Monday, January 16, 2012

Snatching adventure from the jaws of the couch!

After over a month of fantastic winter weather, conditions are changing, clouds swirling, ice forming on the high peaks.  I awoke to low grey skies, damp ground, and this:

Hmmm...sub-optimal riding conditions.  For days I'd thought today was the start of the spring semester, but on working over my class materials, I realized that today was Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday--no school.  So, better celebrate it Scotty style.  But the fog, the cold, the damp...The couch was calling, good books aplenty, more coffee.  Must. Fight. Sloth.   Jodi and are are contemplating a week-long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in early April, weather permitting, and Django needed a workout, so suit up and head out.

The boots:

The 40 lb. pack:
The goon:
The hound:

After much shuffling about, zipping up, getting down, locking and loading, we finally got out the door, Django pitching a fit of excitement to GET OUT OF HERE!  A fire road and mist-cloaked mountains loomed above.  No one else was out.  Across the valley, before we entered the clouds, we saw a transformer explode at a substation.  Portents, signs, keep moving...  The road ascends steeply for about 1,000 ft. of elevation gain.  The pack is comfortably heavy, my warm layers keeping the cold wind at bay, and Django and I work our way upward, the mountains to ourselves.

The frost is heavy on the pine needles, the wind cutting sharp across the pass, my own personal little South Col.  The prevailing wind direction is not hard to infer!  Below is a video taken at the top.  I'm narrating the scene, but the wind makes is almost impossible to make out.  There's a "South Col" remark and such.  Dig it:

A "shadow" of wind-cast ice crystals spread across the road:

When the weather is bad, the spirit sags, and it's easy to opt out, hit the couch, flip on the boob tube/LCD/LED/whateverthehell and let the opportunity pass.  Today: Scotty and Django 1, sloth 0.

Carry on...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Desert photos

We are home at last.  The trip was wonderful, aside from the bouts of nefarious infection that Jodi and I had to combat.  The weather was as good as we have ever experienced for a winter desert trip.  The first week was cold, with one morning Django's water bowl being frozen solid, but after that...puurrrrfect.  We did two backpacking trips, just one night out due to the water load penalty most desert backcountry  requires.  What follows is a selection of pictures from the wild Southwest.

Here are a few shots of the good ship Tundra.  This is a special purpose vehicle that we only use for these sorts of trips, and the camper is always left on.  There is a 75 watt solar panel fixed on the roof, but we found with the low angle of the winter sun, the charging of the battery was inadequate, so as you will see, I set up a 54 watt additional panel that rides under the bed when not in use, but when we're parked, I can shift it about to maximize charging.  The key issue for us is that we run a 12 volt compressor refrigerator--no propane units for us.  We've had too many problems with these in the past, often hard to light, don't function well or at all if the rig is parked on a slant, etc.  The new unit functions beautifully.  The LCD screen on the voltage regulator died later in the trip, so I've got to get that replaced.

Backpacking in the desert--a delight!  I carried seven quarts of water, Jodi, five, and Django, two, and this left us with plenty for the over night trips.  We camped in places of perfect silence--well, except for that F18 in the Mojave.

Until the next adventure, get out there!