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WEEK 36 2006

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Saturday 9 September 2006

Saturday - down to the boat. First I watched the space shuttle take off, then fell asleep on the couch. So I didn't get down to Oxnard until three or so.

The vanish is nearly all stripped on the exterior brightwork. It feels odd, having someone else do the work, but I just haven't the time. My guy has done as much in a week as I'd be likely to do in the next two months.

I picked up some teak "brightener" since the bare wood was rather mottled and uneven in color. The varnish has some coloring to it, and should help hide whatever mottling is left. (Not that there is anything wrong with a 25 year old boat having less than perfect woodwork.) I also picked up some epoxy, for filling small cracks in the wood, where it wasn't bad enough to require pulling the wood up, but where you wanted the splits not to enlarge.

And some paint - medium blue, a couple of quarts, for the exterior edge of the bulwark. It should look good...

For the record, my friend in Oxnard has gone beyond the call of duty to keep and eye on things - I was able to help him a bit with some computer stuff, but I'm in his debt again.

The head has issues. Ugh. Guess I'll look at that next weekend.

Friday 8 September 2006

Friday - work.

Thursday 7 September  2006

Thursday - back at work.

Wednesday 6 September 2006

Wednesday - back at work, alas.

The Mt. Whitney hike, continued

From Trail Crest it was about another three miles to the top.

The trail winds along a the rocky backside of the mountain. Most mountains, in my experience, are rather rounded on top, despite appearances. Whitney is much the same - on the west side. On the east side it drops off in a cliff!

The trail drops down a bit as it heads north, and then splits, with the right hand path going off to Mt. Whitney three miles away and the left hand path going off to Crabtree Ranger Station, nearly seven miles away. We could see Pradeep, ahead of us, had taken the wrong trail, and so we hollered and whooped until we got his attention - he was probably a quarter mile or so down the wrong trail, but sound (fortunately) carries far on mountains. He came back and headed down the correct path whilst Dave and I took a breather.

At the junction were a number of backpacks - people walking the 211 miles of the John Muir Trail didn't see the necessity for packing fifty pounds of gear up to the top. I don't blame them; Dave and I left our ( maybe 20 pounds each ) daypacks behind, keeping just some water and hiking poles. The trail started out decent enough, but began to degenerate. Eventually it almost disappeared among rocks and boulders, which really slowed us down.

whitney sub peaks overview
Mt. Whitney sub peaks from the back. Do you see the hikers?

hiker, for scale
The hikers are center left in the above picture,
here they are in an enlargement. Notice the size
of the rubble, and the lack of a trail.

"One foot in front of the other" became my personal mantra. We passed Pradeep again, who had stopped a mile or so up the trail to rest and drop off his daypack - to drop off everything but his Nikon digital SLR.

Finally, after nearly three hours more of walking, we arrived at the top. It was 3:30 pm, so we'd been on the trail, walking nearly continuously, for twelve hours (which works out to a bit under one mile per hour).

Tuesday 5 September 2006

Tuesday - Dawn found us at Outpost Camp [cool 3D panorama pages], if my memory serves. We stopped, had a Clif Bar and some Gu, then headed on upwards. Essentially the trail is a series of switchbacks up several little plateaus, probably glacial. A bit past Outpost Camp was Mirror Lake. It was a little breezy - zephyrs, really, so not very mirror like. The sun had yet to rise enough to hit the water proper, but was on the cliffs above the lake.

After Mirror lake there was a longish climb up a rocky gully with a stream off to one side, and eventually Trail Camp, at the base of the infamous 97 switchbacks up to the ridge line. Trail Camp is above the tree line, on a little lake. There are a couple of non-functional "solar toilets", and a number of tents were pitched out. Despite numerous signs asking, pleading, demanding that people not feed the wild life people were indeed hand feeding the marmots, and encouraging their children to do the same.


We didn't stop, but proceeded on, to the rocky switchbacks. By my count there were 104, not 97, but I admit to being rather tired by this time and may have miscounted - this was about nine miles in and thousands of feet of elevation climbed. Dave and I first met "Pradeep" here - a tourist from India, with a nice camera. We passed each other several times, and chatted a bit. At one point I told him that the guide book claimed there were 97 switchbacks, and that we'd already covered 62. This was a great moral booster for him, though he looked rather crushed when we got to the top of  #97 and it wasn't at the crest.

I felt much the same, but there was no turning back at that point.

Eventually we all reached the trail crest, over 13,000 feet, and realized that we had three miles and nearly 1000 feet more of elevation gain. I think we considered seriously going back for the first time. It was already after noon, and all the park rangers and experienced climbers had insisted on the necessity of "summiting" before noon. For the last couple of days there had been clouds in the afternoon, and threats of lightning.

whitney trail crest

But we decided to go on.

 Monday 4 September 2006

Monday - departure was to be 2:00 am, but my camera didn't beep (that we heard), so we actually got off at about 3:45 am. ( I have the camera "sounds" turned off, but it didn't occur to me that the control would also turn off the alarm. Oh well. )

It was dark, but we both had headlamps. Mine was an old style incandescent, but Dave's was a really nifty LED light. You could see little dots of light bobbing along the trail switchbacks above the valley floor - other hikers (mostly) ahead of us, very neat. There wasn't much moonlight, but the headlamps were enough for the broad trail through scrub and duff. Off to the east in the Owens' Valley you could see the late morning lights of Lone Pine, well below us.

As we progressed up the trail the sky lightened with the false dawn, then predawn, then finally the sun itself.

Sunday 3 September 2006

Sunday - this was actually a day of rest. After walking about 10 miles yesterday for conditioning and acclimatization to the higher altitude, we just sort of "hung out". We'd spent the night at Horseshoe Meadow, car camping.

Wonderful stars - the Andromeda galaxy was directly overhead at one point during the night, an easy naked eye object.

Our "hanging out" also involved going down to Lone Pine and getting lunch, then heading up to Whitney Portal for a parking spot and evening camping spot. Which proved nearly impossible - there were hordes of people at the Portal. We drove around and around, desperately looking for a spot to park. We finally found a spot in the day visitor lot, near the fishing pond, and just walked around and napped a bit, until in early evening a spot opened up in the overflow overnight parking lot. There were no camping spots available, so we slept in the Explorer until our early morning departure.

Picture of the Week
Horseshoe Meadow, near Mt. Whitney, Ca

Photo Notes: Horseshoe Meadow, in the California Sierra Nevada.

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