Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Nights/Three Days at Mt Ranier

This week I met up with a friend from Oregon to camp and hike for a few days at Mt Ranier. On Monday I drove early to set up camp at White River Campground. I found a site close to the river in the far end of the campground. It was a nice site with enough open area to let lots of light in.

In the afternoon, we drove to Sunrise and hiked the trail towards First Burroughs mountain. The weather was starting to cloud over with a few drops of rain. As we neared the summit, there was patches of snow on the hillside trail. There we retreated back down. That night it rain lightly, but was not enough to make the camping bad.

On Tuesday, we hiked up the Glacier Basin trail. It starts at the White River campground and proceeds 3.1 miles up the White River. The first 1.25 miles is new. Last time I hiked this trail two years ago, the lower part of the trail had been destroyed by floods and the trail was rough and ran through the rocks of the river banks. The day was warm and sunny. In the basin, the flowers were blooming.

After the hike, I drove up the Stevens Canyon to Paradise and after a short stop at the visitors center, continued on to Cougar Rock campground for the night.

Wednesday, we went back up to Paradise to hike some more trails. We planned to hike to Panorama Pt, but the trails were covered with snow, so we stayed on the lower trails. Headed home in the early afternoon before the traffic got bad in Tacoma.

 Mt Ranier from the river bed next to my campsite.
 From the slopes of First Burroughs mountain looking toward Emmons Glacier and the headwaters of the White River.
 Mt Ranier and Glacier Basin from First Burroughs mountain. The clouds were starting to blow in.
 On the way to Glacier Basin.
 Glacier Basin and Inter Glacier. This is the approach for climbers heading to Camp Schurman.
 Meadow and lake in Glacier Basin. The mountain in the middle of the picture is First Burroughs and if you can see the patch of snow high on it, that was where we turned around the previous day.
 Foot log over the White river. This is part of the Wonderland Trail from White River Campground to Summerland.
 Mt Ranier from Paradise.
 Mazama Ridge.
Myrtle Falls.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mt. Ellinor Hike(or was it a climb?)

Yesterday I got out of town for a hike. My intent was to hike up Mt Ellinor in the SE Olympic Mountains. I left the house early and after stopping for breakfast I was at the trailhead at 0800. The trailhead elevation is 3500 feet. I loaded up my gear and set out.

I intended to take the "summer" route up the mountain. This route heads up a route that has a developed trail up the south ridge. But when I reached 4300 feet of elevation, the trail was covered in snow. When I reached the intersection with the "winter" route, I could see that the "winter" route was still filled with snow, so I went that way. The "winter" route is a steep chute that fills with snow and heads straight up the mountain.

I started up the chute following two people I could see ahead. I followed in their steps so I did not have to kick my own steps. About a third of the way up, the rocks were exposed and I had to climb over them to get back on the snow. At about the halfway point I caught up with the two people at another rocky section. It was a bit harder here to get from the snow to the rocks, I had to jump down a few feet. Here the other two people decided that they were not equipped for the the snow and headed back down. After crossing the rocks, I was once more on the snow. Here it was more icy and I stopped and put the crampons on. This helped a lot.

Near the top of the chute, once again the rocks were exposed and I had to climb over them to the saddle between Mt Ellinor and Mt Washington. This saddle was filled with snow and I could see snow for the remaining 400 feet to the summit of Mt Ellinor. There was bare rock around the edges of the snow and I took this route to the summit at 5994 feet.

It was clear to the north of the summit and fog was blowing in from the south. The view to the north was spectacular and the whole Olympic range was visible. While I ate lunch, the chipmunks and a mountain goat patrolled around looking for handouts.

From the summit I could see that at least the upper portion of the "summer" route was clear of snow. This switchbacks down the face of the mountains over broken rock. Eventually I reached snow and hiked down the snow until I reached the tree line and once again found the trail and hike the rest of the way to the trailhead arriving there at 1300.

It was a nice warm. sunny day to be outdoors doing something strenuous. Furthermore, I drove the reengined Bronce and it preformed great.

 This is the "winter" route up the snow filled chute. It is steep. Usually the snow is gone by May or June and the chute is a gully filled with boulders.
 Looking down from the top of the route. Lake Cushman is the body of water.
 Looking NW across the Olympics. Mt Olympus is visible in the distance.
 Fog blowing over Mt Washington.
 A little beggar on the summit.
 This was one of several mountain goats that I saw.
 This was one of several mountain goats that I saw.
 Looking back up part of the "summer" route still covered with snow.
Looking up to the summit from the parking lot. You can see the trail traversing the open green spot just before it goes down into the snow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Red Is Back In The Stables

Big Red returned to the bicycle stables yesterday. I had loaned it to a friend five years ago when I was living on my boat and I needed more room in my storage unit. He was not using it anymore, so he returned it.

I originally bought Big Red in 1987 during a grim time in my life. It is a Cannondale MT800, welded aluminum frame mountain bike. The frame cracked soon after I bought it and it was warrantied with a new frame. It has gone through a lot of changes. I have changed the gear configuration and shifters three times: from 15 speeds, to 18, then 21 and recently 24. I added the front suspension fork. Several different pedal systems. Many wheels. Very few parts are original. And not all the paint is left on the frame!

I used to race it and ride it extensively offroad. It hurt me badly once, but I forgave it for that incident. I also used to carry it on the boat and it has taken me places in various parts of the San Juan Islands and British Columbia.

After I had spinal surgery in 1994, it just did not feel as comfortable offroad as it used to. So I bought a dual suspension mountain bike(duallie) that treated my back better. Big Red was outfitted with street tires and was used for commuting to work and running errands.

Today I got it out and tuned it up. When I loaned it out, it really was not in the best of shape. The brake pads were worn out and the cables were rusty. I found some lightly used brake pads and a complete, almost new front brake assembly in my used parts collection. I changed out the brakes, pads and lubed the cables. The rear brakes are a system that are not used anymore and because of the frame mounting studs, they are the only ones that can be used. So, I took apart the brake arms and cleaned and lubed them. They work great again and I can stop! It is great to have the tools, spare parts and skills to fix my bicycles.

I then went out for an hour ride in Illahee Preserve on the single track trails. It is different to ride then the duallie. Yet the riding style is not bad, just different. The early Cannondale mountain bikes had really high ground clearance. This helps clear obstacles in the woods, but also makes it a stretch to put a foot on the ground. The hardtail did not seem as harsh as I thought it would be and climbing is better then the duallie.

Great to have it back in the stable!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Visit to the Russian Sail Training Ship Pallada

Thursday I took a quick trip to Seattle. The news media was talking a lot about the Russian Sail Training Ship "Pallada" that was moored for a few days at Pier 66. It was scheduled to be open for tours on Thursday and Friday.

So Thursday I rode a bicycle down to the ferry terminal(saving the parking expense) and rode the 0845 ferry to Seattle. A walk down the waterfront and I was at Pier 66 well before the tour time of 1030. But wait, the word was going around that the time was changed to 1100 and when the gate was finally opened, it was 1115.

The "Pallada" is a full rigged three masted "ship"(all masts rigged with square sails). It is 94 meters(308 feet) long, built in 1989 in Gdansk Poland. It is basically a floating classroom to teach cadets about seamanship, navigating and the lore of the oceans. It travels most of the year and is currently on a round the world voyage. It is homeported in Vladivostok Russia.

The ship was only open on the weather decks with one compartment open as a museum with many artifacts from it's voyages and from previous "Pallada's". It was well kept up as this is part of the cadet's training. Unlike old sailing ships, this ship had a completely enclosed pilot house with modern electronic navigation equipment. There are also two auxiliary propulsion diesel engines.

After a walk around the decks and and shooting some photos, I headed back to catch the 1235 ferry. I thought about stopping at Ivars for their great fish and chips, but they were VERY busy and I decided to put it off for another day. Funny that the other fish places along the waterfront had no lines what so ever.

I caught the ferry, arrived in Bremerton, retrieved my bicycle and had a nice ride home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Downtown Bremerton for the West Sound Safety and Health Expo

Today I parked the Bronco in Manette and took a walk across the Manette Bridge to Bremerton. The construction of the new bridge has now reached a point where the old bridge is permanently closed to vehicular traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists can still cross using the sidewalk. The new bridge is suppose to be opened in November.

My main purpose for going into downtown Bremerton was to go to the West Sound  Safety and Health Expo. This event is at the Convention Center and Boardwalk. This expo used to be within the confines of the Navy base and was intended for the Shipyard and Navy personal. But it has now partnered with the city of Bremerton and is open to the general public. It consists of many booths for health related products(chiropractors, massages, hearing evaluation, nutrition, etc) and safety equipment vendors(tools, fall protection, gloves, glasses, etc). I used to enjoy going to this when I was working, maybe because it was time out of the office. But today, it was still fun to see new gear, talk to the vendors and snag some free stuff.

 Some displays set up on the boardwalk. Most of the booths were in the convention center.
 The west end of the bridge. Some of the approach to the old bridge was cut back to allow completion of the new bridge.
 Most of the deck has been poured on the new bridge.
The eastern end. A roundabout is being built for this end to eliminated the old intersection.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Down The Sound Race 6-7 Aug 2011

This weekend was the second running of the Down The Sound Race. This is a singlehanded(one person) or doublehanded(two people) race. The course is from Shilshole Marina to Gig Harbor on Saturday and return on Sunday. An overnight stay at Arabella's Landing was planned along with a dinner and first day awards ceremony. I opted to race in the singlehanded with spinnaker division. About 45 boats were signed up for the race.

I got underway from Brownsville at 0715 for the motor to Shilshole Marina. The starts are staggered with the handicaps applied at the start. My start was at 1007.

The wind was very light from the north and I got a good start at my time. Up went the spinnaker and away we went chasing the boats that started ahead. At first it looked like the wind would fill near the eastern shore, and I gained a lot on the boats farther offshore. But then the wind shut off halfway to West Point. The boats nearer to West Point seemed to do well and that was my plan. But I could not get there! It was so light that I spent 1/2 hour within a boat length of a crab trap buoy. I was afraid that I would snag it.

Eventually the wind filled in some, first offshore and then near West Point. It never got above 5 knots. I sailed around West Point and along the outer reaches of Elliot Bay. I started gaining on the fleet ahead and as we neared Blake Island, I was back up with the pack. I could see "Lady Bug" (well sailed Peterson 30) along the east shore of Blake Island. I know of the current relief there and the possibility of some stronger local winds and I tried to go there too. BUT, "Rev" (Thunderbird 26) one of the boats in my division was farther to the east. So I jibed toward the east only to stay in front of the other boat. Sure enough the wind filled in from the east and I had a nice run to the "short course option" at the north end of Vashon Island. "Strider" (Nelson Marek 55) passed me just before I reached the short course point and "Dacha"(C&C 115) took the long route around Blake Island and also arrived just before me. I was fourth boat there. I took my time at 1706 and motored the rest of the way to Gig Harbor.

The dinner and party that night was good. When awards were handed out, I received a great award for first in my division, a haulout at CSR Marine! Very cool. I was also placed fourth for the day and only one other boat finished behind me.

On Sunday, the wind was from the south and again light. I again got a nice start and the fleet sailed up Colvos Pass. It was really a good sail. There was one hole a couple of mile up the course. I was able to sail around a large group of boats. I really never stopped moving. The wind increased as we sailed up the pass. Near Southworth, I again took my time at the short course point. The wind came more out of the north east and I had to change to the jib. I sailed higher than the boats ahead and gained and passed a few. As on Saturday, I sailed into Elliott Bay. There was good east to southeast winds and favorable current. I passed the boats to the west. Near Magnolia, the wind died. Fortunately it also died for the other boats to the west. I drifted along the Magnolia shore for hours, or so it seemed. It was so hot and there was no way to get out of the sun. My harness hardware was so hot that you could not touch it. People don't understand how hot it can be on the water with no wind and clear skies. It was also tiring trying to get the boat moving and all the effort foiled by the wakes of the passing boats and ships.

Eventually puffs of wind brought the rest of the boats together off West Point. One final good puff sent a large group of boats around the point and then left them there. I could see a north wind filling in, so I headed more NW. I gained onthe group of parked boats to the east, but I could not get to the new wind. I could see "Lady Bug" sailing in the new wind, but the convergence zone wouldn't collapse for the new wind to fill in. A few times I could get the sails to fill on port tack, but the windex and AWI both showed the wind off the starboard beam.

Eventually about six boats finished. When the time limit of 1900 arrived, I was still about a half mile away. Since nobody in my division finished, I will be scored at the short course location where I took my time. The boats in the doublehanded divisions that did not cross the finish line, unfortunately will be scored DNF because at least one boat finished from their division.

It was a good weekend for the race. More wind would have helped, but this is often the way with summer racing in Puget Sound. Results will be posted here when they are finalized: Sloop Tavern Yacht Club

Arabella's Landing where we spent the night.
Arabella's Landing where we spent the night.
Chasing the earlier starters up Colvos Pass on Sunday.
Chasing the earlier starters up Colvos Pass on Sunday.
Sealions lounging on the midchannel buoy.
My track on Saturday. I crossed the short course line at the north end of Vashon Island and motored the rest of the way to Gig Harbor.
My track on Sunday. I sailed within a half mile of the finish at Shilshole when the time limit expired. My time will be taken to the short course line at Southworth.