Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look who's sitting!

Annika is mostly sitting up now. But she thinks that sitting is a little boring. If you are wondering where she got her cute little outfit it was from the Gap. And her nice and very generous auntie gave it to her. I couldn't resist her and did a whole photo shoot of pictures of her cute little self.

Places, everyone, places

Ali needed to go potty one last time before enduring an hour and 15 minutes of sitting still and reverent. Ashling needed to go with her because she follows her sister everywhere. Cameron carried Annika inside and I went downstairs to get my primary singing time lesson ready. I thought a little about our place. We sit on the same pew each week in church. I think our name has slowly been engraven upon this spot and I would be a little put out if someone sat there before we arrived. No worries though because we sit near the front. Usually visitors will sit near the back. It takes a gutsy visitor to walk up and sit in down right in front.

In our little branch we all sit in the same place every week. I found it rather comical today as I was thinking about our places and put everyone in the right place in my mind while nursing Annika. The Branch President's family sits on the second pew right in front of President who they wish they could be sitting next to. No one ever sits on the front row.... never! I think the front row has only been sat in once or twice in the whole time I have lived in the branch. The back row used to be reserved for the S family. They sat there all together... grandma, mom and dad, 2 kids, 2 spouses, and then more kids for years. But lately they have moved. I am not sure what caused the momentous event but something causes them to move places at church. Now two new families claim the back center row.

We sit on the 4th row.... I like to sit up front but not too close. I think the kids behave better without having lots of bad examples in front of them to look at. About half the time the older Brown's sit with us and sometimes they sit with their friends the V's. (I think sometimes they would rather listen to the talks as opposed to coloring and entertaining grandchildren.

There is a disadvantage to sitting in the front. Each Sunday I predict who will be there and who won't. I wonder if we have any visitors and if we will be singing the "hello" song while pleading for no "jellos" or "fellows" or other rhymns that we don't need. I try to carefully look to the side (at my delightful children) while really glancing back to see if the H family or the B family is there. I look quickly and try not to be noticed. I wonder if the teachers for primary will be there and I glance over praying that my piano player is here. I need to know all this information by the end of the opening song but sitting near the front requires me to play undercover spy and you can imagine that I am not so good at it.

I know that each ward or branch has many members that sit in the same place each week but I never thought I would be one of them... yet I do not plan on sitting in another place next week. If you visit please don't take my place!

Where do you sit in your church? Please leave comments...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sunday afternoon nap

Beach day

Cameron's impression of Temple Crag (the mountain he climbed a week ago.)
We went to the beach on Saturday with our friends, the Holmes. As always the beach was wonderful. Annika lounged in her play pen and we lounged in the sun. Annika enjoyed a nice nap with Barbara under the umbrella. Cameron and I braved the fridgid waters and did a little boogie boarding. The low tides made it hard to catch a good wave but I caught 3 great waves before I was numb with cold. I don't know why the water was so cold. We ended the day with burgers and fries from In and Out. They always make the best burgers!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

free chicken...

read my sister Stacey's post about free chicken... it is funny and it involves me. (cow picture is included.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Annika is 6 months old!

Annika is now 6 months old! How time does fly. She is getting so big and learning so much. Her favorite thing to do is roll around on the floor and go from one end of the living room to the other and then roll back. She also likes to scoot on her back if she can't get where she wants by rolling. She likes to play with all her toys and puts anything in her mouth.

Annika likes to smile at everyone and she is starting to wave hi when she feels like it. She likes Daddy to lay on the floor by her and laughs at him. (he is pretty funny looking.) She is starting to like to participate with her sisters in their activities and loves to look at what they are doing.

Her all time favorite game is peek a boo. She will get part of her dress or a blanket and put it over her face and then peek out. She loves it when you say the words for her. She loves to sleep on her tummy now that she can roll. She is so cute rolled on her tummy and sleeping. So much for sleep on her back! Happy 1/2 Birthday Annika!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

She's Growing up

Last night I went on a bike ride. And not just any bike ride but a ride with a child. My child. And I realized that it was fun for me. Not just fun because seeing your kids do anything is fun but because I had a great time with her fun. I pedled myself up the steep hills and rode fast down them. I raced my daughter down the hills and pushed past her as we climbed up. I didn't have to stop and wait and slow myself down to her level. Instead she was already at my level or at least close enough to be fun. We stopped and rested and listened to ourselves breathe. She told me all about butterflies, lizards and fun places to ride bikes.

Today we went shopping and it was fun too. She looked at things and discussed them with me. We talked about what we wanted and how we would spend the 200, 000 dollars some casino was promising we would win if we played. She would buy me a Kayak and I would buy her a doll house. We even got smoothies and although they were small we both couldn't finish them. She evaluated things, looked for deals, counted her money and made her her own purchases and I made mine.

I never thought that would happen so soon. My baby girl has turned into a interesting, engaging person that I like to hang out with as a friend too. How could this happen and how can she be growing up so quickly? I don't know but today I think I really like it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In search of.... cold water

I like to write about new and different experiences and this one was really different. Cameron went on a trip to the Sierras to climb and I decided to go see my sister again. (No this is not the new experience as I have been there twice this year.) I love her house and her pool and the fact that there are more adults than kids in her house no matter how many kids I bring. I love the help that Grandma, Auntie and Uncle Tony bring to the picture and I still loved all of that this time.

I was amazed to discover that in Phoenix they have no COLD WATER! When I got there I put one of the many gallons of water I bought in their fridge and left it. A few hours later we decided to go swimming with Stacey on her break. I jumped in the pool expecting to be refreshed. But seriously the pool was about 98 degrees! When I came inside I went to get water out of the fridge but it wasn't cold yet. Later that night I tried to take a cold shower to cool off after the pool. The water coming out of the shower seemed warmer than the pool water and it was on as cold as it gets. Another day I tried another shower but this shower too produced only warm water (no cold.) Ashling even complained that the coldest water was too hot. Sorry babe I can't seem to get it any colder. We thought it would be fun to visit the water park. But again the water was not cold or even cool. It was warm water everywhere! And warm water does not cool you off!

I can not imagine how the pioneers who settled Phoenix survived. They did not have air conditioning and I think I might have died with out it. On the way home I stopped at a gas station to get gas. I pulled under the shaded structure and started to fill my car up. Even in the shade the blacktop heat seared my legs. I was worried about leaving the kids in the car while getting gas even in the artificial shade. Finally at home I turned on the faucet and was relieved to discover that our water was still cold!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Temple Crag


The superstitious types have a tough one on their hands; For everyone who believes that those clichés of historic perseverance hold true each and every time, here is a story to befuddlify the wisdom of “taking a hint,” or reading too much into “signs.” And as fitting as this story is to accomplish such an un-defining of superstitious woe, isn’t life truly meant to try us all? Isn’t life for the making of one’s character and for the understanding of truth, and not for the complacencies of weakness and superstition? Given the latter, I’ll choose the former, ‘tough as it may be.’ This outing report is just a subtle wave in the flow of a river, yet the type of wave that can reflect defining light or cast doubtful shadows.

That was weird…on to the trip report. We were driving through the Southern California suburb called Rancho Cucamonga.

“Can you think of anything we might have forgotten?”

Once over the Cajon Pass, turning back on the freeway is a major time constraint. So wanting to obtain any final insights that might help us on our way, I posed that question. The answer was a simply straightforward question: “Did you bring your rope?” Luke asked. The problem wasn’t answering a question with another question. The problem wasn’t even being asked the question period, other than the fact that the leisurely response resembled an ever-present air of sarcasm. Even worse was my answer: “No” I said. In that overly sarcastic moment, “Yes” would have been a more truthful answer.

The problem with sarcasm is that sarcasm is intended to distort a truth. And in that air of sarcasm, neither of us realized that neither one of us were really being sarcastic. 18 hours earlier, I misinterpreted a statement as “Leave your rope at home.” Certainly, a pessimistic doom and gloom shadowed even us on that beautiful 83-degree-in-Devore moment, but we couldn’t detect even a glimpse of it, and so we drove on up the Cajon Pass and four hours later to the Big Pine Trailhead without even the mere hint that either of us was actually serious about our question and answer 300 miles back in Rancho Cucamonga.

It all exploded as we pulled our packs out of the trunk and Luke asked “Didn’t you leave the rope out of your pack?” My nerves shot light and heat to all sensors of my body as I replied “I left it out of everything I brought with me; I thought you brought your rope!”

The air was full of bad (not filthy) language. And as long as I’m qualifying the aspects of that moment, I must add that an unexpected element of comical relief probably saved Luke and I from being distortedly upset. Tears of laughter were at the threshold several times over, and I won’t mention the probable speed record I may have set on the plunge back down Big Pine Creek-Canyon-Road, but I made it to Wilson’s Eastside Sports in Bishop in about 30 minutes give or take. Wilson’s is a well equipped store with everything from A to all-in-one-spoon-spork-knives, of which we purchased two. Oh, and a rope. Don’t forget that! Luckily, the Beal 60 meter rope was on sale, and the financial damage was reduced by about 25 percent. Without much more ado, we got back on HWY. 395 and headed back south to Big Pine, and back up to the trailhead. The elevation differentials were already making me dizzy and I hadn’t even begun the hike in to base-camp yet.

(For those of you unfamiliar with most Eastern Sierra approaches, they are steep….like my Subaru can’t do it in 4th-gear-steep, and don’t lose your breaks or you ARE going to die-steep.)

The remainder of the evening was filled with such obviousities as “Did you bring the water filter,” “Did you bring your brain,” or “Did you bring a stove?”…HA ha ha ha…We tempted Karma all evening long as we began our trudge up the sage-covered hillside.

Having hiked this trail three times prior to this trip, my gut told that I would like this stretch of trail better this time. And yet I was proven wrong. I once heard an angry house-builder state while bitterly ranting about poor craftsmanship: “No matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still just a piece of …… dung.” To say that I could like this section of trail better would imply that I ever liked it at all, which is absolutely false. It’s ONLY potential redeeming value is the fantastic views of the Middle Palisade region of the Sierra Crest, which is also plainly visible from the two-lane paved roadway paralleling the trail 200 feet below. As a result this long, dusty, hot, exposed, and moderately steep beginning section of trail really has no unique redeeming value and is therefor permanently disqualified from the list of places or memories that I (and Luke?) hold dear to my heart. Of course Luke didn’t like it; he was a good 200 feet in front of me with his after-burners going. The superstitions were trying to say “There’s nothing here for you, go home,” to deaf ears connected to a head filled by a brain that knows better.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. At last refreshing meadows full of blooming flowers, Aspen, Lodgepole, and Ponderosa provide more than ample relief. An often thunderous North Fork of Big Pine Creek reminds you that water is in no short supply and the possibility of sustaining life is more than ample. We hiked quickly, making it 5 miles to our base-camp at around 7:30 PM. Excitement began to ramp up as views of Temple Crag became more and more frequent and of better and better quality. Alas, it was larger than I remembered.

At camp our belongings were strewn about on the coarse sand and rocks amidst the last stand of snow-stunted trees above Second Lake, but below the mighty Temple Crag. We melted snow to cook dinner with and to fill our bottles with drinking water for the next day. Darkness ensued and we finally went to sleep having organized our gear and supplies ahead of our anticipated 5:00 AM departure for the Sun Ribbon Arête.

“Cameron, we need to get up, it’s 5:00, the alarms didn’t wake us up.”

After a night full of waking up and turning over and noticing 6 million stars and hearing rocks falling from nearby mountains, I didn’t understand how we missed our 4:15 alarm….AND our 4:30 alarm. However, we are growing accustomed to such occurrences as they present themselves such as one year ago when we attempted Gannet Peak, Wyoming’s high point. Unfortunately for that adventure, the missed alarm was a real deal-breaker, a heart-breaker at that.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Today, however, and despite the “sign,” we have plenty of time to quickly wake and get moving. We were hiking to the base of our climb by 5:50 up steep talus and eventually steep boulder-fields of semi-stable one-ton chunks of Temple Crag. Finally the steep bouldering becomes steep snow leading 200 feet or so to the dark vertical granite of the Sun Ribbon Arête. Luke’s shoes seem to bite the snow better than mine, and we lost a little more time while I had to chisel some minimal toe-holds using nature’s tool, a rock. After crossing the snow, we were, technically speaking, climbing the arête which at this point consisted of block ramps of loose rock; ‘choss’ as Luke continually referred to it. In our last attempt, we un-necessarily roped up for this section; This time it was each man for himself.

By 7:00, we were beginning our technical Class 5 ascent. Kindly words of encouragement were exchanged in an effort to remind each other of time constraints and the path (if you can call it that) ahead. “Luke, you brought the rope, right?” A little laughter drifted out into the 200 feet of exposure already present at the base of this climb, and …we’re off.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Pitch one had been on my mind since our previous attempt which was “rained-off.” It just so happens that Luke and I both conceded that this was a good thing, realizing that at the time of our first attempt, we would have been up a creek without…a boat, much less a paddle. Back to pitch one, the first move up the massive dihedral is easy, the second move is easy. The third move (third of about 1000 ahead) is proving (once again) to be difficult. I give unasked-for advice, but it is taken into consideration and dismissed. After some contemplating, we give the superstitions a piece of our mind, Luke pulls the move followed by a rapid pace to the top of the first pitch, some 120 feet over my head. On top rope, I struggle with our heavy pack, but quickly resorting to hauling the bag upward for 20 feet, I re-iterate Luke’s moves on the thin holds, get the pack back on, and fly on up to his belay ledge. At this point we are already higher than in our previous attempt and we can feel the superstitions backing down from their high and mighty attempt to turn us back. Luke led as we scrambled up some easy, but well exposed 4th class terrain to the base of pitch 3.

I had the fortunate opportunity to lead pitches 3 and 4, two of the finer pitches of the whole route. I had recently adopted the habit of placing better pro. Really! I mean, why not? The point of it is to protect one in case of a fall, so why not make it the best pro conceivable. I placed cams and chocks with restrainers so that they don’t shift as I climbed above. The climbing went quickly up a mix of good hand and finger cracks and slabs; all under beautiful skies and amidst the distant echoes of climbing gear and “climber communications” caused by the broad and steep face of the Moonlight Buttress to our left (southeast).

I enjoyed the challenge of dealing with the exposure; leaning and reaching for good holds while trusting my instincts despite the massive drops below me required minor inner-convincing, but provided much greater inner gratitude and confidence once accomplished.

Luke led a solid pitch 5 with a gnarly step-around move which I avoided. The top of this pitch landed us atop the first gendarme and the location of the barely optional “Tyrolean Traverse.” To this point, “good signs” are far outweighing “bad signs,” in case anyone is keeping tally.

From this vantage point, one is clearly humbled by the towering precipices of the North Buttress and of the Moonlight Buttress. North Buttress is to climber’s right while Moonlight is to climber’s left. The Sun Ribbon arête shoots the gap between them flanked by steep slabbish gullies, all parallel, all steep, and all pointing skyward.

I had bet Luke that it would take 10 attempts to sling the horn on the opposite side of the traverse. The karma gods just laughed and laughed at us as we threw, missed, threw, missed…A few times we slung it but not to satisfaction; If this rig were to fail for some reason, it would be a 40 foot bounce followed by a 200-300 foot bounce followed by….I couldnt’t see what else is down that far, probably just more air. After dealing with the karma gods by thinking “If at first you don’t succeed…” we slung the horn on the tenth attempt, and tied it up. I ventured across the gap with the backpack on, retrospectively to the dismay (and wisdom) of Luke. Had the crossing gone as planned, the pack would not have been an issue. Unfortunately, the opposite was true. Un-anticipated slack on the back side of the horn manifested itself while I went more at a 45-degree angle down the ropes instead of the expected purely horizontal route.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Figure 4. Me, still mustering a smile on the tyrolean traverse despite unanticipataed circumstances.

There I hung. “Uh…didn’t expect that” I calmly stated. But my presence of mind began to slowly melt away as I hung from the tyrolean traverse for a few minutes. I couldn’t pull myself and the pack across and the up the steep incline of rope, especially since one side of the loop had totally pulled itself tight away from the other half, causing an increasing gap between the two segments the farther across the gap I went. After 2 or 200 (it seemed) minutes, it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay upright in my harness to the point that my arms hurt from holding myself up. It was like doing a pull-up for five minutes.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Realizing the backpack was causing me all my issues, I called for a caribiner to take the pack instead of me. This transition went smoothly enough and as soon as the pack was off of me, I felt tremendous relief even though still hanging from the sky. Luke, from his better abode and calm perspective reminded me of the process of creating a “Prusik” knot which is used for ascending rope. This worked like a charm and after another minute or two, the pack and I were on the opposite side of the tyrolean traverse. Out of the kindness of my heart I reset the line for Luke, san-slack, and he enjoyed a much less eventful crossing. I later felt like a photographer-retard for having misfired while I thought I was taking photos of him during his crossing; apparently all I was doing was focusing the camera. Well, there’s always next time, right?

The next two pitches were more over than up. But that did not stop the adrenaline from flowing. Prior to these two pitches, I tossed a rock laterally from our sidewalk in the sky and counted:

“one….two….three….four….five…..bang…..” Let’s see, (32.2 ft/sec) squared. That equals something between 800 and 900 feet that the rock fell before hitting a steeply-pitched ramp down below. For a few minutes after that, I could not look upward because vertigo was making me lose my balance. The sensation lasted until we were moving along the horizontal pitches toward a notch which required a minor rappel of about 12 feet (Yes, I thought this was annoying too).

Realizing our shortness of time, Luke and I quickly conceded that the crux pitch of the climb was going to take too long and that a bypass was a better option. Luke led a pitch mostly upward around the difficult and exposed 5.10A to a respectable 5.7 bypass which I led until gaining the arête proper once again.

By this point ‘vertical’ finally didn’t matter anymore. I often tell others that after 100 feet up, it all looks and feels the same. In this case, having exposure not just on one side (to the climber’s back) but instead on all but one side (directly in front of you), including to the left and to the right, we were both feeling the danger of gravity in a very new way. It took until this point in the day, or this reach of the climb, to understand and control the effects of the exposure.

The next few pitches were uneventful but nothing short of amazing. The rock continued to flow upward from planet earth, and all we had to do was follow the path of least resistance along the arête. We had to get more careful the higher we went because of loose rock. The granite is exposed to such elements up here so as to cause only the core of the rocks to remain while their connections to each other often weather away. The echoes off Moonlight and North Buttresses were waning now…because we were gaining elevations higher than the tops of those features. We were slightly disheartened at the site of a necessary rappel of about 60 feet, elevation that would have to be made up. Luke led a tough lead up the steep face on the opposite side of the rappel and suggested that “hauling” the bag on this pitch would be a good idea; I wasn’t going to argue after the tyrolean incident.

The day had been great fun and adventure to this point. As I gained Luke’s belay ledge, I felt the need to speak, but I remained silent. Had I spoken, the words I would have said would have been “Hey, it’s getting late, and I don’t know if were going to make it to the top. We should stop here, because this is a reasonable place to do so.”

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Two pitches later, those words did come forth at a newer, higher location on the arête, and Luke easily agreed. The Sun was straight out from us setting over the land of liberals, San Francisco. No, we couldn’t see the city (thank goodness), but we knew it was there all the same. Some rather interesting cloud forms took shape; semi-lenticulars amidst alto-stratus, all lit up in an array of yellow, orange, pink, purple, grey, and black. Strong south winds reminded us that our accommodations were going to be less than comfortable, aside from the limited space and uneven surfaces. Knowing that the National Weather Service had mentioned a brief chance of light showers that night, I crossed my mental fingers in hopes of waking up (each foreseeable instance) rain, snow, and hail-free, especially at 12,800 feet. Though clouds floated over all night, the moonlight was always highlighting peaks in the distance or up close, but not both at the same time. The silvery light over the granite Sierra made for some very unusual yet beautiful images which are only in my mind, and I will probably never forget. Mt. Agassiz (13,890’) dominated the northwest-looking view with its impressive triangulated geometry and symmetry. The lower terminus of the western hemisphere’s southern-most classified glaciers fed fissures in granite slabs which led to streams which fed lakes which shed bigger creeks which eventually confluence and become the North Fork of Big Pine Creek. This year, the status of “River” was probably more appropriate due to a late snow-melt and an abundant winter. The roar of the ‘creek’ filled the entire basin enclosed by the northern end of the Palisade Crest and the Inconsolable Range, and even at 12,800 feet high on Temple Crag. The only hindrance to the river’s monotony was the occasional bursts of wind, some of which filled my sleeping bag like a balloon despite being shut by draw-string. Other than three or four such occurrences, I slept warm. To say I slept is a bit of a stretch, though I definitely lost consciousness 20 or 25 times in between observing the unusual sleeping setting. This night, I did hear a rock fall, but I didn’t have to worry about it falling on us since we were at a high point. Ahh…the silver linings in life! The superstitions were running out of tricks to try out on us, they must be getting desperate.

The night ended, and even morning came unexpectedly. I had expected a gradual lightening of the sky. I was nearly startled to wake up and find darkness away from all but the deepest cracks of rock on the mountains before me. The sunrise was refreshing and welcome. Some minor clouds obscured the rising sun, but when it shown through, I was reminded why the Sierra Nevada is known (especially to photographers) as “The Range of Light.” The combination of a low-latitude and a near-Pacific location and high vertical walls of color-reflecting granite make these mountains capture light and color uniquely better than most other places. Add to that the often absurd cloud forms that develop here as moisture roles off the Pacific, and some real photographic opportunities expose themselves.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Luke complained about the sleeping conditions. I agreed. Yet we both admitted that the night went by much better than expected, each of us accusing the other of having snored at some point or other. The comical and sarcastic bond we share is unmatched; I could make fun of him for having to sleep with his head right next to my butt, and he can wittily answer that if I wasn’t so selfish, it might have been the other way around. Either way, many layers of clothes and sleeping bags prevented any too-awkward moments.

Feeling refreshed after a breakfast of 6 M&Ms and 5 gummi-bears, I led off for the next three pitches. Luke is super-amazing in that having the heavy pack on doesn’t deter him too much from his abilities to climb. Since the pack was causing me some nerve problems which would prevent me from ever flipping someone off, (a numbness and loss of use of the middle finger), he graciously let me lead these pitches and I tried to repay him by giving him ample protection for “down-climbing” tricky towers and blank sections, for which he later expressed his gratitude. The first pitch ended quickly as rope-drag was the limiting factor caused by weaving in and out of the blocky arête. The second pitch stayed mostly on one side of the arête and was a full 59.5 meters of lead (Our new rope was 60 meters). As Luke carefully maneuvered the final tricky moves of the second pitch, I wondered what was ahead. Feeling adventurous, I offered to lead to the ridge overhead and beyond, if needed, around what could be more tricky gendarmes and down-climbs.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Climbing the ramps leading to the ridge, I thought to myself that I felt good to climb all day again despite having only eaten 600 calories in more than 24 hours. When you get into a groove in anything in life, you’re content to just ‘keep on keepin’ on.’ So I was actually slightly saddened to find the top of the ridge was the end of technical climbing and the start of a 4th class rock-hop and scramble to the summit some 100 feet or so higher. Joy soon replaced the minor discontent I had as Luke pulled his way up and over the ridge and we realized we could take off our climbing shoes and proceed unabated by rope drag to the true summit about 10 minutes away.

Even the summit scramble wasn’t without its chilling exposure as the north face of Temple Crag drops 100’s of feet abruptly. As Luke climbed using ‘all fours’ ahead of me up the sloping south side, he let out a sudden ‘WOW!’ as he popped his head over the final ridge to the summit and found its northern side to be nonexistent until unexpectedly far below. Moving with an added measure of caution, we both scurried along like slow ants on a tiny twig of a bush. But it was easy, and I knew the karma gods had nothing more to offer.

At the top, the Sierra Club registry was intact and we both signed. Someone had piled a few rocks on top of each other at the highest point of the summit. The same person was probably also the one responsible for crossing out “12,999” on the summit registry cover and writing “13,000.” I sympathize with him…whoever he is. But I didn’t have the desire to move any large rocks around the way he did. After the ceremonial photos, we began our descent. All of our “uphill” efforts and environment disappeared in one and a half short hours. As we walked into basecamp, clothes wet from ‘glissading’ down snow fields, thirsty from lack of water, we stared upwards with an entirely new Your browser may not support display of this image. appreciation of the vertical realm of Temple Crag, of the perspective that is so easily misunderstood in plain view, or so easily lost in photos. We imagined ourselves back up there, realizing now that we could decipher the various gendarmes and understand their true size, which in turn added new emphasis to the real size of Temple Crag itself. Some climbers passed us on their way up to a camp, one of them was overheard saying “Ahh Temple Crag. Much more impressive than Half Dome, if you ask me.” It was then that I realized the basis of why I love climbing.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. When I wander through nature, I see things that attract my curiosity. I see trees or rivers, or great mountains and canyons which cause me to ponder my relationship to them. When I see mountains, I get impressed easily by vertical rock that stays intact while gravity pulls on it downward, endlessly. I marvel at the fins of rock that endure the wind, the snow, and the ice. Part of this marveling requires understanding. Part of understanding requires physical examination and exploration. At some point, after exploring and examining, true perspective is better understood. I can understand the enormity of an overhanging precipice. I can compare one mountain to another. And I go to these places to understand my relationship to them, to feel humble, and to feel scared, to realize that there is something much bigger than me out there; for something much more powerful and mighty than that mountain had to make that mountain. Though I merely climbed to the top of it, how limited is my understanding of it’s perpetual defiance of gravity, or it’s being out of place in a world that is mostly flat, or the effects it has on so many other systems of life, or weather, or of light? How can I understand how it came to be, how the elements of nature combined to create such a lasting monument unto that higher power? Climbing, as a form of exploration, leads me to these and other answers which undeniably end with an affirmation of the beauty and amazement offered by this place we call home, Earth. To an even greater extent, I am led to the appreciation that One Almighty would give someone such as me so much to appreciate and enjoy in this life; from family and friends to mountains, I know His hand is in play. And that is something I don’t have to be superstitious about because His hand is very real, and very active, telling me that I can feel confident about doing something so basic as climbing a mountain.

Posted by Cameron

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our hike to San "G"

San Gorgonio is the tallest mountain in Southern California and I have always wanted to hike it. So we planned to do it on July 3rd. We got up at 4:oo am on Friday and picked up our babysitter. (She is a wonderful girl who loves to hike too and understands that you need to start early to hike some mountains.) Then we drove to the trail head at Vivian Creek. At about 5:50 we were hiking. The picture is us smiling because we have not started hiking yet.

Here is a pictures of the switchbacks that are at the start of the trail. The first mile is a grueling climb off the valley floor full of very steep switchbacks.

This is a picture looking up at the Yucaipa Ridge.Here is a picture looking at the San Gabriel Mountains from the switchbacks. Isn't it beautiful?After the killer switchbacks you come upon a meadow and creek called Vivian Creek. It is beautiful up there. There is a creek running and some very tall Ponderosa and Cedar trees with very wide bases. The trail levels out and becomes enjoyable. There were wildflowers everywhere! We enjoyed looking at the flowers and decided to keep hiking a bit further before stopping for breakfast. We hiked along the creek which was dry in this area. The trail is easy with gentle elevation gains and seems to be a little rolly.We kept thinking we would wait and eat at Halfway Camp but Cameron and I got hungry and so we stopped on a rock and ate our muffins. While we were eating a hippie man passed us. I was surprised by the number of people hiking by themselves. Have these people never heard that taking a buddy is always a good idea?

After our breakfast we had energy and we continued to hike past half way camp. Here the creek came above ground for the camp. After half-way point the trail turns into a couple of very long switchbacks. The trail has been remade from when Cameron hiked it and we loved the views of Yucaipa Ridge and then when we went the other way we could see into the canyon.

We stopped at high creek and pumped water and took a short break. Then we headed up the silliest switchbacks ever. I was kind of glad they were so shallow and flat because I got a really bad headache from altitude but excederine saved me!

This is a great picture of San Bernardino peak

After awhile the trail switched into the alpine and the trail became very steep. Then our endurance set in and we trudged along for a long ways up the shoulder. I knew that we couldn't see the top based on past experiences but I kept imagining that the top was just right over there.

Finally Cameron showed me the top of the mountain. I could see some people standing there and knew that it was the top. I was pretty excited to see it. San Gorgonio is 11,500 feet and the trail is 8 miles each way. The elevation gain is 5500 feet. It was the longest accent to the top of a mountain I have done so far and I am very proud of the accomplishment.

This is the top of the mountain right there and yes I am excited to see it!
We made it!
Cameron looking like the rugged mountaineer that he is.
This is a picture of the big tree in the meadow on the way down.
The hike down was the standard hike down from the top of a mountain. I hike too slow down hill trying to be sure of each step and it takes much longer than it should. I was grateful for the trecking pole which seemed to help some with hiking a little faster. We stopped at high creek again and got more water and rested. We passed a lot of people heading up to the top. Cameron talked to and instructed lots of them while I just wanted to keep hiking. My knees hurt like crazy the last mile and I really wanted to sit down and cry a little but instead just kept hiking. We made it to the parking lot and sat down in the car glad that we were done for the day. At home our babysitter had everything under control and Annika was happy as could be. I am glad she is such a good baby and that our girls are so good too because it made it much easier to leave them!