Wednesday, September 14, 2016

49 Continental State Highest Points complete!

As you’re probably aware, Jay and I have been on a quest to summit the highest natural point in each of the 50 states of the United States of America.  We went on a trip this July and August to attempt to wrap up getting to the highest points in all of the states situated on the continent.  On August 25th, 2016, we succeeded (Jay and I, and our Cure JM (Juvenile Myositis) banner)!!!  Now, all we have left to do is Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and we’ll have been to the highest point in each of the 50 states!

Here, I’ve included a collage of the final continental high points (I’ve been posting the Cure JM photos at this publicly accessible link.) We also did the highest natural point in Washington, District of Columbia, since we were so close.  Finding the USGS marker for the point that is the official recognition of the highest point that the public is allowed to visit, turned out to be a bit of a challenge, but, in spite of the almost 100degree Fahrenheit (38C) weather (with very high humidity), we did find it, as you can see from the picture:
(Click on Photo to see the higher quality image that you can zoom in on.)

We did hikes with friends around New Jersey’s High Point, and we did hikes to reach New York’s Mt. Marcy, Connecticut’s Mt. Frissell (the high point is on the shoulder of the mountain, whose peak is in Massachusetts), New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington (we had a choice for this one – there’s a road to the summit), Vermont’s Mt. Mansfield, and Maine’s Baxter Peak on Katahdin.  The rest were readily accessible via at most a stroll from the vehicle.  Speaking of which, Jay’s Ford F150 has now been in 48 of our 50 states!  Not many vehicles can say that for themselves!

May you have goals around your own passion to which you can strive!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mt. Rainier, Washington - #40 out of 50

Since this was a rather significant summit in terms of our getting to the highest point in each of the 50 states, I decided to put captions on some of our 5/11/16 Mt. Rainier climb pictures, and put them on the web.  Unlike our neighborhood Mt. Hood, or even Washington’s Mt. Adams, neither of us have tens of climbs of this mountain under our belts – this was #8 for me, and probably #7 for Jay.  It takes at least 3.5 hours to get to the trailhead, and for me, at least, it’s likely to always be at least a 2 day climb.  It’s such an impressive climb, though – and the crevasses are so monumental in size, that it’s such a pleasure to do a climb of the mountain.  If you're interested in the “picture story”, go to:

[Note, Google is now showing this in Google Photos, rather than using Picasa Web, so in order to see the captions, you have to click on the little "i" in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  If you're looking at the album as a whole, it will give you the comments that I put in for the whole album.  Once you click on the first picture, it will start showing the captions on each photo.]  I hope that you enjoy seeing the pictures and reading the captions as much as we enjoyed doing the climb!!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

1st Wedding Anniversary!

It’s already been a year since we climbed to the summit of Mt. Hood, and were married by and in the presence of other climbers!  Some of our climbing friends couldn’t make it, that year, so soon after that climb, we decided that we’d just have to do it, again, and our 1st anniversary seemed like an appropriate time to do such a climb.  So, I reserved the date on the climb schedule (with the wilderness restrictions, and restrictions that the Mazamas, our local climbing organization, have, we can’t have 2 climbs happening at the same time on the same side of the mountain), and hoped that there would be a weather window for the climb.  And. . . there *was* a weather window.  It was predicted to be warmer than last year, so we had to do the climb at night, rather than during the day, as we had last year, but it turned out that the snow conditions and weather were absolutely perfect!  We had more than the 12 people, maximum, who were interested in the climb and could go that day, so a couple people decided to do climbs on their own, and meet us for the celebration.  Here is our celebration photo with everyone who could join:
Photo people, in strict left to right:
Mark Fowler, Dyanne Foster, Jean Hillebrand, Gary Riggs, Lynne Pedersen, Rita Hansen, Moriel Arango, Leora Gregory, Jason Vosburgh, Jay Avery, David Carrier (solo climber), Jonathan Myers, Karen Vernier (solo climber), and Amad Doratotaj.  The photo was taken by another Mazama organization member, Aaron Mendelson, who just happened to also be on the summit at the same time.

Mark, Dyanne, Jean, Gary, and Karen had all joined us last year for the wedding, which was performed by Karen.

Since most of the climb was at night, the pictures were primarily taken at the summit.   Jay stood just at the top of the crux of the climb, and took photos of everyone as they emerged from the narrow chute of the western Pearly Gate.  One that I particularly enjoyed was this one:
This picture happens to be of me (followed by a couple of team members), but that’s not why I like it – it’s because you can see all the way down the mountain, to the sun just kissing the western edge of the White River canyon, below.

On the summit, Rita took this really sweet picture of Jay and me:
And Jason caught us doing what we tend to do a lot, especially while on a mountain:
Gary is looking on. . .

The temperature was nice and cool, the sun was shining, the skies were clear, there wasn’t much wind to speak of, and snow was such that it made for an easy and safe ascent.  Everyone made it up to the top, and home, safely – a perfect climb, and a perfect gift for our 1st Wedding Anniversary!  People are already suggesting that this be an annual event – but, as always, that will depend upon the weather!!!

May you all have wonderful experiences to mark occasions of importance to you!


Friday, February 05, 2016

Honeymoon #3 (Australia) - Crocodiles

While we were in nice, cool, Sydney, we discussed our plans of driving north to Darwin with our hosts, Peter and Elizabeth.  While we were having to wear jackets in Sydney, we were checking the weather in Darwin, and it was already getting to be in the 90’s (Fahrenheit) (around 32-ish Celsius).  I remember saying something like, “well, at least we can go for a swim.”  “But you can’t!” exclaimed Elizabeth.  I was confused – why not?  “Because there are crocodiles, there!”

And then, when we got close to Darwin, our Darwin friends, Dennis and Anne, told us about this lovely place, Edith Falls, where one could swim – they remove any crocodiles, periodically, so that people CAN swim. 

Here’s a shot of some of the falls in the park, on the trail that we went on to get to the pool just above these falls, to swim:

And here’s a shot of the pool that we swam in, with another waterfall behind me and the Cure JM (Juvenile Myositis) banner:

Dennis encouraged us to take a tour to see the crocodiles, even if it’s a bit artificial, as the crocodiles are in the wild, and they are rather spectacular.  Click here to see a 16 second video of a crocodile in action on our little tour on the Adelaide River.  Here are a couple of still shots.  First, the approaching crocodile; note the shape of the head:

Next, the jump – these guys are amazing – their tails are almost the same length as their bodies, and they use them to launch their bodies out of the water:
I love that you can see his back legs just at the water level, his left “arm”  with those long sharp claws down by his side as he also uses that to create momentum upward, and, those nice sharp teeth.  This next shot shows what it looks like with his back toward you:
And then this one, with the arm thrust down, and the full set of teeth:
And here’s a close-up of the teeth:
This next guy is much older, and bigger:
and he doesn’t have much in the way of teeth left:
(and he’s also missing his right front leg, and is known as “Brutus”).  Note how “gummy” his mouth is. . .

Here’s another beauty on the river shore:

And a close-up of a baby crocodile:
Oh, and while looking at this little guy, there were these other creatures running around in the mud:
They’re called mudskippers.  There are three of them in the above picture.  The above is a close-up – for size comparison, note the nearby leaf.

So, back to the crocodiles, they are wild, and while they don’t *depend* on these tasty morsels provided by the tour operators, they certainly are encouraged to show themselves and participate in the revelry. 

We saw one crocodile, completely in the wild, at this billabong (a pond):
for which there was the following warning:
Since we’d seen so many of these signs (pretty much, everywhere where there was water), we may have had a little bit of a casual response to the sign.  We had gone there to check out the gorgeous birds.  We weren’t at the water’s edge, but we were getting somewhat close to it, when all of a sudden, we all spotted a very large crocodile coming our way.  We all decided that we weren’t interested in being lunch for the croc, so moved away, without, I’m sad to say, a picture. . . 

So, with these crocodile images firmly in our heads, what better thing to do than to go some place for a swim?  It was, after all, very, very hot, with temperatures at least 95F (35C), and definitely reaching over 100F (38C), frequently.  We decided to do a hike to Jim Jim Falls, which required us to go on a road for 4 wheel drive cars, only.  Some roads specified whether the 4WD had to be high clearance or not.  This one required high clearance during some times of the year.  We thought that we would try it, and were successful in getting to the trailhead for Jim Jim Falls.  At the trailhead, we noticed the following two signs:

talking about how they manage the crocodiles so that we’ll be safe swimming in the pool at Jim Jim Falls, and:

that introduced the concept of two different types of crocodiles, which we only fully understood, later in our trip.

One of the first things we noticed on our hike was a crocodile trap:
This picture of the trap was on our way out – and it was sprung!  We wondered if a crocodile had, indeed, been caught in it, but we couldn’t tell.

Looking ahead to Jim Jim Falls:
Here’s a shot of where the falls would be if there were falls, from the pool of water in which we were swimming:
And then, another shot from that same pool, looking back to where we’d hiked n from:
We did a lot of climbing over rocks to get into this pool.  There is a pool with a nice sandy beach on the other side of the rocks just at the end of this pool.   And soon after we arrived, so did several families, some Australian, and one American family doing some travelling similar to ours.  We got some tips for other “must see” places, and headed back.

Dennis and Anne had told us to tour Katherine Gorge, so that was our next day’s stop.  There are several gorges, here, and we didn’t have enough time to go through all 3 gorges, but we were able to do the ½ day kayak through the 1st gorge:
That’s my back.  You might note that I’m wearing a long-sleeved cotton shirt – it was the only way I could be comfortable in the searing sun and heat: I’d soak my shirt and pants, and rewet them when they dried.  The kayak was for a couple of miles, and then we left the kayaks on the shore of the end of the 1st gorge, and then went on a short little hike to the 2nd gorge for a swim:
Rebecca and Ed were happily cooling off.
Jay swung around after the above picture, and took a picture of me with the Cure JM banner:
There are several things to note in the above picture.  Firstly, I was swimming in my long sleeves – enjoying being cool, and knowing that my shirt would be dry soon after leaving the water – so why NOT use it for sun protection, as well?  Another thing to note is the silvery boat to the right of the picture.  There were tour boats that were in this 2nd gorge, and while swimming, we had to look out for them. . .  We could have kayaked, further, but just didn’t have the time.  And lastly, do you see that beach-looking thing to the right of the picture?  It is a nice sandy beach, and when Ed and I swam up to it, we discovered that it had a “keep off – crocodile nesting area” sign on it!!!!  Ok, so this beach, that is off of this pool of water that we’re swimming in is a crocodile nesting sight, but this pool is safe to swim in?  The mind is boggled. . .

 Here’s another picture looking up the gorge, and you can see that crocodile nesting beach on the left:
with beautiful red rock under foot. .
From the water, I took the following shot in the other direction:
I like the above picture, because it has Jay in it, looking at his surroundings, giving perspective of the size of the surroundings.

Ah, it was beautiful and cooling and pleasant, but we had to move on, so we took the short hike back to the first gorge, and got in the kayaks we’d left on the shore, and kayaked back:
Ed and Rebecca, enjoying the shade, and the current taking them back.

Later, as we drove west, but still in the Australia’s Northern Territory, we stayed in a cabin at a caravan park that pretty much constituted the entire inland town of Timber Creek.  Here, they advertised that every day, they feed the crocodiles, and here, the crocodiles were “freshies” – that is, freshwater crocodiles (the second type that were mentioned on that Jim Jim Falls sign, way above); and that is opposed to the “salties” that were pictured, above, which are salt-water crocodiles.

One of the most noticeable differences is the shape of their heads.  Here’s what the “freshie” head looks like:
The snout is much narrower than the Saltie’s snout.  One guy claimed that these guys wouldn’t be able to kill us – that if they did grab an arm, they’d break their snout, because it wasn’t as powerful as the Saltie’s snout.  I don’t know about that, but it does jive with that sign that suggests that Salties can maime and kill, but Freshies only maime. . .  However, I’m not sure that I’m going to ever test that theory. . .  Here, at this river, they tempted the freshies with much smaller bits of meat than what we saw used to tempt the salties.

Here’s one freshie making his way over to us:

And then another shot of one right next to the bridge where we were all standing, while the one person tempted them with meat:

These guys definitely didn’t launch their whole bodies out of the water as the salties did.

And with that, our crocodile adventures ended. 

Here’s to enjoying crocodiles from a position of safety!