Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Snowyside Peak Climb

Another weekend, another peak! On Sunday I went to climb Snowyside Peak, the Elmore County highpoint and a premier summit destination in the Sawtooths. The climb would be long so I left Boise at 4am and hit the trail just after 7am. Once I hit the trail, everything was going great except for the realization that I forgot my map. However I didn't expect this to be a problem since I had a pretty good mental picture of where I would be going.

I cruised up the trail and reached the gorgeous Alice Lake basin just before 10am. From there the trail steepens as it climbs the pass below Snowyside Peak. It was a little bit after 11am when I reached the pass. From there, I took the obvious ridge up toward the peak. As I got up higher, the terrain started to get difficult, much more so than I expected. As it turned out, due to my "maplesness" I ended up climbing the class 4 north ridge instead of the more gentle class 3 east ridge. I ended up wasting time backtracking trying to find a better route, but was forced to stick to the ridge and make a couple of airy moves to reach the summit just before 1pm.

Once on top, you get some of the greatest alpine views anywhere. There was a couple from Ketchum up there who had ascended from Alpine Lakes Basin. We talked for a bit, pointed out the various peaks, relaxed for a bit, then headed down. The descent was uneventful but took longer than I was hoping for, both due to the rocky north ridge and retracing the extensive flat approach hike through the forest. After taking a great afternoon break at Alice Lake, I made it back to the trailhead just after 6pm. A long but enjoyable day!

Trip statistics: 17 miles, 4300' elevation gain, 11 hours

Snowyside Peak Pictures!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mount Breitenbach Climb

I found out Matt (with whom I hiked Ironside Mountain) was interested in climbing a 12000'+ peak so after some discussion of alternatives, we decided to climb Mount Breitenbach in the Lost River Range. It would be my first 12000'+ peak in over 6 years. At the peak we would meet Mike who arrived from Idaho Falls.

We met Friday evening at about 7:30 and began the long drive to the Joe Fallini Campground on Mackay Reservoir. We arrived at 11:00pm and felt bad for disturbing the campground so late. We soon felt better because a diesel truck soon pulled in and the occupants proceeded to put up a tent, inflate an air mattress, walk their dogs, and put multiple small children to bed all after midnight. Gotta love campgrounds!

The stars in that area are amazing and are worth the trip all by themselves. Since it was clear and warm we slept without a tent... just our sleeping bags under a shade awning at the tent site. After fitful sleep we got up at 5:30am to prepare for the hike. By 6:40am we were at our "trailhead" and ready to start. Rather than try to find the correct road to the trailhead, we opted for a known spot about one half mile away. Since the roads can be terrible in this area, I'm pretty sure we saved the Escape some abuse by doing this!

The hike up Pete Creek was enjoyable and not too brushy. However it does require meandering a lot - we had to cross the creek approximately 17 times each way. Eventually the terrain opens up and you begin hiking up a giant talus gully that requires gaining over 2000' in elevation. Once on the summit ridge, the views were tremendous and made for some spectacular hiking to the top. We spent roughly 45 minutes on the summit taking in the views and checking out the extensive summit register.

The descent was a mix of fun talus skiing and less fun talus hiking. By the time we hiked down the creek my feet were aching and ready to get off the ground. As we approached the vehicle, we got sprinkled on which actually felt quite nice in the warm weather. From there it was back to Boise... after 3.5 hours of driving!

Six 12000' peaks down, only three to go!

Trip statistics: 4500' elevation gain, 8.5 miles, 10 hours car-to-car

Mount Breitenbach Pictures!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ruffneck Peak Hike

Saturday I decided some hiking was in order. I ended up choosing Ruffneck Peak since it had good highway access, has another peak (Langer Peak) within reach, and didn't require rising early. It was about 7:45am before I left the house... a little later than I had planned! After getting gas and getting stuck behind slow drivers it was 10:30am before I got to the trailhead.

I got moving on the trail around 10:40am and quickly made progress. The trail starts in an old burn area; shortly before exiting the burn area I headed straight up the ridge toward Langer Peak. This was kind of a grunt but encountered no obstacles. From the top of the ridge it was an easy ridge walk over Point 9052' and on to Langer Peak.

Langer Peak had a very interesting summit register; it was initially placed in 1983 by the wife of deceased Charley Langer on the 40th anniversary of his death. The register, besides being over 25 years old, was signed by many family members and other visitors to the peak. I was the first to sign it since 2007. After enjoying the summit, I decided to head straight down the west face of Langer Peak toward Langer Lake. This made for a direct route but required negotiating some steep and loose terrain in trail running shoes. After getting through the obnoxious part, it was once again a pleasant hike through the forest toward Langer Lake. On the way I encountered a gorgeous meadow which highlights the beauty of the area.

Langer Lake, on top of being a gorgeous lake, has great views of both Ruffneck and Langer Peak. I spent a little bit of time relaxing but had to keep moving due to both mosquitos and time. From the lake it is a direct and pleasant hike up to the Ruffneck Lookout. As expected, the peak has excellent views in all directions which were fortunately not impaired by the high clouds hanging around. The lookout was fully stocked with supplies and appeared to be occupied but nobody was home. Perhaps the lookout went out for a day hike?

The hike out was uneventful. I did stop at Langer Lake and pump some lake water to enjoy and take home to Katie. Nothing beats alpine lake water!

After getting home I discovered a straggler... a tick had decided to latch on to my side for a nice bloody meal. Katie was kind enough to remove it.. hopefully I'm not now a carrier of some kind of horrid disease!

Trip statistics: 10.5 miles, 4200' elevation gain, 6 hours

Ruffneck Peak Pictures!

Katie's "On the road again..."

After we got home from our long weekend getaway to Vegas, it was back to the daily grind (booo!). Monday was my last day at my old job; Tuesday began the adventure of my new position as Sales Support for the Los Angeles area. After 2.5 years in the Documentation department, having learned all I could & having been frustrated by management issues, it was high time for a change, and I was especially excited to find out a couple of weeks ago that my new position would begin with a business trip to LA!

Having never been to LA (or on a business trip for that matter!), I was very excited to head down there, especially since it was on the company's dime! My travelling companions consisted of my new supervisor, along with 2 other team members; the 4 of us come from non-sales backgrounds, and therefore needed some training in the basics. One other team member travelled on his own to Seattle for training, as he'll be covering the Pacific Northwest region. We left Boise on Tuesday morning, landed in LA after a 2 hour flight (uneventful but loud, since the plane was a little puddlejumper with propellors, and we happened to be sitting right behind them!).

We spent our days in Torrance (the area of LA where NYK's sales office is located) training and learning the accounts we'll be covering. I expected that this might be a little awkward, since we were being trained by the people we'll be replacing, but they were all very nice & extremely helpful. Luckily there was no animosity! On the first evening (Tuesday), we were taken out for dinner to the Yard House by our supervisor's boss and the Vice President of Sales for all of North America. This was an intimidating prospect, but they're both very nice, very genuine people, and the VP of Sales was very interested in learning about us and what we thought of all the changes taking place. This restaurant was right on the Long Beach Marina, so we had a beautiful view, and the food was amazing. They're also home of the World's Largest Beer List, which WAS ridiculously long! I abstained from beer, but was blown away by the sheer volume of choices...Zach & I will have to go to this restaurant if we ever get to LA/Long Beach. I had the Ahi Crunchy Salad, which was very yummy...I figured I should take advantage of the fresh seafood while in LA!

The next night, after a solid day of traning, we were taken out for dinner by one of the area Sales Reps, to Panama Joe's. Similar to the night before, I knew I wanted more fresh seafood, so I had their "world-famous" grilled fish tacos, which were amazing. The fish was Mahi-Mahi, and it was perfectly cooked. The combination of fresh flour tortillas, grilled fish, cabbage slaw & lemony guacamole was excellent; this is another place I would definitely recommend if anyone's in the LA area looking for fresh Mexican food.

We flew back to Boise on Thursday night, full of ridiculous amounts of information! It was a great trip, but after a long weekend in Vegas, a day of recovery and whirlwind trip to LA, it was definitely nice to be home! I wish we'd had a chance to do more sight-seeing in LA & Long Beach, but at least we got out for some good meals and good company. Plus, I bonded with my new team members and my (very cool) supervisor - she's maybe a few years older than me, and very nice. Plus, she doesn't believe in micro-managing, which is a refreshing change!
I'm very excited about this new position, and am 100% certain that I made the right decision in applying for and accepting it. I was so burnt out in my old position and knew that it wasn't going anywhere and wouldn't be getting any less annoying, so I really think it was high time for a change. I'm definitely nervous about how "visible" all this will be, since many people in corporate positions will be watching to see how this transition from LA to Boise unfolds, but I'm confident that our team brings a lot of diverse knowledge & differing perspectives to the table and I have no doubt that we'll be able to handle it!
Sorry for the ridiculously long post! I guess I had a lot to report on! Have a great week!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Charleston Peak Hike

While in Las Vegas, I planned to take a day and climb nearby Charleston Peak, the 34th most prominent peak in North America with over 8200' of topological prominence. On Saturday (Independence Day), I got up at 5am and began the trek to the small town of Mt. Charleston, roughly 45 minutes outside of town.

The hike starts out brisk and steep as you climb out of Kyle Canyon and on to the top of the Mount Charleston massif. On the way up you get some cool views of the cliffs the trail is bypassing. Once up on the ridge, I made the quick side trip up to Griffith Peak and enjoyed the views. After a brief break, I continued the long ridgewalk over the Charleston Peak - which was actually a gorgeous hike through subalpine and eventually alpine terrain. The hike was longer than I expected, but fortunately I was wearing my new trail running shoes which were super comfortable. No barking dogs today!

On top, the weather was perfect - a light breeze and temperatures in the 70s. The views were great, unfortunately though they were hazy in the direction of Las Vegas. I chatted with a couple of Las Vegas locals on top and we appeared to be some of the first people to summit for the day. On the way down, there were lots of others making the ascent - probably 25 people at least. You don't see that in Idaho! Well, I guess you do on Borah Peak...

I made it back to the hotel around mid-afternoon; not bad, but I was hoping to be a little faster. At least Katie had plenty of entertainment options available! Another fine summer hike completed!

Trip statistics: 15 miles, 4700' elevation gain, 8 hours

Charleston Peak Pictures!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vegas Baby

Since it had been almost 7 years since we last visited Las Vegas, we decided to use the long weekend to make a return trip. We booked a flight on Southwest and a room at the MGM Grand. We decided on this particular hotel as it seemed to have the best combination of price, location, quality, and food options. Our room was in the West Wing part of the hotel which we found out actually dates from 1974. Despite being smaller than we expected, the room was nice and decorated with a modernist theme. Our scenic view consisted of the expansive casino roof. The good thing about the West Wing is that it is pretty close to the casino floor unlike some of the more far flung parts of the MGM Grand.

While we were getting our rental car, the person at the desk said they were having a special on Mustangs and I could upgrade from a Chevy Cobalt to a Mustang for $10 a day. Of course I couldn't resist...

Thursday evening we arrived and cruised the casino well into the morning. Katie didn't do so well but I was having some luck making money on the slots... I was up roughly $75 at one point (pretty huge for us low rollers!).

Friday I woke up feeling the effects of too many beers! However I eventually recovered enough for us to take the monorail and get lunch at the Mesa Grill, the Bobby Flay restaurant at Caesar's Palace. I had the chile relleno, which was easily the best relleno I've ever eaten. It was also very artfully presented:

Katie had the pork sandwich which was also very good. We decided to try a dessert which was a strawberry/gooseberry shortcake dish that was really good but not heavy like so many desserts. We both enjoyed the food here and highly recommend it!

Friday afternoon we spent checking out the various casinos on the strip and blowing a little bit of money at each of them. By this point neither of us had any luck with the machines. After a lot of walking, we decided to figure out our dinner plan. We decided upon Shibuya, the Japanese restaurant at MGM Grand. This was also a good choice - the shrimp tempura was possibly the best tasting fried food I've ever eaten. The sushi was also excellent; my favorite was the basic spicy tuna roll but the yellow fin tuna and eel rolls were also good. For dessert we had a lychee cake and ice cream dessert, it was also excellent. A bonus was that this restaurant carried Hitachino beers - my first experience with Japanese microbrews. I had the espresso stout and Katie had the ginger beer; both were great!

Eel and yellow fin tuna sushi:

Cake with lychee filling, lychee, and ice cream:

Saturday I got up early to hike Charleston Peak (more on that in a separate blog post). Katie slept in a little later and lolled about the casino continuing her bad luck streak. She did grab lunch at 'wichcraft, a sandwich place at the MGM Grand. Katie says her turkey and balsamic sando was amazing and it certainly looks it:

I got back to the hotel in the afternoon and found out my bet on Serena Williams winning Wimbledon paid off. Finally something paid off - that and the fact that I refrained from the temptation to bet on Andy Roddick winning the Men's. For dinner we decided to try the Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in the MGM Grand. I had a pizza (always great after a long hike) and Katie had the BBQ ribs special. Both were good but more of the "average good" than the "memorable good" that characterized the previous three restaurants described.

After dinner we headed over to the Rio to watch the Penn & Teller show. While we were waiting I noticed the World Series of Poker was being held so I had to check that out. The conference center was absolutely packed with people, both players and spectators. The scene consisted of entire ballrooms filled with hundreds of poker tables and the requisite number of players. ESPN had a camera setup for the featured tables, presumably where the famous players were. Because of the horde of people, I didn't get anywhere near the feature tables. Just the sight of all of it was enough of a sight...

Penn & Teller put on an entertaining show. Their show gets addresses political and religious topics, which is something I wasn't expecting. Evidently they are well known for that sort of thing. It was my first time seeing a real "magic" show and I definitely enjoyed it; it's definitely not the sort of stuff you can easily figure out from being in the audience. Typically they perform a trick, explain how it is done, then apply some kind of unexplained twist that leaves you wondering.

Sunday morning we did some last minute gambling before heading to the airport. Before getting there, we grabbed lunch at the legendary In-N-Out Burger. It is actually a very good fast food style hamburger. Our flight home was uneventful but unfortunately paved the way for a return to work and the real world. Katie at least could look forward to her trip to LA which will hopefully be blogged soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Salmon River Mountains Hike

Last Saturday, as I was returning from Smiley Mountain Dan started texting me about going on a Sunday hike. I had planned to sleep in and take it easy, but the trip sounded interesting and eventually I agreed to go. Of course, it helped that Katie said she didn't mind being a hiking widow this weekend :-)

We left Boise early Sunday morning and got to the trailhead just after 9am. By 9:20 we were on our way. We made good time on the steep road that leads high up the slopes of Mt Jordan. At about 11:45am we summited Mt Jordan and took in the spectacular views of most of Idaho's central mountains. After spending some time on the summit, we headed over to The General, our second objective for the day. We made it over there around 1:20pm and once again got to enjoy tremendous views.

Our hike out was highlighted by us finding a game trail that allowed us to avoid re-climbing Mt Jordan. After getting back to the truck, we each downed a beer and headed to the Mountain Village Inn in Stanley for dinner. I think I ate my chicken burger in about five minutes - it was exactly what I needed!

Trip statistics: 8 miles, 3500', 7 hours

Salmon River Mountains Hike Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Corporate Buyout

Less than two weeks ago, Telemetric (my employer) had an all-staff meeting scheduled on short notice which included catered Goodwood BBQ. This was all highly unusual and many of us had suspicions that something was up. Sure enough, the meeting was hosted by two executives and a HR guy from Sensus, the company we learned was purchasing Telemetric.

Today the deal became official so I can safely blog about it. I am now a Sensus employee! Sensus is a large company (over 100x larger in revenue than Telemetric), one of whose divisions involves wireless water and gas metering. They were looking to get into power distribution (Telemetric's expertise) since that gives them a more complete product line to offer utilities. Rather than build their own business to compete with Telemetric, they opted to buy us.

Of course we're all a little wary about now being part of a big company with headquarters far away. Despite not getting huge buyout checks allowing us to retire early, it seems like this will be a good thing for all of us. The benefits and holidays are much better, plus we benefit from having much stronger financial backing. We all got to keep our jobs and we'll also be staying in Boise. We have an existing partnership with Sensus and they've been great to work with and overall they seem like they will be a good corporate parent.

For the immediate future, things will be pretty much the same as they have been but with a different company issuing the paychecks. At any rate, it seems like a pretty good outcome and I'm happy with it!