Slacker Saturday 13ers: Canby and Galena

A few weeks ago, I had a friend offer to let me borrow her Jeep while she was out of town in case I wanted to tackle a big hike. I didn’t particularly have a big hike in mind but I told her that I would certainly come up with one.

I called Nadia and asked if she and Stella would want to join me for a ridge hike to some mountains.

It turned into the best ridge walk slacker Saturday of 13ers.

The weather was fantastic. The company was great. The views were mountains in every direction.

 

Colorado 13er: Golden Horn

Back in July, my friend asked me, mid-concert in the park, drinks in hand, if I would like to climb Golden Horn that weekend. I’m never one to turn down mountain adventure so I agreed, although I was slightly concerned about how slow I might be headed up the mountain.

After what felt like an early start (but not to shabby since we live close enough to wake up in our own beds), we found ourselves at the trail head cruising rapidly up towards Upper Ice Lake. Above the lake, I finally got to solve the approach question from Fuller Lake towards the ring of 13ers above the basin (I had a storm come in when I first attempted Vermilion from Ice Lakes).

I’d climbed Fuller Peak (on the left) and Vermilion (center) in 2015 and was very excited to head up Golden Horn (on the right)!

I’d almost forgotten how much I actually enjoy(?) relish(?) feel alive(?) when making my way up loose San Juan rock. The weather was perfect as we worked our way up the gully to the Vermilion-Golden Horn saddle.

Once we were on the summit, we were treated to a fantastic view of the Wilsons:

A gorgeous view of upper Ice Lake and all of the San Juans:

As we headed down, the sky got really moody and we felt an urgency as we headed down the mountain. The rain started just as we started descending the headwall into the lower basin.

I’m always so glad to hike with Nadia because she is totally willing to gush about these mountains with me the whole time.

I’ve seen Golden Horn now from several angles and every time, I think of this fantastic day and smile.

July Visitors!

While my project in Washington somewhat dragged on, I had events starting to pile up in Ridgway that I needed to get back for. My boss started calling to set up some summer meetings but more pressingly, Cindy had purchased plane tickets months ago and Katie was coming out for hanging out with people during the Hardrock100.

Since Cindy was only in town for a couple of days, we went out hiking on Sutton Trail. Although it’s steep, the views of the amphitheater are amazing. Plus, we got mixed up in another group of hikers that were actually a ton of fun. After our hike we drove over Red Mountain to Silverton and then headed back to my place for lunch and some wine and porch sitting.

The next day, we drove up to Telluride to check out the views and ride the gondola. Apparently I only Instagram storied my photos since I don’t have any! Again, we basically meandered back to the house and found ourselves catching up with pretty mountain views as old friends do.  It was so much fun to share my home with you, Cindy! I know I’m in the middle of no where but you win the award for first friend to buy a plane ticket to come!

Katie’s visit out this way for Hardrock events slightly overlapped with Cindy which was actually a lot of fun. After Cindy headed back to the midwest, Katie and I decided to head up Bridge of Heaven. This is one of those hikes I’ve wanted to do but was sort of dissuaded from because of all its elevation gain!

We started from the Dexter Creek side and quickly attained the ridge line and then pushed our way up to Bridge of Heaven proper.

By the run down, my legs were feeling it but it was a good way to start getting in some solid elevation gain again!

JJ got MARRIED

Although I’d been in Washington for a long time, I had to make a quick trip up because my oldest nephew’s dad was getting married!

Before the wedding though, my mom and I had Friday to spend together. I needed new running shoes so I convinced her to drive up to the flagship REI in Seattle so I could have a nice big selection (and still earn a dividend). We had a lovely time shopping together (and she insisted on buying me the dress I wore to the wedding) and then for lunch, I took her to a little spot that a dear friend had shown me a few years ago.

My mom and I both love oysters, especially raw. As we settled into our table, she pointed at a map on the wall and said, “Now I like that map.” I, the map obsessed daughter, laughed, because the map showed Pacific Northwest oyster growing locations.

Midway through our first dozen, Mom declared that we would be getting another. I basically spent the entire meal giggling at how excited she was.

The next morning, Mom had some errands to run so I asked her to drop me off at a trail and I got in some (humid) miles before the wedding.

Although, around the ceremony, it was really hot the wedding was really wonderful. I got lots of Andrew hugs:

They did such a good job of including the kids (all four of them!) including having my sister come up for their parent-kid dance to dance with Drew:

I hate garter tosses and bouquet tosses but watching Andrew and Junior giggle together as they waited was pretty adorable:

Since there was music, there was my family dancing. No one should ever expect differently:

Congratulations JJ and Destiny! I’m so happy to have you both (and your whole crew of munchkins) in my life.

The whole darn family: Mom, me, Emily & Kevin, JJ & Destiny, and the whole troupe of kiddos.

Life These Days: Summer 2018

After what seemed like forever in the Northwest, I finally wrapped up projects at Mom’s house enough to come home. It was time for trail running and COLORADO SUMMER.

I was inspired to buy a Roomba to make my life better. First, I named it John, because white dudes should clean more. And then I realized that I loved John, so I renamed it “The Boyfriend”

I found time to read books:

And then heard that same Jonathan P. Thompson speak right here in my little town.

The FSJ Invasion crew came to Ouray:

I got to hold some pretty famous stuff. (Yeah, that’s MJ’s Wooden trophy and a Grammy base…)

Life is sweet.

Tacoma Adventures

My trip to Tacoma largely for doing work on Mom’s house but I did manage to squeeze in some fun as well. Sprocket probably didn’t agree that it was too fun but I tried to make time to take him for walks and he went to work with my mom a few times.

I took him swimming down at the Sound a few times:

The day I went to the Hanford B Reactor with Kamel, I hustled back to Tacoma to have a ladies night at the Rainiers with Aunty, my mom, and Shar. We were rather late to the game but kept the party going at a post game dinner plus Mom and I had a slumber party at Aunty’s.

I got to be home to see JJ graduate from his automotive technician program. On top of that, I got come cuddles from this kid:

My aunt and uncle celebrated 50 years and Mom, Nons, and I sent anniversary wishes to them from Nons’ patio:

Uncle Skip invited me to come to the Rainiers with him. I knew I probably should work on the house but I skipped out for the game. There was a cool WWII baseball memorabilia display and we had a great time watching some baseball. I thought I might go home and get to work but instead, we picked up Aunty and went out for dinner. (My trip was a lot more time away from Ridgway than I wanted it to be but I feel like I spent a lot of time with my mom and with some other family so that was nice!)

 

Ted Williams during WWII

I tried some Tacoma beer:

And tried some more with cousins:

 

Alta Lake & Leavenworth

Mom and I both had hand-wringing moments of “should we go” before taking off to Alta Lake in eastern Washington for a couple of days. I was stressed out about the idea of not working on the house for four days and mom was basically … just stressed about the house. 

It was such a good choice to go!

First, I worked some packing magic so Sprocket has lots of room in the back seat. He basically cuddled with Shar’s foot the entire way to and from the lake. 

We stopped at the Twin Pines in Cle Elum. I used to stop here on the way to Ellensburg to visit my cousin Taylor at college! It was somehow more delicious than I remembered!

Sparkling wine flight to go with lunch at Karma Vineyard’s 18 Brix restaurant

There was wine tasting, dance parties, cornhole, evening cruises on the golf course, and relaxing by the pool and all the good food! I also read an entire book and a half.

Group photo at Tsillan Cellars

At the end of the weekend while we were driving home, we stopped for lunch in Leavenworth and decided to get in one last wine tasting at Goose Ridge Winery’s tasting room there. The wine was delicious but mostly I think we all just had a blast doing it!

#damselNOTindistress: Flooring … and a little bit more.

Last summer, when I went back to Washington for Edgar’s number retirement ceremony, I wound up replacing flooring in my mom’s kitchen, living, and dining room. Over the winter, Mom and I agreed that I would plan on doing the rest of the flooring this summer. I could drive up, bring Sprocket and my tools and knock it out.

Ha.

Her insurance also insisted that she replace the siding so she hired a contractor friend to tackle that. He figured, no big deal, it’s one story, no ladders needed.

Ha.

Her house is almost 40 years old which meant plenty of surprises as both the siding and the flooring projects proceeded.

Almost immediately, things went off the rails when I discovered a leak from the master bathroom shower into the living room when I pulled up the carpet. I replaced patches of subfloor from years of pets in the house. And the bathroom leak morphed into a full master bathroom renovation.

A full bathroom renovation included doing drywall. I hate doing drywall.

I sort of tortured my pup as a distraction:

Days and weeks crept by and by the time I was getting close to wrapping things up, life in Colorado started demanding that I come home. Sprocket and I were pretty happy to answer that call. I felt bad because there were finishing touches to be done but fortunately they were much smaller projects (baseboard, painting) that other family members volunteered to do for Mom.

Before I left, the flooring was all done, the master bath was brand new (isn’t her vanity gorgeous?),

She also got a new hot water heater! (Ughhhh, the lighting in this hall sucks…. I have Ideas.)

This vanity area turned out nicely though!

Her bedroom is also freshly painted and has a new floor:

Now, I just have to go back next summer and tackle this project that appeared during the process. It’s always something, but I’ve been promised I can learn to tile here.

Hanford B Reactor Tour

I can’t believe it’s taken me months to get around to blogging about this trip! When I decided to go to Washington to tackle the project at Mom’s house, I realized that I had a big stretch of time to try to get tickets to the Hanford B Reactor tour. Tours have been offered at the reactor since 2009 and in 2015 it was officially added to Manhattan Project National Historic Park. I tossed out the idea on Facebook and Kamel, the husband of my long-time internet friend Lauren, agreed to make the trek to the TriCities.

I picked up Kamel, who I had never actually met, and we headed out for a three hour roadtrip to the tour site. The drive was great! I totally morphed into my Tour Guide Barbie persona and pointed out lots of landmarks to Kamel who had never been further east on I-90 than Snoqualmie Pass! (Tour Guide Barbie is a moniker that I was given in high school both as a tongue-in-cheek Barbie reference and very honest commentary on my perhaps annoying propensity to spout historic, geological, and other random facts while driving.)

Once we arrived at the visitor center, Kamel and I both entered full nerd mode as we checked out the introductory exhibits. There was a short introductory talk about what the village of Hanford was like at the time it was chosen for the reactor site. By the time we got on the bus for the ride to the reactor, we were positively giddy. On the bus out to the reactor site, we got some more history and orientation to the area.

If you haven’t heard the story of the B-reactor, it’s actually pretty nuts. In just 11 months, the reactor went from a plan to producing the plutonium that was used in the Trinity Test and in Fat Man, the bomb dropped in Nagasaki. The tour is really informative about how DuPont and the Army built the plant and how ambitious the project actually was.

The first look at the reactor face is so incredible. Sitting in front of this massive piece of engineering, we had another short explanation of how the reactor actually worked and then, basically, we were allowed to wander around the reactor.

It was really surreal.

There were lots of really great vintage signs.

The access to the whole reactor complex is really impressive. While there were some areas clearly marked with radiation warnings that were off limits, we really got to wander around lots of nooks and crannys.

Kamel brought along his medium format camera to make some photos (although he told me he was too distracted by the building and its history to make good photos, I would beg to differ).

It had started to drizzle when we arrived and there seemed to be a little break in the rain so we went outside to check out the reactor area from outside.

This tour is free (did you hear me, FREE?) and it is fantastic.

Goat Mountain and Mt. St. Helens … kinda

Although I’d really been looking forward to climbing Mt. St. Helens, with the renovation at my mom’s house ever growing in scope, I didn’t prepare for this trip anywhere near as well as I should have. I ended up working with the plumbers the day that I’d planned to leave and things just got a little nuts. About the time I reached Centralia, I realized that I’d left my ice axe and crampons in Tacoma. Washington got a lot more snow than Colorado and my heart sank because that had basically already sealed not getting to the highest point of the ridge.

Traffic south of Tacoma sucks and I was slightly ahead of it so I definitely didn’t want to backtrack and sit in it so I decided to continue and take my chances. Besides, I had kind of a bee in my bonnet about using the evening to climb Cowlitz County’s highpoint: Goat Mountain.

Forest Service Road 470 was pretty washed out (there were ruts that were almost a foot deep) so I just parked at the junction with FS 8117 and walked up to the start of the southwest ridge. The trail was occasionally indistinct but overall, it was pretty easy to follow. Just below the summit I started to run into patches of snow and I had to brush away some sads about knowing I was going to see a St. Helens covered with too much snow for me to summit. The view though didn’t make me sad: it was totally gorgeous.

Rainer peaked out to the north, Adams was visible from the ridge and St. Helens was right there. I took some photos and then hustled down the trail to make it back to Ruth before it got dark.

My non-preparation continued when I got to the road to Climbers Bivouac. The road was closed because it was still covered with snow and I was directed to Worm Flows. I scrambed a bit because I hadn’t bothered to read up on on Worm Flows (or really any route, to be honest). I was just feeling a little beat up by this hike and I hadn’t even started hiking yet.

In the morning, still feeling demoralized, I decided to sleep in a bit since I wasn’t going to summit anyway. I made really good time to the junction with the standard climbing route…that was covered in snow. I decided to climb up a ridge to the east of the standard route because I was going to be much more successful climbing the ash and scree covered route than the steep snow with my (unprepared) light and fast gear situation. I knew my only summit hope was being able to maybe traverse along the rim versus going straight up snow.

Oh, my god it was steep. It was fun? But also, it was one of those things were as I expended energy, I could see the rim better and better and was realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to safely make the traverse. With 1500′ to go to the rim, I almost quit.

In the end, I’m glad I didn’t. The view into the crater was really impressive. I just desperately wished that I could make my way west but it wasn’t the right choice. Instead, I turned around and took my tired butt down the mountain.

Back in Tacoma (after getting first dinner at Burgerville with a BIG fresh strawberry shake) I met my mom (and my Sprockey!) at my grandma’s for dinner. I was exhausted—it’s been a long time since I’ve done 5000’+ gain in a day and I was ready for bed. I have unfinished goals down there though, guess I’m going to have to scope another permit for this mountain!