Stay Weird!

28 08 2015

Heard this on CBC’s WireTap a while ago – how to age gracefully. Didn’t realise there was a video to go with it.

The 93 year old has the best advice… ignore the advice!





Summer Holiday – day 6

23 08 2015

The weather remained fine and sunny, but the evenings were chilly due to the altitude and clear skies.  During our slow wind-up to the day we had our usual visits from the Steller’s Jays and the chipmunks. All very Disney and cute.

Steller's Jays having a quick drink at the Holy Spigot

Steller’s Jays having a quick drink at the Holy Spigot

Cheeky chipmunk - not on the menu

Cheeky chipmunk – not on the menu

After the exertions of the previous day, we decided to take it easy and cruise around the west/north-east of the crater. We opted to focus on Cleetwood Cove, and drive the entire loop of the crater. Off we headed to the west and started the clockwise circumnavigation. We felt obliged to stop off for a close-up look at Wizard Island – the air was much clearer today.

Wizard Island from up close and personal of the west of the crater

Wizard Island from up close and personal on the west of the crater

Such wonderful clear water

Such wonderful clear water

Stunning view

Stunning panorama

Cleetwood Cove is the only legitimate place where you can get to the water in the lake. It’s a little jetty that has a regular boat service to Wizard Island. These park-operated boats are the only vessels on the lake too. The descent is pretty steep and has many switchbacks. There were several sets of road improvements being undertaken and when we finally reached the car-park at the top of the trail we were disappointed to find it already full. Not unsurprisingly there were several RVs. Trouble was, they we forced to park lengthways across the parking bays and so each one took the place of 4-5 cars. We asked a ranger and were told that it was totally fine to park along the roadside… next to the several hundred foot drop to the lake and certain death.

Having exhausted ourselves with the climb back up the rim, we continued clockwise around the crater and briefly stopped off to look at Vidae Falls. Due to the recent lack of rains, it was a mere dribble compared to its potential torrent. Very pretty though. I was put in mind of falls in the Isle of Man and the tales of fairies.

Vidae Falls... short of water

Vidae Falls… short of water

By now we felt we’d pretty much “done” the lake and we headed back to the site for a rest… and a beer.

As night-time fell, I attempted to record the amazing number of stars that were visible from the darkened campsite. I was surprised at the range of colours too – they weren’t all just bright white!





Summer Holiday – day 5

22 08 2015

Day 5 began as any other… with a trip to the loo.

I was somewhat perturbed though to find the stall was already occupied by a wee beastie. No idea what it was, but it was ‘kin huge!

Ermy germy

Ermy germy

Needless to say that was a bit disconcerting and put me off my stroke for the rest of the day.
Having perused the map we’d obtained, complete with the conveniently graded hikes and trails, we’d decided to head off to the east of the crater and hike up Mount Scott – the highest point in the park. The route to the mountain took us past a couple of view points and we were relieved to see the mist/smoke from the night before was no longer there. There was still a little haze in the air, but the views were nothing short of stunning.

Wizard Island from the east of the crater

Wizard Island from the east of the crater

Phantom Ship from Phantom Ship overlook

Phantom Ship from Phantom Ship overlook

Despite the brief photo-stops we eventually arrived at the small car-park by the road which marked the trailhead for Mount Scott. It was just a few metres past the Cloudcap Overlook turning. The moon was still clearly visble in the sky and plainly was wanting to make the most of the clear skies.

A reluctant moon over the sign for the Cloudcap Overlook turning

A reluctant moon over the sign for the Cloudcap Overlook turning

The trail details claimed it was a 3hr round trip and the mountain was 2721m high, with an elevation gain from the trialhead of 381m. The Grouse, for comparison, is 1231m high, with an elevation gain from the start of 853m. So – we were going a lot higher, but we we starting a lot higher too – higher than the top of the Grouse in fact! The total climb was only about half that of the Grouse. Though a nice steady climb, this was no picnic and included a few slightly sketchy patches on loose pumice.

The road ahead - the ascent of Mount Scott

The road ahead – the ascent of Mount Scott

As we got higher, the view of the lake started to open up and became grander and grander.

Wizard Island from the slopes of Mount Scott

Wizard Island from the slopes of Mount Scott

Despite being in full sun, some trees were making the most of it and standing proud… if a little hipster.

Hipster tree

Hipster tree

Eventually, after a couple more switch-backs we caught a glimpse of the fire lookout tower at the peak. This was still in use unlike the ones we’d visited in BC, and was bristling with technology and keep off signs.

First view of fire lookout at the top

First view of fire lookout at the top

From the ridge we could see down to the east and there were several plumes of smoke rising from the forest to indicate small fires alarmingly close to the crater.

Over to the east there were still some small fires to see. Oregon was not immune.

Over to the east there were still some small fires to see. Oregon was not immune.

Once at the actual lookout there were a couple of brass discs cemented into the rock to mark the actual peak and the presence of USGS surveyors back in 1932.

USGS marker declaring the height to be 8938' above sea level

USGS marker declaring the height to be 8938′ above sea level

US Coast & Geodetic Survey marker at the top. 1932

US Coast & Geodetic Survey marker at the top. 1932

The views from the very top were stunning and needless to say I took many more photos than I’ll bore you with here! Click on this (or any of the other images) for a larger version.

Panorama of the jaw-dropping beauty of Crater Lake

Panorama of the jaw-dropping beauty of Crater Lake

After soaking up the energy and a pint or so of water, we headed back along the ridge where we saw a few alpine flowers including Indian Paintbrush.

The view back along the ridge towards the south

The view back along the ridge towards the south

Indian paintbrush, or "Castilleja"

Indian paintbrush, or “Castilleja”

As we started our descent, I remembered to take a photo of the large pumice field we had crossed earlier. The picture definitely doesn’t do it justice, but this entire area was like a giant potting shed. I myself use vermiculite to start plant cuttings and it is definitely a very effective medium for new plants.

Pumice field on the SE flank of Mount Scott.

Pumice field on the SE flank of Mount Scott.

After regaining the car we headed back clockwise and stopped to see the lake at Cloudcap Overlook, and then headed back to Phantom Ship Overlook to take a “better” photo.

Phantom Ship from Phantom Ship Overlook

Phantom Ship from Phantom Ship Overlook

Just by the Overlook, we took the Pinnacles Road and headed to the very SE corner of the park to take a look at this weird phenomenon. Basically as the ash and soil eroded after the giant explosion of the Mazama volcano back in 5600BC these harder plumes of ash and rock were left as the softer material around them was washed and eroded away. Move on 7000 years or so, and you’re left with alien looking spires of volcanic material left on the sides of the deeply eroded creek canyon.

We were starting to tire now, so we decided to stop off for another re-energising look at the lake from one of its many viewpoints and then head off for a short walk through the woods around the Steel Visitor Center (sic), named for William Gladstone Steel, U. S. Commissioner. According to Crater Lake Institute he was born in Stafford, Ohio in 1854. William Steel is regarded as the “Father of Crater Lake National Park.” Steel spent years lobbying and fighting for National Park status of Crater Lake. He served as the park’s second superintendent, pushed for development of Crater Lake, co-founded the Mazama’s mountaineering club, and did much to conserve the natural resources of Crater Lake National Park.

Another awesome view. Likely from Sun Notch

Another awesome view. Likely from Sun Notch

The walk through the wood was pleasant enough, and there was a little guide book to tell you in minute detail about the history of the park’s beginnings and how the design of each accommodation block had been planned just so. The trail was named “Lady of the Woods” after a half-finished sculpture that was the primary purpose for the trail being built. Earl Russell Bush was a doctor attending to the builders of the first rim roads back in the 1900s. In 1917 with the work largely finished, he found himself with nothing to do so started on this sculpture. Amazingly it is his first attempt at carving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really rather good (especially for a first attempt!) The thing is though… this is a National Park. If I were to do the same today I’d be hauled off for vandalism of a Federal Park! Just sayin’…
IMG_8038

By now we were definitely flagging a bit, and so we headed back to camp and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and tried to figure out if our neighbours with Washington plates were “French French” or “Quebec French”. We were pretty sure it was the former, but our English reticence prevented us just asking.





Summer Holiday – day 4

21 08 2015

Day 4, we packed up at Cove Palisade (Deschute campsite at Lake Billy Chinook) and headed to Crate Lake. We were in no particular rush and took our time. Along the way we restocked at Trader Joe’s in Bend – always a treat with their yummy high quality foods.

Lake Billy Chinook

Lake Billy Chinook

As we headed out of camp, we stopped along the lake and took photos of the amazing basalt structures right next to the road. I’ve seen many examples of the characteristic hexagonal columns formed in basalt, but these were unusual in that they were curved. The sheer scale of the temperatures and pressures involved stagger the mind.

Trader Joe’s is always fun. I could spend hours perusing the shelves.

Goodies at Trader Joe's, Bend

Goodies at Trader Joe’s, Bend

So much goodness in one package!

So much goodness in one package!

As we approached Crater Lake National Park Mrs E questioned the directions Doris was offering. I prudently chose to “validate my assumptions” and saw that the default GPS setting was to “avoid toll roads”. This being a national park, Doris was trying to avoid the entrance fee at the northern entry point and detour us way off to the west to enter the park by the southern gate. Though this too had a fee, I guess the logic figured that delay of the fee was better somehow?! Cancelling this option Doris now agreed with the sign in front of us saying that Crater Lake was that-a-way. Crater Lake National Park is about 5 miles square, but it sits in the middle of the Winema National Forest which is huge.

As we caught our first glimpse of the lake and Wizard Island within it, we were sorely disappointed. The air was very misty with what we assumed to be smoke from the fires raging in California. We’d booked to stay in the park for 3 nights to make sure we had chance to see all it offered, and if the air quality was going to be so poor, we would be very frustrated.

First view of Crater Lake... smoky!

First view of Crater Lake… smoky!

We headed to the campsite at Mazama village and were told that though we had a site reserved, it was not a specific site. We had to cruise the vast campground and pick one. By sheer fluke we picked a site within easy walking distance of the only 3 showers in the entire ground! There had been a bad Pine Beetle infestation, and many trees had been felled and logged. Unlike other sites where you have to pay for firewood, at Crater Lake campers were encouraged to burn as much as they liked for free. In “extreme” forest fire conditions. Bizarre! There were however several cautionary signs demanding that campers “buy it where you burn it”. Carrying potentially infected firewood from site to site is a way that the beetles can spread.

As we settled in, we became aware of several Steller’s Jays sharing the site with us. Chipmunks too. The chipmunks were entertaining, but the Jays were incredibly noisy and confident. They would come to within a couple of feet of you if they thought they might find food. Each site had a very robust bear bin with double doors. This implied that bears could be a bit of an issue, but there was no sign of any bears in the area while we were there.

What's your is mine

What’s yours is mine

We’d stopped off at the park’s Steel Visitor Center (sic) and loaded up with maps. One came with a useful list of the parks official hiking trails – a very convenient “to-do” list for our short stay!

Convenient to-do list

Convenient to-do list

As is often the case when camping, we turned in relatively early, but not before witnessing a stunning sunset – emphasised no doubt by the smoke lingering in the air. On subsequent nights we saw an incredible number of stars – something only possible when many many miles away from the usual light pollution of our so-called civilisation.

Nightfall

Nightfall





The Skin You’re In

20 08 2015

Unless you subscribe to the fairytale of reincarnation, the body you woke up in today is the only one you’ll get. Actually it’s likely the case even if you do subscribe to it.

Not everyone likes what they see in the mirror. It might be a body image issue – thanks to the power of marketing. Or it might be because you feel you’re somehow failing to be the best “you” there is.

This young lady decided to help raise awareness of these issues. It was London. Thankfully, it didn’t rain!





No Loser Cruisers in Edmonton

20 08 2015

Transit in Alberta never looked so cool…





Grouse Ascent 2015 No. 11

19 08 2015

Route: BCMC

Time: 1:37:23

The helpful folks at Grouse Mountain Resort’s IT department finally fudged the system to allow my extra long hike to be counted, so now they’re correctly recording me as having made 42 ascents. The meaning of life. The universe. And everything! A bit slow tonight. It was pretty hot. Even at the top, after I’d finished, it was still 21 degrees. 9 more ascents, and Everest is mine!








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