Thirsty Thursday: On the Trail

Rambler: Beth
Drink at Hand: Yogi Ginger taper for a little race I'm running this weekend.

Thirsty Thursday here again. Time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans! A few weeks back we went backpacking in the Desolation Wilderness. It was a tough journey as we decided to do roughly 2 miles of cross country travel to reach our final destination. I'll put it this way...hiking on established trails in the Sierra is fairly straightforward; backpacking over granite slabs with 42 lbs on my back, not so easy.

On the second day of our trip, we found our way back to some trails. I think I have a thing for singletrack. I spend more time hiking on singletrack these days than swooping along on a mountain bike, but I still love a tidy little dirt line cut neatly through a wildflower-choked meadow, snaking lazily through a deep forest, meandering around an alpine lake.


Get out there and find your own singletrack this weekend!

Thirsty Thursday: Instagrams from the Trail

Rambler: Beth
Drink at Hand: 2007 Alfaro Vineyards Pinot Noir

Thirsty Thursday here again...time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. Last weekend Terry and I (and Massey of course!) headed up to the Kaiser Wilderness for a couple of days in the woods. It was pretty warm for the 8500' up in the mountains, incredibly buggy, and absolutely beautiful!


Its always nice to get away from the cubicle and computer and phone and just enjoy the sunlight...and maybe a dip in a refreshingly chilly alpine lake. Even though the iPhones didn't get service (yay!), the camera still worked for Instagrams! As you can see in those last few frames, Massey was wrecked on the drive home. Always a telltale sign of a pretty sweet weekend!

Get out there and get lost in something this weekend!

Massey Monday: Wilderness Dog

I was cleaning up some photo projects from earlier this year and stumbled across a couple of Massey from our backpacking trip in the Kaiser Wilderness. She doesn't get off easy on these trips just because she's a dog...she has to carry her own weight!

Can't wait to get back out there in the backcountry again next summer. Maybe we'll drag Terry along next time.

Thirsty Thursday: George Lake

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: Ginger Ale (its my go-to airplane drink, don't know why!)

Howdy folks, time for another Thirsty Thursday, so pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. As you might have guessed from my "howdy folks" and airplane drink, I've been in Texas all week at a little weather nerd conference. Not going to lie, I am a weather nerd, so I was right at home. But just like Terry's post last week, there's something about being cooped up inside that makes you want to be way-the-heck outside. So this week, we'll review my little backpacking trip way out into the Kaiser Wilderness.

As you might remember from this post, Massey and I went for a little backpacking trip in the Kaiser Wilderness, with George Lake as our planned final destination. I picked Kaiser because it was on the west side of the Sierra Crest (hence a short drive) and I wanted a short-ish hike since we were going in Saturday and coming out Sunday. We picked up our wilderness permit in Huntington Lake at 8 am when the ranger station opened and headed straight to the trailhead...where it promptly started spitting rain. Grrr. I kept getting the backpack cinched up and ready to go while passing showers scooted overhead. A I go or do I bail? I really didn't want to hike 5 miles in the rain with a 45-lb pack on my back, but I also didn't want to give up potentially the last backpacking weekend of the year. Plus I had a brand new backpack that I was dying to use. So we went.

Massey loved the trail and her little backpack, too. We strolled along, dark clouds shadowing behind us, but bright blue skies ahead. My fingers were crossed. Massey chased pikas and I sucked in the scents of juniper and sun-warmed pine. Heaven. We topped out at Potter Pass and thunder started cracking as the wind picked up. I was nervous. But fortunately we dropped down the other side of the pass while the storm headed a different direction. On to the beautiful Lower Twin Lake, where I was surprised to see wildflowers still blooming. We quickly passed Upper Twin Lake and I noticed dark clouds coming again. The trail scrambles up a granite boulder mile to go to George Lake. It was a tough mile--lots of elevation gain--further stressed by the approaching storm. I found the first suitable camping site near the lake and tore into the backpack to dig out the tent pieces. I've never pitched a tent so fast! I threw the dog and my pack in the door and zipped the rainfly just as the first huge drops hit. All five of them. Maybe it was six. We sat out a pretty wicked lightning storm but we dodged the rain.

The rest of the weekend we had beautiful weather to enjoy the beauty of the place. The upper alpine lakes of the Sierra are so beautiful. Rocky, clear, pristine. Massey also enjoyed the water, jumping in every time possible. She didn't seem to mind that she was ruining the perfect mirrored reflections by rippling the surface of the water, so I had to act fast. We had a great time and can't wait to get back out into the woods again. Hopefully with Terry next time. Enjoy a few images from the weekend.

Its getting a little late in the season for backpacking, but if you want to head out to the Kaiser Wilderness next summer (or with a very warm sleeping bag), head east from Fresno toward Shaver Lake. Keeping going up the climbing mountain road to Huntington Lake. Here you'll find the ranger station where you can pick up a wilderness pass for the outing. Make sure you have your bear can...I didn't see any bears, but I saw signs of them.

Thirsty Thursday: Flying Solo

Rambler: Beth Drink at Hand: Prospect 49 Boomtown Red (thanks BevMo 5¢ Wine Sale!)

Hey hey hey! Thirsty Thursday is here! Time to pour something yummy and make those weekend plans. I've already made my plans and I'm super excited. I've caught the mountain bug, so I'm headed up to the Sierra again this weekend. Time to take Massey on her first overnight backpack trip. The bummer is that Terry is stuck in a computer nerd training class this weekend, so he can't go along. Just me and the dog. That's right, just me and the dog. Alone. In the wilderness.

The reaction I get when I say I'm headed out backpacking alone is always interesting. I normally get a gasp, followed by the following conversation...

Concerned bystander: Your husband isn't going with you?

Me: Well, yeah, he 100% would be going with me if he were free, but he's not, and I want to go to the mountains before it starts snowing for the year. So, no, he's not going with me.

Concerned bystander: Does he know you're going by yourself?

Me: Yes, he knows I'm going. And I am taking my dog so I won't be alone.

Concerned bystander: And he's okay with it?

Me: Yeah, he's perfectly fine with it...this isn't the first time I've done this. 

Concerned bystander: I don't know if its a good idea. You better be careful. Do you know what you're doing? 

It goes on and on. Every time it's the same conversation. I have snarky, sarcastic replies to every one of these questions, but I keep them to myself. My favorite part is right after they ask if my husband is going and I answer no. They look at me as if I just said its okay to come to work naked on Friday. I love Terry to death and I would love to have him right there along with me, but let's be honest, when it comes to outdoorsy stuff, Terry isn't the authority in our house. He's very competent in the woods and can figure stuff out, but I'm normally the one making the outdoor decisions around here. Besides, he's the guy that smashes his face on rocks, or snaps a lens off the front of the camera while tumbling down a mountainside, or thinks that hanging precariously off a cliff over a raging river to get a shot is just fine...honestly, he requires more tending to out there than me. Yet I guarantee that no one would look at him incredulously and ask him why his wife isn't going along when he says he's headed into the woods for a weekend by himself. Funny little social nuance, isn't it?

Ironically, I was planning to be in the mountains all fall. Earlier this summer I had filled out the application to do the NOLS Outdoor Educator Semester in Lander, WY. The course I planned to attend actually started this week. My GI Bill would have covered the tuition costs. The skills I would have learned would lend themselves perfectly to our dream business plan of accompanying people on their adventures and expeditions as documentary photographers. The same week I was all set to submit my application package and buy some new long underwear, I got a call for a job interview. The interview turned into a job. I really like my job. And I love that I have a paycheck again. Plus I get to see Terry all fall rather than spending 50-some days apart while I went through the course. But a little part of me wishes I was somewhere in the Wind River Range right now, learning how to climb...and I was really looking forward to the snow cave part of the course. Someday...

So I'm headed out to the Sierra as a little consolation prize for me. Besides, I love a solo adventure every now and again. I like being able to wander and think. I used to get my alone time on the bike throughout the week while I was training for Leadville, but with the new job and no bike racing, I've been without that regular solo release. Plus my solo backpacking trips are always centered around some photography work, and I the freedom to work independently while sizing up a subject and lining up a composition is quite nice.  I know I'll miss having my favorite hiking / photo buddy along, but I'll be just fine. And I have my guard dog to keep me company.

And at the end of the day, if you're out there doing what you love, even if there is a hint of danger involved, that's what matters. So I'll be doing what I love in the Kaiser Wilderness this weekend. Its going to be awesome!