Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Owl's Head: Stay and Play, Evacuate, or Rapid Evac.?

View from the slide
Owl’s Head is the most remote of the New Hampshire 4000fters. Even taking the shortest route it's an 18 mile hike and that includes a two mile bushwhack. (more on that later)

The most discussed aspect of Owl’s Head, aside from its remoteness, is the lack of a marked summit trail, the "path " to the top being a 1500 foot vertical climb primarily up a narrow rock slide. On the scary-rock-slide scale where the North Tripyramid Slide is a 10, the Owl's Head slide probably rates a 6. Of course having it covered in ice raises the rating a point but with our trusted microspikes firmly fastened on we ascended through the rubble and ice, enjoying some great views of a snow-covered Franconia Ridge and reaching the peak around 1:30.

Since the summit is forested there's not much to see, we were back on the slide in no time. It was as I was slowly negotiating a tricky patch of ice that I heard something behind me and turned to see SD somersault down a small gully to my left. After the first flip his descent slowed but then he flipped again before wedging himself between two scrubby little life-saving trees before the gully dropped another 10 feet onto solid rock.

Taking in his crumbled form, his "oh shit ", the blood spots on the snow above him and the blood running down the side of his head, my first thought was how lucky it was that we took the wilderness first aid course last weekend. My second was a refrain from the class, "a head injury is never an option to stay and play, it is always an evacuation. The only question is it merely an evacuation, or is it a rapid evacuation."

Then I moved over to his side and almost punctured him with my microspices. We both quickly did the initial assessment and determined that nothing was broken. Thankfully he'd been carrying the backpack which probably protected his back during the fall. The next big issue was his location. Were he to loose consciousness, and with the blood still dripping down his head that was a possibility, there was no way I could stop his further fall down the slide. It was only then when we were carefully swunging his legs down to the ice that I noticed his shattered hiking pole. The shaft was broken off right where the pole entered the handle, making it completely useless. (Also making it's structural failure the possible cause of the fall). So now we had a guy with a head wound, on the side of rock slide, on a mountain 9 miles from the nearest road, and only 1 hiking pole.

View from the summit
Once we had SD onto a relatively flat area I took a longer look at his head. On the top right was one gash maybe an inch long from which most of the blood was dripping. After cleaning it out with some snow I was thankful to see it didn't look deep and the blood was already starting to slow. Bad news was a large bump was also already starting to grow. On the front left of his head there was also a spot, the size of a quarter, that was skinned bare. It wasn't bleeding but it too was starting to swell. I made little ice packs out of snow and held them to his head for a little while all the while remembering how our first aid instructors had warned us against snow burn but also how they'd insisted that with any head injury you must keep the swelling down. And right now on the side of a mountain my biggest concentric was keeping the swelling down so I could get SD safely down to the base of the slide.

I was also trying hard to remember at just what point a head wound went from a regular evacuation to rapid evacuation, along with wondering how, if we did need to do a rapid evacuation, I could get help. We had  been passed by another hiker who was still on the mountain, so I knew that we had one option for getting help if we needed it. But that was our only option, you can forget calling 911 or the ranger station. There's no reception in this valley.

 At this point SD said he felt fine, and while his pupils looked good, the bumps were still swelling. I gave him one of my poles and we continued slowly down the slide stopping every five minutes or so to put a little snow on the cuts hoping to stop the swelling. It took about half an hour to reach the base and I took a little sigh of relief. At least now if he became dizzy we were somewhere safe. He was also looking and acting fine even getting back to his annoying self by pretending to have a heart attack. I strongly disallowed any further pretend illnesses!

With the first stage of the evacuation over, Evacuation Stage Two, was now underway. We were 8 miles from help and SD still had two growing egg shaped bumps on his newly bald head. We opened the Toblerone bar, cleaned out some more blood, spread antibacterial gel on the wounds, had some more chocolate and decided we'd take it slow but start heading back. If all went well it wouldn't get dark until we were at our planned tent site, about three miles back down the trail, close to the river and at the intersection of the trail and the bushwhack.

 Broken pole
A little down the trail we were passed by the trailrunner who'd passed us earlier on his way up the mountain. The first time we saw him he had only paused long enough to say hi. This time he stopped and chatted, asking us about our hike and our plans, all the while looking us over pretty closely. I'm not sure if he spotted the blood on SD's jacket, or hat, or if he'd spotted the blood back on the slide but he didn't leave us until he was sure we were okay. I was sad to see him go. He was our last known chance to get help. In retrospect I probably should have sent out word with him that if we weren't out by mid day tomorrow that someone should come in. But SD was looking fine, making great time, and I was sure we'd be back in cell phone range when we got to the proposed tent site.

We weren't. We made the tent site in time, but there was no phone reception. Still we had accomplished Evacuation Stage Two and SD's condition was improving. By the time dinner was finished, the swelling was actually going down and while his head was sore he didn't have a headache. All that remained was to spend the night (waking every two hours to check his condition) and walk out the remaining 5 miles in the morning.

We arrived at the car by 10:00am the next day having safely evacuated with a head injury. Looking back I guess we did okay. We certainly were lucky that it wasn't worse. We were also lucky to have just completed the wilderness first aid course. While the injury wasn't too serious we both knew what to look for and how to handle it. And I didn't have to freak out - too much. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hurricane - Halloween Puns

Since the weather reporters won't resist making horrible Halloween hurricane puns, I have to choice but to record them. (Please feel free to send along - and site, all you find):

Hurricane Sandy, winter storm hybrid, dubbed a "Frankenstorm" by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Meteorologists expect a natural horror show of high wind, heavy rain, extreme tides and maybe snow  - Huffington Post

"Mother Nature is not saying, `Trick or treat.' It's just going to give tricks."- Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground

Hurricane Sandy could be a Halloween nightmare for USA- abc news. 



I stand corrected - there will be no puns

Partly to underline the seriousness of the situation, The Weather Channel has refrained from using the "Frankenstorm" nickname coined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week when the storm was a model on its computer forecasts.
"Being cute about this storm is not the right idea," Norcross said.

Read more: http://india.nydailynews.com/newsarticle/82249956320da323611910db313c938a/tone-turns-ominous-at-the-weather-channel#ixzz2AgahWoWk

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thoughts on being in the 53%

Glad to support this too!!!
This week there have been lots of stories about the 47%. Most of them are hard working people just trying to get by and/or get a leg up, many of them veterans or the elderly who have already made great contributions to this country. Many others who might be down now but will eventually pull through. Thinking over those stories it occurred to me that not only am I in the 53%, but that I’m proud, even happy to take my turn and contribute my share for the 47%.

I am by no means rich. I’m 51 and have no retirement plan, but I’ve started building it. I am living comfortably. Like everyone I don’t like paying 28% of my income in taxes. But now I understand just how much other good people depend on that money, just how much our country depends on everyone paying their fair share. I may disagree with some of the ways the money’s being spent (and I do), and the fact that the 1% isn’t paying their fair share, but I’m honored to be able to take my turn and help others.

 I haven’t always been in the 53%. For the ten years I was a single mother working two jobs,I did not pay taxes. Of course I paid payroll tax, and social security and medicare, but I didn’t make enough to pay income taxes. I also did not take any ‘government assistance’ but I relied heavily on the government supported infrastructure for transportation, security, education, etc. I owe a lot to the system. Its four years overdue but never too late, thank you America, glad I can now be of assistance.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bike, paddle, hike - reverse

Last monday was a perfect Summer II kind of day - 70 and sunny. Perfect for hiking, biking or kayaking. It was hard to pick one, so we decided to do them all. A sort of make-your-own-triathlon!

 First we biked 15 miles. Stashed our bikes, switched shorts and shoes and launched the kayak. We chose the tandem and now I know why people have such a hard time paddling those. At the very least they do mot give you the light and free feeling of a single kayak. Rather than paddling a little slipper its like paddling a bathtub. One of those old porcelain claw foot tubs. Anyway I digress.

We paddled over to Choate Island, hauled the tub up on the beach and set off down the trail. Choate Island lies just inside Crane Beach. And while I've paddled around it about 27 times I'd yet to hike it.

 The trail runs south along the shore and then begins to ascend to peak first passing the 1790's barn, the cottage and then the Choate house. The Choate house was built in the 1700's and peering through the windows you can easily see that not much about the house has changed.

Continuing up the path, its no longer the house that catches your attention, it's the view. To the south, Cape Ann stretches out to the bluff that is Halibut Point and to the East lies the Atlantic Ocean. It being a windy day, we could also see a large line of breakers just off the beach. Inside the Basin, on the clam flats were a number of clammers. Just a little further up the hill we came to the peak, the burial ground of Cornelius and Mine Crane, the folks who owned then donated the island and hundreds of the surrounding acres to The Trustees of the Reservations keeping them free of development and open to the public forever. The view from the yard was to the North and spectacular. New Hampshire 's Isle of Shoals lay just off to the Northeast. Further North was the outline of Maine 's coastal mountains and you could see all the coast from there back to the beach where our kayak lay.

Reversing the day was no less beautiful although the kayak leg against the tide and a 14 knot wind was a bit more challenging and wet as I discovered yet another unlikable aspect of the double. It can take in a fair amount of waves coming over the bow. On the ride home we stopped and blazed through a turkey wrap from the Essex Village market. The bike, kayak, hike, reverse Triathlon took 5.5 hours. 5.5 hours of fun.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bed, Bath: Before and After: a Photo Essay

From this:

To this (for 3 weeks):

To this:

From this (aka The Wolf Den):

To this:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Year of the Tomato - Day 48

Last night I dreamed that all the tomato gardeners on the North Shore gathered together with all their varieties of tomatoes for a giant tomato tasting. Thousands of tomatoes were lined up on wood plank tables. The knuckled heirlooms in one area followed by the perfect curves of big boys, better boys and romas and then multi-colored jumbles of cherry tomatoes. Around them walked hundreds of tomato gardeners, eating, tasting and talking tomatoes. I tried to stop tasting those tomatoes but there was always one more I had to try.

 I woke up from the dream in a cold sweat and went to get a drink of water...only to find a new bowl of tomatoes on the kitchen table. SD had picked them after I'd gone to sleep. The garden has done very well, too well in fact and we've been working hard to over share our extras. We've basically become tomato pushers, arriving early at work with a bag of tomatoes, trying to entice others to try our tomatoes, trying to get they to them before another tomato garden beats us to the mark. Sometimes however it's been a case of tomato pusher to tomato pusher - and quite honestly, in the midst of all this I've also become a tomato taster. Who knew there were so many kinds, and in a year where we've already been eating a tomato a day* since July 23rd, who knew that we could still enjoy so many more!

 *Hands down favorite tomato 'recipes' - tomato sandwich, seconded by grilled cheese and tomato, followed by homemade pizza marinara, tomato and mozzarella salad, and gazpacho.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summers I, and II

Summer, for the non school-affiliated breaks into two parts. Summer I, consisting of the warmest days, is also the most populated. Summer II, begins the week the kids go back to school. Sure the morning commute is slogged by buses and the college kids once again block the isles of the green line with their North Face packs, but the rest of the world is sunny, warm, and blissfully quiet.

Summer I, what with all the hiking, hiking, whale watching, kayaking and visiting has been close to perfect. Oh, and also the gardening. (Anyone want tomatoes, zucchini, or Chili peppers?) Too perfect for much writing, but here's a brief summary:


We visited relatives in Florida, cruising down the ICW, and driving up A1A for a great meal at Boston's, a favorite hangouts from my old Delray Beach years. Also got to enjoy one of my favorite Florida pastimes, sitting on a sheltered patio during a deluge, drinking, with good company. And a new but related pastime, dinning out during a deluge. The staff at the Salty Dog were fantastic and accommodating enough to move us under the porch just as the skies opened up.


This year's kayaking has been mainly in the Essex River Basin where I'm guiding for ERBA, mostly on Saturdays. The folks have been great and the water warm. I've probably done more swimming this year than in the past five combined.


We did the Bon Ton Roulet again this year and all I can say is that on July 26 I rode 70 miles into a 30 knot headwind in 94 degree heat. And, from all the other wonderful days of riding that year, i was ready to get back in the saddle the next day. WOOT!

Whale Watching

Still amazed that less than ten miles from the suburb I live in there are hundreds of whales just hanging out munching on plankton.


Last weekend we returned to the 4000fters, completing Wildcats D and A on a perfect day and a perfect hike through fields of wildflowers and Monarch butterflies. These were our 45th and 46th. Only two more to go!

The Girls

A and A were with us for many of the summers events which puts a multiplier effect on the happiness level.

And now its time for Summer II!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vacation, in a Glass, on A Bike

30 years I worked on a vineyard on the shores of Seneca Lake. It was brutally hot in summer and oppressively gray in winter. The grapes were mostly catawbas, a local red wine grape. While we also tried growing some french hybrids there really was no where to sell them. What grapes we did grow we trucked over to Taylor on Keuka Lake, just like most of the other grape growers in the Finger Lakes.

The predominate culture was pretty traditional. Traditional agriculture, in middle-class America. Only in Ithaca, 60 miles to the East on Cayuga Lake, was there any hint of another way, of anything organic, or any type of appreciation for local food, or quality wines. The Moosewood Restaurant was there, but they had yet to become famous, had yet to publish even their first cookbook.

During the Seneca Lake days, I also don't remember seeing a single bike. Considering the hills, I think if I had seen someone ride by, I might have thought them crazy.

Today, however, S.D. and I are heading back to the Finger Lakes for 6 days and 500 miles of bike riding. The Bon Ton Roulet is an annual
ride around the lakes, through the farm lands, small towns and vineyards. According to Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes , the presence of bike riders isn't the only change in the Finger Lakes.  Apparently the agricultural scene, and especially the wineries have improved greatly in the last 30 years. In the oblivion of youth, the only time I'd attending a wine tasting was on the hot summer days, and only as a prelude to a swim in the freezing waters of Lake Seneca. Now apparently, there are a number of highly regarding wineries producing excellent Rieslings, Pinot Noirs, Gewürztraminers and others. Many of which we'll be riding (perhaps stopping?) by.

The Tour de France ends tomorrow beginning with the traditional 40 km ride where the preemptive yellow jersey winner (Bradley Wiggins) will ride and drink champagne. Next week, I'm going to do a whole new tour impression. Riding through the Finger Lakes, I'll stop at few wineries, appreciate the work and change that has come to area and raise a glass in celebration.

Friday, July 20, 2012

When in Rome. SD and I go Mountain Biking

On the last day of our hiking vacation, SD and decided to try something different.

Summer in Park City, is mostly known for mountain biking and beer drinking. SD and I had already enjoyed a number of fine Utah microbrews but we had not gone mountain biking. In fact, I'd only gone twice before in my life (the second time ripping my hamstring) and SD had never gone. And so, being in Park City, we signed up for a two hour mountain bike lesson/ride with a guide from White Pine Touring.

The Guide was great. Very patient in explaining the differences between road and mountain biking. She didn't laugh too hard when she caught me drafting her on a single track. And she took us on a great spin through Cemetery Hill. At the beginning of the tour, she also spent time showing us how to turn and descend. Which is surprisingly different from turning and descending on a road bike. I did okay. S.D., who approached the lesson a bit more ambitiously than I,  took two 'diggers'. But he got up from both and seemed to enjoy the rest of the ride. It was only as we were driving to Salt Lake City that he began to wince in pain. On the plane he was grimly silent. It was only after returning home that he informed me that he thought he'd cracked a rib.

Good thing we went mountain biking on the last day!

Dog Lake Loop - There's a lot of Geology Going On

Seems a dog's age since we did this hike in May, here it is July and I haven't written it up. Which isn't to say it wasn't a great hike, it was! So here goes.

While I still haven't gotten my head around all the geological stuff going on in the Wasatch Range. This hike up to and around Dog Lake, took us through most of it and as it rolled through all the major mico-climates in the Wasatch Range.

Leaving the Mill D trailhead off Big Cottonwood Canyon we hiked North up a narrow, stream-carved valley with hundreds of wildflowers just beginning to bloom. Looking to the East we often caught glimpses of various veins, outcroppings and fault-lifts of the Wasatch Ridge where we'd just been climbing through snowdrifts the day before.

Dog Lake was a nice spot, beside what could only a glacial drumlin, from the summit of which you could look south and see the terminal moraines from the glacier that carved the valley we were about to descend.

Leaving the lake to the West we passed through a wide glacial valley of budding aspens,  through a stream carved break in the moraine, and a dark fir forest, back down to the valley floor.

It was a fitting hike on which to end this Utah vacation.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Trapper, or the Park City Dark and Stormy, or the ???

While on vacation SD and I occasionally take a break from the hiking (or biking) and scout out the towns and the local hangouts.
After only two days we found that the rooftop deck of No Name Saloon on Main Street in downtown Park City was a great place to hang out,  eat a Bison Burger and invent a new drink. Below on the street the tourist stroll by and the locals ride their bikes up and down the street, repair them, talk about them, etc.  The meter maid strolls by taking photos of offending cars (but never ticketing them), the Historic Park City Free Bus drives by every 4 minutes.
On our second night at the No Name, the waiter, Trapper, informed us that there was a new heifenwieser on tap, a "summer, lemony thing". He brought it, and added a lemon saying he “wasn't sure if it needed it, or what it needed.” After taking a sip, I wasn't sure what it needed either. If you wanted a lemonade beer, then it didn't need anything. But if you wanted a drink, it was lacking...something. A shot of SD's beer helped but not enough. What it needed was a shot of dark rum. Trapper was skeptical but game and so a new drink was born. It tastes a bit like a Dark and Stormy but crisper, cleaner, not so foggy. The perfect drink for those New England summer days on the water, that are bright and clear and not stormy. What it should really be called however, remains unclear.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Crest Walking with Heidi

After an entire day of walking above treeline, we were ready for more! While we had been hiking yesterday Guardsmans Pass and the road over the mountains to Big Cottonwood Canyon had opened. Winter snowfall had been below normal and the road cleared a month ahead of the usual time and opened up access to even more great ridge walks. Scanning the maps and books we set our sights on the Wasatch Crest Trail.

Everything we read mentioned this trail as great for technical mountain bikers and for the views. We hadn't seen a single mountain biker all day yesterday, and with snow still on the peaks we doubted we would see any today. But the sky was clear and with the prospect for more awesome views we arrived at the trailhead at STHT (Standard Trailhead Time - 8:00am).

Less than a mile up the trail we hit the crest, and the view was stunning! A few more feet further, down the North side of the peak and we hit the snow, and the walking was postholing. Through the trees we could see clear ground, but getting to it was laborious, and painful. Stepping out, then down into thigh-deep snow is bad enough, doing it in shorts is painful. The truth is, snow hurts! Every one of those itty bitty little ice particles just slices into your skin.

But anyway, we got through that section and were soon back to smooth walking and gorgeous views, and a whole other batch of wildflowers. The Wasatch Crest runs at about 10,000 ft., 2000 ft higher then yesterday's hike. Looking South-east we could even look down on yesterday's trail. After roughly 7 miles, as we were back on the North side of another peak we came to another very deep, very steep snow section and decided it would be a good time to turn around for the day.

I'm not much of an out-and-back hiker perferring to hike loops whenever possible, but as SD reminded me, and is correct about, the views walking back are completely different, and just as gorgeous.  Or should I say awesome?

I've never been to the Alps, but as a kid, and with my kids I watched "Heidi" a lot. Much of the time on the Wasatch Ridge, hiking along among the peaks, the snow, and the fields of wildflowers I kept feeling like I'd run into Heidi, Clara, and Uncle Alm.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ridge Walking - the Indulgence of Park City Hiking

 The night after the Lambs Canyon hike I began to wonder if I was crazy? Was I too much of a long-suffering New Englander to appreciate a really nice Ridge Walk when it was right outside my car door as they are in Park City?

In New Hampshire I always lust after the Ridge Walks, those rare, all too short, and hard earned hikes that one is rewarded with after puffing miles uphill, and that are followed by miles of thudding down.

Two nights ago we had driven to an 8000ft high pass and been surrounded by trails that followed the ridges in every direction, and I had scorned them as being too easy, too wide; "bike trails" not meant for hiking, and we'd opted instead to hike the Lambs Canyon Trail, a hike where while the views and fauna were different, the hiking pattern was familiar. Start in a valley, hike up to a ridge, hike down. - but now, the indulgent idea of starting On The Ridge was growing on me.

And so, having decided to indulge, we parked at the pass with the plan to hike toward a peak at the end of a ridge extending south. There wasn't a single step where the views weren't amazing.  Snow covered mountains up and to the right, long glistening lakes to the left.  The ground was covered with alpine wildflowers, and snow! Occasionally we'd descend into an Alpine grove, but for the majority of the twelve miles, we hiked along gloriously clear ridge paths.  Hiking in Park City was turning out to be pretty spectacular.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lambs Canyon - Return of the Naturevert

Naturevert : noun

: 0ne who turns inward toward nature a : one whom concentrates on or rejuvenates from nature 

Origin of: nature- + -vert (to turn)

After a week of hotels and cities I was feeling sluggish, and with the dim hiking prospects, a bit discouraged. Luckily we identified at least one trail that might work for us. In Hiking The Wasatch John Veranth details lots of great hikes in the Wasatch Mountains. Most, however, are on what is known as The Front, while Park City is on The Back. The Lambs Canyon Trailhead was on the Back, only 15 miles away. 

We arrived at the parking lot early and soon were hiking along a stream in a narrow, river canyon alongside early spring wildflowers. Clematis, columbine, and mountain rue bloomed along the trail the first mile until we began climbing into the pine zone, occasionally crossing snowbanks, the topping out in an Aspen grove, on a semi-desert ridge with views south over the Wasatch Range.

S.D. was less than impressed by the mini-history lecture on Mormon settlement patterns in the canyons, but he eagerly hiked ahead when a passing couple mentioned they had just seen a moose. Somehow we missed the moose but saw even more of the wildflowers and birds that thrived on the ridge.

A little sore, but totally rejuvenated we finished the hike in about 6 hours and realized I had really needed this immersion in the nature of the place; the trails, woods, valleys, canyons and peaks of the place. While I've never been to Northern Utah before, it felt great to be back!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Silver Moose Ranch

In the classic Bernstein Bears childrens story The Bears' Picnic Papa Bear sets out to take the family on a picnic only to discover that each place that looks like a perfect spot is, in fact, very much not the perfect picnic spot. Scenic meadows are stampeded by cows, bees tend to not want bears picnicking by their hives, beautiful overlooks actually overlooks a highway, etc.

When searching online for the perfect place to stay for vacation one assembles the list of perfect criteria, and hoping that Papa Bear's curse does not hold true for this selection, pushes the submit button.  These days the criteria is pretty exacting, so pushing that button and driving up to the place you are going to spend the next 6 days of your 'perfect' vacation are always a bit anxious.

According to the website and the Trip Advisor reviews, the Silver Moose Ranch would be not disappoint.  Large, sunny rooms, in a quiet, natural location but only a few minutes’ walk to Park City's downtown restaurants and shops. The perfect picnic spot for a B & B.

Situated down a side road, on 13 acres of Aspen and meadow, is what can only be described as a really cool 5+ bedroom house blending Mediterranean, ski resort, and mission-style influences. The Silver Moose exceeds all criteria. It is a great place to start and end every vacation day. From the massive central stone fireplaces to the open, granite-countered kitchen crowned by a gorgeous iron-work chandelier to the king-sized beds in the rooms, every detail is perfect.

And then there was the unexpected bonus ( somehow I skimmed over that on the website). The breakfasts and snacks! All homemade, all sooo very good. Eggs, coffee cake, crème Brule French toast, snickerdoodles, biscotti, and more.

Brian and Tamara, the hosts were great too! Friendly, and knowledgeable about the area, they've collected all the menus and information about what's going on in the area from specials at the local restaurants to the low-down on the pair of geese that you might encounter walking up the driveway.

The Silver Moose Ranch was the perfect Park City place for us.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Park City Hiking?

May is off-season in Park City. Most of the snow has melted so the skiers are gone, but there's still enough in the higher elevations that the mountain bikers have not yet arrived which is fine by us. When making plans for this trip we'd assumed it would be a good time and a good place to do five days of hiking. After stopping at the third 'outdoor' store with only mountain bike trail maps we began to wonder.

SD persisted and we stopped at the fourth shop, White Pine Touring and finally found a good topo map with clearly marked trails up in the mountains. Unluckily, most of those were on the other side of Guardsman Pass, the road through which was closed for the winter. “Yeah”, one of the bike guys explained, “they don't open that til June, maybe July. But you can hike the bike trails.”

Being, well, who we are, we drove up to Guardsman's Pass, and sure enough it was closed even thought there wasn't all that much snow. There did however appear to be trails off the parking lot just below the summit. While probably bike trails, they were empty not only of snow but also of bikes and people and we weren't sure they'd make good hiking trails running as they did all over the ridges and ski slopes. The views from the ridge however were spectacular.

Inspired by the scenary, but slightly discouraged by the hiking prospects, we headed back down to Park City to check into the Inn.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Triple threat?

Last night at Gracie's bar, while sipping a local Full Suspension IPA and watching the bike commuters stream by, a fellow librarian stopped by to talk about this great book store he'd found two blocks to the East.  Could Salt Lake City be a triple threat on the BBB scale?

The beer is awesome. A rich, smooth, full selection and coincidentally, low alchohol, so I have tried a more than usual number of different brews. The bikes are everywhere. There are roughly 10 bike shops in town and the city supports an extensive network or trails and bike lanes.  I picked up a map at the visitor center which not only shows a large number of bike only routes, but also lists all the rules of the road and the general theory behind it all.

The bookstores? Those too are prolific. Although most appear to specialize in used, collectable books the selection is more varied, yet complete than in stores that sell new books.

On the BBB scale, Salt Lake City rates a perfect 555. But is it all that good, or are there limits to the BBB scale? Something there is that doesn't love this town. Which isn't to say I would ever pass up a chance to visit, drink a beer and take a ride!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Keep it simple

Yesterday morning I walked up through Temple Square to Capital Hill and back through Creek Canyon and Creek Park.

The founding of Mormonism may be a bit puzzling, but their naming schemes certainly aren't. Things here are pretty much along the lines of calling it as you see it. Want a name for a city beside a Salty Lake? Hmmm lets call it Salt Lake City. What should we name the square in which our temple sits? How about Temple Square! A park in the Canyon that has a creek? You guessed it. City Creek Canyon Park.

It certainly makes it easy to tell which is the bigger canyon Big Cottonwood. Or Little Cottonwood? I'll bet you can even guess what type of tree grows there.

 I am however, a little confused by City Creek Center. It is in the Center of the city and there is a Creek running through it. (BTW -its the same creek that runs through the canyon) but what is it really? Hint:'Shopping' or 'stores ' or should be in the name.

I also wonder why they focused on the lake when naming the place. Walking around the area what you really notice are the mountains. Everywhere you go, there they are both to  the East and to the West, big, beautiful snow covered mountains. If it were my town, and I needed to stay with the naming scheme, I'd have called it Big Mountain Valley or maybe Awesomeville!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Salt Lake City Prequel

I'm off in a few hours for Utah. Three days of conferencing in Salt Lake City and then a vacation week in Park City. I've been doing my usual prep work, scouting out good hiking trails, brew pubs, and books.

I easily accumulated a list of good breweries (although recommendations are always appreciated), and hiking in the Wasatch Mountains sounds fantastic, but there is a notable lack of good, related reading material, unless you count mysteries and polygamist biographies. Having read Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith , which is both, I'm all set as far as that genre goes.

There are a few "history " books, which don't read well, but do have some information. The Lady In The Ore Bucket: A History of Settlement and Industry in the Tri-Canyon Area of the Wasatch Mountains begins with settlement of the city and continues on through the lumber and mining eras.

The thing that surprises me about the early years isn't so much the casual use of the word 'wives ', I got used to that on my last visit, no, it's the land ownership system. Basically, the Church and or Brigham Young owned the land and everyone else either leased it from them or...I don't know...got some by marrying some of his children? Luckily multiple wives beget multiple children and land ownership became more and more common as the years rolled on. But still it seems a strange feudal / socialist system and one that is often overlooked. Makes me wonder....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bermuda Books and History

There are very few bookstores where you can ask “Do you have the Jarvis book?” and they will know what you are referring to, fewer still where they'll reply “Usually we do, but we're sold out. We should be getting more in next week.” Bermuda is actually, probably, the only place. The “Jarvis” book to which I was referring is the 600 plus page, 10pt font, meticulously-researched, heavily-footnoted, scholarly-tome, In the Eye of All Trade: Bermuda, Bermudians, and the Maritime Atlantic World, 1680-1783 (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) .  Published in 2010, the book is a credit to the Island's history. The fact that is it a nation-wide best-seller is a credit to the Islanders.

I was a bit confused however to find that while every bookstore carried an extensive list of Bermuda history titles from Dispatches from Bermuda: The Civil War Letters of Charles Maxwell Allen, United States Consul at Bermuda, 1861-1888 (Civil War in the North) to Rogues & Runners , the actual Island seemingly disregarded their history.

It's taken two weeks to understand this apparent contradiction. It is in its relationship to history that Bermuda seems to be its most British. Why they  make little of their historic buildings and forts (forts from 5 centuries line the coast), but at the same time read books like the Jarvis book. This morning however, it became clear. Like Britain, there is so much history everywhere, and in everything that making monuments or museums to every piece would necessitate turning the entire Island into a museum but everyone knows the history, everyone reads the books – at least enough to support a significant Bermuda History section in every bookstore.

That said, Bermuda is hosting a conference in June on its maritime history. With tours and lectures it sounds, at least to me, like lots of fun.

I'm thinking of getting a Kindle Fire, Full Color 7" Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi and also some sheets: 1500 Thread Count Queen 4pc Bed Sheet Set Egyptian Quality Deep Pocket Sage

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little pink, and azure, and chartreuse houses for you and me

Even under the relatively muted February sun, a white Bermuda house looks sad, especially when compared with its brightly painted neighbours. For a staid, New England girl, this observation was totally unexpected. I'd heard about the colorful houses and dismissed them as garish, needlessly showie, certainly not something that 'fit' within the landscape of even a semi-tropical location such as Bermuda. But driving through the streets of St. George, I had to admit, it was the bright chartreuse house, or maybe that deep azure one that looked most at home.
House sizes and configurations varied from one story 'shotgun” style to multi-story, rambling mansions. Some homes are situated on suburban-type lawns, some right on the street (and by on, I mean no front yard, no shoulder, the house wall-less-than-three-inches-from-bus-mirror on the street). Others are built into, or out of the limestone clifts.
And while the houses vary in both shape and color the roofs are all of white, stepped blocks, channelled so as to collect rain water into holding tanks. All the homes have shutters, sun, hurricane or both, and are built of stone, cement block or stucco and painted pretty much any color except white. And all have porches or patios - living space outside being as important as living space inside.

Bright outside and in, sounds like home to me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Three and Three are Fourteen

"Pardon?" I asked.

The information desk woman repeated her previous mathematically impossible statement verbatim, "Three and three are fourteen. Board either the 7 or 8 bus at the Dockyard,  ask for a transfer to the 10 or 11. Transfer at Hamilton, that will take you back to Flatts."

I've come to believe that getting to know the public and private transportation systems of an area is a good way to get to know a place. Bermuda is no exception.  The well maintained pink buses travel from one end of the 21 mile-long-island to the other along the same incredibly narrow, limestone-carved, shoulder-less  roads as the cars and bikes (motorcycles and moped with engines no bigger than 150 cc)  The people on board are polite, and quietly gregarious with one another.  At every stop someone would get on, sit in a seemingly random empty seat and begin talking about aunt so and so, or what happened last night at Joe's.

The bus fair system, like island life, is effortless to the locals, but enigmatic, apparently hard to explain, and really very simple. The island is split into 14 zones. Anyone and everyone will tell you that, however, they're not clear on where those zones are and zone maps haven't been printed in years. But really, that doesn't matter.  There are few options. You can either buy a day, week, month or three month unlimited pass, you can pay $3.00 (in coins) every time you board, or you can purchase deeply discounted 3 Zone tickets.  A 3 zone ticket will allow you to travel through 3 of those unknown zones. And here's the tricky part: 2 three zone tickets are used for any travel over 3 zones. 4-14, it doesn't matter, three and three are indeed fourteen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

From the Rail Trail to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club

My first inclination after landing in Bermuda was to find a seat on a sunny patio and order up a frosty rum drink.  I fought that urge (for a little while at least) and followed my second, and usual habit when coming to a new place. Within an hour we were walking the Rail Trail down to the Shelly Beach, checking out the native Bermuda Cedar Trees, sandy beaches, green turtles and  colorful houses.

And everywhere is that famous azure blue water.  65 degree azure blue water. Clear and bright.  I just had to go swimming. How could I resist? It was 70 degrees and sunny,  warmer than most days I'd gone swimming last summer.  S.D. 'forgot' his swim trunks so could only watch. The Bermudians ignored the whole thing.

Finally then it was time for that drink! And while they won't swim in the winter, they do drink Dark and Stormys all year round.  Goslings rum remains the official alcohol of the island, even though it is no longer made here.

We followed up cocktail hour with a rum swizzle at a bar in Hamilton and dinner at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, waiting until after dinner to explore the old trophy rooms, bars and patios and find photos of all those CCA folks whose papers I'd arranged back at the Seaport.

I was just starting to get a feel for the place, and it turns out, my first inclination was as much a part of that as my second.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Zero Degrees in The Sun

The trick to hiking in 0 degree weather is to keep moving. From the trailhead where you open the car door and get that first frigid blast to three miles up the trail when it's time to break apart the frozen banana, or on the summit, crunching through a peanut butter, jelly, and ice crystal sandwich, you have to keep moving. You really can't even stop long to gaze North at the magnificent view of Mt. Washington rising out of the Presidential range, or East to Mts Passaconaway and Whiteface, and especially South towards Lake Winnipesaukee where the North wind smacks into the mountain.

But boy is it worth it! Our hike last Monday up to Sandwich Dome, via the Sandwich Mountain trail to Jennings Peak and then returning via the Drakes Brook Trail, was Cold and stunningly beautiful. It had snowed two days before, and the snow still hung on every tree branch. There was no wind in the valley and everywhere was a still silence. Except when we walked, and then the sound of our boots crunching on the snow filled the empty space. SD had been hoping to see a deer, or even a Moose but soon realized "We aren't going to sneak up on anything today." Of course we had to stop moving in order to hear each other talk so conversations were limited.

There were lots of great views along the Sandwich Mountain Trail, and even more from the summit of Jennings Peak. We had intended to continue on to Sandwich Dome but had reached our turn around time. What with having to flounder up some icy stretches we hadn't set a very good pace. And with those same icy stretches in mind we decide to hike back on the longer, but less steep Drake's Brook trail. That too was especially lovely in the cold. In areas where the water was fast, the brook still ran while in other, flatter sections it was frozen, with ice crystals freezing above it.

By the time we arrived at the car I was ready to sit directly in front of the blasting heater, but looking back to the mountains as we drove away also wished I was still crunching along through the winter woods.