the state of Washington to the Idaho border, and ends about 20 miles from the start of the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

Historical sign in North Bend

Historical sign in North Bend

Jon eager to ride on his Mountain Bike

Jon eager to ride on his Mountain Bike

The Milwaukee Line info-board

The Milwaukee Line info-board

west end of the 2.3 mile long tunnel

west end of the 2.3 mile long tunnel

One of the six large trestles on the route

One of the six large trestles on the route

Trestle view from above

Trestle view from above

Mile marker (from Chicago). On the route of the Hiawathas, the mile markers were in the 1700's.

Mile marker (from Chicago). On the route of the Hiawathas, the mile markers were in the 1700’s.


Summary of the Trip:

  1. The ACA gets an A+. They are an extraordinarily great group to ride with, especially as you get to know the staff.
  2. The people on the trip are awesome. I regret that I could not get to know better more riders. It was a little hard avoiding politics, and didn’t wish to contend with those who wished to make profound political statements which were farther left (and thus much stupider!) than my conservative approach to life, politics, religion, and things of that sort.
  3. The route was superb. I wish there was a better answer to the Hiawatha trail day — too much shuttling, but still not a day to be missed.
  4. Once again, the cooks were awesome
  5. My thanks to Tammy Schurr for making this a wonderful and special event for Patrick.

Columbia River Bicycle Loop with Jonathan

June 20th, 2016

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6/16 (Thursday) — Jon had come down to Puyallup the night before, and we headed off to Portland just before 7 am, arriving in Portland about 9:45. Our bikes were quickly unloaded at Gaylon’s house,  and Gaylon followed us for 15 miles. Our track went down Division St. to the 205 bicycle path. This we took up across the Columbia River to start the Washington portion of our adventure. We started on the old Evergreen highway until we got to Camas. Two miles before Camas, Gaylon left us to go back home. We were following the Washington alternative to the ACA Lewis and Clark bicycle route, which was not terribly clear. We ended up going through downtown Camas. Just before Camas, it began to rain torrentially. With rain gear on, we pushed forward. There was one significant uphill stretch, but other than that, most of the first day was rolling hills. The worst part was the persistent lack of shoulders to the road, and it was a very busy road, with about 30% trucks that would come uncomfortably close to us.  About an hour of heavy rain led to clearing and sunshine, so the decision to push on and camp out was made. Our camp was in the city park of Home Valley. This worked out well, save that the showers did not work, and that it was close to the train tracks. A train passed through about every hour, blaring it’s horn, which was loud enough to wake us. We did not get the best sleep.

Entering Washington with Gaylon

Entering Washington with Gaylon

Still fresh, ready to ride

Still fresh, ready to ride

View on the Washington side of the Columbia River, west of the mountains

View on the Washington side of the Columbia River, west of the mountains

6/17 (Friday) — We were up at 5:30, had breakfast, and were on the road by 7 am. The road on the Washington side started to have better shoulders, but it was still uncomfortable in some parts, especially in the seven tunnels that we needed to go through. Eventually, we got to the Dalles bridge, which did not have a bicycle lane, but was not to uncomfortable to get across. The weather was cool and cloudy, making for some good timing on the ride, and we got into the Dalles just before noon. Jon decided that he wanted to stop, so we found a cheap dive of a hotel to stay in. After some walking around town, we went out to dinner and prepared for the next day.

View of the Columbia River, Washington side, east of the mountains

View of the Columbia River, Washington side, east of the mountains

6/18 (Saturday) — Taking off on the road a little after 7 am, we were able to get onto the historic old Columbia River highway. Jon and I were now headed westward. Once we arrived in Rowena, we realized that a major bicycle event was occurring to raise money for completing the gorge bicycle trail. The climb up the Rowena curves to the lookout was fairly impressive, and immensely beautiful. The road immediately dropped down to Mosier (pronounced Moe-zure) and then started climbing on a bicycle only trail. There were the Mosier twin tunnels to go through, a bit more climbing, and then a descent into Hood River. Hood River was a rather hilly town, but on the western outskirts, the map put us onto I-84 for 11 miles. Getting off at Wyeth Bench Road, we stopped for lunch at the state park, only to have heavy rains start again. We had some additional and substantial climbing to do on Herman Creek Road, but it nicely dropped us into Cascade Locks. It had only temporarily stopped raining, and so considered seriously a hotel. They were either way too expensive, or full, owing to an event going on in town the night we needed to stay over. So, we stayed in the Marina, along with other cycle tourists, and also a SoBo PCT hiker. We enjoyed dinner with her at the brewery in the Marina, and then crashed early, sleeping well, but with episodes of quite heavy rain. The tent kept us dry, but things were quite wet.

Rowena Crest

Rowena Crest

A look down on the climb up to Rowena Crest

A look down on the climb up to Rowena Crest

Entering the Mosier tunnels

Entering the Mosier tunnels

Camping at Cascade Locks Marina

Camping at Cascade Locks Marina

6/19 (Sunday) — We got a slightly later 7:30 start this morning, but there were only a few clouds in the sky, and it was quite beautiful. This section I’ve done a few times before, but never on the touring bike headed in a westward direction. The climb to Crown Point was long but rarely more than 6% grade, and we made it back to Gaylon’s house by slightly after 12 noon. After chatting a bit with Gaylon, we loaded our bicycles and bags and took off back to Puyallup, and Jon back to Arlington.

Bonneville Dam from the bicycle trail

Bonneville Dam from the bicycle trail

Goodbye to a beautiful river.

Goodbye to a beautiful river.

All in all, it was a fantastic ride. I did not like the Washington side, and will never do that side again. The Oregon side was quite impressive. It was a total delight to be able to do this with Jonathan. I look forward to more rides with him.

 

Bike Touring and Bikepacking

November 29th, 2015

BikeTouring

Bike Touring and Bikepacking, A Falcon Guide, by Justin Lichter and Justin Kline ★★★★

I recently reviewed several books that Justin Lichter had written on ultralight backpacking, and so found this book of interest since I also love bicycle touring. It is easy to read, and very well illustrated. The emphasis seems to be mostly on cycle touring off of the pavement, and often in unusual situations, such as through the snow, or in remote foreign countries. The book has helpful advice on food, camping, and how to maintain your bicycle. Much of the advice was repeated from his other hiking textbooks. Though he has several chapters on choices for bicycles and panniers, these are insufficiently detailed to be at all meaningful. I appreciated the book since it is taking bicycle touring to further levels, with off the road or gravel road excursions. I find the book not entirely satisfying since it is very cursory on bicycle details, and the camping aspects could be found in any backpacking book, including his own books.

Four Books on the PCT and backpacking

November 2nd, 2015

After visiting Stehekin and seeing groups of thru-hikers on the last segment of the PCT, a long desire to some day hike the PCT has again resurrected itself. This may be problematic, in that a) I’ll need to find somebody to do it with, b) I’ll need to get Betsy’s support, c) I’ll need to find 5-6 months from April through September to take off to do this. Possible? Yes. Probable? I don’t know. I also wish to do some long-distance bicycling in the near future. There is a bicycle route (called the Sierra Cascades route) that roughly parallels the PCT, which I would do first, and have already talked my kid brother into doing it with me. After that, we’ll have to see if I still have the flame for grand adventures. Let me know if you are interested in joining me!

PCTGray

The Pacific Crest Trail, by William Gray with the National Geographic Society, published in 1975 ★★
This book was read by me mostly out of historical interest in the trail. It was written when the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) was still under development, and many sections of the trail had not been fully carved out. I believe that the entire trail happens to now be intact, and often different from where Gray hiked. From reading the book, it sounds like he did not do a “thru-hike”, that is, a solid hike from Mexico to Canada, but hiked in sections, mostly to glean photographs and stories for the National Geographic Society. He also engages about ¾ of the book in detailing character sketches of people he met on of the trail, or in proximity to the trail. Thus, it fails as a description of the PCT itself, but is typical of the writing and journalism that one would find with National Geographic Society publications. It’s cute to see that the people in the photos are all typical for 1970’s hippies.
Yogi'sPCT

Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook 2016-2017, by Yogi (aka Jackie McDonnell) ★★★★★
This is the best book that I’ve read so far on the PCT, and is much a reference book (the entire last half of the book is intended to be torn out of the book to be taken with you on the hike) as it is a how-to book and book detailing what to expect on the trail. Yogi (her trail name) includes comments from other thru-hikers regarding how they did the PCT. Yogi covers diverse actions as to what to carry in your backpack, what to wear, how to do camp, how to plan, how to resupply, and how to stay out of trouble. Because she includes comments from other hikers, you realize that there will be no one set way to do the PCT. Most importantly, one learns what NOT to do, like overpack, under hydrate, or not be prepared. She writes well, and seems more connected than any of the other PCT advice books that I’ve seen. The reference section is absolutely invaluable, and is exactly what one needs to know. As an example, she has rough maps of the resupply towns, so that one doesn’t need to wander aimlessly to find where the local hotel, restaurant or grocery store might be located. Reading the book is almost like having Yogi actually there, giving you advice about how you might survive and succeed on your first thru-hike. Long-distance through-hiking has a completely different style than a 2-14 day backpacking trip, including what you eat, how you camp, and how you treat yourself. Yogi gives great advice on these differences, and how to have a comfortable and good time while doing that. Hopefully, I will meet Yogi on the PCT. She’s a real inspiration to get out there and just do it!

TrailTestedLichter

Trail Tested, A thru-hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking, by Justin Lichter ★★★★
This book is very similar to a book I reviewed in 2013 by Andrew Skurka on ultralight backpacking. Similar to Skurka, Lichter is a “professional” hiker, i.e., he seems to spend more time hiking than working at a “job”, and has thru-hiked the Triple Crown (Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and PCT) with repeats of those listed, as well as other long distance hikes, foreign and domestic. Justin (Trail name “Trauma”) details style of thru-hiking, as well as offering equipment recommendations. Many of these recommendations seem to have a sponsor influence, but at least he lets you know that. The book is well written and well illustrated, with many personal anecdotes. I acquired it as a package deal from Yogi.

UltralightLichter

Ultralight Survival Kit, by Justin Lichter ★★★
This book repeated much of what was in the book Trail Tested. It is a small, short book on many of the problems and dangers one can encounter on the trail, and how to deal with them. Hopefully, one is moderately aware of everything in this book before they set out alone on the trail, as I’ve encountered many of the issues that this book brings up. If you own Trail Tested, this book is mildly superfluous. It was also part of the package deal from Yogi.

Wonderland Trail 2015

August 9th, 2015

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.

 

Cougar Lakes 2015

July 6th, 2015

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

Portland to Puyallup Cycle Tour

June 17th, 2015

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.

 

The Merry Month of May, 2015

June 4th, 2015

May Adventures-9
May was a busy month. I had three main activities that consumed my time.

1. Adventure Cycle Association Leadership Course

This course is required by those who wish to lead ACA tours, but is also an excellent source of information for leading one’s own bicycling adventures. The classes were held at Champoeg State Park in Oregon, south of Portland and along the Willamette River. It was three packed days of most classwork, but also with short rides mixed in. Much discussion was held in discussing the ACA philosophy of leadership, being that of allowing tour participants much freedom of individual decisions and responsibility. The ACA regimen of daily cycling activity, and conflict resolution were also discussed. I had a great time, met some delightful people, and hope to be assisting in the leadership of tours soon.

The Willamette River at Champoeg State Park

The Willamette River at Champoeg State Park

Camping at Champoeg State Park; my tent is on the far left

Camping at Champoeg State Park; my tent is on the far left

Classroom discussion with Joyce

Classroom discussion with Joyce

Wally and the staff make dinner

Wally and the staff make dinner

Chowing down

Chowing down

2. Dayton, WA bicycling

It has been several years since Russ A. and I have gone to Dayton, WA for bicycle riding. Another friend of Russ, Pete, also comes with, and is a great complement to the rides. This year, our first ride was loop down to Walla Walla, starting from Howie’s cabin, half way from Dayton up to the Bluewood Ski Resort. The second day was a mountain bike ride up into the Blue Mountains, and a most serious grunt. The third day took us to Starbuck, and north of Dayton. The weather was perfect, and rides were most delightful.

Second day mountain bike ride, just after a beastly climb

Second day mountain bike ride, just after a beastly climb

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

Russ at home in the Blue Mountains

Russ at home in the Blue Mountains

3. Hikes to Indian Henry’s — two variations

On two consecutive weekends, Jon and I hiked up to Indian Henry’s hunting grounds, a most beautiful spot on the timberline of Mount Rainier. The first hike took the Kautz Creek route, which goes straight up a ridge following Kautz Creek up to Indian Henry’s, wrapping around Mt. Ararat. The top photo is of Mt. Ararat engulfed in clouds. On this hike, the weather was overcast, and we could not see the mountain. Close to Indian Henry’s, we hit much snow, which eventually led us to turn back. The second weekend, we followed the Wonderland Trail going counter-clockwise around the mountain. The weather was spectacular, and most of the snow at Indian Henry’s had since melted. The views of the mountain were awesome.

Flowers

Flowers

More flowers

More flowers

And More flowers

And More flowers

Jon on the Kautz Creek hike

Jon on the Kautz Creek hike

Me on the Kautz Creek hike

Me on the Kautz Creek hike

Approaching Indian Henry's. Lots of flowers and little snow.

Approaching Indian Henry’s. Lots of flowers and little snow.

Indian Henry's Hunting Grounds via the Wonderland Trail

Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds via the Wonderland Trail

Leaving Indian Henry's

Leaving Indian Henry’s

We camped here before on the Wonderland Trail, and will be camping here again in August when we do the Wonderland Trail again.

We camped here before on the Wonderland Trail, and will be camping here again in August when we do the Wonderland Trail again.

 

Israel 2015

February 12th, 2015

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The trip to Israel went from 10-22January. In the aftermath, Betsy and I spent the next 10 days recovering from jet lag, while simultaneously fighting off the crud that grandchildren seem to have given us (or perhaps we gave to them?). This was a trip planned with people from church, and so there were only three people that we did not know on the trip, though they were enjoyable to get to know. This trip was planned to include sites that Betsy and I did not see on our trip with John Delancey. I am not going to do a blow-by-blow account of the travels, since they would be uninteresting, but will mention sites that we did not see previously. There were a considerable number of new places that we went to this time compared to our last trip with John, and the older places had a fresh perspective. Being the down-season, there were far less crowds, especially at the “holy” sites. It added to the ambience to be with people you knew, although the most significant interactions happened when sitting around on the sea of Galilee enjoying cigars and good conversation. John again was a total delight to be with, and a wealth of information. Unfortunately, the stuff I wished most to remember from him I don’t, being somewhat brain-dead from jet lag the first few days. As usual, I took way too few photographs. On this trip, I used my Canon M1 camera. The beauty of the M1 is its lightness. The problems with the M1 are the inability to see the image in bright light and its extreme slowness. So, here are a few photos from this trip.

We saw lots of archeological sites. Unfortunately, they all looked the same!

We saw lots of archeological sites. Unfortunately, they all looked the same!

Flowers in bloom. It was a beautiful time of year to visit.

Flowers in bloom. It was a beautiful time of year to visit.

Valley of David and Goliath, near Gath in the Sephelah

Valley of David and Goliath, near Gath in the Sephelah

Cave at Moresheth, where Micah used to hang out.

Cave at Moresheth, where Micah used to hang out.

Wadi below ancient Be'er Sheba, where Abraham planted his digs.

Wadi below ancient Be’er Sheba, where Abraham planted his digs.

Kamelfahrt

Kamelfahrt

Kamel kopf durch Kamelfahrt

Kamel kopf durch Kamelfahrt

The Judean desert. The green area deep in the valley would be the road from Jericho to Jerusalem

The Judean desert. The green area deep in the valley would be the road from Jericho to Jerusalem

More road to Jerusalem

More road to Jerusalem

Shiloh, where Samuel used to play as a kid.

Shiloh, where Samuel used to play as a kid.

Beth Shean, on the other side of the Jezebel Valley

Beth Shean, on the other side of the Jezebel Valley

Ancient village in the Golan, destroyed by the Romans

Ancient village in the Golan, destroyed by the Romans

Dan at Dan

Dan at Dan

Rob, sitting at the gate in ancient Dan

Rob, sitting at the gate in ancient Dan

The dynamic duo, John and Schlomo, at the altar at Dan

The dynamic duo, John and Schlomo, at the altar at Dan

Rob, fetching baptismal water from the Jordan. Actually, this is the Dan, one of the three sources for the Jordan river, so, Rob might be accused of being Unitarian.

Rob, fetching baptismal water from the Jordan. Actually, this is the Dan, one of the three sources for the Jordan river, so, Rob might be accused of being Unitarian.

Climbing the last scramble to the top of Arbel

Climbing the last scramble to the top of Arbel

The Horns of Hattin from Arbel

The Horns of Hattin from Arbel

The cliffs of Arbel

The cliffs of Arbel

View of Arbel and the Horns of Hattin and the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes

View of Arbel and the Horns of Hattin and the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes

Heulenmauer. Wir Heult! Wailing at the wall.

Heulenmauer. Wir Heulten! Wailing at the wall.

Last view of Jerusalem. Looking at the south end of the Mount of Olives, with the Kidron Valley heading down to the Dead Sea. The mountains in the distance are in Jordan.

Last view of Jerusalem. Looking at the south end of the Mount of Olives, with the Kidron Valley heading down to the Dead Sea. The mountains in the distance are in Jordan.

 

Blitzfahrt nach China

November 13th, 2014

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Who ever heard of going to China for just 2 days? On this trip, Dr. X. Liao and I left from Seattle at 1300 last Friday, and returned home at 1030 this last Monday. It took 3 days for my brain to de-fog to write this blog. The trip was made possible by a generous benefactor Mr. Lu, who covered the entire cost of the trip, loading us with numerous gifts to take home with us. I had provided care to the brother of the person that made this trip possible, the brother having had a very good outcome from with healthcare with Dr. Liao. Thus, he was interested in establishing a stronger American presence in China for healthcare.

The flight each way was 10 hours, but with the crossing of the date line and 10 hour time zone difference, flying Hainan Airline on a direct flight from Seattle to Beijing, and arriving the next day at 1730. Mr. Lu’s oldest son picked us up at the airport, did tea with us at his office and taught me extensively on the proper handling and brewing of Chinese tea (we had pu-er tea, Betsy’s favorite), and then dropped us off at the train station, which  put us on one of the high-speed trains. We rode business class, which gave us reclining seats and shear luxury. These trains are even nicer than the best trains in Europe–they are really nice. In 1.5 hours, we were in the town of Jinan in the Shandong province, located south and east of Beijing, about ⅓ of the way to Shanghai. Jinan is a smaller little village of only 8-10 million people. Mr. Lu picked us up from the train station, took us out to dinner, and then dropped us off at our hotel, a 5 star hotel (that incidentally, the really good rooms cost the equivalent of about $100/night).

The next morning (Sunday), we had breakfast at the hotel, and then hopped in the car for a sight-seeing tour. About 1 hour drive south took us to Qufu, where we were able to see the Confucius temple.  It was a large compound, a little bit like the Forbidden City, though not nearly as large. Most of the buildings were built starting in the early Ming dynasty (about 1300 ad), though it was the site were Confucius was born and lived many hundreds of years ago during the Shang dynasty.  Sitting beside the temple grounds was the Confucius “Mission”, where about 70 or more generations of families lived after Confucius. The Mormons would like to get ahold of that genealogy!

Dr. Liao, Mr. Lu, me at Confucius temple

Dr. Liao, Mr. Lu, me at Confucius temple

Entrance to the temple

Entrance to the temple

Burning incense to Confucius

Burning incense to Confucius

Leaving there, we visited a university of 10,000 students that was built and funded by Mr. Lu. We toured several of the buildings, which he had built after the style of a European mansion, quite luxurious. We were then to meet the doctor in charge of one of the Jinan hospitals that had been talking with Mr. Lu about the development of an American style clinic for cancer patients. There was an hour meeting where Dr. Liao explained his vision, and the 5-6 hospital surgeons and oncologists listened carefully, asking various questions. After that, we had dinner at our hotel with the hospital surgeons and Mr. Lu’s brother, our patient. Somehow, they manage to find very large round tables, and this one had a motor that slowly turned the large central lazy Susan on which multiple dishes sat. One would take small portions of 20 or more different dishes, giving the diner the opportunity to try multiple things. For me, most of the food was quite unrecognizable, but everything tasted very good. The difficulty that I often have with he more exotic Chinese foods is not with the taste so much as with the texture of the food.  In addition, there are flavors that westerners are quite unfamiliar with, such as that of lotus root. I find that my favorite Chinese foods are the cheap foods that are found on the street at inexpensive restaurants. The fancy restaurants are just too exotic, and I don’t care to eat chicken feet or various forms of slime.

University in Jinan

University in Jinan

Inside of the buildings of the university

Inside of the buildings of the university

After breakfast in the hotel the next morning, we did a tour of several other clinic possibilities, including converting a very nice but underused hotel into a large outpatient clinic, and then driving through a very modern and fancy district of Jinan next to the train station for possibilities. Mr. Lu dropped us off at the train station, loaded with massive amounts of gifts, and we hopped the train back to Beijing. In Beijing, a taxi took us to the airport, and a flight home (in which I slept most of the way) left us in Seattle. We left Beijing on Monday at 5 in the evening, and arrived in Seattle at 10:30 on Monday in the morning–it’s like going back in time, and definitely confuses your internal clock. Mr. Lu’s gifts included 12 very expensive discs of pu-er tea, a number of boxes of very expensive finest Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) tea, also one of my absolute favorites, a tea server (I can’t even tell you what it is, and a photo won’t work, you just need to see it in action), as well as oodles of Chinese candy. For all of his kindness, I dearly hope that I could have been of help to Mr. Lu’s vision.

Iowa-Black Hills Bicycle Trip

September 7th, 2014

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This blog is a combination of two activities, the first being a visit of Betsy and I to our daughter Rachel and her husband and two daughters, who live in Sioux Center, Iowa, and the second being a bicycle trip I did with the Adventure Cycle Association in the Black Hills, starting in Rapid City, South Dakota. The bicycle trip begins at the 30AUG spot, so if you are only interested in that, please skip down everything else.

23aug We decided to head to Iowa early in the morning on Saturday, rather than late on Friday. At the very last minute, Betsy and I both decided to take a slightly longer route, which went first to Portland, and then out the Columbia River highway. The alternative would have been to go over Snoqualmie Pass through Yakima and Tri-Cities. We drove down through Pendleton, Baker, Ontario, Boise, and finally settled in for the night at Mountain Home, Idaho. I don’t take photos from the car, so no photos were obtained today.

24aug Today was a long, hard day of driving, never getting on an interstate highway at all until the last five miles. We left Mountain Home on a side road that took us through the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Betsy had never seen this, and it was not a major delay in going this way as compared to simply taking the interstate to Idaho Falls. Once we reached Idaho Falls, we continued on the road that followed the Snake River to the Grand Tetons. I’ve traveled this road before, having gone a number of times to a church associated Labor Day Weekend Youth Rally on this road, located just before the Wyoming border. Driving up through the Tetons, we then entered Yellowstone Park, and left out the east entrance towards Cody. Oddly, I felt that many areas of the Northwest were far more beautiful and spectacular than Yellowstone NP. We then headed north on route 14a through the Bighorn Mountains. I had thought that I did this route before, but apparently not, and must have done the straight route 14. 14a went through Lovell, but then is a ridiculously steep climb for over ten miles, throwing us into snow, and the tops of the mountain peaks. It was most grand, and created dreams of the ultimate challenge bicycle ride. I love the Bighorns, in my estimation one of the most beautiful spots in the Rockies. We then hit a long, steep descent which put us into Sheridan, Wyoming where we spent the night.

25aug today was mostly driving on I-90, with the exception of a bypass the see the Devil’s Tower. Betsy and I took a walk around the tower and then quickly dashed back to I-90 to get to Alex and Rachel. Only a stop in Sturgis to get lunch held us from getting to Sioux Center at about 8 pm, weary and ready for bed. But, what a delight it was to see the children (we include Alex in that) and grandchildren.

26aug Today was a lazy day, with me riding around town with Alex, doing a short bicycle ride with him, and then grilling steaks on the barbeque.

Lily

Lily

Adalyn

Adalyn

27aug Today was another lazy day, with a visit to the foreign candy company, as well another bicycle ride. We had lunch at Culvers in memory of Diane.

28aug Today we went to Lester to visit the relatives. We were invited to Wes and Esther’s for lunch. Also at lunch were Phil and Donna Mogler, Wes’s mother, Alex, Caleb, and Tessa. Uncle Phil has always been a wonderful memory to me as far back as when I was 3-4 years old. Wes and Esther have been  most special cousins to our family, and I always try to see them when I come to Iowa. After a fantastic lunch with the most delicious Iowa corn, we had heavenly apple pie. Esther then took us to see the town of Lester with some brief stops, and then to see Roy and Melissa, as well as Tim and Carissa. Tim and Carissa were homeschooling their 5 children, all of them most wonderful kids, who were living in the original home of Carl and Pauline, where dad and all the aunts and uncles on that side of the family were born. The house was quite remodeled, with walls moved and additions added, but it still felt like the old homestead. The house looked like a school, as the children were being home-schooled. What a delight it was to see old relations. My only regret is that we didn’t have either time or opportunity to see more relatives in the area. Dinner was at Pizza Ranch in Sioux Center, since Alex needed to go to a major fireman’s meeting.

Phil and Donna Mogler

Phil and Donna Mogler

Esther, Wes and Grandma Moser

Esther, Wes and Grandma Moser

Roy Feucht showing off his high heel cowboy boots

Roy Feucht showing off his high heel cowboy boots

Roy and Melissa Feucht

Roy and Melissa Feucht

Tim and Carissa Feucht and family. The house is the original homestead where my father as well as uncles & aunts were born

Tim and Carissa Feucht and family. The house is the original homestead where my father as well as uncles & aunts were born

Tim and Carissa Feucht family

Tim and Carissa Feucht family

29aug This was my last full day in Sioux Center. It was mostly a lazy day, packing and getting ready for the bicycle trip, as I tend to forget things. In the evening, we had dinner at Archies in LeMars, followed by Blue Bunny ice cream at the Blue Bunny fountain. Archies, by the way, is steak to die for, if you didn’t know that already. In the evening, we had a wonderful time with Alex’s parents, as well as with Kurt and Colleen, who came over (Kurt) for a cigar and beer. It was a wonderful way to end my time with Alex and Rachel.

30aug Today was an early rise, and long, six hour drive to Rapid City, where my cycle ride was to begin. We had the usual formalities, including the explanation of the next day’s ride, as well as dinner. I crashed early. That night had some heavy rains, high winds, and thunderstorms, which I haven’t seen in a while. The ole REI tent held up well, and I was able to wake up dry.

Patrick, the bicycle mechanic

Patrick, the bicycle mechanic

Doug, the luggage manager, always the most friendly dude.

Doug, the luggage manager, always the most friendly dude.

The daily board

The daily board

Tony Neaves, a superb leader of the pack.

Tony Neaves, a superb leader of the pack.

Fetching dinner with Tony and Lou

Fetching dinner with Tony and Lou

 

 

31aug This was our first day of riding, and supposedly the hilliest and hardest. There was moderate climbing, but it was fairly straightforward.  I arrived at the campsite just west of Deadwood at about 13:30, so had time to shower, read, and enjoy a cigar. Dinner was based on the Chinese theme, though not like anything we’ve ever had in China. It was another quiet evening, ready for tomorrow.

On the road, ever upwards

On the road, ever upwards

One of the smaller towns in South Dakota

One of the smaller towns in South Dakota

Arriving at last in Deadwood

Arriving at last in Deadwood


01 sept Labor Day! Deadwood to Hill City. Today was almost completely on a non-paved gravel road, the Mikelson Trail. Riding was made a little more complex by the presence of rain, which made the fine gravel act a bit more like mud, the tires sometimes sinking up to a half inch into the trail. There were several climbs that we were told would be no more than 2 percent grade bit were actually between 3-4 percent grade. Compounded by the muddy gravel, it was a bit of work to get over those hills. The ride was gorgeous in spite of the grey clouds and rain. The day ended with cold but beautiful ble skies, which dried out all of our equipment.

On the Mickelson Trail

On the Mickelson Trail

Kathy pausing for a photo opportunity

Kathy pausing for a photo opportunity

Somewhat wet trail in forested area

Somewhat wet trail in forested area

The trail opening up into prairie

The trail opening up into prairie

 

02sept Hill City to Hot Springs. This AM, it was so cold I was freezing. I wore normal clothes for the ride, but had to constantly blow into my hands to warm them up. First stop was Crazy Horse state park. I only went to the entrance to get some photographs. Oddly, I had seen the Crazy Horse monument 35 some years ago, and it didn’t seem to be and further along to completion as 35 years ago. I rode onward. I missed a turn onto Argyle Road, and went about 1.5 miles too far before figuring out what I did.  Argyle Road was off the Mickelson Trail, and was a normal road through the countryside, but gravel. The gravel was very loose in spots, and it was over 10 miles of this stuff. The only good thing about it was that it was mostly downhill, though there was rolling hills, with occasional 8-10 percent grade. This was granny gear country!  The temperature was easing over 90F as I rolled into camp, and there was practically no shade… One time I would have easily settled for a hotel. I finally found a cool, comfortable spot and refused to move. Cold beer never tasted so good.

One of several tunnels on the trail

One of several tunnels on the trail

The trail now following a creek. Gold mining was still happening off of this creek

The trail now following a creek. Gold mining was still happening off of this creek

Verruckter Pferd (Crazy Horse). Not much work on it since I saw it last 35 years ago.

Verruckter Pferd (Crazy Horse). Not much work on it since I saw it last 35 years ago.

Rock formations off the path, awaiting a sculptor.

Rock formations off the path, awaiting a sculptor.

 

03sept Hot Springs to Custer State Park. Today started a bit chilly but soon warmed up, since it was climbing from the get-go. The first stop was at the Wind Caves, but I decided against doing a 1.5 hour tour and rode on. Soon, a group of us riders encountered a herd of buffalo in the road, and needed to wait over forty minutes for them to move off. It was rather crazy being only about five meters from very large buffalo, but they didn’t seem to mind us. We again encountered buffalo at the water stop, where the entire stop was overrun by  buffalo, making it necessary for them to bring in the water jugs, since the buffalo were quite interested in them. Moving into Custer State Park, it was quite woody and mountainous, giving us a very long steep climb over “Heartbreak Hill”. The remainder of the ride was nearly completely downhill into camp.

Bison statues in the town of Custer

Bison statues in the town of Custer

Entering Wind Cave National Park

Entering Wind Cave National Park

Bison in the prairie

Bison in the prairie

Bison obstructing the road. We had to wait 40+ minutes for them to move off the road

Bison obstructing the road. We had to wait 40+ minutes for them to move off the road

Bison raiding the water stop

Bison raiding the water stop

Federal regulations demand you stay a minimum of 25 meters from buffalo. We were within 5-10 meters to them.

Federal regulations demand you stay a minimum of 25 meters from buffalo. We were within 5-10 meters to them.

Buffalo Ken

Buffalo Ken

Custer State Park. I didn't see any buffalo in the state park.

Custer State Park. I didn’t see any buffalo in the state park.

 

04sept. Custer State Park to Hill City  My impression from the sounds of the night was that it had rained. It was darker than usual for my 6am wakeup, and I thought I was going to have a cold drizzly day. The sound of the babbling brook only a few feet from the tent did not help. Instead, I found it to be warm outside, a cloudless sky, and the first (and only) time the tent was totally dry. After breakfast, the ride included a moderate amount of climbing, but nothing difficult, until we arrived at Keystone, the gateway to Mt. Rushmore. A few of my friends decided to bicycle to the top, several later regretting that decision, though I was thoroughly impressed with them, as it is a four mile, 4-10 percent grade, not an easy task. My bicycle and I were shuttled to the Mt. Rushmore visitor center, got the obligatory photos, and then headed down. The last ten miles to Hill City paralleled a historic steam engine that connected Keystone and Hill City, though our time was faster than the train. We then camped in the same Hill City campground as earlier in the tour. That evening, the beer was complementary, and well enjoyed. I also was able to enjoy cigars with Cyndi and Matt.

The Presidents.

The Presidents.

 

05sept Hill City to Rapid City. After a quick breakfast, we discovered everybody usually anxious to get on the trail. Thus, we found that we were among the last to leave camp, though still among the first to arrive in Rapid City. The route was on a beautiful backroad that wrapped around Lake Sheridan, and then took the Sheridan Lake Road into town. There was a moderate amount of climbing, though not enough to work up a sweat, and since it was mostly downhill, we had arrived at the water break site having not yet consumed any water or even digested breakfast. We arrived in Rapid City by 9:30am. After telling new friends goodby, I went to get Betsy. She was staying with Alex, Rachel and family in a Rapid City hotel with a connecting water park. They had also had the opportunity to see much of the Black Hills, though from a car, and not a bicycle. It was hard to tell them goodby, especially Lily and Adalyn, whom Betsy and I have fallen in love with. By evening, we were able to make it to Butte, Montana.

06sept Home…. We headed out from Butte at about 7:15 and arrived home at 3:30 in the afternoon. We quickly unpacked the car, and I then downloaded our photos, and started to write this blog.  The trip was super, but it’s always nice to be home.

How would I rate the Adventure Cycling part of the trip? In my eyes, it was superb. They give you enough freedom to let you ride according to your own personal style. They feed you very well. One always meets new friends that you enjoy riding with. The routes are never terribly challenging, though still demanding. They stick to their name of truly making every trip an adventure. I would rate this trip as highly successful, and a superb way to end up the riding season (for major trips).

Washington Parks I Trip

August 1st, 2014

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Washington Parks 1 trip 7/26 – 7/31 2014 with Jonathan Feucht

Jon and I had planned this trip out for a number of months, and originally planned on a trip that went over Stevens Pass and then back over the North Cascade Highway (ACA Washington Parks II route). A week before our scheduled start date, the Methow Valley caught on fire from Twisp to Pateros and Brewster, in addition to fires along Stevens Pass, closing down both passes. Thus, this choice ended up being a good alternative for a loop week cycle ride in Washington. We planned on starting in Arlington at Jon’s house and ending in Puyallup, following (for the most part) the ACA Washington Parks I route. Jonny and I both had the Washington Parks maps, but mine was an older version. Oddly, they made some very significant changes to the route, some of which were not necessary or helpful.

Day 1- Arlington to Oak Harbor

The start was a little rough. Jonny drove down to get me in Puyallup, and then we drove back to his place in the AM, to get a 10 am start. Somehow, my helmet could not be located, but fortunately Jon had a spare. It did not have a mirror, which I depend heavily on nowadays. It was 28 miles up the Centennial trail and then route 9 to Sedro Wooley, WA, where we intersected the start on the ACA maps. The route followed mostly back roads, though the main highway past Anacortes and on to Deception Pass was brutally busy with tourists, especially Portable Life Support Units (trailers, Winnebagos, RV’s, etc.). Worse, while stopping for lunch just past Anacortes, some jerk stole my Garmin unit. Garmins are invaluable for trip planning, and many decisions are made based on distance and speed travelled, but fortunately, Jon’s unit was intact, allowing us to record our trip. Past Deception Pass I was viciously attacked by an old German Shepard. It was way out in the country, right across from a gun club. That Shepard almost got the delight of eating some lead. We finally made it to Oak Harbor, a little farther than I had planned, only to find that ALL of the hotels were full. Fortunately, the trailer park down on the beach had some bicycle (tent only) spaces, allowing us a place to lay our heads for the night.

Total miles 68.5  Time 8:15  Elevation Gain 2211 ft

Day 2- Oak Harbor to Port Angeles

We got a fairly early star in the morning, and managed to make it just in time for the ferry to Port Townsend – they actually delayed the ferry until we got our bicycles on. The ferry ride was quick, and we then started the slow climb up and down to Sequim and then Port Angeles. contrary to our maps, we noted that the Olympic Discovery Trail started in Blyn, which was a beautiful trail for bicycles, and off of the extremely busy 101. Our only difficulty was that the trail was not the best marked in a few spots, one place leading us to about a mile diversion, before we could find the trail again. It was awesome riding into Port Angeles on the beach, and as soon as we came up to the downtown where the ferry went, we saw a Red Lion Inn. They had first floor vacancies and and so we stayed there.

Total miles 66.2  Time 7:54  Elevation Gain 3008 ft

Day 3- Port Angeles to Forks

This day was our hardest, with lots of hills to climb, we were tired, and it was hot. It was also quite beautiful as the route took us away from 101 and on 112 and 113. The only disadvantage to this route were the massive numbers of logging trucks on a narrow two lane road with no shoulders. We were able to have lunch on the Straits of Juan DeFuca, eating PBJ sandwiches and admiring Mt. Baker and Canada off in the distance. We had wanted to camp, but the camping places on the route were not convenient, which left us in Forks. Even there, the hotels were almost entirely full, but we procured the last hotel room on the edge of town.  Dinner was at a pizza parlor, and we slept quite well after a grunt of a day.

 

PBJs on the beach

PBJs on the beach

Total miles 64.6 Time 8:17  Elevation Gain 3556 ft

Day 4- Forks to Amanda Park

I expected this day to be a real grunt like yesterday, but it wasn’t. The two major climbs went very smoothly, and seemed shorter than the maps suggested. We arrived in the coast section of the Olympic National Park about 10 am, when it was quite sunny. Soon, the clouds rolled in, and we were rather cold, so decided not to spend time freezing on the beach. We had arrived in Amanda Park on Lake Quinalt about 3pm and talked the nice lady that ran the RV park and Inn to let us sleep on the lawn, since there were no available rooms. Once we were about 5 miles from the beach, it became sunny again, and the temperature in Amanda Park was in the low 90s. Our tent site was under some trees, that was cool with a breeze until you left the area of the trees, where the temperature was roasting hot.

Entering the beach section of Olympic National Park

Entering the beach section of Olympic National Park

The Beach

The Beach

Camp at Amanda Park (Lake Quinalt)

Camp at Amanda Park (Lake Quinalt)

Total miles 64.6  Time 6:59  Elevation Gain 2270 ft

Day 5-Amanda Park to Elma

We weren’t sure as to how far we should go today, as Elma was a short distance, but there were no campsites or hotels for a great distance past Elma. There was a short climb out of Amanda Park along 101. After some distance, we encountered a stray dairy cow on the road. It nearly was hit by a truck. Soon afterwards, we got off of 101 and onto a road that would take us into Montesano. It was an excellent choice, though a touch hilly. After lunch in Montesano, we had to detour a bridge out by riding along route 20, which was horrid. By the time we got to Elma, the temperature was in the 80’s and we were cooking. We decided to call it a day. Dinner was at the Rusty Wagon, a rather nice restaurant.

Total miles 61.0  Time 6:08  Elevation Gain 1995 ft

Day 6- Elma to home

We were up early and headed out. Once reaching Tenino, the route was quite familiar to me, as it followed the Yelm Tenino Trail. The temperature was well in the 80’s and we were cooking by the time we reached Pacific Avenue in Parkland. There was a wonderful Dairy Queen there, and Andrew graciously picked us up to avoid 15 more miles of hot busy city riding. It was a wonderful way to spend a week, but am now looking forward to doing Washington Parks II or something else similar.

Total miles 67.02  Time 6:01  Elevation Gain 1008 ft

Gesamt Milage und Zeit

394.1 miles, 42.4 hours, 14,048 ft elevation gain

Summary

It was a delight to have time with Jon. At first, he was complaining about his back, and the bicycle seat. Several days later, I really didn’t hear much about that problem. Not wishing to push Jon too hard, I offered him an “escape” route, which he refused. Soon, he was keeping up and often pushing ahead of me, who held a fairly steady pace throughout the journey. I think he really just needs a different seat, such as the Fizik seat on his road bike.  It was nice to see Jonny making good decisions about our travel.

We followed primarily the ACA maps of the Washington Parks. They were helpful, especially in knowing where we might camp or find lodging, and the ideal routes. Although I’ve spent much time in the Olympics, I have never gone on some of the roads that this route took one through. The route around the Olympics really did not show off the mountain splendor of the Olympics, though that would include a fantastic climb up to Hurricane Ridge, not an easy feat. There were two errors with the ACA maps. The first and most bothersome was with the elevation profiles. This made rivers and towns in the valley sitting on the map profile on the top of climbs. It was about a 3 mile displacement that needs to be corrected, as it made it difficult to estimate exactly where was on a route. The other bothersome item was that grocery/convenience stores and camps were not always in existence any longer. This is not entirely the fault of the ACA map system. Unfortunately, there always seemed to be less supply areas rather than more than the maps indicated. Milage on the  ACA maps was always right on, according to our Garmin maps.

I’m ready for more touring. I’d love to do the Pacific Coast route, Sierra Cascades route, and the trans-America route. This is somewhat a dream for the future, but then, who knows?

 

 

Bicycling in Portland 2014

May 28th, 2014


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Riding in Oregon with friends, family, and self, 21-26MAY2014

I had always wished to return to Portland to do some rides that I had tried as a kid, but which didn’t end so well. I wished to ride the Gorge, do Larch Mountain, and run around a number of the places I used to ride bicycles when I was growing up in Portland.  So, this adventure gave me that opportunity. I started by driving down to Portland after work of Wednesday evening. The next morning, Aaron H. came to meet me at the hotel, and we took off north. Riding across the I-205 bridge, we rode eastward along the Columbia River, following the Washugal River once we reached Camas, WA. A short segment brought us back to the Columbia River highway, where we passed Beacon Rock, crossed the Bridge of the Gods (photo above, with Aaron showing off his banana), and then rode back along the old Columbia River highway. The bicycle trail was now complete all the way out to Cascade Locks, though my cycle instructions did not realize that. The ride up to Crown Point and then back to Gresham and Portland was exhilarating. Here is the Garmin data…

The next day, I touched base with brother Gaylon, and rode a ways out the Springwater Trail to Boring, OR. It was boring, and so we turned around and came back. Garmin data…

On Saturday, I had wanted to ride up Larch Mountain with Aaron, but we decided to do something a little less strenuous, and so I came down to Salem, to do a fantastic and beautiful ride with him in the foothills of the Coast Range, and through the farmland of the Willamette Valley. Here is the Garmin for that…

Sunday was a day to relax. I spent about 4 hours with Lewis, which was much needed. I then spent time later again with Gaylon.  The weather was drizzly, and I was worried about Memorial Day, Monday, where it was supposed to rain heavily. On awakening, the weather was cloudy with sun, so I decided to go for it. On Gaylon’s advice, I headed down the I-205 corridor to Sunnyside Road, over to 152nd, down to the Clackamas River, and then back the Clackamas to Oregon City, crossing the old Oregon city bridge into West Linn, riding up to Terwilliger Blvd, headed up Terwilliger past the medical school,  (seeing the Terwilliger trail which I jogged many times while in medical school), crossing back across the Hawthorne bridge, and then (mostly) up Clinton Avenue back to the hotel on 92nd and Stark St.  I had rode the Hawthorne Bridge many times on my bike, but it was much easier now, as the wooden planks had been replaced with a solid platform. Here’s the Garmin, and a photo while crossing the bridge…

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Hawthorne Bridge Crossing

On returning to the hotel, I threw everything in the car and dashed home. My ole BMC was a wonderful bike to do all of this riding, and it proved immense comfort and efficiency. Someday, I’d like to do the Larch Mountain climb. I’ve already worked out with Aaron to return to Oregon for the Crater Lake loop. I need to do much more riding with Gaylon, getting him into a little longer endurance rides. Altogether, it was a delightful and successful trip. Besides bicycle riding, I got to stop in at Powells Book Store, Bob’s Red Mill, and REI, as well as several bicycle shops. I should be back in Portland at the end of the STP in July, and hopefully one more time this summer for some riding.

China with Liao yisheng

April 29th, 2014

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I have had a flurry of writing at the beginning of the year, but it has now been two months since I’ve written a review or commentary on my life. So, away we go with a trip to China. Together, Betsy and I took over 1200 photos, so, you are seeing only a small sampling.

Dr. Liao invited us to go on a trip with him to China. He had been suggesting this to me for quite a while now, and we have finally gotten around to going. The trip lasted from 10-26APRIL, and we visited 5 cities, representing central China. The weather was cool, with intermittent rain. The atmosphere was not smoggy, but actually quite hazy, making for less than optimal photographs. Click on the individual photographs for a larger view. Here is the blow by blow of our travels…

Friday Diane tok us to the airport, and we met Mike, before getting on the Hainan express to Beijing. The flight went 1 hour shorter than expected, and eleven hours later, 4:50 the next day, we landed in Beijing. After finding our hotel and checking in, we went out for a quick dinner, and crashed.

Sunday: Mike had arranged a guided tour for today, which included first a visit to the Great wall. It was  great. According to Mao, anybody that visits the Great Wall is a hero, so, Betsy and I are now heros. After that,  we visited the tombs of the Ming dynasty emperors, with a focus on the third, Yongle. We then visited a silk factory and purchased a silk comforter, a jade factory, and a tea specialty house for a tea tasting. That evening, we decided to do some Chinese cuisine, which we enjoyed. This was on what was called “bar row”, where we met a friend, XiaoDong, of Mike, who joined us at dinner. This restaurant was on a lake, which we then walked around before heading home. XiaoDong is a biomedical scientist, possibly in line for the nobel prize, but very delightful in personality.

Dr. Liao at the Great Wall - a real hero!

Dr. Liao at the Great Wall – a real hero! 

The tomb area of Yongle

The tomb area of Yongle

The restaurant menus come as picture books. Here is an example.

The restaurant menus come as picture books. Here is an example.

Out for tea

Out for tea

Monday: first, Tian’nanmen square, which is just a large plaza. We wished to see the Chairman, but his tomb was closed, as well as the Forbidden City. So, we opted for seeing a flower garden next to the Forbidden City, and then going to the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was build by the Ming dynasty, but burned by the British, and then again by the British and the French, and each time rebuilt. It was massive, with a very large lake in the center. The Buildings were all over the hillside and very ornate. After dinner, Betsy and I were exhausted and crashed.

The gardens next to the Forbidden City

The gardens next to the Forbidden City

Ming dynasty architecture at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

Ming dynasty architecture at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

A stiff climb up to the top of the hill in the summer palace area.

A stiff climb up to the top of the hill in the summer palace area.

Boat trip across the lake at the Summer palace

Boat trip across the lake at the Summer palace

 

Tuesday:   A quick breakfast first was followed by a trip back to Mao’s grave, and then the Forbidden City.  Mao’s grave was most interesting. There was an hour long line, as roughly 200,000 plus people visit the grave each day. You pass through security, and are not allowed to have bags or cameras, no photos were obtained. You are sold white flowers to leave at his grave. In the building, you enter a large room where his statue is sitting in a friendly pose,  carved in giant white stone, similar to the Lincoln memorial. In the next room, his body lays in state, reasonably well preserved. Mao has had a comeback in China, remembering him not so much for his colossal mistakes (the great leap forward and the cultural revolution)  but for his absence of corruption and for uniting the Chinese people.  We then went to the Forbidden City. Mein Gott! This made any European palace system, including Versailles, look like kid’s stuff. The palace and grounds were huge. There were over 8,000 rooms. There were huge squares. Sadly, Chaing Kai Shek looted most of the treasures of the Forbidden City. Schwein! They now sit in Taiwan, and don’t belong to them. Every building was exquisitely decorated in the most ornate fashion. It all made you feel quite small. The evening was spent having Peking duck, and then cha he pijiu (tea and beer) on a rotating restaurant on top of our hotel.

At the enclosure leading to the Forbidden City.

At the enclosure leading to the Forbidden City.

Inside the Forbidden City

Inside the Forbidden City

A small section of the Forbidden City showing its immense size

A small section of the Forbidden City showing its immense size

Wednesday:  Today, we say goodby to Beijing and hello to Xi’an. After breakfast, Mike and I first visited the Beijing Hospital, the best hospital in the country of China. It was a zoo. There were wall-to-wall people lined up various activities, such as waiting to pay for an appointment, waiting for the doctor, etc. There is no such thing as an appointment time as it is first come, first served. The hospital was nice, but just miserably crowded. After that we went to the Beijing Cancer Hospital, the best cancer hospital in the country. We met a doctor friend of Mike’s, and toured the place. It also was a zoo. China needs a better system—they have great doctors but no system. From there, we checked out of our hotel, ran down to the other end of Chang’An Jie (Long Peace Street) caught our high speed train to Xi’an, was picked up by a driver, and delivered to our hotel after having dinner. This hotel would have been a $4-500 hotel in the US, but we paid slightly more than $100. Throughout the travel, including the high sped train, and the hotel, it did not seem like we were in China, as things seemed to be nicer than in the USA. Construction was occurring everywhere you looked.  There was an unbelievable dynamism occurring.

A crowded waiting room at Beijing Hospital

A crowded waiting room at Beijing Hospital

Thursday:  this was another hectic day. After a quick breakfast, we headed off to the terra cotta soldiers of Qin She Huangdi. The site was massive and overwhelming. We then went to a site that had the swimming pools of the emperor’s favorite concubine. After a massive lunch, we headed to the museum and burial site of China’s only female emperor, Wu Zetain. Dinner was again held, with a bit of overeating, but meeting some of Dr. Liao’s acquaintances in Xi’an.

Main area of the Terra Cotta warriors. There are over 6000 that have already been excavated.

Main area of the Terra Cotta warriors. There are over 6000 that have already been excavated.

Terra Cotta soldier wanna be's.

Terra Cotta soldier wanna be’s.

A typical lunch scene.

A typical lunch scene.

Today we got to try duck's feet and duck's heads

Today we got to try duck’s feet and duck’s heads

Mike practices his calligraphy at Mr. Yeung's office

Mike practices his calligraphy at Mr. Yeung’s office

Our most gratious host, Mr. Yeung.

Our most gracious host, Mr. Yeung.

Example of instructions everywhere not to walk on the grass, in poetic form.

Example of instructions everywhere not to walk on the grass, in poetic form.

At the swimming pool of the emporer's concubine. She was reportedly the most beautiful woman in China (next to Betsy, of course)

At the swimming pool of the emporer’s concubine. She was reportedly the most beautiful woman in China (next to Betsy, of course)

Friday: another quick breakfast, and then we headed off to a local Xi’an hospital. This was a private hospital, and they were in the process of building an entirely new hospital, which we toured in the construction phase. It is 27 floors,  1000 beds, with both in and outpatient facilities in the same structure. They then held a conference to ask our ideas on forming a more American style service to the hospital. The hospital is private, in that it was owned 80% by the doctors and nurses in the hospital, and 20% by other investors. After lunch, we went to a museum of ancient history, where relics from s far back as the Shang dynasty were on exhibit, going up to the Tang dynasty. I was amazed at the exquisite character of the workmanship in the bronze material. Xi’an has the largest complete still existing city wall in the world. It was huge, 15 km in length, and bounded by a river. We looked at the gate which was essentially the starting point for the silk road. There were amazingly no tourists there, but it was an impressive site. After paying a visit to a local Catholic church, where they were having a Bible study, we headed off to dinner.

Part of the 15 km wall of Xi'an. It was very large on top, room for 4 lanes of traffic.

Part of the 15 km wall of Xi’an. It was very large on top, room for 4 lanes of traffic.

Saturday: We checked out of our hotel, which was probably the nicest hotel that I’ve stayed in ever. There was even a private sauna in our room. We went to breakfast, and then visited the large Buddhist temple in town. Xi’an was one of the main towns that promoted Buddhism early on in its introduction to China, so it was a significant town for Buddhism. The restaurant experience for lunch was most unique, as Betsy and I saw foods that we never dreamt to be possible. Duck feet and duck heads, chicken feet, squid, frog legs, and vegetables that I have never even heard of before. The food was Anhui, which I’d probably avoid in the future.  We later stopped at the largest hospital in Xi’an, and drifted around. It certainly was large enough for over 2000 in-patients. Next stop was the airport. So far, we’ve been in a city of 22 million, and 8 million. We are now heading to Chongqing,a city of 11 million persons. Small towns just are a bit hard to find. Dr. Liao’s two older brothers met us for dinner. Dinner in Chongqing was at a hot pot, where each seat has a hot plate that has a sauce pan with boiling water with spices. You take various items and cook them yourself to eat. The hot pot was first done done in Chongqing.

Our hotel, on the banks of the Yangzi river.

Our hotel, on the banks of the Yangzi river.

The cross-walk just outside of our hotel.

The cross-walk just outside of our hotel.

Sunday- this was a lazy day. We started out by hitting a McDonalds for Betsy’s sake for breakfast. Mike left us alone to tend to family issues, and we were able to spend a relaxing morning in our hotel room. We took a long walk along the Changjiang (Yangtzi River), while Mike went to help resolve family issues. Later, we met Mike’s brother, who is a physics professor at the University and Susan, who took us to a historical museum in Chongqing where the forces of the Kuomintang slaughtered a large number of Mao supporters who were in prison here. The evening was a family get together, where we met Mike’s parents, and had a large, real Sichuan dinner. Nothing was recognizable except for the kung pao chicken, which was super-hot.

Historical museum of the Chongqing prison.

Historical museum of the Chongqing prison.

Old shopping district in Chongqing.

Old shopping district in Chongqing.

Les Trois Mousquetaires - Two of Mike's three brothers

Les Trois Mousquetaires – Two of Mike’s three brothers

The Liao family gathering in Chongqing. Mike had the sweetest parents.

The Liao family gathering in Chongqing. Mike had the sweetest parents.

Monday- breakfast was at Starbucks! We took a walk again along the Changjiang before checking out of the hotel. Mike’s brother, the physics professor, picked us up from the hotel, and we went down to the center of town, which was a large shopping center with super-rich shops such as would be found in Bellevue, or on the Kö. Lunch included the standard Sichuan cuisine, which was quite hot and spicy, but very flavor-able. Much of the food was unrecognizable to us, and contained very strange creatures. We then dashed to the airport, flew to Hangzhou, and was picked up by Mike’s sister-in-law, who taught traditional Chinese medicine at the medical school in town. This includes using acupuncture, herbal medicines and things of the like. Every hospital has traditional medicine doctors, who are used in treating select illnesses. We got to our hotel by 9pm and collapsed. The area of the hotel is called the Xihu Qu, or the Westlake District, the most expense real estate in all of China. I’m told that Hangzhou was an area of the first experiments in capitalism in China, and there was clear success.

Mike's sister-in-law outside one of the pagodas on WestLake

Mike’s sister-in-law outside one of the pagodas on WestLake

Pagoda on WestLake

Pagoda on WestLake

Tuesday—after breakfast at the hotel, we were picked up by Mike’s sister-in-law, and toured a number of museums and places of interest. The museums in Hangzhou were all free, making it nice. We first went to a silk museum, where they had on display historical silks from many mons ago. They also had a nice display of the silk making process. We went to a large experimental farm established by one of the emperors from several hundred years ago. We toured a ceramic museum, which showed the development of porcelain from ceramics many moons ago. We went to one of the large pagodas on the banks of Xihu. There was lunch, and the took a long walk around Westlake, including a boat ride to one of the islands in the lake. The Xihu (Westlake) area is like one massive park on steroids, very popular and thus very crowded even in slow times, though not often visited by foreigners. It is meticulously cared for, massive flower beds, and most beautiful. We had dinner on the lake. Hangzhou is known for its particular cuisine, which is not hot, but distinctly different from other Chinese cuisines. The food tends to have more fish in it, and tends to have a more slimy character. After dinner we were tired, stuffed, and wanted to crash.

WestLake area

WestLake area

View of part of WestLake from the top of the pagoda

View of part of WestLake from the top of the pagoda

Scene on WestLake

Scene on WestLake

Mike searching for directions

Mike searching for directions

Wednesday—This was a slower day for us. We spent much time walking along Xihu, people watching, buying tea and other things, eating at Burger King (not as good as the US), and then drifting on back to the hotel. We then met Dr. liao’s brother-in-law, who is working on a PhD in constitutional law in Beijing. He took Mike and I on an extended tour of our hotel side of the lake (Xihu). We again visited a number of museums, and then tried this famous local dessert made out of the powder of the lotus plant root. It tasted good, but was a bit slimy in texture, but is well liked by Chinese. We had dinner in a very popular restaurant along the shore of Xihu, and the restaurant where Mike was married. Dr. Liao’s nephew Andy was with us, 11 years old, and who will be starting boarding school in Connecticut this August.

Elderly couples dancing in the park in Hangzhou. This was commonly seen by us.

Elderly couples dancing in the park in Hangzhou. This was commonly seen by us.

Mike's brother in law, talking seriously with Mike.

Mike’s brother in law, talking seriously with Mike.

Outside of one of the museums with Mike's brother in law.

Outside of one of the museums with Mike’s brother in law.

Lotus schleim. I actually tasted good.

Lotus schleim. I actually tasted good.

Scene from the WestLake park.

Scene from the WestLake park.

Girls loved to have their photographs with Betsy.

Girls loved to have their photographs with Betsy.

Thursday—today we were picked up by Mike’s sister-in-law and taken to the train station. The ride was one hour from Hangzhou to Shanghai. In Shanghai, we first found our hotel, and then took a cab ride to the international district. We saw the building where Mao and twelve people wrote the constitution for China, and then we went out to eat at a faux-German restaurant. The beer was good, food very so-so. Afterwards, we walked along the riverfront, looking at the buildings of Shanghai, and slowly drifted home. Hangzhou was a small town of only 3 million people and 8 million in the metropolitan area, but Shanghai had 10 million in the city and 20 million in the whole area, a little bit larger city.

Shanghai architecture across the river from Mike and I

Shanghai architecture across the river from Mike and I

Friday—today is a lazy day, with a focus on shopping. We went to two shopping areas, where we focused on buying tea, porcelain, and gifts for the kids. The first shopping district was close to our hotel, anf a very long shopping road, off limits to cars, and with very fancy shops. We then hopped in a taxi, and went to a very large shopping center with a Ming dynasty architecture motive. This place was huge, we spent all of our renminbis, and had an awesome time. We then got ready for dinner, hopped the subway to the other side of the river that runs through Shanghi, and went into a very large shopping center, larger than anything that I’ve ever seen in the US. It was a total of thirteen floors. Before entering, we got an appreciation for the building architecture of the new Shanghi, which is beyond anything found in America. Dinner tonight was with Drs. En and Mrs. Li. He taught biochemistry and did biochemical research at Harvard University, before getting a job working for Novartis, back home in Shanghai. China, because of its burgeoning economic status, is extremely favorable for scientists, and it is very easy for me to see why. Dinner, by the way, was probably the best meal we ever had in China, though entirely Chinese. En has apparently lived long enough in the US to know what the American taste would like.

Ming style architecture in large shopping district in Shanghai.

Ming style architecture in large shopping district in Shanghai.

Typical buildings in Shanghai

Typical buildings in Shanghai

More very creative architecture in Shanghai

More very creative architecture in Shanghai

Family at a small tea shop where we purchased tea and tea cups

Family at a small tea shop where we purchased tea and tea cups. Note that Oma cares for the baby.

Inside the large shopping mall. This only a small view of the whole mall.

Inside the large shopping mall. This only a small view of the whole mall.

Dinner with our gracious host in Shanghai, Li En and wife.

Dinner with our gracious host in Shanghai, Li En and wife.

 

Saturday—we are eager to get home, though we have most thoroughly enjoyed China, and it is sad to say goodbye. A cab ride got us to the train station, and the train from Shanghai to Beijing was 5 hours, with 5 stops. It was mostly through very flat farmland. In Beijing, a friend of Mike’s picked us up and shuttled us to the airport, a little over an hour drive, and giving us our last taste of crazy Chinese driving. The flight home was 9 hours. We left Beijing at 4:30 pm and arrived in Seattle the same day at noon. It was two days packed into one. After saying goodbye to our dear friend Mike, Sarah shuttled us home. We unpacked, and noted piles of tea, as well as no broken porcelain. It was good to be home.

Thoughts on China…

Just a few minor observations. Cars… Brother Dennis purchased a Chinese vehicle in Belize, which was a total piece of junk. I anticipated that I would see cities full of junky cars and rickshaws, bicycles, and baby taxis, like in India. Instead, there were no rickshaws or baby taxis, almost no bicycles, and the most popular car was the Mercedes Benz, followed closely by the other German cars, BMW and VW. Chinese cars are reportedly next in popularity, followed by American cars,  and Korean/Japanese cars were the least frequent. I did not see a single Chinese made car until Chongqing, but it was a nice looking sports utility vehicle. Supposedly, they have vastly improved the quality of their vehicles. At the end of two weeks, we saw less than five Chinese built vehicles.

Secondly, the big cities do not have slums. They do have poorer parts of the city, but nothing that I would call a slum. The countryside had some very poor areas, but no worse than found in Belize, Jamaica, Cameroon, or Bangladesh, the “third world countries” that we’ve been to. The dress that people wear is identical to the western world. There was no ability to recognize that you were not in the US or Europe except for the Chinese writing, and that everybody was oriental. There is minimal unemployment in China, as there are no unemployment checks, welfare, food stamps, or anything of that sort. In a strong sense, it is more capitalistic than America! Regardless of your status or education, if out of a job, you will take anything in order to survive. The state will not be your nanny. There are no messy employment laws, and you can fire an employee at will. Employers tend to treat their employees well. One morning, we saw at a clothing store and then at a restaurant all of the employees out in front of the store doing Zumba like exercises. Many larger firms will have a cafeteria for free lunch. Our friend also had a large library at his firm for employees to encourage their continued education.

Thirdly, traffic is absolutely horrid in China. Why most the cars do not have bumps and scrapes is a total mystery to me. An American traffic cop would find violations literally every second. People use the shoulders of expressways as a passing lane. People run red lights. Cars do not yield to pedestrians but vice versa. People will aggressively violate every traffic rule on the books to pass a car in front of them. I watched my taxi driver pull into the on-coming lane of a four-lane road in order to beat a traffic light. I could not ride in the front seat of a car. Historically, I feared the taxi drivers of NYC. Now, China has exceeded that 10-fold. Next time I go to China, I bring mass quantities of Valium if I anticipate an automobile ride.

Fourthly, the Chinese put a very high value on family and relationships. This is a little odd, since their value for human life is less than in the US. Everywhere we went, we saw grandparents with grandchildren. I was surprised to see that the state was not raising the child, but the grandparents. In family relationships, the grandparents are usually asked permission for any major decision, such as marriage.  The eldest son held priority in family decisions. Nursing homes did not exist, as the children were expected to care for their aging parents. I did not expect this.

Fifthly, the language and poetry are important. Everywhere you go, you see poetry. Apparently, the Chinese language lends itself easily to poetic expression. We would see signs not to walk on the grass, and it was written in a poetic fashion (so I am told by Dr. Liao).  The Chinese hold those who are masters at poetry in the highest regard. And, the person in recent history who excelled in poetry was none other than Chairman Mao.

Sixthly, Mao Ren Zi (Chairman Mao) is the most poorly represented person in the west. Before my visit to China, I viewed Mao as nothing but a beast who slaughtered millions of people. That is perhaps true, but it lacks the full impact of who this man was. Why is it that Mao now has a near 100% acceptance rating in China? Why is he generally appreciated everywhere in China, and not because it is forced on the Chinese people? As mentioned above, the Chinese knew that Mao was most brilliant, and had a mastery of the language beyond most intellectuals. His poetry is everywhere, because it was very well done. During the years that Mao was chairman, he changed the Chinese language for the good, like having the symbols simplified. The Chinese now read and write right to left, like we do. Why? They used to write up to down and backwards, but Mao had that changed. Mao not only liberated the farmers, but also women, stopping crazy practices like feet binding, and giving them more rights. Secondly, the greatest problem with all Chinese emporers and rulers was serious corruption. If one faulted Mao for anything, it certainly was not corruption. Chaing Kai Shek was very corrupt, and the peasants knew it well, which is why they flocked in support of Mao. Mao had no love for the privileged elite, and exalted the poor peasants to a better living. That is seen well in China nowadays, with there being many multi-millionaires, but the farmers in the countryside have a reasonably good living in comfortable circumstances, and not as it was before 1949. With the current corruption in government, there is a sense of nostalgia for a leader who could act for everybody’s best interest without corruption. People often cite the fact that Mao murdered millions ruthlessly. Actually, most of the deaths under Mao’s watch were from serious mistakes that he made, and most people in China acknowlege that. I am referring to the great leap forward, and to the cultural revolution, which were truly stupid mistakes, which led to millions of Chinese dying, though not intentionally by Mao. One cannot forget history. China is a somewhat diverse group of people, with 56 ethnic groups, multiple religions, and multiple languages. In my reading of Chinese history, I don’t know of a single emporer that did not have to do a major “purge” to acquire unity and control of the country. Now, perhaps unity in China is not a good thing, but that is not something that I would propose—I don’t wish to be like the French, who felt the a united Germany (back in 1870) was not a good thing, since they would lose control of the weak individual German states. In any case, power was used consistently to achieve unity in the country. Finally, many in China view there to be two major revolutions in the country. The first was with the rise of the Qin dynasty, a very short dynasty from 221 to 206BC, and best known for the terra cotta warriors. What most don’t realize, was that the Qin leaders were quite ruthless at leading to the unity of the country. They also unified the language, and standardized many things, such as the width of wagon wheels. Important? Think about India, that has 5 different gauges for the railroads. That wasn’t to happen in China, because of wise but strong leadership. The second revolution was with Mao. Mao is now gone, and we are able to speak freely about him. There is much wrong with Mao, and I don’t think that the ends ever justifies the means. No doubt, Chairman Mao is a complex person, and my attempt to understand why he has such a pull in Chinese society at this time now has a little better insight.

Finally, what about “communist” China? Are they “communist” only in that the leadership is not necessarily elected, and that they do not permit criticism of the government? In China at this time, that is not bad, because the leaders have been capable of brilliant leadership. What about restrictions of speech? Facebook is not allowed in China, as well as many other forms of social networking. But then, homosexuality and pornography are also not allowed. Is that bad? I wish it were so in the USA. Meanwhile, the USA is far more communistic and socialistic than China. Perhaps we need to re-think the corruption and evil than rules strong in Amerika?

In conclusion, this trip to China was fantastic, and Betsy and I thoroughly enjoyed ourself. The food was sometimes slightly wearisome, but was always quite good – just not what we are used to. The mass crowds were also a little challenging. China was nothing like we expected, and the wealth and immensity was overwhelming. I now have a feel for Marco Polo returning to Italy only to find that nobody could believe his fantastic tales of China. China truly is dazzling, and the people everywhere were friendly. Most signs had English translations, suggesting that we Amerikans are still welcome in China. Hopefully, we don’t create an artificial war that treats China like an enemy. They have no interest in war, as their internal problems are great enough. I would hope that politicians could see China as a friend, understanding the differences that separate our two countries.

Sierra Sampler 2013

September 17th, 2013

SierraSampler-24

Sierra Sampler with the Adventure Cycle Association

(Note – click on individual photos to see larger views of them)

06SEPT2013-Jonny and I were able to leave Puyallup at 1700, arriving in Roseburg, Oregon at 2300. Traffic out of Puyallup was horrid, being stop and go until past Olympia. Portland also had  bad traffic through Wilsonville.

07SEPT2013- we followed Google maps advice, avoiding Sacramento, and arriving at Donner state park at about 2:15. After unloading our stuff, we headed  with our bikes up Donner Pass to the ski area, where we parked our cars and then rode our bikes back to camp, about 7 miles. The view of the lake was fantastic, as well as the  railroad that could be seen with its many tunnels. The Garmin data are below…

Jon on Donner Pass with the rail in the background

Jon on Donner Pass with the rail in the background

On Donner Pass looking down onto Donner Lake

On Donner Pass looking down onto Donner Lake

First day introduction

First day introduction

The food line-at Donner State Park

The food line-at Donner State Park

Jerry showing us how to wash dishes

Jerry showing us how to wash dishes

08SEPT2013 – Truckee to South Lake Tahoe.  This was a little more uppy-downy than I expected, but beautiful. It started out freezing cold, and became quite hot by noon. Fortunately, the ride was completed soon after noon, and all of the riders (33+) all did well and had a great itme. Beer never tasted so good after such a ride. The meals were also catered and were quite delectable. I worried about gaining weight on this venture! The Garmin data are below…

Squaw Valley Ski area

Squaw Valley Ski area

Jon grinning like a hedgehog

Jon grinning like a hedgehog

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Jon taking a very brief rest

Jon taking a very brief rest

Lake Tahoe (again)

Lake Tahoe (again)

The mountains around Lake Tahoe

The mountains around Lake Tahoe

Lunch stop on the ride to South Lake Tahoe

Lunch stop on the ride to South Lake Tahoe

Am Stand bei Tahoe See

Am Stand bei Tahoe See

09SEPT2013- Luther Pass- because of the fire, the decision was made to do only the first pass, then turn around. We were then shuttled to a small resort (Virginia Creek Settlement). The climb to Luther Pass started like the day before, quite chilly at first, with the fingers feeling frozen until about 9:30 am. The ride otherwise went well. The shuttle bus ride took us through Topaz, and then south on 395 down to Bridgeport.

Luther Pass?

Luther Pass?

Übernachten hier. Blick droben am Dach - gibt es einen Mann im Fass so dass  du kannst die Fussen sehen

Übernachten hier. Blick droben am Dach – gibt es einen Mann im Fass so dass du kannst nur die Fussen sehen

10SEPT2013- VCS to Lee Vining via Bodie. We were given three options regarding rides before going down to Lee Vining. Jon and I went to Bodie, which is now a ghost town, but once had a population of 15000.  It is now a state park.  The ride was quite a climb, but three miles before the town of Bodie, the road turned into gravel. Unfortunately, the gravel was loose and irregular, making it very challenging to travel on.  Jon and I got shuttled to the town, but on return, the bicycle rack came loose, so we rode the last 50 meters of gravel. Quite a few people actually rode the gravel. The last 19 miles was a ride south to Lee Vining, a small town just below Mono Lake.   The only obstacle was Conway Pass, made most difficult by roadwork, giving large trucks and bicyclists the same lane to contend with.

Where the road to Bodie turns to gravel

Where the road to Bodie turns to gravel

The church in Bodie - as dead as the town

The church in Bodie – as dead as the town

Main street USA

Main street USA

The mines of Bodie

The mines of Bodie

The upper class part of town

The upper class part of town

Conway Summit

Conway Summit

Mono Lake view

Mono Lake view

Another view of Mono Lake more easterly

Another view of Mono Lake more easterly

11SEPT2013- Tioga Pass. This was a there-and-back experience. The climb was a little over 3000 feet, putting us right at the entrance of Yosemite Park. It took us 2 hours to climb, and a most beautiful experience. It was a steady 6-7% grade with a good road surface and adequate shoulder.  My only regret was that we didn’t continue riding down to Tuolomne Meadows, another 8 miles and 1500 feet of elevation back. Oh well. I had done the Pass from the other side on the Tacx trainer, and remember it more difficult than our experience today. It took only 1/2 hour to get down, also an awesome ride with minimal traffic.

The start of Tioga Pass

The start of Tioga Pass

The summit of Tioga Pass off in the distance

The summit of Tioga Pass off in the distance

A Lake near the top of Tioga Pass

A Lake near the top of Tioga Pass

Tioga Pass Lake

Tioga Pass Lake

Jon and I at the summit of Tioga Pass

Jon and I at the summit of Tioga Pass

The Sedona Kid (Norm) also makes it up Tioga Pass

The Sedona Kid (Norm) also makes it up Tioga Pass

12SEPT2013- Lee Vining to Mammoth. This included an appendage 1200 ft 5 mile climb up to a series of lakes sitting north of Mammoth. We took the scenic route into Mammoth, rather than the highway. Since we arrived in Mammoth early (about 11 am), Jon and I decided to head up to Lake Mary. It started to drizzle once at Lake Mary, and so returned to the RV camp in Mammoth where we were staying.

Lake on the June Lake Bypass

Lake on the June Lake Bypass

Deadman's Pass

Deadman’s Pass

Lake Mary

Lake Mary

13SEPT2013- Today was exploration out of the town of Mammoth.  Our first venture went toward the Devils Postpile, but stopped where one entered the park, where there was a great view of the Minarets. Afterwards, Jon and I decided to return to Lake Mary, and go beyond. Oddly, the climb today now seemed much shorter than yesterday, and we had the wonderful opportunity of Tom S. giving us a guided tour of the entire area around Lake Mary, including Twin Lakes, and Horseshoe Lake. Horseshoe Lake was unusual, in that seismic activity has caused carbon dioxide to come up from the ground and kill many of the surrounding trees.

Wandblumen

Wandblumen-Tom, Pete, Norm

Wandblumen at Horseshoe Lake

Wandblumen at Horseshoe Lake

14SEPT2013- The trip home. We were shuttled back to where our cars were parked today. The bus trip was a 4 hour venture. Jon and I promptly loaded our cars and headed home. We arrived in Puyallup at 0130 the next morning, a 13 hour drive through Susanville, Klamath Falls, Bend, Government Camp, and up I-5 to Puyallup. We were tired but had a great time.

Thoughts on the trip:

1. It was a delight to have time with Jon. We need to do this more.

2. The Adventure Cycle Association could not have done a better job at running this tour. The staff were all quite enthused about cycling, and the organization was impeccable. We had to make some unfortunate serious changes to the original route plan. This was in our best interest, and worked out quite well. I can highly recommend this trip (or any trip with the ACA). Special thanks to Melinda, Meredith, Cammie, Jerry, Don, and Bob, you all were fantastic!

3. Camera – The problem with the Canon EOS M camera is that in bright sunlight, it is impossible to see exactly what is being displayed on the screen. I guess I’m too used to looking through a viewfinder. Also, a better variety of lenses is imperative. I’m thinking that this camera is my best option for road biking. Perhaps the new Canon SL1 (super-light slr camera) with 18 mpx and a 18-135 mm zoom would be a lighter option for when I’m on my CoMotion. I’m not going to rush out and buy yet another camera, as I love my Canon 6D, but it is heavy, and best served with a tripod to give the best possible landscape photos.

4. Arriving back in Puyallup, I’m in the rain and again fighting cancer. It’s hard to return to reality. I always rode by bike in the rain and snow when I was a kid, so why is it a problem now?  Does everybody become soft when they become an old fart? This morning, I did the TacX trainer ride up the west side of Tioga Pass and konked out at two hours, drenched in sweat. I think I need another bicycle vacation.

Iron Horse Trail to Snoqualmie Pass

September 17th, 2013

IronHorse-3Iron Horse Trail over Snoqualmie Pass –

The Iron Horse Trail goes across much of Washington state, though it has its interruptions in various spots. The trail is a converted rail track, and is almost entire gravel, thus best meant for mountain bikes or fat tire bicycles. There are a number of tunnels on the trail, including the 2.5 mile tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass.

East side of tunnel

East side of tunnel

West side of tunnel

West side of tunnel

The trail goes over some of the existing railroad bridges. The sights are a beauty. The only problem with the trail is that it parallels I-90, so that one is always able to hear the roar of traffic off in the distance. Except for that, the condition of the trail is excellent, and it never goes over a 3-4% grade. One does need headlights for the tunnel, as it is pitch-black inside. The day that I rode the trail, the weather was good, and so there were many people on the trail. It appeared as though parents would drop groups of children off at the top of the trail (by the tunnel) and then pick them up at the bottom. Those poor children never had the opportunity of what was most enjoyable about the trail, which is the joy of riding UP the trail.

Railroad bridge

Scene of the mountains from the Iron Horse trail

Scene of the mountains from the Iron Horse trail

The Garmin data are as follows…

By the way, I also saw a number of touring bicycles going over the pass. I’m sure they were headed for the distant eastern Washington. I wish them happy trails in their journeys.

Cycling from Salem to Hood River

August 24th, 2013

SalemHoodRCycle-2

 

Salem, Oregon to Hood River, Oregon on bicycles with Aaron Hughes 21-24 August

Day #1 – Salem to Detroit
I stayed overnight with Aaron and Anita, so that Aaron and I could be on the road by 9 am. We took off, following the main highway out of Salem and across Santiam Pass. Our first stop was in Detroit.

The "other" Detroit, which is not going backrupt

The “other” Detroit, which is not going bankrupt

The Garmin map and stats of Day #1 are here…

We stayed in a motel in Detroit, and generally rested up that evening.

Day #2 – Detroit to Timothy Lake
This was the most challenging day, with over 6000 feet of climbing (according to the Garmin). The started at Detroit, heading up the Clackamas River Road past Breitenbush, until the turnoff logging road took us straight up to Timothy Lake. At Timothy Lake, I set up camp, while Anita met us and ran away with Aaron for the night. I camped out at the lake. I did my homework, and learned that the Cove Campground was intended for bicyclists and hikers. When we arrived there, it proved to be anything but that, and the campground hosts rudely informed me that I wasn’t welcome, since everything was full. Fortunately, there were three guys with their kids who immediately offered to let me stay on a corner of their campsite. I had a few beers with them, and offered them cigars. It was a nice evening. The photos were from the lake the evening and morning of my stay.

Riding along the Clackamas River road

Riding along the Clackamas River road

My one man tent and bicycle

My one man tent and bicycle

Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake

More Timothy Lake

More Timothy Lake

The Garmin data for day 2 are here

Day #3 Timothy Lake to Hood River
Overnight, it had rained quite hard, with thunder and lightning. I stayed dry, but most everything else got wet. I slept in a bit longer than I should have, since I knew I had to meet Aaron and Anita at the junction of highway 26 and 35. Putting away a completely soaked tent, I headed off at about 8 am, saying goodby to my kindly hosts. It was a rather persistent climb to our treffpunkt, but arrived only about 6 minutes late, feeling like dogmeat. I was really tempted to have Anita shuttle me to the top of Bennett Pass, but ultimately decided against that. I had already gone over Blue Box Pass, and we had two more passes to negotiate, that over Barlow and that over Bennett Pass. My legs hung in there, though I did have to walk short distances just to utilize other muscles. Here are photos of the day…

Summit of Blue Box Pass

Summit of Blue Box Pass

Mount Hood from the road

Mount Hood from the road

Meeting Aaron at the junction of 26 and 35.

Meeting Aaron at the junction of 26 and 35.

Barlow Pass Summit

Barlow Pass Summit

Aaron showing good form

Aaron showing good form

Mount Hood from White River

Mount Hood from White River

Aaron patiently waiting for the tortoise to catch up

Summit of Bennett Pass

Mount Hood from the fruit orchards of the Hood River valley

Mount Hood from the fruit orchards of the Hood River valley

The Garmin stats for day 3

Our grand total stats are as follows… total distance 165.89 miles, 12,651 feet of elevation gain, and minimally 7000 calories burned. The road would be rated as five stars from Stayton on, but maybe would have gone backroads out of Salem. The arrival into Hood River was also slightly off of our planned route, putting us into the heart of nasty traffic in Hood River. The entire trip had enormous beauty, and was a superb choice. So, we are already planning a trip for next year. If we could get a SAG vehicle, then Aaron and I will do the Pacific Coast starting in Astoria. We would ride lighter bicycles, and do more distance. We’ll see. In two weeks, I do an ACA tour with Jonathan on the east side of the Sierras, so