Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September Ski - done!

Technically speaking, this was probably the worst "snow" I've ever skied. I'm not saying it couldn't have been worse. Frozen solid, it would have been so much worse, even dangerous. And I'm not saying it was the roughest snow I've ever seen — some "snow" above Tunemaha lake in the Sierra takes that honor (1986, horribly worse: hard frozen, bathtub sized suncups with wickedly sharp rims). But these were memorable...

Despite snow in the forecast for the weekend, we had to take our shot at our September ski before heading out on a raft trip. Like a fast-food burger, Saint Mary's Glacier wasn't particularly tasty but it was quick.

We leaf-peeped on the drive in. Fall River Road had great Fall colors.

TWO mine openings I never noticed before
By far the best way I've found to carry skis in wooded terrain:
my favorite way to carry skis in wooded areas: Voilé strap + biner. it keeps the tips out of the trees and away from your heels and calfs. the one downside is that you do have to keep a hand on them so they don't wag. using 2 biners separated can solve that but for short hikes like this one, why bother
balance is important

a balancing trick: angle the strap and catch the strap on either side of the binding hinges.

up the Elevator. at first N didn't want the poles shortened...
really lovely. carrying O, the Boba proved its worth once again

St. Mary's glacier greeted us a little further up the hill than last month. and boy was it worse for wear.

panorama of St. Mary's Glacier. we ski up toward that v on the upper right

How rough was it? Let's try something different: look at the photo below with crossed eyes. Make it so there is one overlapped image in the middle. Voilá: 3D view! Did it work for you? It's a little exaggerated but it gives you some idea of how rough the snow was.
look at this photo with crossed eyes. make it so there is one overlapped image in the middle. voilá: 3D view! did it work for you? iIt's a little exaggerated but it gives you some idea of how rough the snow was. those are pretty dang deep runnels there!

the Lucky Bums + skins made it easy to get around. these poles are the beefy helinox GL145 - just 15.8 oz/pair (448g/pair)

O gets his September ski. note that the Helinox poles actually adjust small enough. their adjustment mechanism is so easy that we adjust the poles all the time and they never slip

T! I tried the digital zoom for the photo - ugh!

And so another notch in the belt...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Picketwire Canyonlands, Labor day - A poor choice for the kids (but a great holiday traffic avoidance maneuver)

No dinosaur tracks for us!
My bad: I thought Picketwire would be way more bike-able that it turned out to be. We couldn't use the roads that the guided tour uses - they go through a restricted military maneuver area. So, the dinosaur tracks were too far for kid biking and the trail was too narrow and rugged for the Burley. And those "Bikers - Expect Flats" signs didn't reassure us either.
Take-away: book the tour (minimum 3 days before, Saturdays only) if seeing dinosaur tracks with the kids is your plan. From the site: Reservations are required via or call 1 (877) 444 6777. All day tours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are offered on Saturdays in May, June, September, and October. Sign up early because the tours fill up fast! Due to rough roads, visitors will need their own four-wheel drive vehicle. 

So what we did do was...

Arrived and found a nice "dispersed camp" at the end of Forest Service road 8127. Lots of big flat spots, very modest amounts of cactus (which we circled with stones to prevent us from walking into them) and only a little glass and bullet shells. We loved that the camp wasn't saddled with a fire ring. We believe in Leave No Trace car-camping  so we only use portable campfires.

Fire rings are dead to us.

1st night. happy to be there. no muss, no fuss portable campfire

an actual horny toad in camp


Short little like with the kids down into Minnie Canyon.

flexible. seems like every kid carrier I've ever seen provided no head support. a big, completely breathable pillow would do it but I haven't seen that either yet

a demonstration: the attraction of trees. is that a putter or a driver N? what does one use for a juniper?

We went looking for scorpions with a UV light but found only one on the last night. 

storms in the distance (lower left), galactic axis somewhat further. MoonLight tent.
The trail down into the Purgatoire river canyon was steep and loose but we soon found ourselves on a nice wide single-track. In many places it was lined with Puncturevine (AKA Goathead). The kids managed to mostly stay away from it but if we had brought the Burly it would have been wider than the trail in places so there would have been no chance to avoid flats.

we found shade. we stopped. we appreciated. we went back.

bear poop after the bear had been eating the red fruit of the prickly pear cactus. notice the dung beetle working away to dismantle the poop. if only I could teach them to use a Deuce of Spades potty trowel. man would they have some free time. maybe take in a marg and a movie sometime

our trusty umbrella did not disappoint. N, can we get under there too? N? 

We went to Fort Bent on the old Santa Fe trail. It's a re-creation of the fort. More photos coming.

a dad-gum gen-u-ine conestoga wagon. yee-haw-howdy!

The blacksmith bellows

The nature trail outside the fort went off toward the Arkansas river, through mad fields of sunflowers.

so...many...sunflowers!   must...turn...away!
Rain greeted us back at camp. We even had a super-localized microburst that damaged our tent because I hadn't attached the fly to the poles with the velcro tabs underneath.

rainbow after the rain. we hoped in and out of this more time than a prairie dog on holiday. no, I don't know what that means either. old Kelty sunshade with beefier DAC PL 16.8mm poles

The kids played well together. It's pretty obvious that they liked the super lightweight chars we brought. They could pick them up really easily...
jet fighters! no! X-wing fighters! no! pew pew! the joys of really lightweight chairs. things little boys do

did I mention that Picketwire wasn't far from Oklahoma, tornado central?
The storm cells were huge and lovely. Lots and lots of lightning too.

Oklahoma - right over there...

CanFire goodness!

toasting marshmallows - the trick is to not keep them in the flames. put them next to the flames

What the heck is up with these inflatable couch things? My facebook feed is stuffed with "Laybags" (defective name BTW).  Bought some on Amazon and. holy crud-muffin they're hard to inflate! They all weigh too much for the fabrics to billow easily. Glad I paid $23 and $29 for mine.

the kids LOVED this thing but it really needs a brisk wind to inflate it properly
We did a thorough pick-up of camp micro-trash before we left and dispersed the barely used fire ring that was already there. Brought maybe 3 dozen bullet casings back for recycling. As always, we left the camp cleaner than we found it.

County Road 71 (CR71) from Rocky Ford (home of tainted melons and cattle feedlots) up to Limon was a revelation. This is one of the last remnants of the American frontier as the original pioneers found it. Fremont famously called it the "Great American Desert" on his maps. But most of it's not like that now, not at all. Except for here. Wow!
"The Great American Desert" — this is how all of the the Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas area looked like before water diversion and irrigation. no kidding. no trees. no rivers lined with cottonwoods, nada! everything like that is entirely man made - the works

And so we drove back. Labor day Monday. Roads into and out of the mountains were absolutely choked, bumper to bumper aggravation. But not here. A whistle and a song and we're home without a delay to speak of. CR71, we salute you! that part of our Picketwire plan worked out brilliantly.