If ya don’t know, now ya know!
Some of my life's adventures. All of these photos and stories appear on the main blog, I just wanted them to have their own page.
Almost a month ago Sara and I flew down to Sun Valley, ID and met up with my dad and Lil’ Carol for some skiing and celebrity sightings. Ever since I was a kid I had wanted to go to Sun Valley and now it was going to happen! I couldn’t wait.
Since I never really do anything halfway, on Sunday, April 8th, our first full day there, I completely tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in my right knee. Or more accurately;
- Mid portion ACL rupture with displacement anterior to the tibial insertion.
- Over a 7 mm interval, fluid separates the medial meniscus posterior horn and its capsular insertion – focal meniscocapsular separation.
- Minor stretching of the medial patellofemoral ligament with focal grade 2 sprain at its femoral insertion.
Yeah, whatever. I blew my knee out. Life is full of surprises.
I figure it’s karma. About a month prior to my injury I was riding with my friend Mike at 49° North and saw him take a pretty sweet, natural air, in some glorious powder glades. It was perfect until the landing, where he cased it and cartwheeled. I heard him laugh it off and I kept going, not stopping until I reached the bottom. It turns out he destroyed his knee (ACL tear) and I didn’t even stop to see if he was OK. I went back for him, but he had gotten tired of waiting for help and somehow
rode limped shuffled his snowboard out of the trees to where someone else could find him. I felt terrible for not checking on him after his crash. One month later, karma got me back.
In my case, I wasn’t in the trees, or in powder. Nor was I catching air or doing any fancy tricks. Nope, I was just hauling ass on a perfectly straight groomed run. I tried to make a sudden stop and failed – hard. Luckily it was in the afternoon, so I was able to get quite a few great runs in before my vacation was ruined (I should add that my wife’s vacation was ruined at this point as well).
Ski Patrol was very quick to respond and I got to take my very first (and LAST!) Ski Patrol guided toboggan ride down the mountain. They were great and even sent me a “Get Well Soon” postcard a week later.
Fast forward a few weeks, a few orthopedic doctor visits and a few physical therapy sessions and I get ACL replacement surgery on Tuesday, May 8th. Exactly one month after the crash. Check back for a post on that little adventure in a couple weeks.
Also, check these out! I made some animated gifs with the MRI images of my knee. These are so cool!
I took this trip in early June of 2009. I was looking at some old photos and just had to post them here. Ken, Mandala, John and I backpacked into the upper Enchantments Basin, an area of towering peaks, year-round snow, and alpine lakes. The Enchantments form the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It was the last weekend before the overnight visitor quota permits were required for the summer. We knew early June in the Cascades meant we’d come across a good amount of snow, so we packed accordingly (read heavy).
The goal was to climb Dragontail Peak via the East Ridge, a relatively easy scramble/snow climb. Dragontail gets it’s name from the rock needles all along thin crest Southwest of the summit. At 8,840-ft, it’s the second highest peak in the Stuart Range (second to Mt. Stuart, 9,415-ft).
After hauling our butts and our gear up Aasgard Pass we made camp in the only flat and snowless spot we could find. It proved to be a great spot, with views of numerous granite peaks and outcroppings all around. It was getting too late for a summit attempt so we studied the mountain, took pictures and watched the sunset.
To save weight, I chose to bring my bivy sack instead of a tent. Risky move that time of year. I was lucky and we didn’t get snowed on, but it was still a cold night for me. I was able to capture some great photos of a near full moon rising over the Enchantments. Had I been in a tent I probably would’ve missed that.
We woke up early the next day shrouded in clouds. I guess you could call it fog, but at that altitude you really are in the clouds. It was a little disheartening because the previous day was so clear and beautiful. I had been imagining the view from the summit all night, and now it looked like we wouldn’t get to see much from the top.
With fresh legs and no overnight gear on our backs we made quick work of the climb. The snowfield got moderately steep near the top of the ridge but overall it was pretty tame. Once on the ridge it was a simple 15 minute hike to the summit. It was completely socked in with clouds so there wasn’t much to see. After snacking on some trail mix we hiked back to the snow and glissaded/hiked back to camp.
We packed up and hiked out the same day. We probably stopped in Leavenworth and had burgers and beers on the way home, but I can’t recall. The most memorable part for me was camping in such an amaizng place. The Enchantments are an incredible setting for a climb.
This was my dog Snow’s first backpacking trip and she was so excited she barely laid down the entire drive! I have been training her with a dog backpack and every time I get it out she goes nuts. “Oh boy, we’re goin’ on a hike!”. Little did she know that it was an over-nighter in Big Sky Country. Montana!
I’ve been all over the Cabinet Mountains but had never been to Leigh Lake. I’ve summited Snowshoe Peak several times and looked down on the 2nd largest lake in the Cabinets, but never actually stood on it’s shores. It has a very short (but steep) 1 mile trail to get to it, which has always turned me off. Generally the shorter the hike, the more people you’ll see – not my cup of tea.
With this season’s massive snowpack there was a definite possibility that we might not even be able to drive all the way to the trial head. We just figured it would keep a lot of people out and create a little more solitude (bonus). After a little pre-planning I got out of work early last Friday, grabbed my gear, grabbed my dog, picked up Jon and headed to Montana.
It turns out we were able to drive all the way to the trailhead. The hike itself was pretty easy until the last quarter mile. We had to negotiate snowfields, raging waterfalls and some light scrambling. The entire lake was still frozen over and there were very few spots to put a tent down without being on the snow. Avalanches rumbling off of Snowshoe Peak were frequent and amazing. Nearly our entire time there was spent taking pictures and watching the avalanches.
While we were there a local photographer, Bob Hosea, hiked up for the day. He stayed for a few hours and we chatted with him a bit. He gave me his business card and once I got home I emailed him. He sent me a few of the photos he took that day and they were incredible. How lucky is he to live so close to such a great area?
As for my dog, Snow, she did great. She carried all of her own stuff and probably ran about 200 miles in total. When we got home she slept for three days. I’m pretty sure she had fun.
I have been desperately needing new hiking boots this entire year, but have been unable to find a suitable replacement that fit my exacting criteria: affordable, full leather uppers, on sale, waterproof, sturdy, cheap, and comfortable. I basically wanted my old, worn out, nearly destroyed boots to be new again so I wouldn’t have to buy boots that I would end up hating.
When Ken and Mandala invited John and I to join them on a hike up Scotchman Peak I knew there was going to be snow, and I knew I had to get new boots. And fast. It was Thursday when I got the call so I had to find boots Friday or risk having frozen, wet feet. White’s Boots to the rescue! Having exhausted all my other boot buying options on previous shopping trips, White’s Boots was the only store I hadn’t tried. I had never been there before, so I wasn’t sure what I would find. Well, Jackpot! They had the exact same brand and model of my old boot on clearance. And on the shelf, right above it, a leather Scarpa mountaineering boot for 70% Off. I tried them both on and went with the Scarpa.
6am Saturday morning I picked John up at his new apartment in Brown’s Addition (nice place John!) and we drove to Coeur d’Alene to meet Ken and Mandala. After an uneventful drive we arrived at the trailhead and started hiking around 9:30am. Ken had reminded us about hunting season the night before, so John and I had some hunter orange vests on so we wouldn’t get shot by any hunters.
The trail itself starts out steeply before finally settling down with a series of switchbacks. We hit the snow early on in the hike, and my new boots were working great so far. After a couple miles we ran into some hunters that weren’t having any luck. Orange vests to the rescue. We continued on and the snow kept getting deeper. At a certain point the the forest opens up and the trail switchbacks several times through a treeless hillside, exposing you to either great views or finicky mountain weather. We picked a rather snow-stormy day and had to forge through the exposed open slope with wind and snow blasting us the whole way. Back into the woods for a while before the peak opened up to an exposed mountain top. The snow depth varied from just an inch or two in the windiest spots, to a couple feet deep.
John, being the fastest hiker, led us competently up the snow and rime covered rocky mountain top in a mild snowstorm. Visibility was poor to say the least. Every once in a while John would proudly stand atop a false summit looking back at me and yell “Is this it?”. I had climbed this peak several years ago, so in these near whiteout conditions I had to determine whether we were really on summit or if we had to keep going.
Yes. Finally! We made it. There’s a little rock wall wind shelter and remnants of the old fire lookout on the summit, so it’s a dead giveaway even in a snowstorm. We didn’t stay on the summit long as there wasn’t much to see and it was kinda cold. I didn’t get a lot of pictures either because of the weather, but we had a great time. It was great to hang out with John, Ken and Mandala again. My new boots were awesome – no blisters, no hotspots, warm and dry. Afterward we drove through Sandpoint and had an early dinner at MickDuff’s Brewery – which is becoming a nice tradition for post-climb grub. Two words: Gorgonzola Fries.
This famous local formation is one of my favorite places. Part of the incredible Selkirk Crest and visible from Priest Lake it rises 400 or so feet above the ridge it sits on.
Chimney Rock was my first traditional multi-pitch climb. That first time, we backpacked in the long way (6 miles vs. 3) from the East along the pack river trail. A memorable trip to say the least. Future trips have always been made from the Priest Lake side. Even though you hike up and over Mt. Roothaan on this route it is still much shorter. So far I’ve only climbed the Standard Route three times and a weird variation of the Rappel Chimney Route once – level II, trad 5.4 & 5.7 respectively.
This past June of 2010 we hiked in from the West side. The entire 3 mile approach was snow. It was a gloriously sunny day though, and we climbed the rock with no problems. Climbing the face surrounded by the basins and peaks covered in snow made that climb pretty special.
It’s BIG. It is the fifth highest mountain of the continental USA and the highest volcano of the Cascade Range. This massive mountain is the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States with multiple glaciers and routes of all technical levels. Mount Rainier offers an exciting challenge to the mountaineer. That’s why a lot of climbers attempt it.
So far I’ve attempted the climb four times with one successful summit. Not exactly the best track record. My first two attempts were fun trips even though we didn’t summit – one because of poor planning/training (newbs) the other because of bad weather. A third attempt finally brought success and some more great stories. My fourth attempt was a new sport for me; ski mountaineering (AT). Using gear that’s a cross between telemark and downhill skis enabled me to “skin” up like a cross country skier, yet lock those heels down for some serious alpine skiing on the way down. Poor training on my part stopped me from making the summit on that trip, but the ride down was incredible. Longest single-run downhill vertical ski of my life.
I have some great climbing buddies and we know our stuff so we’ve never had to fork over the big bucks for guide services. I hear they charge $1,000 plus! To each his own I suppose. I recommend taking a mountaineering course and climbing it with trusted friends instead of wealthy strangers. An annual climbing permit is only $30.
The reason I bring any of this up is simple. I need to jazz this blog up with some awesome photos of my climbing trips to Mt. Rainier. So without any further ado. Pictures!
Backpacked up to Engle Lake with Jon on Friday. It never rained hard but we were soaked the whole time. 100% humidity. We were literally in the water soaked clouds the entire time. Once at the lake we did manage to get a great campfire going, which helped dry out our boots. Later that night I asked Jon to be a groomsman in my wedding. He accepted. Five more to go.
On Saturday morning we decided to pack up because it didn’t look like the weather was going to change. We hiked up to the summit of Engle Peak and back down in very cloudy and rainy conditions on our way out. No decent views from the top. Just wind and clouds. We were soaked.
Overall it was a fun trip. I definitely want to go back in better weather.