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