Monday, August 31, 2009

Diamond Peak Climb

Matt and I had a mutual interest in climbing Diamond Peak, Idaho's fourth highest peak. It is in eastern Idaho, meaning a long drive away. Thus we left Boise about 4:30pm on Friday the 28th. We ate dinner at Arco's Lost River Drive-In. The food was good and they were kind enough to serve fry sauce with the fries. After dinner we headed over to the Little Lost River Valley to find the trailhead and a camping site on the west side of the peak. By the time we turned off the highway it was already dark. After a navigational faux pas, we found the right road and made it up Badger Creek Canyon to a point where the road crosses an ATV bridge which is not suitable for larger vehicles. We were both tired and hit the hay not long after setting up camp.

In the morning we awoke at 6am and started heading up Badger Creek on a great ATV trail. Despite some high clouds the day was warm and pleasant. The canyon is beautiful and features a nice looking creek and many decaying cabins and adits from past mining activity. We were soon at the end of the ATV trail near the headwaters of Badger Creek. From here we hiked cross country up the canyon then up wooded slopes to a buttress leading to Diamond Peak's summit ridge. Gaining the summit ridge was a lot of work on some of the worst steep and loose talus I've ever experienced. Finally we crested the summit ridge, exhausted from slogging up nearly 2000' of terrible rock. The final push to the summit was tiring but uneventful and on much better terrain. It seems like my lungs don't work as well at 12000'+ as they used to!

The peak has a great 360 degree view, most of which was new to my eyes. The mostly uninhabited Little Lost River and Birch Creek Valleys sprawl beneath the peak along with the many summits flanking the said valleys. After spending roughly 45 minutes on top, we began our descent. This was highlighted by skiing roughly 2000' down the loose talus pile, by far the longest talus ski in which I've partaken. From there the hike out was long and punctuated only by us stopping to filter some delicious water from Badger Creek right below its spring source. Yum!

The day was much longer than we had expected and we were very happy to get back to the vehicle and begin the drive home. From the western edge of the Camas Prairie all the way home (90 minutes or so) we got a spectacular lightning show as we drove through the darkness!

Trip statistics: 11 miles, 5150' elevation gain, 11 hours

Diamond Peak Pictures!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Vacation!

We are pleased to report that we had a most excellent summer vacation to Canada! We left our respective jobs around lunchtime on the 14th and began the drive to Bonners Ferry. This drive was uneventful except for us listening to some Spanish language CDs in a futile attempt to learn a new tongue. I think "embajada Americana" is about all either of us remember! After a quick dinner at Subway in the outskirts of Spokane, we arrived about 10pm at the Kootenai River Inn and after briefly surveying the casino we decided to retire for the night. I think our expectations were set too high in Las Vegas!

After a nice sleep at the hotel, we were intrigued to discover a farmer's market going on just across the highway near downtown. We checked it out and ended up with some delicious bagels, doughnuts, and kettle corn! It was a small farmer's market, but very well done. We didn't buy any of the excellent-looking produce since we couldn't take it across the border.

Our drive from Bonners Ferry to McDonald Creek Park was uneventful. The border lineup (Porthill, ID) consisted of about 2 cars and the questioning was similarly brief. We did get some rain along the way, which is always discouraging on a camping trip. Fortunately it had moved through the campground by the time we got there. We must've brought some good weather since we didn't get rained on once during our stay! The first night at the campground was pretty crazy as we had approximately 19 people at the site for dinner that night. From there, things slowly quieted down over the course of our stay.

Monday featured a memorial service for Ian, in which some of Ian's ashes were placed at the park and balloons were cast to the sky. It was of course a very sad ceremony but also one I found to be very appropriate given his love for camping at McDonald Creek. You are missed Ian!

On Tuesday, Auntie Margaret, Megan, Dave, and I went on a hike to Idaho Peak. The drive over to Sandon was a little bit long and the final stretch of Forest Service road was kind of wild on the steep, one lane road that leads to the trailhead. However once we were hiking we were rewarded with epic views and easily the best wildflower display I've seen anywhere. I was actually astonished with how many people were up on the peak... probably 25 other people at least, maybe more. The register had names from all over BC, the US, and especially Europe. I must say I do understand the appeal!

The rest of the trip was defined by relaxation, swimming, kayaking, checking out places in Nakusp, and my reading of one of Bill's favorite books, Expert F#. We also had two meals at the Mushroom Addition in Fauquier, which is the only restaurant I've encountered which serves a wild mushroom mix with their burgers. Highly recommended!

On Thursday (the 20th) we returned to Vancouver and on the way stopped at Helmut's in Vernon for some excellent bison pepperoni. I think I need to find a supply for that stuff closer to home because it's really good!

In Vancouver Katie visited with her friends and I went hiking to Mount Seymour, a popular local hiking destination. The hike was enjoyable but the views were sadly marred by clouds. At least I got to experience the views while snowshoeing up there in February 2006! Our dining experiences in town were pretty limited, consisting only of Panago Pizza (yum) and wings (not so great; the URL is false advertising).

The evening before we left, I noticed a tire on the Escape was looking pretty low. Sure enough, it was down to 15psi. I hit some kind of debris on the way up to Mt Seymour and that apparently damaged the tire. Fortunately with more air it was good to drive home. After getting back home, it turned out we needed to replace the tire (and thus the other three too). Annoying, but at least it didn't mar our otherwise excellent vacation!

Summer Vacation Pictures!
Idaho Peak Pictures!
Mount Seymour Pictures!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anniversary Dinner

For our anniversary dinner we went for sushi at Fujiyama. We got an appetizer of Beef Negimaki and the Linda, Fuji Mountain, and Red Dragon sushi rolls.

The Fuji Mountain was the best tasting (ah, the magic of tempura):

Although the fire dragon was the most artfully presented:

Yay for five years of marriage!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

White Knobs Hike

After several days of crazy weather, conditions improved and Dan and I decided to climb the two highest peaks in the White Knob Mountains of eastern Idaho. It would be my first time hiking in this corner of Idaho. We left Boise just before 6am and headed out toward the Lost River Valley. By 9:30am we were at the trailhead after heading up the rough Alder Creek Road. The hike was very pleasurable up an old road (now an ATV trail) to the base of Redbird Mountain, our first objective. From here, easy but steep terrain leads to the top.

The recent moisture produced a lot of clouds, haze, and chilly weather. There was even a dusting of fresh snow on the ground! Still, it was great to take in the eastern Idaho views from a different perspective. After some time on top, we cruised over to Shelly Mountain, the highest point in the White Knobs. Views and terrain here were pretty similar - not surprising since the peak is only a half mile distant from Redbird Mountain.

From Shelly Mountain we made a leisurely descent back to the vehicle. From there it was back to Boise after stopping for dinner at Smash Hit Subs in Shoshone.

Trip statistics: 7.25 hours, 9 miles, 4300' elevation gain

White Knobs Hike Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, August 10, 2009

Updates from the 208

Things are going pretty well with us. We've seen a number of movies in the past few weeks, including The Hangover, Public Enemies, Up, Funny People, and GI Joe. Public Enemies was probably the best of the bunch and GI Joe was probably the worst. Although the exoskeleton suits they wear in GI Joe are pretty cool. That's easily the most theater visits for us in one month ever!

Last weekend we watched GI Joe Friday night then proceeded to attend the Boise Beer Fest at Ann Morrison Park on Saturday. The festival was a great idea but it was very crowded... I'm thinking they got more attendees than they were expecting. For $20 you got six 12oz beers that you had to wait in line for... not the best deal ever but probably not the worst either. Katie got a really good huckleberry beer from Laughing Dog that was probably the best of show (at least that we tasted).

Katie's work is going pretty well overall. She likes her current job much more than the previous one, although there have been some rough patches as her department has taken over from the previous team in Los Angeles. My work is going well although it has been extremely busy - I've worked the past two Saturdays just to try to maintain adequate progress on all of my projects. A week ago we had a customer demo that required a lot of last minute work... fortunately it all came together and the customer was pleased. We're still waiting for them to show us the money though!

Wednesday is Katie and I's anniversary. It's hard to believe we're already at the five year mark! Since we both have to work (lack of time off) we'll probably just go out for a nice dinner somewhere.

Friday afternoon we leave for our long awaited summer camping trip. We plan on spending Friday night in Bonners Ferry before driving the rest of the way to Nakusp, BC, where we will spend the next five nights. We will finish our trip in Vancouver before heading home. Last year we needed the fleece jackets at night... hopefully it's not quite so cold this year!