Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Friday Snowshoeing

For the second year in a row, I used the Black Friday occasion to do some snowshoeing. Due to a week of winter weather and cold temperatures, the Boise foothills had a good covering of snow so I kept the trip local. I opted to visit two minor summits in different parts of foothills - Peak 4375 near Highland Valley Summit and Peak 3793 off of Bogus Basin Rd (aka the Kristin Armstrong Bikeway).

I first climbed Peak 4375, starting from Highland Valley Summit near the Kodiak Grill (a restaurant featured on "Triple D"). I actually didn't even use my snowshoes on this climb, although it would have helped a little bit on the steeper parts. The snow was mostly ankle depth and quite powdery - rare snow conditions for the foothills! From the highway it is a fairly short up-and-down hike across multiple drainages to the summit. The peak has pretty good views of the surrounding area and there were lots of deer seen on the trip!

Peak 3793 is a much shorter climb and I took snowshoes on this one since it promised to be a little bit steeper. This was a good decision and it was easy climbing straight up the peak. This peak also had good views of a part of the foothills I rarely visit.

In short, it was a well-spent Black Friday. The downside is that this trip aggravated a minor case of tendonitis (achilles) and I ended up limping around the house by the evening. So I had to make a weekend shopping trip to get some new shoes and insoles... now I just have to hope it goes away!

Trip statistics (total): 2.5 hours, 3.75 miles, 1350' elevation gain

Black Friday Snowshoeing Pictures!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We hope all of our readers had a great Thanksgiving, whether it be of the American or Canadian variety! We did too and we are very thankful for all of the greatness in our lives!

We began our day by watching the live webcast of Katie's brother Dave walking across the stage and receiving his BA degree from UBC. Congratulations Dave!!!

Afterwards Katie made a couple of dishes for dinner (from-scratch rolls and roasted asparagus) and I went running on the icy/snowy roads. We headed over to Gary and Bonnie's around 4pm and nearly wrecked the Escape on the way over! On an icy spot near Gary and Bonnie's house the vehicle totally slipped, turned sideways, and ended up on a sidewalk facing a tree. Fortunately neither us nor the car sustained any damage but we were very lucky there were no oncoming nor parked cars in the way! However we did lose a little bit of asparagus and a Fiestaware dish in the accident...

After our safe but eventful arrival, we had a great time catching up with Gary and Bonnie and enjoying the lovely dinner that Bonnie and Katie prepared. Dishes served include turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, asparagus, rolls, and pecan bars for dessert. Mmmm! We headed home around 9:30pm and fortunately had no driving mishaps!

Thanksgiving Pictures!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Malheur County Highpoint Hike

Dan and I decided to embark on a Saturday hike but the weather wasn't looking too good. Southeast Oregon seemed to offer the best weather and the chance to visit an obscure, remote area. We met at 6am and began the long drive to McDermitt, Nevada, and thence to the trailhead. We managed to drive a little further up than we expected, saving us approximately 45 minutes of hiking. We were moving around 9:30am and started uphill through the very open terrain. The weather was initially in the upper 30s with no wind which was actually quite comfortable. As we got higher the wind picked up which, while brisk, was tolerable.

The terrain was very gentle, consisting entirely of open sagebrush slopes and snowy jeep tracks. The area is quite remote and while out of the wind we observed the rare sound of total silence. It is also a popular rockhounding area and we found some large chunks of obsidian which I've never seen anywhere else. The expansive views and undeveloped nature of the area were definitely the highlight of the trip.

We initially had thoughts of visiting some other peaks but the shortness of the day and worsening weather caused us to abandon those plans and head directly home. Once home I was able to watch the tail end of the "SEC East Championship Game"... sadly, the Gators lost to the Gamecocks.

Trip statistics: 9.36 miles, 2599' elevation gain, 6:07h

Malheur County Highpoint Hike Pictures!
GPS track
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shephard Peak/Silver Mountain Hike

Matt and I were interested in a hike Saturday but we only had a half-day to work with - Matt because of school and myself because of work (I was at work until 1:30am Friday night). We settled upon a plan to climb Shephard Peak (apologies to all members of the Shepherd family reading this) and Silver Mountain in the Boise Mountains. These peaks require a serious 4WD vehicle to access - fortunately Matt volunteered to drive his Ford Ranger. We met at 12:30pm and were off!

After enduring the rough road through Trapper Flat and toward the North Fork of the Boise River, we were hiking at 3:30pm. We had both never visited this area and were quite impressed with the rugged terrain! It only took us about an hour to reach the summit of Shephard Peak, which has a great views of the area and a perspective on the surrounding area we had not experienced. From there we headed toward Silver Mountain, a much lower peak but which had better views of the North Fork area. Since darkness was a concern, we couldn't spend too long on either summit - on the way back we actually dropped down to the closed road so we would have easier terrain to hike in the twilight.

It was nearly dark when we got back to the vehicle and Matt had the unenviable task of driving the rough road at night. Other than having to be extra careful, this wasn't an issue and we returned home, happy to have had a productive half-day of hiking!

Trip statistics: 5.12 miles, 2345' elevation gain, 3:43h

Shephard Peak/Silver Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trinity Mountains Hike

I hadn't been in the mountains since Labor Day weekend so I decided to embark on a Sunday solo trip in the Trinity Mountains near Boise. Despite being close to town, getting there requires quite a bit of driving on dirt roads. I took a different route each way and concluded the fastest (but most fatiguing) way was via Blacks Creek Road and the town of Prairie.

I left the house around 8:30am and was headed up the first peak just after 11am. My first ascent was up Peak 9037' - a very nice peak with good views of the area - including quite a few lakes! From there I headed over to Fiddler's Perch - a slightly higher peak whose most distinctive feature is the pair of cairns on the summit.

My final ascent was to be Peak 8889', however upon reaching the summit block it became apparent that the final 30' or so is a rock climbing challenge. After trying to find a suitable weakness, I gave up and took a short break before heading back to the vehicle. Some gray clouds hung around all day but the weather fortunately held. Lots of hunters were in this area too!

Trip statistics: 5.77 miles, 2369' elevation gain, 3:57 hours

Trinity Mountains Hike Pictures!
GPS Track

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lucas-Ross Wedding!

Katie's cousin Jason was getting married so of course we had to be there! The wedding was to be held in Russell in western Manitoba, which is an area neither of us had visited before. For cost reasons, we chose to fly in to Minot, North Dakota, and drive from there. Katie's family chose to fly to Regina and drive from there - the driving distance from the two isn't very different.

We arrived in Minot around 5pm on Friday the 24th. After renting a car and grabbing dinner at Hardee's, we were heading north to Russell. The border crossing and drive up were uneventful except for our stop to gawk at the giant banana in Melita, Manitoba (I highly recommend reading the linked article about the banana). We arrived in Russell just after 9pm and after checking into the Russell Inn (aka "the homotel" due to it having both internal and external doors on each room) we socialized for a bit with the family before heading to bed.

On Saturday I had a nice run around town before being asked to provide some technical assistance on the slideshow that would be shown at the reception. Once the slideshow was in its proper state, I grabbed a quick Subway lunch and got ready to head to the ceremony. We all headed over to the United Church in Russell where the wedding was held. The ceremony was great and featured Jason's four year old nephew Logan as the shy ringbearer. After celebrating the marriage and taking a few pictures, we went back to the homotel to socialize (and enjoy a few beverages) before the reception. The reception started at 5pm and featured a very nice dinner (mmm, perogies) along with an open bar, slideshow, speeches, first dance, cake cutting, and dancing. We all had a good time (though I had too many beers) and some of us chose to walk back to the hotel around 1:30am!

On Sunday we enjoyed a very nice brunch at the reception hall before all parting ways and heading back to our respective homes or airports. Our drive back to Minot was very unexciting and I was forced to listen to the Vikings game on the radio. At the border our car was searched, which hasn't happened in quite some time. In Minot we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which was disappointing in that it was very noisy due to the nearby pool and thin walls - thankfully Katie brought earplugs! Our dinner in Minot was at the Pizza Ranch which made me feel like I'm too old for pizza buffets.

On Monday we woke up at 5am to catch our flight back to Boise. By 10:30am Katie was at work and I was by 10:45!

Lucas-Ross Wedding Pictures! - due to a camera malfunction, I lost all of the pictures of the ceremony, the town of Russell, and the giant banana :(

Friday, September 24, 2010

Waggoner 60th Wedding Anniversary!

My grand-aunt and grand-uncle celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on September 10, 2010! Congratulations Pode and Elma Jean! Incidentally my Mom was part of the original wedding party as the flower girl!

To celebrate the occasion, my cousins Julie and Dave arranged a dinner on the 10th and a celebration on the 12th and invited everyone in the family. Many people I hadn't seen in 20 years (or ever, in the case of the many new additions to the family), and it would be Katie's first chance to meet almost everyone. Thus we had to go! Due to a miscommunication, we booked our flight before we realized there was a dinner on the 10th so we sadly missed that part of the festivities.

We headed to the airport after work on Friday the 9th. We flew to Denver and arrived around 9pm. We were able to grab some dinner at the Ted's Montana Grill before retiring for the night at a Sleep Inn. The most memorable part of dinner was getting a dish of pickles to munch on before our meals arrived. Saturday we embarked on the highly boring drive from Denver to Alma along US-36, arriving in town around 3pm. We checked out Alma a little bit before meeting up with family at the Alma Super 8. From there we visited the recently built park and pathway along the Alma waterfront before having a nice family dinner at The Station.

On Sunday we all attended the reception celebrating Pode and Elma Jean's anniversary. The event filled the reception venue and was highlighted by Pode and Elma Jean renewing their vows and a great family slideshow put together by Dave and Randy. Pode and Elma Jean looked great and it really was a beautiful scene! After the reception, the family had a nice dinner at Little Mexico in Republican City.

Before departing on mid-day Tuesday we had some good quality family time, visited the final resting places of various ancestors, visited cousin Paul at his insurance agency in Alma, looked at the former homes of Grandma and other relatives, visited second cousin Emily at the Alma City Hall, and did some family research in the Alma Library and the Franklin Library.

On Tuesday we drove home through Norton, Kansas, and Benkelman, Nebraska, doing a little bit of quick genealogical research at each site. We got to Denver around 6pm and proceeded to eat dinner at the Tilted Kilt in downtown Denver. The place had incredible waitresses and some good British beers that aren't usually found in Idaho. On Wednesday morning we had a quick jaunt around town and lunch at Chick-Fil-A before heading to the airport and ultimately home.

It was awesome seeing everyone and once again, congratulations to Pode and Elma Jean for 60 years of marriage!

Waggoner Anniversary Pictures!
Mom's Pictures!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Galena Peak Climb

Matt and I settled on a climb of Galena Peak in the Boulder Mountains on the Saturday before Labor Day. It would be Matt's first visit to the Boulder Mountains and possibly our last time above 11000' for the year.

We left Boise just after 6am and were climbing just after 9am. We were pleasantly surprised at finding a nice trail up the peak and a very straightforward path to the summit. The route, though direct, was a pleasant mix of forest and alpine terrain and passed some interesting mining debris. We also saw two mountain goats on the ascent!

Summit views were outstanding, however it was a little windy and brisk on the summit. We had considered a traverse to nearby Peak 10835' however the terrain, changing weather, and our late start caused us to skip the side trip. After chatting with another hiker on the summit, we started our trip back down to the vehicle. We had a pleasant descent and the trip made for an excellent conclusion to the summer hiking season!

Trip statistics: 4.58 miles, 3474' elevation gain, 5:43h

Galena Peak Pictures!
GPS Track

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Robbery Peak Climb

After some debate, Dan and I agreed to climb Peak 10255' in the Smoky Mountains on Sunday the 22nd. This peak is located near the headwaters of the Salmon River and believed to be unclimbed, so we were both looking forward to the trip. The headwaters area was very beautiful and quite green for August, providing great scenery as we approached the trailhead. As the road (marked "jeep trail" on the map) got narrower we parked, however in hindsight we could have driven a little bit further.

The hiking was great, starting on a road which eventually becomes a motorcycle trail and then a single-track trail. Part of the route actually follows the Idaho Centennial Trail. After passing through a gorgeous meadow, we headed uphill on steep terrain to the summit. Once atop the peak, we saw no sign of prior summit visitation so we believe it is indeed the first ascent of the peak - the first first ascent for me. The weather was quite pleasant, although somewhat cool for mid-August. Could it be Fall in the air? After building a cairn and Dan naming the peak "Robbery Peak" (Robbins + Vickery, get it??), we started to head down. Before descending too far we decided to add some distance to the day and climb the adjacent Camas County Highpoint, a peak which both of us had already climbed from a different route and on which Dan registered a first ascent back in 2001. Unsurprisingly, the peak looked the same but it did have a few more names in the summit register. Clearly, these peaks aren't climbed very often!

From there, we descended directly down to the road and back to the vehicle. On our way home we stopped and ate at the Burger Grill in Ketchum - a favorite stop from years before.

Trip statistics: 7.4 miles, 6:31 hours, 3255' elevation gain

Robbery Peak Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Saturday, August 21, 2010

MVP Camping Trip #3

The follow-up to last year's MVP Camping Trip was going to be Ohanapecosh Campground within Mt. Rainer National Park. This would be a long drive for us but an opportunity to see the park for the first time. In addition, there would be be two new participants, Tracy and Dan, both of Olympia. Sadly, Karen and Shaun couldn't make it so in combination with Sam, Joey, and Cecilia the trip would consist of the seven of us. The name "MVP" doesn't really work as well for this trip but I'm using it anyway!

The site reservation was chosen on the weekend following our anniversary. We thus decided to leave a day early and spend our anniversary night at the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City - a 111 year old hotel that was restored in the 1990s. After work on the 12th, we left Boise around 7pm, making to Baker City just after 8pm local time. After checking in, we ate a nice dinner at the restaurant - Katie had the crab cakes and I had the Idaho trout. Both dishes were great and the restaurant had a great vintage feel to it. We stayed in the cupola suite which was great - lots of room, windows, and nicely appointed. When checking out we were told this room is supposed to be haunted - other than a slightly moving chandelier, we noticed nothing.

On Friday we ate a late breakfast/early lunch at Subway before undertaking the drive to the campground. Driving was mostly highlighted by the eclectic iPod shuffle I put together. We ended up arriving at the campground at about 4pm - at almost the exact time as everyone else!

We were very impressed with the heavily wooded campground along the glacier-sourced Ohanapecosh River. The campground features a near-complete tree canopy of tall second-growth trees, a swimming hole complete with diving opportunities, a visitor center, and trails leading to nearby waterfalls and old-growth forest. We very much enjoyed our time in the beautiful surroundings relaxing with friends! We had a great time meeting Tracy and Dan, catching up with Sam and Joey, seeing how much Cecilia had grown since last time, hanging out around the fire, checking out the area, and eating lots of food!

On Sunday we all departed around noon, beginning the long drive home. We got home a little bit after 8pm, forced to prepare for a week at work.

MVP Camping Pictures (I apologize for the poor quality - we forgot our "real" camera and had to use the cell phone)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Vacation 2010!

Katie and I departed Boise around 11pm on Friday night, July 30th, for an all-night drive to Vancouver. We took turns driving and sleeping (though Katie got more sleep than I) and made it to Bellingham by the early morning. In Bellingham we visited the site of our wedding before stopping at Trader Joes to buy a few items. We soon crossed the border and were at the Shepherd house around 10am.

We were starving upon arrival so we ordered some Panago pizza. After this nice meal, we crashed for a few hours before meeting Kelly (who was at our wedding) at the Elephant Walk Pub. We had a good time catching up over Kokanee and then proceeded to head home to hang out with Dave and sleep.

On Sunday Katie met a couple of her friends. I chose to use the day to instead hike Dam Mountain in North Vancouver. This also gave me the opportunity to do the Grouse Grind, a famous and incredibly steep Vancouver trail that leads to Grouse Mountain Resort area. The Grind was much more prolonged and tougher than I expected... basically it is a staircase that is the approximate height of the Burj Khalifa. The trail was packed with people, which made the trail feel like some kind of outdoor gym and also meant getting stuck behind people and occasionally being tailed by someone faster. I even encountered one guy having a seizure (he was being attended to) and was just above another guy who kicked a small log down the trail which nearly wiped out one or more people. Basically the trail was nuts and struck me as a little bit unsafe given many of the people on it. After a lot of work I made it to the top in just under 65 minutes - pretty good in my opinion!

Once at the top I checked out some of the exhibits, including the zip lines and the grizzly bears. After some questions about the location of the trail (it was not signed) and the "bear in the area" sign, I was eventually headed toward the peak. Once I got going it became evident that the peak would be shrouded in fog - so much for having a summit view! I continued upward on a much narrower and more rugged trail than I expected - pretty much the total opposite from the Grind and much different from the somewhat busy Mt Seymour which I climbed last year. The trail was kind of surreal because it felt like wilderness but was actually paralleled by a noisy irrigation pipe, was overflown by zip lines, and was in earshot of the crowds cheering as they watched the lumberjack show. After scarfing some M&Ms and checking out the foggy summit, I headed back down to the resort where I managed to catch part of the raptor show. Every time I see that sort of thing it reminds me that falconry is cool. From there it was back to the aerial tramway and parking lot.

Sunday night I was left alone (Katie and Dave were both out and about) so I watched some TV and hit the Flying Wedge for dinner. On Monday we mostly ran errands in preparation for the camping trip, however the three of us did meet Greg and Carmina for dinner at White Spot.

Tuesday started bright and early with a 4am departure for the Syringa Provincial Park campground. After performing the final packing of our two vehicles, the five of us hit the 7-11 then headed east. We had some two-way radios to communicate which also made for good entertainment. We made good time and had breakfast at a Subway in Osoyoos which was memorable mainly for the bad service and the depleted pop fountain. Around 1pm we made it to the campground, being the first of our group to show up. Liz and the Aprims followed shortly thereafter and we all proceeded to setup camp.

Camping was great and was highlighted by the usual activities - eating, swimming, reading, relaxing, walking the dogs, sitting around the campfire, etc. In my case, hiking around the park and kayaking across the lake were also included. We also managed to power through a lot of beers - maybe as many as 100?

On Saturday we packed up our stuff and headed home, leaving the campground around 11:45am. The Aprims headed back to Vancouver, Liz and Dave continued camping at McDonald Creek, and we headed back to Boise. Katie and I did eat at the Subway in Castlegar before heading south. We had a minor navigational faux pas in Trail but otherwise headed right on down. We decided to have a nicer dinner in Lewiston and stopped at Matt's Grill where I had the bratwurst and Katie had the lemon chicken. Both were good and I had my first exposure to sauerkraut - a food I truly don't understand. We arrived in Boise just after 2am and 550 miles of driving. After unpacking a few things and a quick shower, we crashed and used Sunday to recover.

Summer Vacation Pictures!
Dam Mountain Pictures!
Dam Mountain GPS Track

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Braxon Peak Climb

Dan and I decided to climb a peak in the Sawtooths. We decided on Braxon Peak, which noted author Tom Lopez states has the "best 360 degree view in Idaho". Plus it is accessed from Redfish Lake Creek, an area neither of us had visited before.

We were scheduled to meet at 6am, however Dan missed his alarm and we didn't get going until 6:45am. We drove up in Dan's new Chevy Equinox, a nice ride which included the XM Radio for our entertainment. On the way to Redfish Lake, Dan informed me that he recently suffered a broken rib playing basketball and was on painkillers. I was surprised to hear this and my concern about this news would later be validated!

We caught the Redfish Lake shuttle just after 9:30am. The boat ride across the lake was enjoyable with incredible scenery, however we were both surprised by the casual nature of the operation - no life jackets nor any other bureaucracy required! We paid our money and were immediately taken on the boat. After taking a few pictures on the shuttle, we were on the trail just before 10am. After a brisk hike up the trail, we followed John's instructions and started hiking uphill just before a small footbridge. From here the going got much steeper and eventually required navigating around various cliffs and other obstacles. As we got higher, Dan was feeling worse, getting dizzy from the exertion. We decided we would evaluate whether to continue at the lake just above 8900' elevation.

After some work we reached the lake at 8900'. We ended up deciding that Dan would stay at the lake while I finished the climb up Braxon Peak. My goal was to climb and descend the final 1400' in 2 hours. I headed uphill at a pretty brisk pace but ultimately was slowed by the terrain beneath the summit ridge. After two failed attempts over class 4 terrain, I finally found a class 3 route up to the summit ridge. From there it was a steep but straightforward climb to the summit. The views from the summit matched Tom Lopez's description - a complete panorama of Sawtooth peaks that was actually somewhat overwhelming to take in! Because of my compressed time line, I didn't spend too long on the summit - I caught my breath, rehydrated, took a few pictures, signed the register, and was soon heading down. The terrain, while a little loose on the ascent, provided the perfect terrain for descent and I was able to make pretty good time back to the lake basin where Dan was waiting. In the end I was 30 minutes late which made up for Dan missing his alarm in the morning!

Dan had a leisurely time at the lake, relaxing and even taking a brief swim. Once we met up again, we descended the boulder-strewn and cliffy terrain back to the trail. There was actually a good deal of route-finding required to get back down! Once on the trail, we moved briskly to attempt to catch the earliest possible shuttle back to our car. Arriving at the dock at 6:10pm, we ended up having to wait until 7pm for a shuttle to arrive. The return shuttle was totally full (12 people on the boat and 3 others left at the dock) and the driver had concerns that we were going to run out of gas. However we did make it back to the vehicle, where we enjoyed Alaskan Ambers (courtesy of Dan) before beginning the drive back to Boise.

The drive to Boise was highlighted by XM Radio surfing, including various comedy shows, grunge, hair metal, and freestyle rap. Before we knew it we were back in town and sadly forced to get ready to go to work on Monday...

Trip statistics: 8.55 miles, 4129' elevation gain, 8:16h

Braxon Peak Pictures!
GPS Track

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mount Idaho Climb

On September 2, 2001, I climbed Hyndman Peak. Of Idaho's nine 12000'+ peaks, this was the first whose summit I reached. Last week, I climbed Lost River Mountain, which was number 8. I had a plan to climb my final "twelver" - Mount Idaho - with some people from Rupert this past Friday but it turned out that they couldn't make it. Ultimately I decided that instead of rescheduling I'd rather take Friday off and finish the quest by making a solo ascent of the peak.

After leaving Boise around 3:30am, I arrived at the trailhead around 7am. Surprisingly, three other vehicles were there too - a rarity for a somewhat obscure peak. From the trailhead I had a brisk hike up the forested creek bottom of Elkhorn Creek. After reaching treeline I was greeted with my first views of the peak and a steep climb of mostly good rock to the summit ridge. The summit ridge also yielded the day's first incredible views of the surrounding county - including Borah Peak, the highest peak in Idaho.

The summit ridge is blocked by three towers which add some climbing and route-finding to the ascent. For the most part, a trail identifies the easiest way around these obstacles but finding the trail sometimes took effort. Once to the base of the face, the route climbs a mixture of solid rock and usually good talus to the summit. It was quite a bit of effort to finish the climb, but ultimately I reached the summit in just over 5 hours! The view was incredible and the conditions were perfect! I spent about 45 minutes atop the peak relaxing, taking in the views, and sending a few text messages.

During the entire climb I was expecting to run into others due to having seen the vehicles at the trailhead. However upon leaving the summit I still had seen no one. I descended a loose talus line from the summit, a route that got pretty steep and forced me to cross a few patches of steep, rotten snow. Upon getting back to the base of the face, I ran into the group of seven that were just beginning the ascent of the face. Apparently I passed them somewhere... maybe in the forest? We chatted a bit and then headed our separate ways. Later I saw them atop the peak and eventually I found out five of them made the summit. From the base of the face the descent involved a mixture of solid rock, loose rock, and kind-of-loose rock on increasingly tired legs and aching feet. Once my dogs are barking my hiking pace slows dramatically and it took me quite a while to descend from the basin to the vehicle. Needless to say, ten hours later I was very happy to be back to the car!

Trip statistics: 7.52 miles, 10:05h, 5369' elevation gain

Mount Idaho Pictures!
GPS Track

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lost River Mountain Climb

I joined Matt Durrant and Mike Fox for a climb of Lost River Mountain, Idaho's 6th highest peak. Matt and I left Boise a little after 6pm on Friday and after stopping for dinner at Wendy's in Mountain Home, we headed over to the Joe T. Fallini campground to meet Mike. We got there just before 10pm and shot the breeze for a bit before going to bed. After a fitful sleep in the Escape, I (along with Matt & Mike who slept outside) was up early and ready to go a little bit after 6am. We had a quick drive over to the peak which was highlighted by an abnormally high amount of water in the irrigation canal on Upper Cedar Creek Rd. After questioning the sanity of the endeavor, I drove the Escape through the approximately 2' of water without incident. It was easily the deepest water crossing I've attempted in a vehicle!

We got going just before 7am and made great time up the open slopes to the lower treeline, through the trees, and to the upper treeline. From there we caught a surprisingly good trail into the famed Super Gully which only had about 500' of snow left. We had a surprisingly easy time reaching the base of the snow on pretty good talus. The snow was soft but we kicked steps and made good time up the steep terrain. Once above the snow, we ascended approximately 200' of some of the worst talus in Idaho. Gradually the rock improved and soon we were on the ridge leading to the false summit. From the false summit, it is a fun ridge walk over the summit.

We enjoyed perfect weather and incredible views atop the peak, spending approximately 45 minutes relaxing and naming neighboring peaks. On the descent, we enjoyed some great talus skiing and made it down the softer snow without any problems. From the bottom of the snow, it was mostly a hike down to the vehicle.

After dropping Mike off at the campground, Matt and I embarked on the long drive back to Boise, getting back home that evening.

Trip statistics: 4.46 miles, 4854' elevation gain, 8:33h

Lost River Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mt. Rose Hike

As part of our Reno trip, I managed to squeeze in a hike of Mt. Rose, a county highpoint and a peak that dominates the Reno skyline. I left the hotel just after 6am on Independence Day and was on the trail before 7am. Reno was having daytime highs in the 90s so I was surprised to find the morning temperature at the trailhead to be in the 30s - I wasn't dressed for that level of chill!

Once moving and into the sun, the temperature was no longer an issue. I moved quickly up the trail which still had quite a bit of snow on it. I didn't see a single person until halfway to the peak, where I found myself behind at least a dozen hikers, most of whom appeared to be Russian. After getting around that group, I sped up to the summit and was able to peaceably enjoy the incredible views of Reno and Lake Tahoe from the top! After enjoying the summit for a little while I headed over to nearby Church Peak, which featured very similar views to its bigger neighbor.

On the way back to the trailhead I passed what could only be described as a horde of people either climbing the peak or just hiking the trail. There must have been several dozen at least, and quite a few families. I made it back to the hotel around noon, in perfect time for lunch and the rest of our day of sightseeing and bowling!

Trip statistics: 13 miles, 2700' elevation gain, 4:40h

Mt. Rose Pictures!

PS: I forgot to bring my watch on the hike (despite packing it) so no detailed trip data this time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Reno Vacation!

In the spirit of last year's Las Vegas Trip, we decided to use the Independence Day holiday for a short vacation. I had Friday off so I used the day to clean up around the house and try out the new pizza place near our house. The pizza place passed muster and I also managed to get most of the cleaning done. I picked Katie up from work just after 5pm and we were in Reno for dinner. While renting a car I again got upsold to a Mustang... maybe Katie should take care of those duties in the future?

We had a nice patio dinner at the Silver Peak and both enjoyed our meals and brews! That part of downtown Reno had live music going on by the river - it was a great place to spend an evening. After dinner, we checked out downtown Reno a little bit then headed over to the Grand Sierra, our chosen hotel/resort. For whatever reason we got a room upgrade (the "summit") which was on the 20th floor and quite nice. We were also pretty impressed with the resort - lots of restaurants, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a driving range, a go-kart track, a bungee jump, and stores in addition to the usual gaming accoutrements. Katie was happy that the hotel was dog-friendly, so we got to see lots of pups, including a little dachshund puppy & an Old English Sheepdog! We also happened to be there the same weekend as the West Coast Scrabble Championship which enabled us to see ballrooms of people playing Scrabble for the first time.

Saturday we had a nice day checking out the cities of Reno and Carson City. Mostly we just did touristy stuff, like checking out the various historic sites and what-not. We had a couple of nice meals at the Island Cheeseburger place in Reno and Briscola at our hotel. Island Cheeseburger actually had an incredible beer selection which I wasn't expecting. We really enjoyed our driving tour of both places!

On Sunday I got up early to hike Mt. Rose just outside of Reno, while Katie took a walk around the casino & checked out the pool. After I returned from this nice hike, we had lunch at the Lodge Buffet (Katie's first casino buffet) then headed down to Lake Tahoe to see that area. We were both blown away by the scenery of the lake and also how crowded it was! Lake Tahoe has a huge fireworks show on the 4th and we were right in the middle of it - think Spring Break atmosphere! We drove most of the loop road, stopping at various points to check things out. On the way home we drove by Squaw Valley and up to Truckee, CA - which was yet another scenic drive.

On Monday I picked up my sports bet winnings (I won both bets on Rafael Nadal and the BC Lions), which was the only bright spot amongst our gambling adventures. We had a nice lunch at Deli Towne USA, which may be the best gas station cuisine we've had yet. From there we took in a Reno Aces game at their stadium near downtown. The game started well for Reno but eventually the Sacramento Rivercats took control and won the game. It was a day game and we managed to get some of the few (and popular!) seats that were shaded the whole time. Despite being in the shade, we still managed to get a little bit pink! After the game, we hit the Trader Joe's (so Katie could bring back a few items) and had dinner at BJ's. From there, it was back to the airport, ultimately Boise, and work the next day.

Reno Pictures!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boulder Mountain Hike

Last Saturday I hiked Boulder Mountain near McCall. Having never been in the Lick Creek Mountains, it was a great opportunity to see a new corner of Idaho. As is typical for me, I slept in and got a late start. After checking out the reservoir near the trailhead I was immediately stunned by the number of people on this trail... dozens of teenagers were backpacking out and I saw quite a few other hikers on the trail moving in both directions. Pretty high volume for Idaho where most outings result in seeing no one!

In less than an hour I reached Boulder Lake where a brief conversation with a kid resulted in him telling me I should hike slower and enjoy nature more. Perhaps he was right but that means getting up earlier - a total no-go! From there I hiked the trail around the lake under increasingly snowy and muddy conditions. Despite the conditions, there were people camped along the lake including some that brought llamas with them. Upon reaching the upstream side of Boulder Lake I ditched the trail and hiked the mostly bare south slopes of Boulder Mountain to the summit. The mostly dry terrain was a welcome respite, however near the summit I was forced on to some rotten snow that made me glad I went the way I did!

On top, I mostly had the summit and incredible views to myself. Not having hiked this area before, I was greeted with a summit panorama populated by many unfamiliar summits. More terrain to learn! Before I left four other hikers reached the summit... the one guy I talked to was from Caldwell. I thought about continuing on to nearby Jughandle Mountain but the low snow levels and late hour eliminated that option. Thus I headed directly down to Boulder Lake and to the trail, bypassing the snowy and muddy terrain that vexed me on the ascent. I should have ascended that way - the terrain was a little bit rocky and much more enjoyable!

After getting back to the car, I headed back home. However I decided to check out the bankrupt Tamarack Resort near Donnelly since I hadn't been there before. It's not every day you get to see a bankrupt ski resort! I found lots of partially built structures along with a general post-apocalyptic vibe. Quite unusual, but the scenery along Lake Cascade was incredible!

Trip statistics: 7.17 miles, 2418' elevation gain, 4:28h

Boulder Mountain Photos!
GPS Track

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jumbo Mountain Hike

After a quick back and forth of text messages, Dan and I chose to climb Jumbo Mountain near the South Fork of the Boise River. Dan had to be back in Boise by the evening so Jumbo's proximity to Boise and modest stats made it a good choice. We were on the road just after 7am and on the trail around 9:30am. On the way to the trailhead I had to take a few pictures at Anderson Ranch Reservoir since it was actually full and the views were incredible.

The trail started as an ATV track but shortly turned to decent singletrack. It climbed very steeply up the Jumbo Creek drainage and we were quickly to a nice meadow at 6000'. Instead of climbing to the ridge above Little Water Gulch we attempted to follow the abandoned trail along the upper reaches of Jumbo Creek. This trail proved to be non-existent so we gave up and just climbed the steep slopes to the ridge top west of the summit. From the ridge it was a very enjoyable hike to the summit through open terrain.

Despite not being very high, Jumbo Mountain has great views of the Soldier, Boise, and Smoky Mountains. The weather atop the peak was perfect - warm with a light breeze. After taking in the views we embarked on a direct but steep return to the car. On the way home we drove by the Castle Rocks since I'd never seen them before.

Trip statistics: 5.63 miles, 3335' elevation gain, 4:51h

Jumbo Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track
Dan's Trip Report

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sheep Mountain Hike

Last Sunday I decided to take advantage of the summer-like weather and bag a peak. Because I love to sleep so much I missed my alarm and didn't wake up until 9:30am or so. Despite this really late start I decided to attempt my initial planned objective, Sheep Mountain. After driving the agonizing washboardy and potholed road up the Middle Fork of the Boise, I arrived at the trailhead at about a quarter to noon. I chose to hike the peak via the north ridge, which looked like a much more enjoyable hike than the switchbacked route up the south face. My route was the longer of the two and with such a late start I knew I had to move fast in order to be off the peak at a reasonable hour.

I started hiking briskly and ended up gaining the first 1000' of elevation in 30 minutes... impressive for me. Shortly thereafter I reached the ridge and was able to take in the stunning views offered by this hike. It was easy cruising on the generally great trail (though it was motorcycle damaged in places) and I made great time. The GPS watch actually made for a great motivator for a solo hike like this - I'm sure I would've hiked slower without it giving me goals to achieve. Thankfully snow was a minor factor, only being present for the last few hundred vertical feet.

I reached the summit just after 2:30pm and was able to take in some of the best views of Boise Mountains I've experienced. Being my first summit in this general area, I enjoyed seeing the various peaks from a different vantage point. After spending some time enjoying the twin summits, being mindful of time I reluctantly headed back down. My descent was pretty brisk and I ended up getting back to the car just after 5pm. I really enjoyed this hike along the Middle Fork and hope to visit another peak in this area soon!

Trip statistics: 14.57 miles, 4167' elevation gain, 5:18h

Sheep Mountain Pictures!
GPS Track

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Vinegar Hill Hike

Dan and I were both available on the 5th for a hike. Because the weather in Idaho wasn't great, we opted for Vinegar Hill, a prominent peak in eastern Oregon where the weather was better.

We weren't sure how far up the road we could get but we made it roughly 7.5 miles in from the highway. There was more snow that we expected which wasn't a great match for the trail running shoes I brought. However the snow wasn't a major obstacle... a little bit soft but no major post-holing occurred. The trip was actually shorter than we expected... a rarity for a hiking trip! The weather was perfect and we both enjoyed the great summit views in all directions! Another fine hike in eastern Oregon!

This was also my first hike with my new GPS watch - so now I can provide super-accurate trip data. The things I do for my audience!

Trip statistics: 6.74 miles, 2076' elevation gain, 4:35h

Vinegar Hill Trip Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend...ROADTRIP!

It's officially Katie's next Blog Post! Mark your calendars, everyone! And try to control your bladders & your excitement, I know that was hard for me to do while I was typing this.
Word of warning: this will be a LONG Zach said "to make up for all the blog posts I haven't made". Haha. He's a funny guy.

Ok, so last weekend was the Memorial Day long weekend here in the United States of 'Merica, and Zach & I decided to go on a wee roadtrip to Long Beach, WA, because we're a couple of wild & crazy guys! We left the Treasure Valley on Friday evening after work, driving to the lovely (um, boring) town of Kennewick, WA (about a 4 hr drive) to pass out for the night.
The next morning, we drove on to our old 'hood, Olympia, WA, to check out what had changed since we'd last been there 3 years ago.
We got into the Olympia/Tumwater area in the early afternoon, and drove around town for a little while, stopping by Zach's old workplace (Department of Revenue), as well as our old apartment complex and my old workplace (Cascade Billing Company, which was right next to our old apartment complex). The most shocking change we found was across the street from our old apartment complex, which (when we lived there) was all forested - the trees have all been cleared, and a HEINOUS-looking housing development has been built there. The "houses" (I use that term very loosely) have a great view of the area, which is probably the only thing going for them. As Dad always said, if you live in it, you don't have to look at it! To each their own, I guess!

After we got over that monstrosity, we headed to our hotel & checked in, before going over to our friends Joey & Sam's house, to visit with them & their 17-month-old adorable little girl, Cecelia. Once Cecelia was out for the night (uh, and the babysitter showed up!), we all went down to the Fish Brew Pub - Fish Tale Ales is an organic Olympia brewery with awesome beer as well as apple & pear ciders. We had a great meal (I had the fish tacos which had grilled cod with an awesome non-mayonnaise-y coleslaw on top; Zach had the beer-battered cod & chips, which he also loved), and we drank an excellent pitcher (or two! between the 4 of us) of their Wild Salmon Organic Pale Ale.
We then went to an old hang-out - a Karaoke bar, of all places! Sam is an awesome singer, and we used to go there a few Saturday nights a month to drink some beer & be entertained by all the talented (and not-so-talented!) singers...Sam sang a few songs, including Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecelia" - it was shockingly the first time he'd ever sang that song in the 17 months his daughter's been alive! We also got to experience what I think was by far the worst rendition of "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" I have ever heard...if I hadn't seen the words on the Karaoke screen, I never in a million years would have guessed what song was being butchered! The poor woman only knew 1 note, but she stuck with it for the whole song...good for her, I guess!
After that debacle, we called it a night & headed back to our hotel.
Sunday morning, we spent some time wandering the Olympia Famer's Market. We picked up a huge bag of amazing Washington State cherries (strangely, cherries are not the best roadtrip food...who would have thought?! heehee), as well as some apples & bison pepperoni (Helmut's German Deli in Vernon, BC has absolutely nothing to worry about - their bison pepperoni still has first place in our hearts!). We got a few (rainy-weather) pictures of the Port of Olympia (NYK shockingly doesn't have service to this port!), checked out Capitol Lake and then headed out of town, on our way to Long Beach.

We made a stop in the tiny fishing town of Westport, WA, and checked out the (busy!) marina there...the real highlight of this stop was seeing a (gigantic!) sea lion swimming through the marina...Zach tried to get a picture when it's head was above the water, but it was too quick! Mom, I seriously thought it was a silkie! We really only got to see it's head a few times, and one of it's flippers, but it was really long & very cool!

After I got my fill of Irish folklore & marine life, we continued on to our final destination for the day - Long Beach! We checked into our little bungalow. Please notice in the picture of the interior of the bungalow, that the short, white, open door is the door into the ITSY BITSY bathroom. The door frame was literally as tall as Zach's chin, and the shower head in the (tiny) shower was about the same height! We didn't include a picture of the bathroom but it was covered in totally retro mint/avocado green tile, and was so tiny we both had to be careful not to smash elbows/butts/miscellaneous body parts while getting dried off! It was an adventure!

We walked along the boardwalk on Long Beach for awhile, but it was pretty rainy, so we decided to go on a car ride to a little town called Oysterville, that our friends Karen & Shaun (from Olympia) had recommended to us. (sidenote: we would have visited with them while we were in Olympia, but they chose that weekend to visit Vancouver, of all places!)
Oysterville was adorable - a little "town" stuck in the 1800's, with beautiful beach-front houses, an old schoolhouse & an adorable little church with a steeple that looked like a lighthouse! Also, we definitely picked the right time to travel through the Pacific Northwest, because apparently the end of May is RHODO BLOOMING SEASON! It was absolutely insane & beautiful - rhodos were EVERYWHERE, and in amazing colours...some were so big they reached the 2nd storey of the houses they were in front of!
We ate some dinner (We tried some PNW oysters that were pretty darn awesome), and went to bed early, to prepare for a long day of driving on Monday!

Monday morning, we checked out Cape Disappointment & a cool old lighthouse...the terrain at both was really rocky & impressive! We drove over the (4 mile long) bridge into Astoria, OR, and stopped at the Rogue Public House as they make some of Zach's favourite beers. We had a tasty lunch - I had a grilled salmon filet burger, Zach had a $10 haute dog - no really, that's what it's called - with caramelized onions & bleu cheese served with a mustard made with ale. We also tried a few of their beers, my favorite being their honey orange wheat beer (it was too citrusy for Zach, but then again...he crazy!)
After driving around Astoria for a bit (and passing the school that Kindergarten Cop was filmed at! Alas, no sightings of the house that Goonies was filmed at), we headed over to Portland.
I made Zach stop at the Dave's Killer Bread store so we could pick up some stuff we can't get in Boise, and from there, we drove allllll the way back to Boise. this portion of the trip was complete with a HORRENDOUS driving experience in Eastern Oregon where (due to highway construction for what felt like 300 miles) the oncoming lane of highway traffic was separated from us by flimsy bendable orange marker posts - thank you, Oregon Department of Transportation, you supreme jerks! With the combination of rain, wet pavement, the glare of oncoming traffic lights, it made for some white-knuckle driving! We made it, though, and arrived home around 12:30pm.

Tuesday morning came waaaaaay too early, but it was well worth the great trip! Unfortunately it rained almost the entire time, but it was still a trip filled with great friends, great food and great scenery & views!

Phew...ok, I'm FINALLY done. Before I go, I'd like to thank Zach for downloading a bunch of great music onto the Ipod for the trip...and would also like to take this opportunity to point out to everyone that one of the songs he downloaded was MARIAH FREAKING CAREY. Yes, my husband who used to be addicted to hardcore heavy metal also likes to rock out to "I'll Be There". Don't get me wrong, I belted that song out at the top of my lungs (to his chagrin, I'm sure!),'m a GIRL!
I'm sure Dave will defend Zach's choice!

Ok, that's it! See you all in another 6 months or so, when it's time for me to blog again! Juuuust kidding...I know I need to do this more regularly, so you don't get a massive monsoon post from me every 6 months!

Oh, here's some pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Washington Coast Trip Pictures

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Barenaked Ladies Concert

Katie has been a fan of Canadian band Barenaked Ladies for some time and attended their concerts when she lived in Canada. I was never as much of a fan because I didn't know much about their music and I consider their name to be egregious false advertising. However they were coming to Boise so we jointly decided we would attend. It would be my first "big name" concert visit in nine years! However I was saddened to learn they probably wouldn't be playing the only song of theirs I knew - Be My Yoko Ono.

The concert venue was an open grassy area at the Idaho Botanical Garden which meant that weather would be a concern. The weather forecast for Friday was uncertain and despite it not being very warm (temperatures were in the low 50s) it did stay dry! After a quick dinner at Pie Hole, we arrived just after 7pm as opening act Serena Ryder was beginning her performance. After being amazed by how busy the place was (the show was sold out) we found a decent spot on the grass. We ended up right near an old coworker of mine from Micron so the two of us caught up for a few minutes.

I wasn't a big fan of Serena Ryder's set but The Barenaked Ladies put on a great show. They started playing at about 8pm and played nearly two hours - more than most headline acts I've seen. I recognized a few of the songs but I think my favorite part was their improvised song honoring Boise which mixed vocal saxophone impressions with lyrics related to geological facts the band gleaned from the interpretive signs on nearby Table Rock.

On the way home the rain finally came... perfect timing!!

Serena Ryder performing with Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies

Concert venue

Barenaked Ladies early in their set

Barenaked Ladies onstage

Encore performance

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Office Move

My company has been doing some hiring lately and we outgrew our old office and phone system. We were literally hiring people with no place for them to sit nor a phone extension available! With the commercial real estate market being bad the company was able to get a good deal on a much bigger building. On April 30 we moved over there and we're finally starting to settle in!

Old building

Old desk. Note the snazzy Haworth Zody ergonomic chair.

New building. If you look really hard you can see the logo of Cypress Semiconductor, the former occupant of the building.

New desk

Bonus at the new building: A fridge full of free pop! Yes, that is champagne on the door!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Company Picnic

Katie's company had their annual office picnic on Saturday at Eagle Island State Park. Despite all of the crummy weather lately it actually turned out to be a nice day! I got to meet more of Katie's co-workers and many of their children while enjoying the hot dogs and other fare. Katie submitted two dessert items (brownies and oatmeal creme pies) for judging... hopefully she will be declared victorious!

Entrance to the day-use area

Shelter with Richard manning the grill

Lake at Eagle Island State Park

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grape Mountain Kayak/Hike

Last Spring, I intended to kayak across Arrowrock Reservoir and hike Grape Mountain. However, shortly after leaving shore I discovered my kayak was leaking and aborted the trip (I ended up hiking Shaw Mountain). Within a week I had repaired the kayak but I never returned to the peak - until this past Saturday!

I got a late start (shocking for me, I know) but I was on the water around noon. The water was a little choppy due to wind but it was nothing my fine craft couldn't handle. The constant splashing did provide extra motivation to paddle faster! Within a short time I had reached the far shore, but in a rocky, steep area which was kind of annoying to "de-kayak" in. After some scouting, I moved the kayak into a sandier spot downriver and cached the kayak in some conveniently placed deadfall.

From the cache spot, I embarked on a brisk hike up the steep lower aspects of the peak's southwest ridge. Immediately I noticed the arrowleaf balsamroot was flowering on the lower slopes - another sign of Spring! Below the ridge top, I spotted a half dozen elk grazing - however upon hitting the ridge their numbers were actually at least two dozen. Certainly the most elk I've spooked at once! Besides the elk, I later managed to spot blue grouse, chukar, and even a blue heron on the day.

Once on the ridge top, the hike became much gentler and a very pleasant ridgewalk up to the summit. Views were great and aside from the roads near the summit, this area seems to get very little use. The summit itself I had visited in 2007 (via a different route from the east) and I got to sign the summit register again. Due to wind and my late arrival, I didn't stay too long on top.

I descended via a different ridge (west ridge) which was much more shorter but also much steeper. The last few hundred feet above the reservoir were actually kind of obnoxious... steep, sandy, and loose. From the reservoir I worked my way over to the kayak so I could complete the round trip. Thankfully the kayak was in top shape and makes me want to find more peaks which I can hike in this manner!

Trip statistics: 1 mile kayaked, 8 miles hiked, 3150' elevation gain, 5.25 hours

Grape Mountain Pictures!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Idahosummits Spring 2010 Climb

The Idahosummits Message Board regularly arranges group climbs of various peaks in Idaho's central mountains. For various reasons (weather and living out of state) I've never attended one of these climbs. However everything finally came together for the Spring 2010 climb.

After some dithering, the group decided to climb Little Sister in the Lemhi Range on April 17. Dan and I made the drive over in my trusty Escape. There were some concerns about snow but once we got to eastern Idaho it was obvious that snow levels would be high enough to give us a good camping experience. Upon reaching the campsite (and finding John, Dave, and Steve already there) we were blown away by how great it was... fairly flat and with lots of room! Others gradually rolled in (Margo, Margie, Dave, and Alex from Pocatello, Jeff from Boise, Rob from Rupert) in the late afternoon. Steve made us an excellent salmon dinner which was followed up by good times around the campfire. Many of us were meeting each other for the first time so it was a good time to get acquainted and to tell various stories accrued over years of hiking. At about 11pm, everyone went to bed... however I don't think anyone slept too well due to the various noises (including my car alarm at one point) that persisted all night. Overnight, Matt and Michael (from Boise) and Russ (from Preston) also arrived. By morning we had 14 people at the trailhead!

We started getting ready about 6:30am and at this point it was sprinkling rain and snowing up high. Not the best climbing weather! We took our group photo then headed up the peak, first across sagebrush slopes and eventually into forest. It was nice brisk climb and we did a good job staying together as a group. We were getting snowed upon for awhile, but as we got higher it abated and the weather started to look more promising. About halfway up we put on snowshoes and followed the trail set by the early group (mostly John!) all the way to the top. As we got near the summit, the clouds totally broke and we were welcomed to the summit under blue skies!

The summit views were outstanding with all of the Spring snow still in place. Shortly after arriving, the early group returned to the summit (after their climb of Big Sister) which resulted in a total of 11 people on top - possibly a record for that peak! Eventually the wind started to pick up which motivated us to head down. The descent through the snow was a little bit slick as the snow had softened up quite a bit in the sun. After fighting fatigue for a bit, I found a rhythm and made a steady descent to the truck and beer!

We had a great time relaxing at camp in the sun before we finally headed out. Seven of us (most of the Boise crew) ate at Pickle's Place in Arco before finishing the drive home. In short, this was a great trip - thank you everyone!

Trip statistics: 3800' elevation gain, 5.75 miles, 7.75 hours

Idahosummits Spring 2010 Climb Pictures!

Dan's Trip Report
John's Trip Report
Margo's Trip Report
Matt's Trip Report
Dave's Trip Report
Jeff's Pictures
GPS Track

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cervidae Peak Hike

For a quick Spring hike I opted to climb nearby Cervidae Peak (which I also climbed last Fall). It would be my fourth time up the peak and the fourth time using a different route. This time I climbed from the Mores Creek Bridge which is actually a very enjoyable route. I saw lots of deer and chukars on the ascent - wildlife always makes a hike more exciting!

The trip was uneventful although the day was cloudier than I had hoped. After reaching the summit and reading through the register, I noticed that the previous entry was from BSU star football player Richie Brockel!

Trip statistics: 5 miles, 2350' elevation gain, 3 hours

Cervidae Peak Pictures!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

We hope everyone had a great Easter! Being the non-religious people that we are are, we didn't attend church or anything like that. However we did hard-boil some eggs and color them as part of the secular holiday tradition. Since we're nerds, we also had a little Easter egg hunt with the colored eggs :-)

Once that was over, I made a rare appearance in the kitchen and deviled the eggs. For dinner, Katie made a nice meal consisting of ham, roasted potatoes, green beans, and dinner rolls. Yum!

The day also involved the first yard mowing of the year and preparing our taxes (argh!). My only complaint is that it wasn't about 20 degrees warmer!

Freshly colored eggs!

Deviled eggs!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recent Happenings

Lately our respective jobs have been really busy so there's been a lot of working going on. We have managed to see a couple of movies, Crazy Heart and Green Zone. We found them both to be very good movies but very different - Crazy Heart was certainly my favorite of the two.

Last week I had some kind of stomach virus and had to stay home on Wednesday. Sadly most of my sick day was spent either in the bathroom or asleep somewhere. Fortunately it had mostly blown over by Thursday and I could resume my normal routine. However it's been a week and I still don't feel quite the same...

Last weekend I spent both days attending the Boise Code Camp as part of my never-ending professional development agenda. While it cost me a weekend, it was definitely worth it. While I was off being an uber-nerd, Katie spent Saturday with some friends watching various Corey Haim movies in memory of the recently departed teen icon. Katie reported that the movies they watched weren't very good which validated my decision to not go!

That's about all from here. Despite some snow today, we're excited about Spring (well, except for the yardwork part...)!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Danskin Mountains Hike

Since the weather has started warming up and the snow line has been receding, Dan and I decided to arrange a weekend trip. Since Dan wasn't available until late morning we opted for a quick hike near Boise, specifically Peak 5160+ in the Danskin Mountains. This is actually a fun area for Spring hiking... very open with wildlife and actually quiescent since ATV season doesn't start until April 10.

Our hike was uneventful and we got to spend lots of time leisurely hiking and catching up on things. We did see our share of wildlife... birds of prey, chukars, deer, and elk. The promised sunny weather didn't materialize but it was still a great first hike of Spring!

Trip statistics: 5.5 miles, 2150' elevation gain, 3.5 hours

Danskin Mountains Hike Pictures!

GPS Track

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

Ian used to make us aware of Pi Day, so in his honor we decided to actually celebrate this overlooked occasion. Katie said she would be making a pie and I got to choose what kind - so I chose key lime! As expected, it was amazing and the highlight of an otherwise subdued Pi Day. We hope all of our readers also had a great Pi Day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tennessee Visit

After my business trip in Raleigh, I flew to Nashville Friday night. Not surprisingly, the flight was filled with spring breakers departing the various universities in the Raleigh area. After arriving in Nashville, renting a Yaris, and driving to Winchester, I arrived at my Grandma's house at about 12:45am. My Mom was there too as she is helping my Grandma in her recovery from a recent knee replacement (her recovery is progressing nicely). After talking with my Mom for a bit, we both went to bed.

While at my Grandma's I got to spend time with my Grandma, Mom, Aunt Joy, and cousin Logan. I also took care of a few things around the house and also checked out some vintage slides from the 60s and 70s that I hadn't seen before. Also, my Mom had just gotten a new laptop and after setting that up I accompanied her on wi-fi expeditions to area hotspots Krystal and McDonalds. Other highlights included playing tennis (for the first time in at least five years) with Logan and driving my Grandma's new Prius. The Prius was a novel driving experience, mostly because it has that newfangled push-button ignition.

On Monday afternoon I had to drive back to Nashville to catch a flight back to Boise. The flight was uneventful but I was disappointed to find the temperature about 20 degrees cooler in Boise! After arriving at 11:30pm, it was off to bed and work on Tuesday.

Tennessee Visit Pictures!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Business Trip

My boss arranged a trip for several of the software developers at the Boise office to meet our counterparts at corporate headquarters in Raleigh. As part of the group chosen to travel, I was able to go on my first ever business trip! We left Boise around mid-day Wednesday and got to Raleigh just after 8pm. On the flight out of Boise we were on the same flight as Olympic biathlete Sara Studebaker who was returning to Lake Placid for more training. I'm particularly glad I didn't check a bag - not only did I save $25 in fees but the two people who checked their bags both had them miss our connection in Chicago!

Thursday we spent most of the day at the Morrisville office in a meeting with the software developers and managers from Raleigh. It was actually a very interesting and beneficial meeting as we gained a much better understanding of what really goes on from a technical perspective and how us Boiseonians could benefit from all of the software investment being made at the corporate level. I was very impressed to find a fridge stocked with free pop, great people to work with, and a generally nice office environment. After being in a conference room all day, we adjourned around 4pm to get ready for dinner. We had a nice meal at Firebirds - I had the coconut shrimp which were very good and discovered my new favorite beer: Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. It's like a light stout but with extra creaminess that I've never experienced in a beer. That stuff was so good - I wish I could somehow take some home!

Friday morning we had more meetings which included some other Raleigh staff where they explained some of their technology at the hardware/firmware level and their testing strategies. Once again, all good stuff for us to better understand the company we now work for. We also got a tour of their facility which included some interesting equipment, such as electric meter calibration gear, electro-static discharge (ESD) test equipment, an x-ray machine for identifying component failures, and even an anechoic chamber (used for RF testing). Pretty darn cool stuff! Afterwards, we picked up lunch at a Chick-Fil-A which was actually the first time several of the group had eaten there. After lunch we took a brief tour of the headquarters in Raleigh where most of the my division's management is located. We then drove around town a little before heading toward the airport to catch our various flights.

However I did not go to the airport - I scheduled a late (7:45pm) flight to Nashville so I could spend some time with my family in Tennessee. I was dropped off at the hotel and John, a friend from college and resident of Cary, NC, picked me up from the hotel just after 4pm. I got to meet his girlfriend Crystal and catch up on everything. We had a small dinner at a nearby O'Charleys before I was dropped off at the airport. From there, it was on to Tennessee for a brief family visit!

Morrisville Office

Fridge full of free pop (refilled every day)

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe

Matt and I decided to go snowshoeing on the 27th. Weather around the state wasn't looking good so we decided upon Craters of the Moon National Monument which seemed to have the most promising forecast. Craters of the Moon is a volcanic area in eastern Idaho with lots of interesting volcanic formations, open terrain, and groomed winter trails. The lava fields, normally black in summer, was instead bright white with snow!

I met Matt just after 6am and then suddenly realized I left my snowshoes at home. D'oh! After driving back to my house to get them we ended up leaving Boise 45 minutes later than we had planned. The drive across the state was a little bit snowy at first but once we got to the Camas Prairie the weather turned into high broken clouds - about the best we could hope for! We parked at the visitor's center and began snowshoeing the groomed road just before 10am. We made good progress and were quickly at the end of the groomed road and had to start breaking our own trail toward the formations we were planning on climbing.

Overall the snow conditions were decent... usually there was a supporting layer underneath a few inches of soft stuff. Some areas were total sugar which was frustrating... but in roughly two hours we attained the summit of Broken Top. After taking in the view, we headed down and over to Big Cinder Butte, the highest volcanic feature in the park. Big Cinder Butte is a neat spot with a commanding view of the surrounding area. The weather appeared to be deteriorating so we quickly descended through the beautiful limber pine forest and headed up Half Cone, a minor summit near Big Cinder Butte. After relaxing on Half Cone for a few minutes it was almost 3pm and with still worsening weather we had to start heading home. The snowshoe back to the car was long and somewhat tiring and we got back to the vehicle under a light snowfall at about 6pm.

When we were roughly a quarter mile from returning to the groomed road, Matt had one of his snowshoes totally fall apart. We were both lucky this happened where it did - if it had happened far from the road we would have had a serious problem likely requiring some Bear Grylls-style improvisation!

A final footnote is that I was stupid and neglected to apply sunscreen because it wasn't sunny... needless to say my red face was the source of comedy at work on Monday. Once again I'm reminded that the red man reaction is not satisfaction!

Trip statistics: 13 miles, 1600' elevation gain, 8 hours

Craters of the Moon Snowshoe Pictures!
Matt's Trip Report

Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Memory of Grandpa Dow

Last week I learned that my grandfather had passed away at his home in Tennessee at the age of 86. Always of sound mind, his body gradually failed him as he battled Parkinson's Disease. I'm sad that I will no longer see my Grandpa but his passing does remind me of all of the great memories he left me with.

I have a bounty of fond memories from summer vacations spent at my grandparents' house in Tennessee. Grandpa taught me how to fish which became a highlight of summer. Of course, he would proceed to gut whatever I caught (usually bream or catfish) as I recoiled in horror! I used to love to watch my Grandpa operate his ham radio station (call sign: K4VR) and to play with his radios, learning how they worked and listening to all kinds of interesting transmissions on the HF bands. Those experiences motivated me to eventually become a licensed ham at age 17 (call sign: KF4LAJ). Grandpa was also a famous backseat driver and I fondly remember learning to drive around Winchester while getting rather aggressive suggestions about what I could or should be doing! I would be remiss to not mention his love of seafood (OK, food in general) and his passion for cleaning his plate at every single meal. Every time I clean my plate (which actually seems like most of the time these days!) I can't help but think that he would be proud!

Besides my personal memories, I would also like to share some of many great pictures of Grandpa from my collection. Grandpa, we love you and miss you!

Pictures of Grandpa Dow!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chimney Peak Snowshoe

Dan invited me on a snowshoeing trip to Chimney Peak in the Soldier Mountains. John also joined in and we left from Boise just after 6:30am. After driving through snow flurries outside of Mountain Home, we popped out into daylight on the Camas Prairie just before 8am. By 8:20am we were on our way.

Dan knew the route since he had been on the peak before. John is in great shape and was willing to lead most of the way and did a great job - I nominate him for an award for excellence in trail breaking! We made good progress and were on the summit just after noon. It was a tad bit windy and cold on the summit so we didn't stay on top too long.

The area is a mecca for snowmobilers but surprisingly we only saw two the whole day - both right near the summit. When we returned to the trailhead there were probably a dozen trailers in the parking lot. On the way back we encountered the Kite Soldiers Snow Kite event (hosted by Snowkite Soliders) which was pretty neat to check out.

Trip statistics: 9 miles, 2100' elevation gain, 5.75 hours

Chimney Peak Pictures!

John's Trip Report
Dan's Trip Report

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday

Thursday was my 31st birthday. For various reasons, I opted to take the day off from work. I couldn't come up with an appealing snowshoe trip idea, so I opted to sleep in. Upon waking up, I chose to go up to Bogus Basin Ski Area for some cross-country skiing. It was my first time cross-country skiing and I was able to get a 1-on-1 hour-long lesson for the amazing price of $5. Actually the entire package of ticket, rental, and lesson was only $25 which seemed really cheap to me. The lesson went well and I was pretty quickly able to navigate the beginner and intermediate courses. I had a great time and would like to go back soon!

After spending roughly 3 hours on the snow, I returned home for dinner. Katie and I went to The Front Door for pizza and beer. The pizza was actually really good... we got a pizza that was half double-cut pepperoni (extra thick, in other words) and half pesto & veggie. I'm not sure which half was better - they were both amazing! They also had great beer - I had the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Rogue Chocolate Stout, and the Sockeye? ESB. My main peeve was they had the "beer snob" thing going on where they serve you beer in snifters. Totally unnecessary!

In summary, I had a great birthday - I'm sure I will remember my first day cross-country skiing as well as I remember my first day downhill skiing on Super Bowl Sunday in 2001!

To top it all off, on Friday I had a nice birthday dinner with Gary & Bonnie at Red Robin. Upon getting home, I had some tiramisu from the Boise Co-op that Katie picked up. All amazing food but I think I'll have to burn some calories this weekend!

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes and gifts!

View from the Nordic lodge at Bogus Basin

Gorgeous sunset on Bogus Basin Rd in the foothills above Boise

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mountain View Peak Snowshoe

On Sunday, Dan and I met in Boise to go snowshoeing. Because Dan had a Monday meeting in Hailey, we drove separately. In Twin Falls we drove together to Magic Mountain Ski Area, the start of the snowshoe. The goal: Mountain View Peak, a rather lame destination in the Goose Creek Mountains. If we felt interested, we would go over to Grand View Peak (adding 3 miles to the trip).

The snowshoe started off on a groomed road. After we reached some cabins, we followed a trail for a little ways before heading directly up the ridge. Once on the ridge, we followed snowmobile trails to the summit. The views were decent but we declined to go over to Grand View Peak so as to get home at a more reasonable hour.

Since I was driving home in actual daylight, I was able to stop at Malad Gorge just off of I-84. I'd always wanted to check it out and I didn't even realize there were so many waterfalls in the canyon.

Despite being an unexciting peak, it was great to get out for the first time since November and to bag my first peak of 2010!

Mountain View Peak Snowshoe Pictures!

Trip statistics: 5 hours, 10 miles, 1000' elevation gain