Sunday, October 23, 2016

Taylor Mountain hike with Cross Country team from Teton High School

Two weeks ago I went on a nice hike on the north side of Teton Pass (between Victor, Idaho and Wilson, Wyoming) with Lillian and Seth and their cross country running team from Teton High School, headed by Coach Neil Gleichman. Every fall they do a training hike, and they're always awesome.

This year the hike was to Taylor Mountain, in the Tetons. (There are lots of other Taylor Mountains out there.) We didn't make it all the way to the top, but had a great hike:

Here's a view northeast into Jackson Hole, Wyoming:

And a view northwest into Teton Valley, Idaho:

We were pretty wet by the time we got down, since it had warmed up a lot, but it was a beautiful day to hike.

Hoping for Housetop, settling for Baldy Knoll

Yesterday I wanted to finally hike to Housetop Mountain, on the southeast side of Fox Creek Canyon in Wyoming, not far from our home in Teton Valley, Idaho.

I followed an old logging road that is mostly grown over and that I've lost track of before when hiking on it. The snow made it worse, but maybe also better as I followed animal trails sometimes. I frequently lost and re-found the old road, and it was a tough slog through fallen trees, slippery slush-covered rocks, thorny plants, and fairly wet snow:

Once I got out onto open fields with some views, it felt more worth it. On the way up near Baldy Knoll I had frequent stunning views like this one east (with Housetop Mountain on the right / south):

And this was the view from Baldy Knoll northwest over Chapin, Bates, and Driggs toward Ashton:

I would love to have some of these pines with the clusters of needles in our yard:

The signs marking the beginning of the wildnerness area plan for much more snow than is currently on the ground:

It was a beautiful day, and even though I only made it maybe halfway to Housetop, it was well worth the work.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Biking alongside Warm River in southeast Idaho

Last night I went camping with Seth's scout troop at Warm River campground, northeast from Ashton, Idaho. It was raining plenty on the way there, and kept raining all night until maybe 5 this morning. But scoutmaster Aaron Jenkins and assistant George Bates had large tarps we set up tied to the trees to give us cover from the rain, and we had a good night.

Today after breakfast we broke camp and drove north up the road toward Mesa Falls with our bikes in the back of the truck to a spot where the road meets the railbed of the railroad that used to go from Ashton to West Yellowstone.

We had an easy, nice 8-mile ride downhill from there back to the campground. As the day progressed, the clouds cleared and the views just kept getting better. A dust-free, cool ride was a great payoff for a little rain beforehand.

We drove back to Teton Valley through Ashton, Lamont, and Felt, and the hills and fall colors were amazing.

We should do a longer ride on that former railbed another time, maybe all the way to West Yellowstone. It's a beautiful area!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Great Basin National Park

This summer the four Jensen brothers (Jon, Jeremiah, Caleb, Charlie) and our families had a reunion camping trip in Great Basin National Park, near Baker, Nevada. None of us had been there before, but it was roughly in the equally distant from all of us, had a campground for car camping, and the second-highest peak in Nevada, which some of us wanted to hike.

The town of Baker had lots of fun homemade artwork outdoors in yards, on fences, etc. We didn't get any photos of that as we drove by on the highway, but this extra stop sign in the middle, behind the cross road, that says "Whoa", imparts the feel of it:

The first night we weren't able to find campsites near each other, so the next morning some of us moved our tents and things to campsites closer to the others once some people had left:

We had plenty of time to just hang out:

And Caleb & Jenn's popup camping trailer, shelter, and cooking gear made it much nicer for everyone:

There were some shorter, easy hikes we all went on to little lakes:

And Charlie surprised us all by pulling out a small backpacking inflatable raft!

We saw deer at fairly close range:

Seth took some night sky photos with his new Nikon digital SLR camera and tripod:

We attended a talk about the park history, fauna, and astronomy done by one of the park rangers, but the weather was bad so we weren't able to look in the telescopes they otherwise would have set up for us.

One morning several wild turkeys ran through our camp!

Surprisingly, they liked to fly to the tops of trees and roost there as well. They are really big. Park rangers told us that they've only been in the park for 10 years or so, when they escaped from someone's plans to hunt them in Baker, to the freedom and higher ground of the park.

Some of us hiked to the top of Wheeler Peak, the second-highest peak in Nevada at 13,065 feet. It was a strenuous but not overly difficult hike since the trailhead starts at about 10,000 feet. The views were great.

It was great to get the four brothers together again in one place:

And of course we had to take a bunch of group photos of everyone, a rare opportunity:

On the way back we drove through Eureka, Goshen, Genola, and Santaquin, all part of our old orbit around Santaquin. These were some of the interesting sights in Eureka, where we also saw the oldest Catholic church in Utah (not shown):

We really enjoyed Great Basin National Park and were glad to have experienced it!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Bulgarian books in Oklahoma

Back in May we went on a long road trip to Oklahoma City to visit Erin's sister, Ivy Skinner, and her family. We had a great time with the Skinners, and also got to spend time with Brian Dunn and Ron & Crystal Phipps and their kids.

At a used bookstore in Edmond, the suburb of Oklahoma City where the Skinners live, I came across several Bulgarian books from the 1970s and 1980s:

The one on the left is Ray Bradbury's I Sing the Body Electric, and on the right is a collection called "Black Sun" with Karel Čapek's R.U.R., Yevgeny Zamyatin's We, George Orwell's Animal Farm, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

That's the title page of Ray Bradbury's I Sing the Body Electric.

That one is The Trip of Icarus by Bulgarian science fiction author Lyuben Dilov. The Wikipedia page about him says the story adds a Fourth Law of Robotics, extending the original three laws proposed by Isaac Asimov: "A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases."

Neat to run into them!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Buckskin Gulch

Last weekend Phin and I drove with friends down to the very southern edge of Utah east of Kanab, to hike a large slot canyon called Buckskin Gulch.

We camped at White House the first night. The next day we backpacked through, starting at Wire Pass, hiking about 13 miles on the first day and camping near the Confluence which on the map appears to be within a few feet of the Arizona border. Then on the second day we hiked another 8 miles or so back out to White House. There were 7 people in our group, and having two vehicles allowed us to shuttle ourselves between the starting and ending point.

It was a beautiful slot canyon with a huge variety of rock walls, and almost no way out, so we were glad no rain was forecast for days and the risk of flash flooding was very low. The temperature in the canyon varied quite a bit but was pleasant. Permits are required and a limited number of people are allowed in, so it was fairly quiet.

We had to carry all our water, about 4-5 liters per day per person, which was of course heavy. Much of the hiking was on very fine sand which made the hiking hard. I don't think I've ever tired out my hamstrings so completely. If I were to get a chance to visit the area again, I'd opt for a shorter day hike instead, and maybe explore one of the other canyons.

But we made it and it was worth the work to see such cool natural features. There's a nice green spot where we camped which was nice. Phin saw a rattlesnake, and the rest of us also saw ravens, frogs, mice (camp robbers!), and little biting flies.

Here are some of the photos I took with my mobile phone.

You can read more about it at Wikipedia's Buckskin Gulch article and at another site.