Sunday, August 29, 2010

A change in the weather

The temperature at the beginning of the week was hot. I couldn't even imagine how we were going to handle going to bed early, waking early, and going to school with the temperature on condusive to swimming. I was nervous about the schedule, nervous to babysit my new little girl, nervous about waking early and just sad to see the kids go.

Now the air is cool and it seems like it is getting dark so much earlier. We wore sweaters to church today and put on jeans and sweatshirts after church. We might have to turn on the heater tonight. We have begun to look forward to fall. I think my fall decorations will come out tomorrow. I think school is going to go well. Ali has the teacher I wanted and now Ashling does too. I guess belonging to a community for awhile tends to help you get the teachers you like.

Our routine is working. Emily arrives early at 6:00 am. She watches a movie while I run. The kids get up at 6:30 by Daddy and clean their room and make their bed. Their clothes are chosen the night before so there are no fights or complaints in the morning. They even find their socks before bed. We do hair and then once ready assend the stairs for breakfast. The girls pack their lunches with a little help. (One snack, one main item, one fruit, one treat, one drink, one water bottle.) When I drop them off Annika and I have 3 1/2 hours to ourselves. We clean, play, walk, and enjoy our time together. Ashling and Emily get picked up after lunch and they play for 1 1/2 and then read with me. I pick Ali up and take Emily home. Another snack, playtime, soccer, homework, chores, and preparing dinner take up the afternoon. Then we eat, shower, and get in bed. I think I can handle it.... The best part is the 2 1/2 hours Cameron and I have together before we go to bed.

I think it is good that we have such a good routine for the week down. Our Sunday routine just got harder. Cameron was called to be ward clerk. I am sure he will do great but I will miss sitting with him in church. I will miss him coming home after church. Hopefully we can figure out a new routine to help.

I feel adjusted to fall and excited for the routine, for the predictability, for the fast pace. I can't wait to see the leaves change and for the first snow to fall.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy 11 Years!

Today is our 11 year anniversary. I guess we are getting old. I proved it by watching our wedding video with our kids for the first time. I looked at the pictures and saw people who look a lot younger (and thinner.) It was fun to watch the video with the kids and let them see a little of our wedding. I found a card at the store with the song we danced to at our wedding and gave it to Cameron.

I like being married 11 years. It seems like a long time and yet we are still happy together. I love ya Cameron!

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Memory

Vira Putnam was my great-grandmother. I miss her. A lot. Still. Even 6 years after she died. I miss the stories she would tell me as I sat next to her on the love seat in Vera's house right where we were touching and I held her hand. I miss the way she smiled. I miss the way she played with all the little kids and the way she played with me when I was little. I miss the way she made me feel included in everything even when no one else did. I miss going to her house which isn't ours anymore. I miss looking in the closet for things to play with and looking at the new quilts she had made since last time I was there. I miss her pickles. I miss setting the table with her special tablecloths. I miss sitting on her front porch and looking at the yard. I miss stump creek. I miss watching her embroider another butterfly. I miss reading with her the same story over and over again. I miss the tents she made me while she quilted above and the way she played big bad wolf with me. I miss the letters and phone calls. I miss seeing her.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have nightmares. I will dream that Grandma is still alive and that I forgot to go see her. Then I get to watch her die all over again. You would think that it is okay for someone to die when they get old and I know she is in a better place but I still miss my Grandma.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1st Day of School

School starting is such an interesting thing. We have all been waiting for it with various degrees of enthusiasm. My enthusiasm is pretty much at zero. This year I will have two kids in school and be picking up a kindergartner half way through the day. I also will be taking kids to soccer and to dance class. The way I see it I will be in my car most of the day. I am glad my seat is comfortable.

None the less the day has come and the kids can't wait. Here is Ashling. She never looks at the camera!
This is the face of true excitement. She really can't wait for school to start.
Annika is excited but she just doesn't know why!
Ali is a little more reserved and grown up now that she is in the 3rd grade. She got a color changing shirt from Grandma and was excited to wear it. It was much too hot for jeans so she just wore shorts.

I was very excited that Ali got Mrs. Strebel. She is in our branch and I have been hoping that Ali would get her for a teacher ever since she was born. All the LDS kids are in Mrs. Strebel's class this year. It will be nice to have so many good kids in class. Besides the LDS kids there are a lot of other kids who are good friends of Ali's and kids that I like. I am excited for Ali to have such a good class.

Kindergarten did not really start today. The kids all came and got their name tags and took a tour of the classrooms. They do not know who their teachers are for a week. I guess the teachers need to observe the kids first and then they will decide. It was a mess and I highly recommend a different way of doing things.

the cast of characters

We recently went on a 60 mile backpacking trip. I will get around to blogging and showing all the picture from that but school started today, my house isn't that clean, and I also started babysitting this week so it will have to wait for more time. Today I thought I would add some notes about the people we met while out backpacking. They were quite a crowd.

While hiking up Bishop Pass I was surprised to see a woman jogging alone with her giant dog. By the end of our trip I was surprised to see any woman actually with a man. Apparently when you are hiking along the John Muir trail and you are a woman you hike alone. We met many women who were all alone going 250 miles. All I could think of were reasons this may not be the best plan.

We saw two old men hiking up the same trail they had gone down the night before. One had such a large belly in front. He said he was on a day hike but we couldn't understand why they were hiking up when they should be hiking down. I hope they eventually found their way?

We met a woman hiking in a skirt (yes she was hiking alone.)

We saw another woman hiking in flip flops, tee shirt and shorts. (This was near Muir Pass in the evening. The trail consists of about 8-10 miles of above tree line hiking among the rocks and snow and she was in flip flops.)

We saw "captain underpants." A little boy was hiking down the trail with his dad in only his underwear.

Naked man laid down amongst his wife, daughter and son-in-law with nothing on at all.

The John Muir Trail hikers have their own club which you do not belong to if you are hiking less than 15 miles a day. We wonder how they can possibly enjoy anything when hiking that much.

We saw another man hiking down Muir pass with only a fanny pack on... I wonder what his plan was?

There were several who were out hiking in jeans. (Jeans are not suitable for backpacking unless the year is 1970. We have better fabric these days.)

I'll add to the list as I remember...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School Family Home Evening

I made the kids their favorite dinner, brauts and baked beans and then milkshakes for dessert. We got the kids all showered and gave them new pajamas to wear and then had our lesson. We sang, " I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ."

Our theme for the school year is Matthew 5 14-16.

Ye are the light of the World. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We encouraged our kids to act so that those who don't know Christ but know them will want to know Christ because of how they behave. We talked about being nice to everyone and not talking mean about anyone.

Then Cameron gave each of us a back to school blessing. Annika even took a turn and sat still with her arms folded for her blessing.

We ended the evening tucking each girl in bed. I hope that they will be good this year and be a good influence on all that they come in contact with.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

South Lake To North Lake Trip Report Day 6

The last day was Friday. It was supposed to be Saturday but I was too dirty, too tired, had too many blisters and craved a shower and a steak that bad. Cameron couldn't imagine eating another dehydrated meal after breakfast and I suggested that we could hike all the way out. I even woke him up early so that we could get ready to go. We dragged a little with packing and didn't even leave until around 8:30 am.

The first part of the trail was pretty easy. The trail went through more trees with more wildflowers everywhere. I have never seen so many wildflowers anywhere. Right after we started hiking we came to a creek crossing. At each creek crossing the trail builders have placed bigger rocks across the water that you can jump from one to another on. They are not always flat and sometimes it seems like one might have rolled away in high water. Sometimes they use down trees too. This river crossing had 5 parts. I kept thinking we were done but we weren't. It is very difficult for me to cross and I always lose my balance. I ended up with one foot in the creek that barely got wet. (I love my salamon gtx shoes they are the best.)

The whole way to Piute Pass was pretty easy. It was uphill but it wasn't too steep. If you look to the back of this picture you can see the Piute Pass between the mountains.
We made it up to the top of the pass by 12:00 pm. It was the easiest pass I have ever hiked to the top of. It was easy because you could see where the top was and there were no surprises like extra hills to hike over. We ate a small lunch on the top of the pass in the wind. Finally the wind was too strong and we left to start the hike down.

Right away I realized that the other side was not the same kind of hike. It was like one long staircase from top to the bottom with lots and lots of steps carved out of the steep cliff. If you have ever hiked down from Mount Whitney this trail was similar but not as long. The going was tough, it was hot and the trail was cruel to my feet. I really wanted to stop and curl up next to the lake but the thoughts of putting on flip flops and taking a shower kept me going.

We ended our hike around 3:00 at the North Lake Campground. We did not have our car here and had to find a ride to South Lake which is about a 14 mile drive in a car. The second people we asked were willing to take us. I am very thankful for the man who let our dirty, smelly bodies get in his nice truck. He gave us a ride to South Lake. We changed clothes and headed down to the same restaurant we had gone to on the way in for dinner! We ended our hike with Prime Rib, milkshakes, shrimp skewers and brownie sundaes. I am glad that I hiked 60.5 miles but hope to have a few less blisters next time!

Friday, August 20, 2010

South Lake To North Lake Trip Report Day 5

The plan for the day was to hike down to Blaney Hot Springs and the Muir Trail Ranch to check our email. It sounded like a great plan from home but once we started hiking it was not so great. It was so hot we couldn't imagine getting in a hot springs. We hiked really quickly and I even ran a little of the trail. It was nice to hike without our backpacks on and eventually we made it down to Blaney Meadows.
What we didn't realize was that the hot springs were across the San Joaquin River and we didn't bring our water shoes. We couldn't imagine actually wanting to get in hot water in the heat of the day anyways. It was very far across and very rocky and I didn't think crossing without shoes or getting our shoes wet and then having to hike in wet shoes. So we didn't go. It was the whole reason I planned this trip but when we actually got to the point of going we decided not to.

While down by the river deciding we met a very interesting "family." There were about 8-10 teens and one older couple. All the teens had various body piercings and seemed to be the exact same age. They were very hippy in appearance and attitude. I wonder if they were foster children or if this couple somehow managed to have so many teens that were the same age? This family was getting kicked out of their campsite because they had camped too close to the river.

We then went to Muir Trail Ranch. It is a ranch that has guests come in and stay for a week giving them a rustic setting for their family reunion or whatever. It was very rustic. There were horses and horse droppings everywhere. The people who ran it were quite interesting. But they had the internet and allowed us to pay 10 dollars to check our email. I just wanted to make sure the kids were okay and this allowed me to so I was grateful.

On the hike back to our camp Cameron's toe hurt quite a bit. He didn't know what was wrong but it was bothering him. It was hot and the 3 miles seemed quite a long ways. We were happy to get back to camp and spent a long time just soaking our toes.

Cameron then suggested that we might want to hike up Piute Canyon a ways tonight when it was cool as opposed to in the morning. The map suggested that the trail was quite steep in the beginning and we were a little worried about how that might be in the sun. I didn't want to at first but his idea was a good one and so I decided to go with it.

We waited until the sun was off the canyon. We first ate dinner and then packed up camp. We started hiking at about 5:30 pm. The trail was very steep. The trail maker seemed to have an aversion for switchbacks and mostly the trail was just straight up. Some of the steps were almost impossible to do with a backpack on and I felt like I might as well be rock climbing. It was very hard work and we hiked slowly up the trail. I was very grateful to be hiking in the cool evening as opposed to the warm morning. There were occasional stretches that went downhill and some switchbacks as we went higher up that started to save us. I had a goal in mind that I wanted to get to Hutchinson Meadow by dark. It was a lofty goal and I wasn't sure we would make it.

We passed one campsite without water and another creek without a campsite. There didn't seem to be any good campsites. The mosquitoes were really bad too and so we just kept hiking. The trail flattened and we were in some trees with lots of flowers as undergrowth. We started looking for a campsite but there didn't seem to be any sites around. We kept hiking as it got dark and eventually made it to a campsite just as it was fully dark.

The campsite seemed perfect. It had water close by, wood for a fire and a nice flat place for the tent. Right as we got settled and all unpacked we realized there was a distinct smell around. We didn't know what it was and headed out to pump water for our chocolate pudding mix. We ran right into a dead horse. Now I knew what the smell was. I couldn't stomach the idea, nearly lost my dinner and made Cameron move our camp. We ended up carrying our tent between us with our backpacks on about 200 yards upstream and upwind of the dead horse. I want to thank whoever felt the best thing to do would be leave their dead horse in the middle of a campsite for giving me that smell and experience. Our total mileage for the day was 6 miles without backpacks and 5 miles with backpacks on.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

South Lake To North Lake Trip Report Day 4

We decided that after camping at Evolution lake we would hike down the entire Evolution Valley and along to San Joquin River to end up at the trail junction with Piute Pass in one day. The mileage was about 12 miles.

Here is the view looking down on the evolution valley
Here is a picture of Colby Meadows. Isn't it beautiful. We would have loved to camp here except for one problem. The mosquitoes were terrible! They would have ruined all the fun!
We saw well over 30 waterfalls. I guess this one warranted a picture or the camera was out!

We had to cross the Evolution Creek without a bridge. It was a wet crossing. We took off our shoes and started across the 100 feet of river using our poles to brace us. The water was about knee deep. On the other side as I was putting my shoes on I heard something and looked up expecting to see a person walking up. Instead it was three deer. There was a mother deer, a young buck who was probably last year's child and a baby. They allowed us to watch them for quite awhile while they enjoyed eating the grass and plants by the river.
After crossing Evolution creek the river plunged down quite a ways through an amazing narrow gorge. We didn't get the best pictures of it because we were too busy trying to enjoy the view. This was my favorite part of the entire trip. That gorge is more amazing than anything we saw along the way. In some places the pools were so deep and the waterfalls were amazing. Cameron kept hiking off the trail to look but I guess he didn't get many pictures.

We hiked down the side of a cliff again as we dropped along with the creek. We could hear it but couldn't really see it very often. It was very hot and dry on the edge without very many trees except some very, very large Juniper trees. I didn't know they could grow so big.

After we were about 2/3 of the way down we met two men hiking up the trail. They thought they were half way up the steep part and we had to let them know that they were no way near that.

We we hit that way floor we could see up Goddard Canyon quite well. We both thought it looked beautiful and we want to go on another trip that goes up there.
Evolution Creek joined the San Joaquin River and it was quite a bit of river. It was amazing to think that this is only one of the forks of the river because there is at least another one up by Mammoth that we played in last fall. The trail was mostly along the river now which plunged though another gorge like area. It was very beautiful.

We found a very nice camp right next to the San Joaquin River. It had a fire ring with logs, granite slabs going out into the river and lots of shade. Cameron and I took a nice shower with heated water and then washed almost all our clothing. Here is the tree we found to dry our stuff on.
The aftermath of the quick bear attack- good thing for bear spray!

Or not.... Cameron came back from gathering firewood with this wound. He had been collecting firewood from the top of a dead tree when he slipped and fell about 8 feet. I am glad that this injury was all that happened to him.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

South Lake To North Lake Trip Report Day 3

Our plans had to change for day 3 since we didn't get as far as we wanted on Day 2. Our revised plan included going to Evolution Lake which was up and over Muir Pass and down about 6 miles on the other side. The whole day was 10 miles of hiking.

We woke up pretty early again and got going by 7:40 a.m. Breakfast included another Breakfast skillet. (It didn't taste quite as good but was just fine overall.) The hike was beautiful in the early morning cool air. It quickly warmed up as the sun hit us and we trudged along up the benches looking for the lakes. At one point Cameron and I took our packs off and cooled off on the granite that was still cool from the night. The mosquitoes were pretty bad in certain places and we applied quite a bit of deet to combat them.

The lakes had many crossings and each time I got a little more confident. Cameron danced across the rocks looking like he was a ballet dancer. I felt like I was slipping each time.
This is the view looking back down the Le Conte Canyon we had come from.
This is Helen Lake that we had wanted to camp at. After this lake we passed a large group of backpackers with 3 llamas who were heading down into Le Conte Canyon. There were about 10-15 teenagers and a 5 year old and 3 year old. There were only 1-2 older people and I am not sure who the parents of these kids were but everyone we talked to said they were all cousins. The three year old was riding a llama, still in her pajamas, and she was barefoot. They were all moving quickly but I was happy to not have my little ones with me as these seemed very out of place on the high mountain pass.
Here we are at the top of Muir Pass. They built a very nice rock hut in the 1930's to protect people against storms. Today you are allowed to camp in it only when there is a storm.
If you look out at those lakes the other side of Muir pass involved hiking in the alpine environment in the sun for the entire six miles to evolution lake. The only plants growing were no taller than the sole of my shoe. It was quite a barren place.
We arrived at Evolution Lake and found our spot among the crowded campgrounds. Our spot was high on the bench above the lake. We were able to find our own spot and didn't feel too crowded. We went swimming in the lake and Cameron nearly got hypothermia after he got out. He left his clothes on while swimming and then after did not take them off. The wind was blowing hard and cold and he just kept sitting there. Eventually I convinced him that he should get dressed by leaving myself to get dressed. At least he followed.

After we were clean and so were our clothes, Cameron prepared to go fishing. We wanted to have fish for dinner so he was highly motivated. I prepared to read for the afternoon. The wind blew so hard that afternoon that they tent stakes came out and the tent started to blow away. I put rocks on the stakes and then stayed in the tent so that it wouldn't blow away. Cameron caught lots of tiny 8 inch fish but couldn't catch any big fish. We decided to eat one of our dehydrated meals instead of fish since the fish were so small.
This is Evolution Lake in the Twilight
Another picture of Evolution Lake

Monday, August 16, 2010

South Lake To North Lake Trip Report Day 2

Our plan for day 2 was to hike down into the Le Conte Canyon and then hike to Helen Lake which was near the Muir Pass. It was quite a lofty plan! (We actually made it down the Le Conte Canyon and to a little above Big Pete Meadow right below the 10,000 feet sign.)

We woke up early and prepared our breakfast that consisted of a Breakfast skillet of eggs, hashbrowns, peppers and sausage in dehydrated form. It tasted pretty good the first day. We were able to quickly load our packs and were on the trail by 7:30 am. We dropped off of dusy basin and hiked along the edge of the cliff that dropped into Le Conte Canyon quickly. It was a rough trail with steep downhill steps and lots of water running everywhere. I was a little concerned I might slip and end up in the river at the bottom.

The waterfalls coming out of Dusy Basin were amazing. The water cascaded for about 2 thousand feet down the granite walls. Some of the time it looked like waterfalls.

Here is a picture of where we will be going soon...
Here the water just flowed down the granite and made me think of a giant waterslide. It looked like great fun but I was a little afraid of the landing and I didn't try it.
We finally dropped into Little Pete Meadows. It was beautiful down there and quite warm. We felt like we had been hiking for awhile and soon found a nice place by the river to take a break. We went swimming (Cameron swam and I quickly got in and out.) and then washed our clothes on the granite rocks. We washed up and then Cameron went fishing and I curled up and read away the afternoon. (This part felt like a dream vacation reading by the river with no kids to interrupt me.)

After several hours Cameron thought we should start hiking again. He was convinced that the breeze was blowing and that it would be much cooler hiking. It was about 3:30 when we started hiking. I never felt very good when we started hiking and the long hike in the morning, plus the elevation caused me to feel terrible for the couple of miles we hiked. We hiked above Big Pete Meadow which was amazing and then started climbing up some benches towards Muir Pass. I finally put my foot down around 6:00 where we found a great camping spot just below 10,000 feet. We were able to have a nice fire and the river was close by.

Here is a picture of our camping spot. At camp I laid down on the rock and didn't get up for almost an hour. I am impressed with myself though because I never actually got Heat exhaustion and was able to work through the feeling of being too hot. We ended up hiking about 6-7 miles that day which made our shortest hiking day.