Escape to Bear Valley

Erin and I decided to beat the heat and the July 4th crowds by making a run to her home town Bear Valley. El Jefe punished us on the local dirtbike ride, dragging us over every log and rock he could find. Upon returning from the great ride we were greeted by Nada with some tasty snacks which I immediately followed with a nap on the hammock… I know, rough right? After the nap we had just enough time to shower, eat more great food, then head to Mosquito Lake for a sunset and some photos.

Mosquito Lake

Mosquito Lake

We made sure the local inhabitants (mosquitoes) were well fed before heading back home.

Bear Valley is a pretty good spot for laying back and staring at the night sky. We happened to be there close to a new moon so I decided I would make my first attempt at photographing the Milky Way. Definitely room for improvement but I really look forward to making more photos like this.

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Lake Alpine under the stars.

We then headed up to Cape Horn to try to make some star trail photos, which didn’t turn out to my liking. Luckily star trails take a long time to make so we just sat back and drank hot cider under the stars for a couple hours before calling it a night. Great weekend!

Once again thanks for having a look!

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Beat the Heat

Benny B invited me for a day out on the lake a few weeks ago and although spending yet another hot weekend  working on the front yard rehab sounded glorious, I grabbed my camera and tagged along. I don’t have too much to say so I will just attempt win you all over with cute kids!

Addie

Jax

Shred

Wake surfing… it’s kind of an old guy thing.

Oakley model?

Oakley model?

Stripes and Spray

Stripes and Spray

Contemplating string theory or just tuckered?

Contemplating string theory or just tuckered?

Heat Wave

Heat Wave

Thanks again to the Barnes and Bohlanders for letting me tag along!

Thanks for having a look and up next are some photos from Bear Valley and my first attempt at shooting the Milky Way.

BOOM!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

From the rooftop of TMW

From the rooftop of TMW

I have REALLY been slacking on the blog. Updates to come soon… promise.

Meet the 125

I have been in a bit of a photography drought as of late. Other aspects of life have limited my opportunities to get out and shoot. Hopefully with a little better time management I can get that sorted out. One of the aspects that has been consuming copious amount of my time is preparing for the upcoming MRANN race session. I wish I could say I have been biking, running, and riding a lot…. but I haven’t. Bike prep has been my primary focus and fitness has been my, well, not.

We (Ziggy and I) decided to do something a little different this year. If you are smart (relative term when talking about racing motorcycles in the desert) you race a fuel injected, twin cam, 450cc four stroke pushing over 50hp with a torque curve so broad that shifting is almost optional.  These bikes will easily do over 70mph stock and when geared for the type of racing that makes up most MRANN races closer to 80mph. New, plan on spending about $8000 and then dropping another $1000 to set it up for the desert. If you are Ziggy and I (or a 14 year old getting their first big bike) you buy a used 125cc two stroke pushing a whopping 35hp and a usable rpm range from about 10,000-12000rpm. Oh and I hope you are ready for the blistering top speed of 60mph…

After a new piston, crank, linkage bearings, suspension rebuild/revalve, and of coarse graphics, here is what the mean machine looks like.

One Deuce Nickel

One Deuce Nickel

I haven’t raced since August of 2012 and I have to say I’m pretty excited for the first race of the year tomorrow! I’ll let you all know if the 125 idea was as dumb (and fun) as it sounds.

The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim – Day 3

After a solid night of sleep I woke up wondering what the hike out was going to be like. I asked my Dad the same questions I had asked him multiple times each day, how far, how much elevation, how long? Unfortunately his answers hadn’t changed. When it comes down to it hiking is just walking and you could pretty much walk forever right? As we packed up it was nice and cool. That perfect temperature at which you only get cold if you sit still for any amount of time. We must have slept in a bit because I noticed that besides a few deer looking for table scraps we were darn near the last people in camp. We finished eating and decided we had better get going.

Once you leave the campground you walk about a half mile, cross the Colorado River, and then there is no place to go but up.

Small cabin just past the campground.

Another smokey morning.

It's all up from here.

It’s all up from here.

Your legs start to feel heavy as the first bead of sweat rolls down your face and you have no choice but to settle in and just enjoy the views.

The crew pausing to have a quick look.

The crew pausing to have a quick look.

Looking back down on the Colorado.

Looking back down on the Colorado. (Bonus points if you spotted the rock face from the photo above.)

….up and up and up….

Switchbacks with a view.

Switchbacks with a view.

Heather and Al.... up.... up.... up....

Heather and Al…. up…. up…. up…. (pardon my polarizer!)

My dad kept telling us about this nice flat section. Well, it wasn’t that flat and it was about 100 yards long but I enjoyed every second of it. We stopped and finished off the last of the bread, peanut butter, and honey then got moving again before anyone got too comfortable.

Gettin' closer.

Gettin’ closer.

We eventually made it to the top, did some high-fiving and hugging, cleaned up, and I proceeded to absolutely gorge myself on burgers and ice cream.

If this sort of thing tickles your fancy I would highly recommend getting a good group together and going for it. Just don’t leave your wedding ring in the showers when you finish on the South Rim!

Group photo.

Group Photo.

The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim – Day 2

Day 2 of the Grand Canyon trip started out cool and smokey. The plan for day two meant a longer hike than day one but now the trail was nice and flat. We would hike along Bright Angel Creek until we reached the Colorado River. Day two was highly motivated by the tales of actual cold beer at the final destination of the days walk. My pack was already getting lighter as Al was now graciously carrying a bit of my gear; an ankle brace and a knee brace. Poor guy is getting kinda old!

Sun peeking through the smoke.

Sun peeking through the smoke.

One of the days side adventures was a trip to Ribbon Falls. The trail to Ribbon Falls splits off the main trail and takes you over a bridge. Once over the bridge you begin to head back up a canyon adjacent to the much larger one in which we had been spending our trip. The canyon is quite narrow but it eventually opens up right before it dead-ends at a water fall. The water runs over the edge of the cliff and falls about 25 ft before it splashes onto a rock formation that I assume has formed over the years much like a stalagmite. The water then runs down the formation an additional 45 ft until it forms a small pool at the bottom. I did a horrible job of capturing the falls with my camera so you just get to see some of the moss growing on the rock formation.

Others

Others

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Ribbon Falls.

Once back to the main trail we wandered along and soaked up the scenery. As this particular finger of the canyon converges to the Colorado River it becomes more and more narrow until nothing is left but the the creek and the trail. Eventually we found ourselves at the famous Phantom Ranch and I was ecstatic to find the rumors of homemade lemonade and cold beer were true!

Falling behind as the others cruise down the trail.

Falling behind as the others cruise down the trail.

A bit of grass growing along the Bright Angle Creek.

A bit of grass growing along the Bright Angle Creek.

Crossing back and forth over the creek.

Crossing back and forth over the creek.

Trailside details.

Trailside details.

Soaking our feet at the end of the day.

Soaking our feet at the end of the day.

After enjoying a few lemonades and beers we finally set up camp and proceeded to make some dinner. Next came the most challenging part of the day….. The bar at Phantom Ranch closes from 5-8 so they can prepare and serve a select few dinner. We sat around like children waiting for Santa to arrive. Managing to stave off sleep for a few hours until the bar re-opened, we enjoyed one final beer and hit the sack. We had a long day ahead of us with nowhere to go but up.

Stay tuned for the final day of the trip! Happy Holidays!!!

The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim – Day 1

Some time ago my dad started making regular backpacking trips to the Grand Canyon. One of his favorite ways to do it is to start at the North Rim and over the course of three days hike out the South Rim. Well the old man calls me one night and says “Hey, you want to hike the Grand Canyon in two weeks?”  I had never been to the Grand Canyon and since I rarely plan more than a week ahead my schedule was open. I told him to count me in. A few weeks later I hopped on a plane headed to Las Vegas with nearly equal parts backpacking gear and photo gear. It seemed like my head had just hit the pillow when my alarm started going off. We were on the road by 5:00 and to the North Rim by 10:00. The plan for day 1 was to leave the truck at the North Kaibab Trail trailhead and make the 8 mile hike down to the Cottonwood campground.

We started down the trail on our merry way and within 10 minutes I got my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. We also got the first glimpse of the smoke we had been smelling. Did I mention that they had been performing controlled burns?

Ssssmmmokey!

Ssssmmmokey!

Turns ahead...

Turns ahead…

The trail starts out with switch back after switch back but because of all the trees it is hard to tell just how fast you are dropping. As you go deeper into the canyon the sides of the trail change from slopes to vertical walls that almost glow when the sun hits them. You just keep going and going and after a while you start to feel pretty tiny.

Finally a straight part!!

Finally a straight part!!

Taking it in.

Taking it in.

The hike down can ruin the rest of a persons trip. If you get a blister or a sore knee, which is very possible during 8 mile of downhill, your next couple of days are going to be miserable. My brother-in-law Al had made this hike with my father a few years back and was (un)lucky enough to develop some really nice blisters on the way down. This time he was doing much better and was recalling the tale to my sister and I…. “And right there is the rock I sat on to bandage my feet and your dad just leaves me there…” right as he gets to the part where he describes (in detail) the anaconda sized rattle snake that came out of nowhere he belts out this “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!” that sounds like a Yeti stubbing his toe in slow motion and disappears. I rushed over to him but was laughing so hard I could barely get a properly focused photo of him rolling around in the dirt. His ankle immediately swelled to the size an orange (his ankles are usually surprisingly petite). We decided we better get moving before that snake realized Al was back in town and returned to finally finish him off.

I eventually helped him up.

I eventually helped him up.

More smoke.

More smoke.

We eventually made it to the campground and set up for the night. After soaking our feet and in Al’s case ankles, we made a quick bite to eat and watched the canyon walls change colors with the setting sun. I had aspirations of making some star trail photos but at the last minute I wimped out and decided not to lug my tripod along. That is okay though because sunset was at about 6:30 and I think we were all asleep by 6:31.

I hike with old people. They use sticks.

I hike with old people. They use sticks.

Campground Colors 1

Campground Colors 1

Campground Colors 2

Campground Colors 2

Thanks for stopping by! Day 2 is coming up next.