Yosemite, April 29-30 2006, Day 1

April 30, 2006 at 10:19 pm (Hiking)

Yosemite, April 29-30 2006

Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel.

I spent the weekend at the Yosemite Bug, a mountain hostel 20 minutes outside of the Highway 140 entrance to Yosemite. On Saturday, a group of us hiked to Vernal Falls. With all the rain we had this winter, the waterfalls are huge.

The hike began at Curry village in yosemite, and we climbed a very nontechnical trail (paved at some points) for about a mile and a half. After crossing the creek before the falls, we made a sharp left turn and began a steep ascent up to the falls. We climbed steep steps carved into the granite and made slick by the heavy mist coming from the falls. It was still fairly easy, but precarious enough that everyone double checked their footing as they climbed.

The view from the falls was spectacular. Vernal Falls drops a good 100 feet into a steep rocky creek that eventually becomes the Merced River (more on that in the next post). Many of the smooth granite peaks that characterize Yosemite were still capped with snow. The sky was a deep blue and clear except for the occasional pillowy white cloud.

After lunching and sunning ourselves at the falls (I also wandered and worked on some traverses on the boulders in the area) we split up into two groups. One continued on up to Nevada falls, while the other (my group) hiked over to the John Muir trail and descended back to curry village.

Just as we were approaching the bridge that crosses the creek below the falls, Yosemite Search and Rescue closed off the bridge to all foot traffic. Apparently there was a rescue in progress a little further down the trail. I never got any details about what happened, but there were also a couple ambulances at Curry Village. I hope no one was seriously injured.

As we milled about, wondering if we should wait or descend by an alternate trail, Reba exclaimed, "Bear!" Sure enough, ambling down the trail came a fairly large brown bear. It wandered around the opposite side of the shore for several minutes, allowing everyone to take tons of pictures. I don't have much of a zoom on my camera, but hopefully some of my fellow hikers will email me some better shots.

After the bear left, we decided to descend by the alternate trail. The hike was uneventful, except for a moment where I slipped and almost fell into the raging creek 30 feet below us. I was being careless and imitating a tightrope walker along the edge of the trail. Luckily I am still here.

We had planned on doing some bouldering at Camp IV, but it began to rain and we were all pretty tired, so we decided to return the next day for bouldering instead. We returned to the Bug, ate a delicious steak and trout dinner, and stayed up 'til the wee hours of the morning singing and playing guitar around a campfire.


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Napa Valley Dirt Classic

April 25, 2006 at 4:58 pm (Mountain Biking)

Napa Valley Dirt Classic

Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel.

Last Sunday was the Napa Valley Dirt Classic, a cross-country (XC) mountain bike race near Angwin, CA. I've been mountain biking for almost seven years now, but this was my first race. Team SHP strongly recommended I register in the sport division, despite the fact that I am out of shape and have never raced before.

The start was staggered, with Sport going just after the pro and expert racers. After a brief road climb we were on the trail. I was able to keep keep a decent pace for the first 4 miles or so, but my lungs and legs were not conditioned for the long haul.

The course itself was awesome. A mix of singletrack, doubletrack and fireroad, there were almost no flat sections to speak of. You were either climbing and descending, and tackling technical challenges to boot.

Around mile 15 my right quadriceps cramped up and I had to sit on the side of the trail for 10 minutes massaging it out. After that I couldn't crank hard for fear of recramping, so granny geared /walked most of the climb up Howell Mountain.

Ultimately I finished with a time just over 3 hours. Pretty bad….not even in the Top 5 of the beginner division. But none of that mattered when I crossed the finish line. The feeling of accomplishment was immense. I know I had pushed my body as hard as I could, and I'll be back again (and in better condition).

Distance: 22 miles
Time: 03:01:42
Avg. Speed: 7.3 mph

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Climbing – Mt. Tamalpais, Northern Formation

April 20, 2006 at 12:34 am (Climbing)

Climbing – 20060419 – Mt. Tamalpais

Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel.

Spent the day climbing the Northern Formation near Mt. Tamalpais' East Peak. We dropped two lines which gave us access to about 3 routes for each line. It was a bright, hot day and we got in some great outdoor climbing.

I also set my first top rope anchor! Corey supervised, but I did everything myself, tied the nots, set the slings, adjusted and so forth. Not too hard, but it was a nice feeling. And promptly fell 3 times during my first climb using that anchor, so I'm glad I did it right!

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Beautiful Day

April 13, 2006 at 11:30 pm (Road Biking)

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel.

So it has been really really rainy here in SF for the last couple months. Records have been broken. Rivers have flooded. Mud has slid.

All this has put a pretty big cramp in my outdoorsy style. I've been limited to indoor climbing and the occasional run for exercise. With no reason to believe todays weather would be any different, I made plans to run a bunch of errands and do some laundry. By the time I finished everything and realized the sunshine wasn't going to go away, I only had a few hours left before class. So, I grabbed my roadbike, and headed out to Twin Peaks.

It was a nice little ride. My legs and lungs are very out of shape (I can't believe I'm racing in two weeks). The view at the top was wonderful. It was a lovely reminder that despite all the gray clouds and pouring rain, this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

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