Thursday, October 22, 2015

Holy Guacamole It's been a while

Once again I've fallen behind on my posts and again, I refuse to apologize for it as I've been distracted by living the dream.

For the past month and a half I've been working on my weaknesses as a climber, DIYer and driver. I've also been getting back to my roots, gaming my face off whenever possible and having boat loads of fun doing all of this.

The view from the base of the new climb.
After kicking off my unemployment I got talked into bolting and projecting a new route with a couple friends outside of Carbondale, CO. While that act in and of itself is fairly unremarkable, the fact that the route is by leaps and bounds the hardest route I've ever bolted and tried to climb. This oddity has forced my to learn how to project, trying and failing over and over and over with minimal or no noticeable progress while trying to change that and keep motivation high. Prior to this experience I'd never tried a route more than 10-12 times and the hardest route I've done was in fewer than that. I suspect that this route has seen over the last month close to 30-35 tries and while I can now climb into the crux sequence there were a few show stopper moves that were rather disheartening. So I decided to hit the pause button, train this winter (also a new concept for me) and head to the desert to hopefully heal the ego and get fit and tan!

While it might not be waterproof, it's got a sweet clock!
Before heading to the desert I realized that with the resources available to me in the Roaring Fork Valley I ought to seal up the Dolphin's roof for any rain storms that I might happen upon while in the desert. Needless to say that I'm no expert roofer (is that a word?) and working on the Dolphin's roof has given me a huge appreciate for what those guys do! Unfortunately the RV roof has turned into another project with several goes already invested and a leak or two still persisting much to my frustration. As I sit here writing it continues to rain, as it has for the past few days...luckily I've invested in a 20x30' tarp that is keeping the rain out while I come up with another way to fix the roof once and for all!

Driving the Dolphin has been quite the adventure as the transition from a mini van to a 22' RV hasn't been rocky but has involved a little close contact with a rock or two and a picnic bench. Luckily, neither the RV or the stationary objects were harmed. One day I'll get the parallel parking dialed in that thing...until then be wary while I'm reversing! Despite the unwieldy nature of this beast the trade off is sooo much living space. Which of course means guests and games! I'm happy to say that dozens of hours have been spent cooking with friends, drinking beer and playing all manner of games late in to the night or early morning. The fact that it's so easy to have people over and comfortably hang out was one of the main reasons that I switched from being a lowly van dweller in to a real person living in a dilapidated RV.

It's felt so good to get back to the desert and the long haul mindset of staying there, working on new and old mini projects, reequiping old routes, cleaning, bolting and sending new ones, catching up with old friends and making new ones. I've gone on and on about the climbing community, particularly the dirtbag climbing community and again, I have had my weeks made by these fantastic people!

Well until next time faithful readers!

Canyoneering the the desert can be pretty neat!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback to 2012, How Times Haven't Changed Too Much!

What a sucker I was still working in September. Man have I come a ways since then...though thinking back I think this post marked the end of my employment session that year. So I guess things haven't changed except for that soul patch haha. Howie Mandel is probably really disappointed!

Well, after leaving Anza and staff training I made a quick stop over in LA to visit with my aunt, uncle and grandfather before heading up north. After visiting, getting my life mildly organized, showering, doing laundry and figuring out they best way to get to Yosemite I set off up the 395. I made only one slight detour, perhaps a personal best and a few quick stops to pick up a hitch hiker and to look through some tubes pointed at Mt. Whitney in Lone pine and to check out the Mobil in Lee Vining. That gas station was perhaps more impressive than I thought it would be, I was half way tempted to drop the 20 bucks for their seared mahi mahi steak.

After arriving in Tuolumne I went for a short (~7mile) hike up to Cathedral lakes to enjoy a beer chilled in the alpine waters while watching the sun drift below the horizon. After realizing that my hunger couldn't be avoided any longer I cruised back to the van for some sort of delicious meal, not sure what it was, but I'm sure I went to flavor country. From there I went to the campground for the night.

I woke up early the next morning for a quick jaunt up Cathedral peak, first to summit of the day, heck ya! After a quick snack and nap on the summit I went down to Budd lake for a refreshing and cleansing dip. Not too shabby. After getting back to the car for lunch and eating I set off for the Meadows for some afternoon reading and relaxation.
Summit shot on Cathedral Peak

Afternoon view in Tuolumne

The next day after talking with a nice couple I caught the 2nd shuttle down to Tenaya lake and then hiked up to and climbed Dozier Dome, I was considering doing a second route but the descent was a bit rough on the ole knees so I finished off the morning with a nine mile toodle back up to the meadows where I gorged myself and spent another afternoon relaxing and reading.

On top of Dozier Dome looking out over Lake Tenaya

After being rudely awoken by rain in the wee hours of the morning I shifted to the van as I had been sleeping next to the road in a perhaps less than legitimate manner and had not set up a tent. Shortly after rousing myself I had an invigorating conversation with a ranger, though fear not my charm won out and no ticket was issued! After the officer left I proceeded down to Sequoia and King's Canyon NP for my Boojum course. That story is to follow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A New Season and a New Home

Last Tuesday marked my last day of work for, hopefully, the year. My last week was an awesome way to end the summer by leading a five day backpacking trip with almost a dozen Colorado Mountain College students through the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.

The new and improved book shelf/dresser/ski storage/shoe shelf

Crossing that finish line was a perfect mile marker to move into the Dolphin and begin the Fall of climbing. While it's still lacking a few finishing touches like new cushion covers and a few new curtains it is 95% done and 100% moved into. Bedding, food and cooking stuff has all been installed and used! And man does it feel good to be able to lounge around with friends in the evening and to be able to hop out of bed and walk to the kitchen (even if it is three steps) and stretch while putting the coffee on or wash dishes in a real sink of my own. I'm hoping that with the help of one of my little sisters I'll have the Dolphin 100% complete by the end of the month and will have sold the Previa and ready to climb and adventure away the Fall. Stay tuned for final pictures with a little more tidiness on the bench seats. 

The kitchen/dining room/living room
So far this remodeling has absorbed ~$600, 65 hours of labor and countless opinions and ideas sought from friends and family alike. So far I have replaced the shag carpet with a ginger oak laminate, one ceiling panel that was water damaged and rotting 5 ceiling supports, the Bathroom has been fully removed and replaced with shelving and ski storage, 4 1/2 hours have been spent cleaning, 7-8 hours have been used sealing the leaking roof and windows. While there is still more to be done it's now liveable and functional to work with until I get another dose of motivation to replace more of the ceiling and interior paneling. 

The bed that will see a new mattress in the near future.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Greatest Day of Fishing

Colorado's state flower and many of them!
As I wandered through another meadow created by avalanches from years past I chuckled to myself thinking 'I definitely am coming down with a case of A.M.S...Alpine Meadow Sickness', as I pulled out my camera yet again to photograph hundreds more wildflowers, peaks, streams and pine forests that made up my surroundings.

I was scouting out a trail that I will be leading 10 or so students on next week and I wanted to check out a few out the mountain passes that we would be crossing that had no established trails and harbored large talus and snow fields even late in the summer. The first four miles of my trip were punctuated by these meadows, separated by dense pine stands along the valley sides. With each meadow that I crossed into I would pause, inhale deeply, snap a few shots and wonder if it was worth the bush whacking to get down to the river to fish for a little. Each time I continued on, promising just a little farther. As I passed into a meadow a couple miles long, where the trail came down to meet the river, which was punctuated but a dozen mini-bus size boulders within a few hundred yards I knew this was the first spot I got to bust out my fly rod. I'd just purchased my rod a month before and had only caught a few fish on it while, ironically on a week long fishing trip, and I was itching to try it out on new streams and lakes.

The first fish of the trip!
I immediately noticed a large cutthroat swimming lazily in shallow pool, snapping at anything resting on the surface. I quickly tied on a fly and snapped it out into the eddy of one of the boulders. Immediately the fish's course changed, homing in on my fly and with a "Gulp" it was on the line. I was shocked, fishing wasn't supposed to be that easy! I quickly realized that the water had distorted its size and it was in danger of snapping my line. After playing it a few minutes longer it was in my hands and much to my chagrin it was close to 16-17 inches, a quick picture and it was back it the water and on it's shocked but presumably happy way.

A few more casts up river saw a few bites and no more fish on the line. As I moved on I realized I'd just gotten supremely lucky and my reality had resumed it's normal equilibrium. A half mile or so up stream, just below a beaver dam I landed another, a brook trout this time of comparable size to the cutthroat. Just as before I caught it on my first cast and a dozen subsequent casts in the same pool produced no results. Still I was having great day I realized with two fish on the line in a twenty minute time frame and only a few dozen casts. With a little adrenaline and a lot of enthusiasm I continued up the trail to a small stream connecting two lakes. I'd been watching dozens of trout in the lakes, rising consistently but darting away as soon as I approached the shore. At this new location I immediately began landing fish, nearly every other cast there was a new fish on the line. My jaw was continually switching between a shit eating grin and almost resting on my feet it had dropped so low.

After three hours and 24 fish it was time to find a camp and put some miles under the soles of my boots. With a bit more bush whacking, route finding and patience I found a sweet spot tucked in to a few pines right at treeline on a small knoll within the upper reaches of the Fryingpan River valley. After re-hydrating dinner, reading and absorbing my surroundings I was lulled to sleep by a down valley breeze and a spectacular star show.

Whoops, rod snapped after the second fish
 but that didn't slow me down!

Making a morning cup o' Joe!

Looking back down the valley and last nights camp.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's time for a new home and new projects

About three weeks ago I purchased a Toyota Dolphin; I felt that it was time to upgrade my living quarters as over the past year I have grown tired of living full time in the shoe box of a Previa that I currently have. Yes I suppose I will be changing the name of the blog for all that have already asked.

I happened upon the Dolphin while walking down the sidewalk in Newcastle, CO and noticed it sitting amidst a bunch of other vehicles at a mechanic's shop. The next day I got this fellow's number and asked if it was for sale, luckily it was. I gave it a quick tour asked what he wanted for it, waited a few weeks and put up with some shenanigans, gave it a test drive and just before the 4th of July I bought that sucker.

It was hard in the time period before buying it to not think too much of what needed to be done and what I wanted to do to it, in the event that the sale fell through. But, when the title was in hand the demolition began with big dreams and high energy.

That was three weeks ago, granted I went on one last road trip in the Previa to the midwest in the middle, but now I sit here having just finished the new flooring and painting the walls, slightly exhausted. Last I'd checked the work tally was up to about 37 hours of work and several hundreds of dollars of materials.

Stay tuned for the final pictures but here are some before and during renovation pictures.

Also, if you or anyone you know would like to buy a Toyota Previa with a full living setup, give me a shout!

All ready for game night!

So excited to have a sweet cooking setup and a fridge!

The above are pre-remodel and the following are during.
Fresh Paint!

Ripped out this ceiling panel because of rot and water damage.

New floor!

Part of the bathroom removal

Most of the bathroom

All of the bathroom