Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I'm off to watch a Stanford Women's basketball game tonight. I nearly forgot about it until I got an email from the Stanford Women's Basketball publicity person reminding me of the game. It was on my calendar also but I hadn't check the calendar out yet before that email. I hate to miss a game as I paid good money for the tickets and the games are fun. I do wish all the games were on weekends but alas about half of them are on work day evenings. The PAC-12 games generally fall on Thursday and Saturday evenings every other week or starting in January till the beginning of March. Tonights game is against an out of conference foe, UC Davis.
I got a new computer at work today and spent lots of time getting all the software upgraded that I need to do my job. I didn't get much new work done but in the long run the new more powerful computer will help me do my job more efficiently.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
After work, I went shopping at the drug store to get dental supplies. I have been approaching the end of the plaque rinse, the fluoride rinse, my dental floss, and my toothpaste. Usually these items run out at different times. I got two of everything at the drug store. The grocery store doesn't carry the fluoride rinse my dentist recommends so I visited the neighborhood Walgreen's drug store. As I was buying the stuff I remarked to the clerk that my teeth would be very clean. I was hoping she would crack a smile but she didn't.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I spent part of the afternoon transforming my dining room table from "where my lap top sits and mail piles up" to a clean table top with a jig saw puzzle spread out on it! I had to sort through tons of junk mail. Then I spent some time shredding this junk mail. I had to take a break to clear jams from my shredder. I guess I was working it too hard! With the jam fixed, I shredded the rest of the junk mail and carted the shreds to the recycling bin in my condo complex. Then I moved my lap top to a small dinner tray right next to the soon to be puzzle table.
I got out my hardest jigsaw puzzle and have spread all the pieces out on the table and I'm in the process of putting together the edges. I find that doing jigsaw puzzles is very much a solitary pleasure for me. When I do it with other people I have control issues. I want them to do the puzzle exactly how I do it. All the pieces must be spread out before you start putting any together. Then you do the edges. Then the middle. I get frustrated when these procedures are not followed.
I also got the dishes done this afternoon and made myself a nice turkey sandwich with the left over turkey S. so kindly let me take home with me after the dinner last night. The dinner at S's house was great. She is an excellent cook and made many delicious dishes. We also had some high quality wines with dinner and port to finish off the meal!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I have a hiked planned tomorrow but so far no one has RSVPed so I may bag it and sleep in and go on a less rigorous solo hike and perhaps go Christmas shopping. Hopefully the black Friday crowds will have dissipated a bit. I'm not real keen on shopping but I would like to get it done early this year and have packages in the mail by around Dec 10th. I thought I might drive to downtown Mountain View and walk up and down Castro street stopping in shops there. It might be nice to give business to the smaller shops rather than the big mall shops! I suspect I'll end up in book stores buying books as presents. Its hard to go wrong with books in my family and we are nearly all avid readers!
Friday, November 25, 2011
The launch itself went well but as usual it was standing room only in the cafeteria and I was shifting about to try and get a view of the screen. I managed to get on my toes and see the liftoff pretty clearly. As it lifted off we all cheered and then watched for maybe a minute and then many of us rushed for the swag line so we could get good stuff. I'll have to check the web site tomorrow a.m. to see if the satellite has started its maneuvers to get in the proper orbit and get all set up. Its probably a week or so till you know the satellite is set up how it should be and working properly.
I got in some exercise today by walking to and from work for the launch. Its 1.6 miles to the cafeteria at work from my condo door. It took me about 35 minutes to make the walk. I was most surprised with how sweaty I got. I wore a sweatshirt and a heavy rain jacket. About half way there I removed the rain jacket. I never needed it. I would have been fine with just the sweatshirt. Oh well. Does being sweaty burn more calories? On the way home I carried the coffee mug and poster and jacket all the way home. I should have brought my backpack with me so I could put everything inside it and not have to have everything in my arms! It was a pleasant walk home. I spend the afternoon relaxing and in the late afternoon decided to bake some more chocolate chip cookies.
I took a small bag of the freshly baked cookies with me to eat while I watched the Stanford vs Cal women's volleyball match. The first three sets were really tight. Stanford took the first one. Then Cal won the second. There was a half time break. Then Cal came out and squeaked out the third set. Then the wind fell out of Stanford's sails and they just couldn't get it together for the fourth set and Cal won it easily. So the final score was 3 sets to 1 with Cal winning. This was the last regular season game of the season. The first week of December the volleyball national championship tournament starts. Stanford has a very good chance of making it into the tournament. This Sunday, the brackets for the tournament will be announced. Stanford will probably host a first and second round at their home court and I plan to buy tickets to see the games.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Here are some things I'm thankful for ...
(1) My parents are still alive and healthy at 83 and 88.
(2) I have a good job that pays well and I like the work
(3) My health. Except for being a tad bit overweight, I'm feeling healthy.
(4) The asexual community I have found on line
(5) The Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierra Club section
(6) Good friends
(7) Books and the authors who write them!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The day after Thanksgiving I'm going to work to watch a satellite launch. It will be televised on a big screen in the cafeteria. The actual launch will happen in at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The launch is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. but there is a number to call to be sure the launch is on schedule. The launch celebration includes some speeches by project managers and then watching the launch and after that its time to pick up the free goodies: usually t-shirts and posters. Its the anticipation of the launch, the holding of your breath that everything go well during launch and being around people who have worked on the satellite that really make it a fun event. The actual launch footage is usually the same. Often you view it in the dark. So you see the big launch pad all lit up. Then you see the rocket launch and watch a light go up in the dark sky. You can't really see on the TV screen that its a rocket with a satellite in the nose. At some point the camera's picture is just a small dot so they often shift to simulated pictures to show what is going on in the launch.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I love to be in libraries. I like the quiet. I like the huge amount of books on the shelves. I like the smell of books and the feel of them in my hand. I just get excited thinking about all the books I haven't read that are just waiting there on the shelves for me to check out. I fell in love with libraries at first sight. I remember going to the children's section at the Beechwold library in Columbus, Ohio and then later to the adult section. I remember being excited to learn how to drive so I could drive myself to the library! I also liked the library at school and it was my favorite place to go to study during my free periods.
When I got to college I discovered the joy of stacks. The library was so big you could lose yourself in the many floors of books. I liked to do my studying in the english literature section. Although this often backfired on me as I would spend more time reading a British novel than doing my engineering problem sets. But the stacks were quiet and you could really get away from other people if you went to the stacks. Sometimes I miss having a huge library.
I love my current library. I still think of it as the fancy new library but realized that it actually has been more than 10 years since it was redesigned and rebuilt. I like how open it is to the sunlight in the reading areas and it does have more room than it used to. It also has lots of computers I can use but I rarely do use them since I have a computer at home! I volunteer at my library and now I'm signing off this post as I have to delivery books to a home bound patron. I'll chat with her and then head back to the library to return the books she gives me and to select some books for myself!!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
In 1965 when I was four years old my family spent a year in England while my Dad did research for his book at the British Museum. We rented a house and this house had a staircase that was covered in carpet. This was a new experience in my short life as our staircase was hard wood. I then discovered the joy of sliding down the carpeted staircase on my tummy. It was incredibly fun and I sort of remember that stomach dropping feeling it gave me.
In 1974 we had a big old elm tree in the front yard that was afflicted with Dutch Elm disease. To attempt to get rid of the disease my parents had half of the tree cut down. There were two big branches coming out of the trunk and they had one lopped off. Then my big brother threw a rope around the stump of the cut off branch and climbed up the tree to the stump. I was 13 years old and he challenged me, my younger brother, and my neighbor friend to climb up the rope. The first of us that could do it, he would give a quarter to. We tried and tried and I was thrilled to be the first one to succeed and the proud recipient of a quarter!
In 1983 I was a junior at Purdue. I knew quite a few seniors and got invited to a graduation party. I went to it with some trepidation as I was usually a wall flower at parties and felt very shy and awkward. But somehow this party felt different. I felt like I belonged and for the first time in my life I managed to shed some of my inhibitions and had a fabulous time dancing down a dance line. Two lines of people lined up on either side of the living room and we took turns dancing down between the lines. I don't know why this time was so different than any time before or any time since but I just let go of my worries and let my self go and danced and danced. I often wish I could recapture that moment.
In 1991 I just turned 30 and had been doing a lot of thinking about who I was and what I wanted from my life. And I made a decision on my 30th birthday to check out this group meeting I saw in the San Jose Mercury News about a Palo Alto Lesbian Rap group. This was not a musical rap group but harkened back to the 60's meaning of rapping which was getting together and talking. I went to the group and was amazed to find a group of women dressed like me in jeans and t-shirts and I immediately felt comfortable. I also happened upon a night in this group where the discussion topic was being new in a group. So I felt doubly welcomed as I could talk about being new to this group! But the main memory is just that I felt that I had found my people and this was an amazing feeling.
At 12:01 a.m. on Jan 1, 2000 I was in London, England to greet the New Years with my parents. We went to a party at a friend of theirs and at 39 years old I was the baby of the party. It was a surreal but fun experience. I remember eating a pasta that was just chock full of the most delicious shrimp. At 12:00 we all spilled out doors to glimpse fire works going up around London. Then my parents and I headed to my parent's flat in London and I remember staying up late watching TV as the New Year came to the U.S. cities. And it was all very impressive since it was the millenium!
On June 26, 2011, I marched with the Asexual meetup group in the San Francisco Gay Pride parade. A young woman in the group did a fantastic job of making the group look cohesive. We all had similar t-shirts on and we had these great big silver ballons that spelled ASEXY if carried in the right order and we had a wonderful banner. I really felt like part of group that was doing something important in raising awareness of asexuality by participating in the parade.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
The first part of the hike was fairly flat and we crossed creeks about four times on these narrow bridges. I told D he should rename the hike the narrow bridges hike. D showed us a place next to the creek sort of hidden behind thick bushes where he has visions of bringing a romantic date to make out. I have no desire to make out there but it would be a nice private cool space for a nice long intimate conversation on a hot summer day. After checking out this secret spot we headed off to Jordan pond where we stopped for a snack. Lunch was planned at Gossip rock which was a ways off yet so this snack break was to fortify us for a late lunch.
After our snack we took advantage of the porta potty set up near the pond picnic area and then headed off up the hills. There were wonderful views of green hillsides, blue sky, and white clouds as we made our way up the hill to Gossip rock. We reached the ridge and walked along the ridge a bit. You could see San Francisco bay and Silicon Valley from the ridge on one side and wilderness on the other side. We soon reached Gossip rock where we saw small bowls carved into the rock where Indians used to grind grain. We had lunch at Gossip rock but we did not gossip. I got bonus lunch items offered by my fellow hikers: dried mango, licorice, and Dove chocolate.
After lunch we started heading downhill. It was steep but the ground was fairly dry despite yesterday's rain so there was good footing as we made our way down. The sky started to get a little more cloudy with more gray clouds rather than the fluffy white ones. There was one more slight hill before we reached the bottom of the park near where our cars were parked. We got to hike through some small canyons in the woods and that was a nice change from the open hill sides. We finally reached the bottom and hiked to the trail head and had time left to check out the gardens right at the entrance to the park.
I'm not a gardener so I can't tell you all the names of the flowers that were there in the late fall but it was pretty and I took lots of pictures in the garden. It was a nice way to finish off the hike with a small walk through the garden. After seeing the place, we all said our goodbyes and S and I drove back to the park-n-ride lot where we said our goodbyes and I came home to a nice hot shower and good memories of the hike.
Friday, November 18, 2011
I'm wondering just why I'm participating in this NaBloPoMo. I'm not a professional writer. Its not even a huge hobby. I just like to prattle on about this and that and I don't always care how well its done. I want to say that I don't care if anyone reads it but that is not entirely true. I'm certainly not counting on anyone reading it but it is way fun when someone does read it and makes complimentary comments. But I don't care enough about having readers that I feel a need to promote my blog or tell people to read it. I also decided to do NaBloPoMo to be part of a group of people also doing it and sharing in the trials and tribulations of posting everyday for a month. Its just fun to share the challenge of it and get "atta girls" when I succeed!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
On the other hand my handyman is well handy. He is very good at what he does when he shows up to do it. Also I pay him in trade sometimes by working on his web site for him. I haven't done anything to it in a long long time but it was sort of cool to trade skills with him and not have to deal in cash. I created the web site and he fixed some plumbing for me! All in all he is a great handyman but not a great business man.
He is supposed to come by tomorrow at 11 a.m. I think he will make it as he felt so bad about missing our 2:30 pm appointment that I believe the 11 am time is branded in his brain!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Albert, my handyman, will be here tomorrow at 2:30 pm. So I have to take time off from work again. Its annoying. I wish the range had fit in the slot and was all set up. But ... C'est la vie. I also expect that Albert might not be able to do the actual work tomorrow. This is more of a visit to find out what I need and give me an estimate for the work. So I will have to make due with my toaster oven and my microwave oven for a few more days. Ug.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I have purchased myself a GE 30" Free-Standing Electric Range. I got myself a new range because I finally got tired of my old oven not working or rather only baking at 350 degrees F. I broke my temperature setting knob in 2008 and have been stuck with only being able to have the oven at 350 for 3 years now. My handy man Albert looked at it and the only way to fix it was to replace the entire thermal setting device (not just the knob) and that would have run me around $300.00. I decided at that point that I might as well buy a new range. It just took me 3 years to get the desire to purchase it and get it installed!! I seemed to be happy with just using the stove, my toaster oven, and my microwave the past three years for my cooking needs. Finally this fall the desire to bake combined with having saved up enough money for a range conspired to push me to buy the range!
I think I shall go grocery shopping tonight and get chocolate chip cookie fixings so I can bake them in my new range tomorrow or the next day! That will probably be the last baking for a bit. I'm really not a cook. It doesn't capture my imagination to dream about cooking stuff and come up with recipes. I would rather dream up software or dream up new hikes or do a challenging jigsaw puzzle. Cooking is just not high up there on things I like to do for fun. If I cook, it is usually really simple easy stuff that doesn't require much planning or thought.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I'm starting to think about Christmas shopping more seriously. I have ordered 5 presents so far since mid October. I'm planning on giving about 15 gifts mostly to my siblings, parents, nieces, and nephews. We are a book loving family so probably most people will get books from me. A few years ago we all did a book exchange at Christmas. We exchanged books we already owned. It was fun and affordable! All we had to pay for was postage to get the books to each other! It was also fun to get a peek into my siblings and parent's book selection and see what they read. It does take lots of communication and a bit of work from everyone and I think that is why we haven't done it recently.
I'm struggling to keep myself exercising and eating well. I get home from work and just want to collapse on the couch and read or watch TV. I don't want to get into my gym cloths and head to the gym. I know if I can get myself there I'll enjoy it. I just feel draggy. I hate to say it but it does feel like a touch of my chronic depression raising its head. Ug! I hope I can throw it off and get back to being more healthy. Depression and exercise do and don't mix well. They don't mix well in that the depression robs me of my motivation to exercise. But they do mix well because exercise really helps the depression.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
We started out by hiking the Long Bunny Loop trail. The trial starts out following the Bunny creek which in November was quite bone dry. Not a water fall or creek to be found as we hiked up the trail. It was very different than the spring time hike where the water was cascading over the rocks with a wonderful gurgling noise. Now it was just quiet, but even with out water the creek was still beautiful. At the top we stopped at a nice bench and had a water break and rest. We had a view of the Hidden Villa valley from the bench that was nice.
We descended the Long Bunny Loop trail and had to take a slight detour at the bottom where a portion of the trail was closed due to a rattle snake den being near the trail. This was the first time I have ever seen a trail closed for a rattle snake. I thought it was cool to give the snake its space and keep people off the trail. I assume that at some point the snake will leave this den and they can reopen the trail. Our detour was easy and short though and we soon left the rattle snake den behind.
We hiked along the beautiful and relatively flat Adobe creek trail. The Adobe creek was big enough to still have some water left in it. We walked next to the creek and ambled along having fun talking and keeping an eye on plants. Someone spotted a plant with white pods on it. One of us said it was a berry plant of some sort. It really did look rather alien. Shortly after spotting this plant, we Adobe creek trail melted into the Ewing Hill trail and we climbed steeply to Ewing Hill.
On Ewing hill we found a flat spot on top of the hill and sat ourselves down for a nice lunch with a view of the valley below. Lunch seemed to be dominated by people with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! My co-leader passed out his traditional Dove chocolate candies at the end of lunch and we shared the little sayings written on the Dove wrappers.
After lunch we did very slight up and downs to make our way to the Hostel trail. We had many views of Silicon Valley from the trails. The valley was in the sun while we were still in the clouds. It made for interesting views like the valley was being highlighted for us. As we descended Hostel trail down many switch backs to Hidden Villa the sun started to creep out from behind the clouds. We soon arrived at Hidden Villa and passed by the gardens and the hostel to the parking lot where our hike was finished.
It was a very mellow comfortable hike. I think everyone had fun and were looking forward to the rest of the day to get chores done or just relax. One fellow stayed at the park to scout out future hikes while the rest of us headed back to the park-n-ride and went our separate ways.
Friday, November 11, 2011
I did not get Veterans day off from work. I used to get time off for it when I worked at NASA Ames Research center because it was a federal government facility. Now I work for a commercial satellite company so no Veterans day off for me anymore. It was always an odd holiday in that if it fell on a weekday, that was when we had the holiday. So sometimes you got a day off in the middle of the week. I rather liked it as it gave me a day of rest. Usually holidays are smashed up against the weekend and I often have big travel plans for them and although its fun I get worn out. With a random day off in the middle of the week, I usually just sleep in and enjoy being at home and getting rested.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
How did the questions "what's up" come to mean what is going on? I annoyed a friend of mine by always answering this question with "the sky".
What really provokes you but you find it hard to defend your reaction? I have a strong reaction to anyone who talks to me about dressing a certain way to attain some goal. It seems like my reaction is over the top and I find it hard to defend why I'm so irked.
Has anyone ever thrown you a surprise birthday party and did you like it? My Mom threw me a surprise party for my 18th birthday and I liked it.
When I have high expectations for travel, I often don't enjoy it as much as when I have low expectations. When I was about 21 years old, I went traveling to Wales to a town called Portmeirion. I had no clue what it was about but one of my chums wanted to go there. It turned out to be a really fun unexpected surprise. Have you ever had this experience?
How many things can you think of that you could "come out" about? Have you or would you want to come out about them?
Do you have a favorite blanket? I do. Its a lavendar fuzzy down comforter. I like the fuzziness and the warmth!
Are you a bumper sticker fan? My car has no bumper stickers while my last one was rather plastered with them. I have been going back and forth on whether to add bumper stickers to my current car.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
I have been thinking about the movie "Its a Wonderful Life" today. I wonder what the angel would show me. Whose life have I touched in a way that made them go in the right direction when if I hadn't been there they would have gone the wrong direction. I'll never know but I really would like to know. Sometimes I do feel like if I wasn't here, no one would really notice. That seems a bit maudlin. Am I just fishing for people to tell me I'm important and matter to them?? Probably.
Its Wednesday night and as usual I'm sleepy. I routinely stay up too late and so as the week progresses the sleep deficit builds up. I love to stay up to 11 p.m. and watch TV. Then I get in bed and feel compelled to read for about 30 minutes or until I can't keep my eyes opened. So I don't usually get to sleep till 11:30 p.m. Then I'm up at 6 a.m. for work. 6 hours and 30 minutes of sleep a night is not quite enough sleep for me. By Wednesday or Thursday, I'm yawning lots and telling myself I should get to be bed early but rarely do I listen to that sensible advice.
I took a four mile walk at Palo Alto Baylands tonight. I started at 4:05 p.m. and finished at 5:25 p.m. It was beautiful as the entire walk was during sunset and the start of moonrise. I especially liked it when the sun dipped behind the Skyline ridge and turned the sky a wonderful pinky red color. I plodded along and just got to look and look at the sky. Then I peered to my left and there was the moon rising and it was reflected in the bay also. It was quite incredible to see sunset to the right and moonrise to the right. I also saw coots, ducks, and pelicans on the water. Moments like this make me appreciate life more. Its amazing that I live somewhere like this where I can be admiring the ocean, mountains, etc. just minutes from home.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
My Dad was a mountaineer and skier as a young man. He hiked to the top of Mt Rainier and skied down it! He backpacked all over the Cascades and Olympic National park in Washington state. He would tell us stories about building shelters and cooking over fires all of which now are considered not environmentally sound. He had no fancy light weight equipment. He carried an army rucksack and cooked dinner in a number 10 tin can with the lid taken up and a wire threaded through it to serve as a handle. The food was usually plain rice and beans. I don't envy him not having the modern comforts of backpacking but I do envy how wild the wilderness was when he was out adventuring. He didn't have to worry about getting permits or reserving campsites. He and his friends could hike for days without seeing another party. I envy that. It would be so nice to have the wilderness to myself for a bit of time like that. It can be done now but you really have to work at it to find a vacant area.
My Dad became a historian. He went to Washington University and Whitman College. He got his PhD at Cornell University and three of his kids followed in his footsteps at Cornell (but not in history): me and my two brothers. And now his grand daughter and a grand nephew has also gone to Cornell. He met my Mom while at Cornell and they fell in love and got married in 1952. He then worked as a professor at Ohio State University for 30+ years. He wrote 4 books and many papers and managed to publish and not perish! So yours truly grew up in Ohio.
His has been retired for a while now. I lost count. I think he retired at 67 so that means he has been retired for 21 years. At least he retired from teaching. He continued to write history till a couple years ago when he finished his final book. He is now looking for a publisher for it. Its hard as the publishing world has changed a lot since he started this book. He would dearly love to get it published but he is not having much luck. I hope he finds a publisher eventually. I think he mostly just enjoyed writing it over the last 10 years or so. Sometimes it stressed him out a bit but it kept him motivated and happy in his retirement. Now he enjoys doing less intense writing. He writes us kids once a week. He writes lots of letters to the editor for the local newspaper. I very much look forward to his weekly letters. He has been writing us letters since we left for college. That's nearly 30 years of weekly letters!! Now that's a blogger, eh?
Monday, November 07, 2011
Just finished a one hour workout. All last week I did not make it to the gym so I wanted to start this week off on the right foot and get in a workout. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and 30 minutes on the treadmill. It was quite uncrowded at the gym on Monday at 4:30 p.m. I didn't think I would get to exercise on my favorite elliptical machine. My favorite machine is in front of the TV with the sports on it and it is well lubricated and does not make lots of squeaky noises as I pump up and down on the pedals. I burned 330 calories on the elliptical machine and 250 calories on the treadmill for a grand total of 580 calories. That's a decent workout!
Now its time for dinner. I have some pork which I'll probably microwave. And some asparagus to microwave too. I'm a lazy cook. Whatever is quickest, least effort, and uses the least dishes is usually how I roll . I sacrifice taste for ease of cooking. Maybe when I get my new range, I'll be more motivated to really cook something. I bought the range 9 days ago but it has not been delivered yet. I'm hoping it arrives this week. I have a call into the appliance store asking about the latest status of it.
After dinner I'll settle down to Monday night TV. I suspect I'll be bouncing back and forth between the Sing Off and Dances with the Stars. Its going to be a light night of TV watching. I have my DVR set to record both shows. I start watching one show till the first set of commercials. Then I watch the other show (via DVR) till the first set of commercials, when I return to the other show till commercials appear, etc. etc. Two weeks in a row now I have been able to watch both shows in a little more than 2 hours and see no commercials! Its a kick!
Sunday, November 06, 2011
We started on trails at Alum Rock: North Rim and Todd Quick trails. At the end of Todd Quick trail we reached Sierra Vista Open Space preserve. We went through the gate (to keep the cows in the right place) and found the Bocardo Loop trail. We decided to do the loop in a clockwise direction in order to do the steeper section uphill and the less steep section downhill. The Borcardo trail was very exposed with wonderful views of San Jose in the distance. We got rained on twice as we made our way to the top of Borcardo but it was not very light rain and went away quickly.
When we reached the top of the Borcardo loop we were excited to find the new Sierra Vista trail and start our exploration of the trail. Alas we were thwarted in our attempt. The heavy rain of the night before resulted in the trail being closed. What a bummer to hike 3 miles uphill and not get to see the trail that was the whole motivation to hike here. Oh well. We obeyed the sign and decided to head up to the top of Borcado hill to have lunch and enjoy the view. It was a wonderful lunch spot but we ended up finishing up lunch quick when the wind started to blow and we got cold.
We headed back down the Borcado loop trail on the less steep bit. It was a wonderful section of trail that took lazy long switch backs down to the loop beginning. When we got back to where the Todd Quick trail intersects the Borcado loop trail we decided to add some miles to our shortened trip by exploring the Weather Loop and more of the North Rim trail. These trails took us down to the Penitencia creek trail. It was only an extra mile but was fun. We arrived at our cars at 2 p.m. In all we hiked for 4.25 hours with about an hour stopping time for lunch, admiring views, and finding some geocaches. We hiked 7.38 miles according to my GPS.
All in all it was a marvelous hike but disappointing that we did not get to explore the newest trails of Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve. S. and I may return later this month or in December to try again. Unfortunately E. doesn't have free time for further exploration till January.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
I have spent my morning so far puttering around doing little stuff and watching TV. I have gathered all the dishes from my dining room table and coffee tables in the living room and put them in the sink. I have gathered various junk mail and shred it with my trusty shredder. I folded up the cloths I was drying on the dryer rack ready to be taken upstairs. I messily sewed a rip in the couch cover. It is a see and do morning. I saw something that needed doing and did it.
I have been watching reality TV this morning. I watched an episode of Flip This House and now I'm watching an episode of Hoarders. Unlike other episodes of hoarders these two folks seem to be much cleaner. They have clutter but no really disgustingly dirty stuff in it. Well, they haven't really gotten to the bottom of their piles yet so maybe I'll see icky stuff later in the show.
At 1 p.m., I'm off to go see Stanford women's basketball. They play an exhibition match against Vanguard. I got to see them play last Wednesday night against UCSD. That one was a blow out. They won 106 to 56. I wonder if this one will be the same or if Vanguard will do better than UCSD. Stanford has six new freshman on the team this year and it was fun to watch them play on Wednesday. I also enjoy seeing the upper class women play and see who takes over the leadership position on the team.
After the basketball game, I will get ready for the hike tomorrow. My hiking buddy and I are going to do some geocaching while on the hike so I need to get the caches loaded into my GPS. Oh and I need to do laundry tonight. My hiking trousers are in the washer from last weekend. I always dump them in the washer after a hike to wash off any poison oak oil I might have rubbed on during the hike. I'll pack my maps into my backpack and pack a lunch. Which means I need to go the grocery store as I have no bread for a sandwich. Plenty to do!
Friday, November 04, 2011
Just what are intimate relationships? There is physical intimacy. There is emotional intimacy. Must an intimate relationship be physically and emotionally intimate to be a true intimate relationship or can an intimate relationship be just emotionally intimate? Does physical intimacy have to include sexual intimacy or can it be physical intimacy like cuddling that doesn’t involve sex? For me, an intimate relationship is mostly emotionally intimate with a component of non-sexual physical intimacy. I don’t believe sex has to be a part of an intimate relationship to make it legitimate.
But that still begs the question of how my relationship with another asexual would be different than a friendship. Well, first off, it might not be different. It really depends on how you define friendship. If part of your definition of a friendship is declaring that you love each other and only want to be with each other and put care for each other first before family or other friends, then my vision of my asexual relationship will be no different than a close friendship! I’m cool with that. Friendships can be as deeply intimate as any other kind of relationship! But if that is not how you view friendship, then my asexual relationship is different than “just” being friends with the person.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
I thought I would write about how I come up with hikes today. When I first started, I got most of my ideas by going hiking on Sierra Club group hikes and other group hikes. Someone else actually did the picking and route planning and I just showed up for the fun. And then later, I led the same hikes myself. I also co-led hikes where I was the assistant and did the sweeping on a hike (hiked in the back of the group and made sure we didn’t lose anyone) and learned the hike that way. I also bought myself hiking guide books to the San Francisco bay area and would lead the hikes described in them. After doing many hikes this way, I got my hike leading experience.
Now I often pick hikes by picking a park and looking at the trails in the park on a trail map and finding a route to do. Then I call on a hiking buddy to go scout the hike with me and see if its any good. To tell the truth this is my favorite part of the whole process of planning and leading a hike. I love going somewhere new and seeing whats there and finding the route. I also pick new hikes through word of mouth from other hike leaders. They let me know about really cool hikes and I’m off to the races to hike there.
The latest hike I am investigating I found out from a newspaper article in the San Jose Mercury news. A new portion of trail was completed recently that connects Alum Rock Park to the new Sierra Vista Open Space preserve in southeastern San Jose. I’m now dying to go out and see it and I found some crazy friends that are willing to give it a go with me on Sunday! The reason I say crazy friends is its a challenging looking route: 15+ miles and around 4000 feet of elevation gain. We’ll have to move fast enough to avoid finishing up the hike in the dark. Three of us will attempt it. One friend has said she may bail on the hike if its too much. If both bail on me, I’ll bail too as I do not do tough challenging hikes solo. Its just too much risk. I don’t want to be stranded with an injury and no way to contact someone to come help me (I never count on there being cell phone reception in the wilderness).
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Caste Rock State Park hike
This past Sunday, Oct 30, I met my friend L, and we went hiking at Castle Rock State park. This is a state park that was on the list of California state parks slated to be closed next year (2012) to save the government money. I want to be sure and hike there lots before it closes. When we arrived there, the parking lot was nearly full and the off street parking was also filling up. We parked across the street about 50 feet from the entrance. The ranger actually asked us to move the car. L had parked it parallel to the street and the ranger requested she park it perpendicular. L decided to park across the street as there was a big ditch on the side we were on and she did not want the nose of her truck to get stuck in the ditch.
After getting the parking figured out, we walked to the restroom and then headed out to the Ridge trail. The first beautiful sight you get to see on the Ridge trail is a deck built right next to a water fall. We went out on the deck and admired the view of the falls and the view from the ridge top. We had the deck to ourselves for the short time we were there. We then continued on the Ridge trail with our eventual destination being the Castle Rock campground. I love this portion of the Ridge trail. It meanders slightly up and down and has many many lovely views of the mountains and valleys of the Santa Cruz mountains At one point it has a cable set up to help one scramble up a rocky portion of the trail. I love rock scrambles so felt right at home.
We soon arrived at the campground and discovered that the old trailer with a make shift office in it had been removed since the last time we ventured here. Instead there was a nice picnic table in its place. We chose to sit at the other older picnic table in the shade. Soon another party of hikers showed up. This was a collection of adults and boys. The boys were very rambunctious and were having the time of their lives hitting trees with sticks while the adults settled at the picnic table to eat their lunch.
After lunch we retraced our route back to the car. We enjoyed the hot afternoon sun shining on us when we reached the exposed sections of the Ridge trail. We had gotten a little chilled sitting in the shade for lunch. There is nothing quite like hiking on a beautiful trail with the sun warming you up and the blue sky making for stunning views. It was so peaceful and so toasty warm. We got back to the car at around 2:30 p.m. We probably hiked about 6 miles.
Pictures from the hike are at https://picasaweb.google.com/cdrdash/CastleRock_1030_11?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIHe1PmCxcr0Dw&feat=directlink
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Last Saturday I went on a hike with the Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierrans at Russian Ridge. Russian Ridge is the park at the top of Page Mill Road above Palo Alto. Our trip started with an adventure in the park-n-ride lot. Six of us showed up at the appointed time to car pool to the park from the Page Mill Park and Ride lot just off highway 280. I got there first and there was not a parking spot to be found in the lot. I decided to hang out in my car for a while to see if someone would leave and a spot would open up. While I was doing this I saw a woman walking across the parking lot. She came to my car and said hello and asked if I was there for the hike. I’ll call her M. I asked where she parked and she had driven up the road a ¼ mile and found street parking and had just walked back to the lot. As we were chatting four more folks showed up for the hike each in their own car. We had one of those group moments of confusion as to what people should do since there was no parking.
In the end these folks headed off to the street parking that M had found. I volunteered to stay at the lot in case anyone showed up. As M and I were standing there waiting, my cell phone rang and I pulled a typical blunder on my part and tried to answer the phone with the “hang up” button. So I hung up on someone obviously calling from the street parking to coordinate with me. Poor M got to witness me struggling with my cell phone that I rarely use and cursing the fact that I couldn't figure out how to phone this person back!! As I was doing this, the hike leader showed up in her car and told us that she would wait at the lot and we should go to the street parking area. So off M and I went to the street parking. We arrived and a few minutes later the hike leader showed up. There was enough parking at this street location for all our cars. We finally got organized and tumbled into 2 cars to car pool to the park. I do believe it is time to give up on this particular park in ride lot as a hike meeting location.
The drive to the park was up a narrow twisty road. As we started up we saw a deer with brand new horns growing in. We had to make our way slowly up the road as it was full of bike riders and blind corners. So we had to slow down to the bike rider speed till we got around these blind corners and see that it was safe to pass them. I had volunteered to drive and my passengers said they were glad of it as they don’t like to deal with twisty roads and bikes! I just poked along up the road and only passed the bikes when it was safe to do so. We got to the park in about 30 minutes. Thankfully there was plenty of parking in the Russian Ridge lot!
We all visited the rest room and then headed out on our 5.5 mile hike on the ridge top. We hiked up a mild hill and had marvelous views of Silicon Valley to one side and the Pacific ocean and Portola Valley to the other side. The wind was blowing hard on the ridge and we saw a young girl having fun flying a kite. After about an hour of hiking we reached a wonderful deck built by a boy scout troop on the hill where we had lunch. The sun was out and the sky was a pure blue but the wind blowing over our now sweaty shirts gave us a chill at lunch. Some of us pulled on our windbreakers to stay warm. After lunch we headed back on different trails. We dove into the woods at one point where I had to be careful of poison oak. Its easy to spot in the fall when its often a bright red color. In the woods we stopped to oogle at a very large lizard. Lizards abound on the trails in the bay area parks but this particular lizard was huge and worth stopping to look at. After the lizard siting we came out of the woods and had pleasant half mile climbing up the hill and then descending to the parking lot.
The trip back to the street parking was easier as the bikes had pretty much left the road by the mid afternoon. I dropped off my riders at our street parking location and headed home for a nice warm shower followed by an impromptu nap in front of the TV!
Pictures from the hike: https://picasaweb.google.com/cdrdash/RussianRidge_10_29_11?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNHqwdys4cGDbg&feat=directlink
Sunday, September 25, 2011
We started our hike on a nice flat section of the park in Hunting Hollow. We crossed three bone dry creeks till we reached the Lyman Wilson trail junction. We then pealed off to start the long uphill 2 miles up the Lyman Wilson trail. It was on this uphill climb that I realized how much conditioning I had lost due to the three weeks of resting the ankle and getting very little exercise. I was puffing on the steep hills but it wasn't as bad as the puffing on Whitney! I enjoyed all that wonderful oxygen at altitudes below 3000 feet! The ankle seemed to be holding up really well on the up hill hike. Lyman Wilson ended at the junction with Steer Ridge road. We then had a short flattish bit on the ridge trail head to a nice looking lunch stop under a big tree with a nice view of Hunting Hollow way down below. Lunch was uneventful except for an aggressive squirrel that ran past our packs hoping for a snack. It ran into the back of one of the hike participants and gave her a small fright. I saw it dashing off after she cried out.
After lunch we headed down the Steer Ridge trail to Vasquez Road which we took to the Long Dam Trail. At that junction we were about 1/8 of a mile away from Vasquez Peak but we decided to skip seeing the 2210 feet peak as the hike leader, R., said it was just a boring flat peak with not much more of a view than we already had. On this section of trail I discovered that my ankle was not as healed as I thought. Going downhill was hard on it and the Vasquez Road and Long Dam trails were not very well maintained. Lots of grass was growing on the trail and it hid little gullies. I nearly tweaked it about three times before I figured out I needed to slow down and set my right foot down carefully in the long grass. The ankle didn't hurt at all but it did feel weak and my lower leg muscles were complaining with the compensating they were doing to protect the weak ankle. When I wasn't staring at the ground on these trails, I did enjoy the views of Edith and Long Dam ponds. And because I was staring at the ground I spotted a praying mantis bug. I had never seen that a Henry Coe before. It was cool!
At the end of Long Dam trail we got on to the Wagon Road trail and much better maintained old ranch road. I didn't have to watch where I set my right foot down any longer. That was a relief. We descended down the Wagon Road trail to yet another bone dry creek crossing. Then we headed up a mile to the Phegley Ridge trail. We took a rest at the intersection and saw some other hikers who asked about water. They had not brought quite as much as they thought. Unfortunately I don't think they were going to find any water on the trail. I hope they got back OK and were not too dehydrated. Its a hot dusty park in the fall. I drank all my water (2.5 liters) on the hike. After a rest we headed off on the Phegley Ridge trail. It started with a mild uphill section and then it started to go down down down to Hunting Hollow. There were several really steep descents and this was just killer on my ankle. I had to go at a snails pace to maintain control so I didn't lose balance and have to land hard on my right foot. My right ankle and leg started to ache a bit. I was very relieved when we finally reached Hunting Hollow and only had 2 miles of flat hiking on a well maintained ranch dirt road.
I was running on fumes those last two miles. It reminded me remotely of the end of the Whitney hike. There is something weird in my personality that likes to push my body like this and meet hiking challenges. I am glad that my ankle came through OK but realize that next time I probably should choose a slightly less challenging hike only three weeks after spraining an ankle! It was good to finally reach the cars and be able to rest. We drove back to our car pool location and then I had to drive myself home. Much to my chagrin I got stuck in traffic on the way home. There was a concert at Shoreline that I didn't know about and I did not get off the freeway in time to avoid the backup at the Shoreline exit. I managed to get off at the exit before Shoreline but I was stuck in stop and go traffic for about 20 minutes. Arg. It was good to finally get home and have a hot shower and then sit down to a nice dinner of Mac-n-Cheese!
Pictures from the hike are at https://picasaweb.google.com/105234689104952250166/HenryCoeVasquez_9_24_11?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNHh5Jro_qSlCg&feat=directlink
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Bob, my brother, and I made it to the top of Mt Whitney at 1:15 p.m. August 30, 2011. We got up at 2:00 a.m. and were on the trail at 2:30 a.m. We hiked for around 3 and 1/2 hours in the dark. It was a bit surreal to be hiking with just the light of our headlamps showing the trail. It was just a lot of uphill hiking without the benefit of wonderful views. We did hear lots of water and had to cross several streams on logs and by rock hopping. It was nice when the sun finally rose and we could put away the headlamps. We reached Trail Camp around dawn I think.
At Trail Camp, I felt altitude sickness. I was slightly nauseous and not hungry. Bob also felt the altitude and was a bit dizzy. We sat there for a long time resting and I was thinking about quitting and turning around and going back. Bob finally spoke up and suggested we keep hiking till noon and turn around if we were not close to the top. I agreed to that. Then I used the WAG (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) bag to take a dump. I had hoped to not need to use the WAG bag but I'm glad I did use it as I started to feel better after doing the deed. The WAG bag was designed well though as it was not too hard to use and once packed away in the opaque olive colored zip lock bag did not smell or anything. It was rather bizarre to know I was carrying my own poop along with me to the top of Whitney! Its a requirement to hike Whitney that you pack out your waste.
We started hiking up and up the switch backs to Trail Crest. I didn't count them but someone else on the world wide web did and reported that 97 switchbacks wind back and forth gaining 1,600 feet in 2.2 miles. It was a slog. We just kept going back and forth and back and forth. I had to rest often to catch my breath. The hardest thing for me was when I had to take a big step up. I dreaded running into those big rocks I had to really pull myself up. It just took my breath away and I would have to pause to let my heart rate reduce and to get some much needed air. Bob never complained about my stopping but I expect he needed the rest too! At Trail Crest there are some pretty spectacular views. Its a pass of sorts so we now could see behind the other side of Whitney that was invisible until we reached the crest.
After trail crest there is a small section of down hill trail. You would think that would make me happy but it did not. I wanted it to be entirely up hill all the way to the top so on the way back I wouldn't have any uphill. Oh well. We descended to the intersection of the Mt Whitney trail with John Muir trail. We stayed on the Whitney trial and now had 1.9 miles to the top. About half way up this 1.9 miles it was noon. Both Bob and I decided that we were not turning around and heading back since we were almost there. We kept on and made it to the top of Mt Whitney at 1:15 p.m. I was so exhausted on top that I just wanted to sit and rest a while before I stood up to wander about and admire the views. I finally did wander about and took some photos. We stayed up there about 15 minutes. The views are just awesome from the highest point in the lower 48 states!
The hike down was a study in putting one foot in front of the other and just keep going. That downhill portion I complained about was a bit tortuous for me on the way up. I would go a few steps and have to stop to breath for a while and then continue on. Bob went ahead of me and when I finally got to the top of this little section of trail, he gave me a hug. That made me feel better! Bob said it well towards the very end of the down hill that his legs were just programmed to keep moving. We did get the satisfaction on the way down of seeing the bottom portion of the hike that we did in the dark. Surprise, there was a beautiful water fall. And surprise there was Mirror Lake and Lone Pine lake.
However, the last hour of the hike was in the dark again. At about 8, it got too dark to see the trail so we put on our headlamps again. We did however, scout the bottom portion of the hike the day before we did the hike. My friend, Tina, suggested we do that. We got lots of good pictures on that little scout of the bottom portion of the hike that we would end up doing in the dark both going out and coming in. The last bit of the trail seemed to go on forever but we finally stumbled into Whitney Portal, where the trail begins and our car was parked, at 8:50 p.m.
After a pit stop and throwing the WAG bag in the human waste disposal bin we headed to the car. We drove to our campsite and packed up everything into the car and headed to Lone Pine to the Comfort Inn. We each had a nice hot shower and then attempted to go out to dinner. We had no luck. Lone Pine pretty much shuts down after 10 p.m. on a week day. We ended up stopping at a gas station with a mini-mart. Bob got some beer and I got some chips and a soda. We returned to the motel and sat and talked till we were done with our "dinner". We were so tired that I don't think either of us really cared that we didn't get a proper dinner. We enjoyed having real beds to sleep on that night after having spent the last four nights at campgrounds.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I had yet another marvelous weekend hiking at high altitude. This time I hiked exclusively in Yosemite National Park near the eastern entrance of the park. I managed to escape work (with permission of my manager) at noon and drove to the Oh Ridge campground at June Lake on Friday.
I arrived at June Lake at about 5:30 p.m. and checked in with a friendly lady who was glad I showed up as "someone was Jonesing for my site" and she was glad she stuck to her guns and kept telling them someone had it reserved. That someone being me. I was at site 53 at Squirrel loop. This was a very well signed campground and it was very easy to find my site. I set up my tent and then had a lunchy dinner meaning I ate lunch food for dinner. I had salami and swiss cheese on crackers and a bottle of Super Food orginal. Yum.
As I sat eating I discovered the flaw of Oh Ridge campground. A stiff wind blows off of the lake in the evenings and it gets chilly quickly when the sun sets. Oh well. I wasn't really camping for fun but camping for a cheap place to sleep and this campground did the trick. I was warm inside my tent all night. It just wasn't conducive to hanging out at the campsite to read a nice book in my lawn chair. Instead on night two at the campground, I read my book inside my car where the wind didn't seep in and it was nice and cozy. Friday evening I did take a short walk to June lake and saw the beach where one is allowed to swim if one so desires. I never did because it was chilly when I got back from hikes.
Saturday morning I got up early and ate a quick breakfast and headed to the Mobile gas/store/restaurant at Lee Vining where I got myself a nice hot cup of coffee and sipped it while admiring the view of Mono Lake out the window. After coffee, I drove to Tioga Pass and into Yosemite to the Mono Pass trailhead parking lot. When I got there there were only about four parking spaces left. I snagged one and used the restroom there and then sat down to put on my hiking boots and find a nice spot to settle down and wait for the Ranger led hike that was set to start at 9:15 a.m. It was 8:15 when I got to the lot. I managed to wander around the lot and the trail head amusing myself by day dreaming and trying to find a spot where the mosquitos would not find me. I finally found a spot and sat there till Ranger Salli arrived. She arrived at 9:05. For the next twenty five minutes we chatted and she spoke to others at the lot and found one other taker for her hike, M. She gave both M. and I a chance to spray insect repellant on ourselves and we both accepted.
We set off on our hike to Mono Pass at 9:30 a.m. The first bit of the hike was through beautiful woods and meadows full of "spring" wildflowers in August! We had to cross two streams but with Salli's knowledge we had very easy crossings (she knew where the hefty log was located to get us across). The first portion of the hike was ever so slightly up hill. Salli told us all about the plants, the animals, and the history of the trail. It was an animal trail originally and then became a native american trading trail and then the Europeans arrived and started using it and hoped to find gold, silver etc. to mine. She told us about the ground squirrels, an animal called the pika, the birds we saw, and some stuff about geology. I got a little overloaded on information at times and tuned her out a little. But it was great for me, a very active hike leader for the Sierra Club, to have a chance to be a follower and not be responsible for anyone but myself!
The last bit of the hike to Mono Pass goes up hill. My heart got beating really fast because of the high altitude (the pass is at 10,599 feet). We reached the pass and it was beautiful. We could see a lake in a green meadow and great views of Mammoth Peak, Mt Gibb, and others whose names I forget. We hiked .3 miles past Mono Pass to Sardine lakes and a great view of Mono Lake. We had lunch here. Ranger Salli was accosted by a gang of men with tons of questions and while M. and I enjoyed our lunch she patiently answered all their questions. She did a very good job and loved being questioned by them. While she did her job, I borrowed her binoculars and scanned the hillside of Mt Gibb for Big Horned sheep. Salli has been told that they hang out there but she has never seen them. I did not see any either. Both M. and I finished our lunches and when Salli was done answering questions we retraced our steps back to the parking lot. On the way back we saw a deer and we saw an old miner's cabin that we missed on the way out because we were admiring an incredible meadow full of wild flowers across from the cabin! In the last quarter mile, my feet started to complain but not the rest of me. We arrived at the lot at 4 p.m. I did not dilly dally and talk more with Ranger Salli as the mosquitos were thick at the trail head so I wanted to pop in my car to escape them and start heading back to my camp.
I drove down to Lee Vining and decided to stop at the Mobile restaurant and have dinner there rather than cook something at the cold windy campsite. I had a big half pound burger, french fries, and a coke. Not very healthy but oh so satisfying. It felt good to sit down. I munched on my burger and fries while people watching. It was very crowded. The food was decent but I believe it was crowded because the location is so good. All those people streaming out of Yosemite and folks driving north and south along 395 stop there to eat on their ways elsewhere. After finishing I drove the 11 miles down the road to June Lake and spent a couple of hours in my car reading. At 8 p.m. I shifted to my tent and continued to reading. By 8:30 my eyes were closing so I put the book away and went to sleep.
On Sunday I was up at 6 a.m. I took down my tent right away and packed up the car with most of my camping gear. I then had a bowl of cereal and banana at the campsite picnic table while gazing at the lake. It was not windy in the mornings but was still cool until the sun came up. I finished up my breakfast and packed the rest of my gear in the car and left the campground. I again stopped at the trusty Lee Vining mobile station for another cup of coffee. Then I drove to Tioga Pass and parked in the little lot there. Just past the Yosemite entrance gate is a little lot that holds maybe 10 cars. At 8 a.m. there were several spots still left. I snagged one, stuffed my cooler into the bear locker, used the restroom, put on my sun screen, and headed off on the Gaylor Lake trail to, surprise, Gaylor lake.
I had the trail to myself. I went at a slowish pace as the trail starts at 9943 feet and climbs about 600 feet to a saddle of sorts just below Gaylor Peak. The views from the saddle were incredible and I took lots of pictures. I then descended to Gaylor Lake. It was so blue and so gorgeous. When I got to the lake I followed a trial to one end of it and then followed a use trail next to a creek. The mosquitos were thick there so I nicknamed the trail mosquito alley. If I kept moving, they didn't seem to land on me so I kept up a good pace on the trail till I reached what I think was middle Gaylor Lake. I took a quick picture of it and then continued my quick pace. When I reached the end of the first Gaylor Lake, I finally ran into another hiker. It had been a treat to have the trail to myself for the out portion of my hike. As I retraced my steps I ran into 4 other parties of hikers. But it didn't feel crowded like some of the more popular hikes at Yosemite feel. I reached the cars at 10 a.m.
I retrieved my cooler from the bear locker, used the handsome restroom a second time, and hit the road to go back to the bay area. I decided to stop at Olmstead Point on 120 to admire the view of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Tenaya lake. Olmstead Point is this big old parking lot off of highway 120 within Yosemite with awesome views of the valley. A Yosemite conservation volunteer had set up a scope today aimed at Half Dome. I took a look through it and saw it was focused on the cables on Half Dome and I watched some people climbing up the cables for a little bit. I then snapped several pictures of the views and had one of the volunteers take a picture of me. Then I hit the road again. I made a few more stops: a bathroom break at a wonderful vista point/rest area just outside of Yosemite and a Starbuck's stop in Oakdale for an iced mocha to perk me up for the boring drive on highways 205, 580, 680, 237, and 101 to home!
I took scads of pictures and posted them here
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I put in a couple of long days at work on Wednesday and Thursday so I could leave work at noon on Friday and drive to Rock Creek and get there before dark. I had a very uneventful and pleasant drive to Rock Creek and arrived at 6:15 p.m. at site number 9 at the French Campground. My buddies, T. and C. had already been at the site for a couple of days and were not there when I arrived. I got my tent set up and loaded all my food into the bear locker and then set off to figure out where the restrooms were located, where the dumpster was located, and where the water was located. When I got back I sat down and read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets until my friends arrived back from their day of hiking. They kindly fed me a nice dish of gnocchi, red peppers, basil, and a red sauce and left out the chick peas at my request. I felt very spoiled and very content to be out in the woods with friends. After dinner we chatted about the next day's plans. C. decided to go exploring on his own as the hike T. and I wanted to do was a bit tough for him. T. and I planned to hike from the Little Lakes trail head at Rock Creek to Mono Pass. After the plans were firmed up we all headed to our tents around 9:30 p.m.
We were up shortly after dawn and I cooked myself some oatmeal and had some General Foods instant mocha. It was a bit weak. Next time I need to add more heaping teaspoons than four! T. and I then loaded up our day packs with food, water, extra layers, a small first aid kit, and some bug repellent and then put away our other food in the bear locker and headed to Little Lakes trailhead. Before we got there we stopped at the Rock Creek lodge in the hopes of having some of their famous pie. We arrived there at 8:30 a.m. way before they serve their pies. The pie service doesn't start till 10:30 a.m. and ends when the pies run out or at 3:30 p.m. I did a little shopping at the general store and got some much needed lip balm for the weekend. After our short stop we drove to the trail head and the main parking lot was already full by 9ish. We did find parking at the first overflow parking lot which was lucky. It added maybe a quarter mile to our trip. We hiked to the trailhead restrooms, put on sun screen, packed away our wallets/keys in a safe place in our day packs or pockets, and headed off to Mono Pass.
The first half mile was on the very popular Little Lakes trail and went up mildly but my heart started beating fast. The trail head started at high altitude, 10,200 feet! I managed to keep a steady pace while my heart beat fast and there were enough little flat spots to give me a chance to get my breath back and for my heart rate to slow down a bit. When we felt uncomfortable we just stopped and the view filled us with energy! The view of the lakes and mountains was incredible.
T. is in great shape and she never seemed to need to stop because of being out of breath but she did need to stop to eat more often than me. After a half mile, we turned off on to the Mono pass trail. For about a mile or so it was a steady up with flat spots to rest at and wonderful views of the Little Lakes valley. We met other folks as we slowly made our way up to the pass. Everyone was really friendly and in a good mood. The typical greeting was “where are you heading today?” Some were day hiking to Mono pass like us and some were backpacking futher into the mountains. We reached the Ruby Lake turnoff junction at 11,200 feet and that is where the steeper part of the Mono Pass trail starts.
We hiked up switch backs for a good while. We got passed by a horse led burro train taking supplies up to the mountains for someone. Finally we turned into the rather narrow pass. Big old granite walls rose up around us spectacularly. I had to rest lots on this section as we approached our destination at 12,000 feet. The air was getting thinner and thinner! But stopping was nice as it gave us time to gape at the views and neither of us were in a great hurry. We finally reached the top after a last bit of hiking on snow. The really late rains and snows in California have made conditions in August more like those found in July. However the snow trail was well trodden and easy to follow. We had lunch near the top and after lunch hiked a tiny bit to Summit Lake and then turned around to head back.
On our way down, a fellow caught up with us and we offered to let him pass but he declined. He looked like a sherpa from Nepal and much to our surprise he was a sherpa from Nepal on vacation in California. He looked as if he was talking a walk in a park up there. He told us he lives at a place higher than Mono Pass. He lives at 4000 meters (~13123 feet) and his Father is a sherpa on Mt. Everest. He was very nimble on the snow. He was with another man who we never got close enough to talk to. He left us when he saw that his buddy had gotten ahead of us. Quite amazing the people you meet while you are hiking.
The rest of the way down was so much easier for me. I wasn't gasping for air hardly at all and my knees were just fine. I have always had pretty healthy knees and they hold up well going downhill. On really long downhills I will start to notice some knee soreness but this 3 mile descent did not cause me any knee soreness. I was happy though to have done all that uphill hiking to start getting my body used to hiking uphill at high altitudes. The Whitney hike starts at ~8400 feet and goes to ~14,500 feet.
We arrived back at the trailhead at 3:15 p.m. and were hoping we could make it to the Rock Creek lodge for pie by 3:30 p.m. We did make it to the lodge by 3:30 p.m. But alas, the pies had been sold out since 1:30 p.m. Instead we bought ourselves something to drink (I got gaterade) and then drove down the Rock Creek road in search of a nice spot on the creek to sit down and soak our feet. We found a wonderful spot with a comfy spot of green grass to sit on right next to the creek and even better it turned out to be mosquito free too! We soaked our feet for 15 minutes. It was marvelous to be sitting together with our feet in the ice cold water, drinking our drinks, chatting, and to boot we head this section of creek all to ourselves.
After the soak, we headed back to camp and spent some time doing our own thing. I read more of my Harry Potter book. We would not start dinner till C. got back from his day of hiking. He returned around 6:15 and told us stories of his day at Convict lake and we told him about our hike. T. cooked a dinner of ravioli with roasted red pepper sauce. I volunteered to help and was put in charge heating up the store bought roasted red pepper sauce to mix with the ravioli. It was a delicious dinner. Somehow food at a campground tastes better than it would if cooked at home. Its probably because we were exerting ourselves all day and were hungry and would have liked almost anything. After dinner T. and C. got busy packing as they had to leave at o-dark-hundred the next day. T. had an appointment in the SF bay area at 3:30. They left at 5 a.m. I heard them taking the tents down and just turned over and fell back asleep for another hour.
I was up at 6 a.m. In typical camping fashion what got me up was I had to use the restroom. When I came back from the restroom I felt fully awake so I decided to have a small cold breakfast and then pack up my gear and head back to the Little Lakes trail head and hike on the Little Lakes valley trail for an hour and then turn around and hike back. While shaking out my tent, I saw what I thought was a bug on the ground but on closer examination it turned out to be a scorpion. I was sort of glad I slept in a zipped up tent so the scorpion could not crawl on me! I soon finished packing and I got to the trailhead at 7:10 a.m. and this time I got a parking spot there and did not have to go to the overflow parking.
I made a quick stop at the restroom and then put on sun screen and headed off on the Little Lake Valley trail. It was gorgeous. I was happy to be giving my body another taste of high altitude hiking albeit a more mellow taste than the day before. I passed by Mack, Marsh, Heart, Box, and Long Lake. At Long Lake I reached my one hour turn around time and started heading back.
It was a wonderful solitary hike on the way to Long Lake. I did pass one backpacking couple but they were so quiet that it felt as if I had the trail to myself the whole way. It was a different story on the way back as I ran into more and more people. I got back to the trail head at 9:20 and the lot was full and folks were hiking up the road from overflow parking. I got in my car and headed to the Rock Creek lodge to have a more substantial breakfast. I was too early for pie but the cook at the lodge made a mean short stack of pancakes. I filled up on 2 huge pancakes and had a freshly brewed cup of coffee. While I was at the counter a Dad and his two small sons were there also. The sons were delightful to talk to. They were friendly and so excited to tell me all about their fishing trip with their Dad. Dad was there too but he was more quiet. He would just speak up to add bits to the stories his sons were telling. They also wanted to see a bear but not get eaten by a bear. It made for a nice breakfast to have their company. I finished up at 10 a.m. And started on my long trip home.
On my way home I did something very unusual for me. I was turning off of highway 395 at Lee Vining and there was a young man hitch hiking with a brown card board sign saying Yosemite and a big backpack. He looked friendly and I decided to risk it and give him a ride to Yosemite since my drive was on 120 which goes right through Yosemite (the Tuolumne Meadows part of Yosemite). I almost never pick up hitch hikers for fear I'll pick up a lunatic hitch hiker and get attacked or something but I decided to risk it for this guy. I picked him up and he was excited to have gotten a ride. Before we started up the climb on 120 to Tuolumne Meadows, I stopped at the Mobile station to get some gas. As we drove up 120, I found out he was from Brazil and had 7 days left in his vacation in the U.S. and wanted to spend it exploring Yosmite. He told me his name and I had trouble pronouncing it. I'm not sure how to spell it. It sounded like “hanough”. He works as a computer technician and was impressed that I write software. We had fun chatting as we waited in the long line to get into Yosemite at the top of the pass. I dropped him off at the visitor center in Tuolumne meadows after we finally got through the wait to get in.
The rest of my drive home was more ordinary. I stopped at Oakdale to have a late lunch at McDonalds. There was a Starbucks right door so after lunch, I got a iced mocha to go. I sipped it as I made my way to Manteca. At Manteca I had the last sip. At Manteca, it was back to freeway driving and no stunning mountain views anymore. I got home at 5 pm so the drive took 7 hours. All in all it was a great weekend of hiking and camping. I hope next weekends trip to June Lake in the Eastern Sierras goes as well although it will be a solo trip. It will be fun to spend the week planning the hikes I will do from June Lake.