Friday, December 17, 2010

Superstition Mountains

“Hello,” I said, giving her my best smile.
“Take a hike,” she replied.  
What a great idea!    
From Superstition Mountains

From Superstition Mountains

These are the Superstition Mountains.  It was declared a Primitive Area in 1939 and upgraded to a Wilderness Area in the 1940.  There are rumors of a “Lost Dutchman Mine” and there are truths about hikers disappearing.  I wasn’t looking for either.
From Superstition Mountains

Can you spot the trail marker?
From Superstition Mountains

Brother Carl dropped me off at the trailhead on Monday with instructions to come back on Thursday, and off I went with the world’s heaviest backpack.  The weight was mostly water (isn’t always); I was carrying nearly 1.5 gallons in two plastic water bladders, intending to hike to a what the map labeled as a “spring.”  You can’t always believe what you read, so I wanted to have enough water to get me there and back.  Of course I drank water freely. 
From Superstition Mountains

From Superstition Mountains

The problem with the backpack hydration systems, I’ve discovered, is that you can’t tell how much you’ve drank till (a) it’s gone, or (b) you pull the water bladder out of your pack and look at it.  You also can’t tell that your other water bladder was leaking till you (a) pull it out of the pack and see it’s half empty or (b) notice your sleeping bag is now holding the missing water.  So there I was, alone in the desert, almost out of water.  Still, it beats my old job.
From Superstition Mountains

Desert Centipede.  This one was “average” at about 7 inches long.
From Superstition Mountains

What to do....  I was an easy hike from the trail head, with about a quart and a half of water.  Do I hike out, call off the adventure?  Or do I continue the adventure, ration my water and hike the 5 miles further into the desert hoping that the spring would have water?  If it didn’t, I’d have a little more than a pint of water for the 10+ miles back to the trailhead.  
From Superstition Mountains

From Superstition Mountains

Of course the adventure continued.  I think the difference between a survivor and a victim is often just admitting that something can happen and preparing options.  Mine?  I had food that didn’t need to be cooked (potatoes and tuna), so I could eat even if I ran out of water.  I had other food (oranges) that were full of liquid.  I thought about where I might drop off the heavier items from my pack (and what they would be) to save weight on the hike out (of course I’d retrieve them later).  I thought about hiking at night when the sun wouldn’t be an issue, since I had more than one flashlight with me.  But I hated the thought of a mountain lion trying to make cat poop of me in the middle of the night, so that was out.
From Superstition Mountains

Of course the spring had water.  Even my luck isn’t that bad.  
From Superstition Mountains

Sunrise and “Weaver’s Needle.”
From Superstition Mountains

After filling up I thought about hiking farther but my right knee was starting to bother me.  That’s why I’m carrying a stick in some of these pictures, to take a bit of strain off my right leg.  That, and to fend off mountain lions.  Like I said, options.
From Superstition Mountains

From Superstition Mountains

So I had water and time and food and everything else I needed.  Where is the fun in that?  Oh, my Therm-a-rest mattress had a leak, so every thirty minutes it would deflate and I’d wake up on one rock or another.  It wouldn’t be an adventure if there wasn’t some discomfort involved.
From Superstition Mountains

If you’re still reading this, thank you.  If you’re reading this, you’ve given me a real gift.  In the past year and a half, it’s been easy to feel like something is missing in my life, and often I fill that gap with the adventures that you’ve told me you enjoy reading about.  You’re comments and feedback are a reward to me, and they keep me going on the low-days.  I am not sending out Christmas cards this year, partly because a lot of my friend s are “online” only.  I like to think that all the ones that matter are here now, reading this.  And to you, I sincerely wish a Merry Christmas, and thank you for being there for me.
From Superstition Mountains


Monday, December 6, 2010

Mesa, AZ

Not much happing this week.  I did finally get out of town on the KTM to do some traction and gravity testing (not enough and too much).

From Still in Mesa


From Still in Mesa

I hope to take a bicycle trip on this route in the near future.  Three or four nights of camping and riding...

From Still in Mesa

Read about it hear when it happens.  Meanwhile, here is yet another sunset picture...

From Still in Mesa

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fortyfive.

If I was a safe combination, I’d be a couple  numbers short...
If I was a speed limit, I’d be a on the slow side...
If I was a fifty-word essay, oh, never mind.

If I was growing a beard, it would look like this.  And so would I.
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Instead I’m partying like I’m 90% of the way to half a century.  Part of that party included lunch in Tortilla Flats.  There is only one restaurant there, and the bar stools are old saddles.
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Some of the locals may have taken the cowboy theme a bit too far...
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Jana and Carl joined me for lunch, although they drove, I rode a bike. 
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Notice the wall paper?  They used dollar bills.   Apparently real wall paper is really expensive there.

The ride was 32 miles to lunch and the same distance home.  A birthday-bike-ride is an tradition of mine that goes back almost 20 years, to a birthday I celebrated alone.  I was feeling bummed that day, and decided a mountain bike ride on the snowmobile trails was just what was needed.  It was well below freezing and when I hit the far end of the trail, I was 25 miles from home and had to work that afternoon.  I pushed hard to get back on time and worked up a sweat, then got a minor case of hypothermia.  I took a long hot shower and was still shivering when I got to work.  Good times.  I don’t manage to get a ride in every year, but I try.  No shivering this year, it was a nice 60 degrees F.  
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

At the end of the 60-mile bike ride I felt great, and some say I looked 5 years younger.  I checked the ride profile on the GPS.  It tracks your climbing and descending and draws a picture of the whole ride.  Naturally, my ride looked like a “W.”  
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

This “S” is going to be a challenge.
From New Album 11/29/10 16:29

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

El Paso to Mesa

Another week on the road.  I spent a few days in El Paso sightseeing.  They have the usual stuff: scenic views, Russian helicopters, parking lots with tanks... okay, maybe not the usual stuff.

From El Paso to Mesa


From El Paso to Mesa

There was a neat museum for the Border Patrol but I didn’t have my camera with me so you’ll just have to visit it yourself.

A state park in El Paso includes this cool tram ride to the top of the mountain.

From El Paso to Mesa

I wanted to use the tram cable as a zip line to get to the bottom but the staff said no.

From El Paso to Mesa

And I was able to visit my friend Roxi.  She’s a wonderful friend; let’s me win at dominos and Wii bowling.  

From El Paso to Mesa


From El Paso to Mesa


So, welcome [back] to Arizona.  I camped once on my way to Phoenix, and checked out some small towns.  Its nice to be back out west, always seems like good campsites are easier to find.

From El Paso to Mesa

I found this hitch-hiker in the van.  He said he was a coffee drinking extra from the movie “Men In Black” but I thought he was really just a Walking Stick.

From El Paso to Mesa

My van is just visible in the lower half of the right side of this picture.

From El Paso to Mesa

 A downside of being in the west: country music radio stations dominate the airwaves and that is a drag as I still find country music can depress me faster than an email from an ex-girlfriend telling me how great she’s doing.

From El Paso to Mesa

This dumptruck is 12 feet wide...

From El Paso to Mesa

...and parked in the bed of a much larger truck.

From El Paso to Mesa

And that is about all I have this week.  Not every week is going to be the adventure of a lifetime.  But for you, I’ll keep trying.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guns! Frozen feet, and white sand.

The Gun Museum
After leaving Missouri, I headed west through Oklahoma.  Driving through Claremore, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a sign.  I couldn't read the entire thing, but I saw something about "guns" and "collection."  Of course I had to stop.  
From OK TX NM

Turns out it was the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum.  Over 10,000 or over 13,000 guns, depending on what sign you believe.  Either way, it was a lot of guns.  Mr. Davis began collecting after getting his first gun at age 7, and collected until his death in 1973.  
From OK TX NM

Also in the collection was an impressive display of beer steins, horse holsters, some war memorabilia, uh, other stuff.... Really, the place was about the guns.  The other stuff was just there for people who might get bored while looking at 10,000 guns.  As if.  I was there for over four hours.  Check it out if you're in Claremore and check out the website HERE..
From OK TX NM

From OK TX NM

From OK TX NM


More pictures HERE if you're really interested.

Lincoln National Forest
From Oklahoma, I did a quick two-hour crossing of Texas (panhandle), and I stopped for a couple days of camping in the Lincoln National Forest.  It was nice, but the first night was probably the coldest I've ever experienced in a tent.  My electronic thermometer threw in the digital towel and said 34.8 but I knew better.  There was too much ice and frost clinging to the inside of the tent.  I was zipped into my mummy bag and covered with every blanket I had.  Despite four layers on top of the mummy bag and the thickest socks you'd ever see, my feet were freezing.  I woke up every hour with cold feet (not the kind I usually get) and wondered how cold it was.  If there was a plus side, it caused me to have some crazy dreams featuring almost every woman I've ever dated. It was nice to see a variety of faces for a change.  
From OK TX NM

The second night had me worrying; I didn't have any more blankets to add to the pile.  Instead I strategically folded what I had, layered them on top of the mummy bag, and zipped the entire pile inside a fleece sleeping bag.  I'd like to say my idea worked, and I was warm as toast, but it only got down to 19 degrees.

White Sands National Monument
From OK TX NM

On my way to El Paso, I stopped by to see the white sands.  Miles of sand dunes.  Once you are inside the park, you're free to get out and walk around or even sneak a ride on a bicycle made for snow.  Also, I finally found the environment where my van's natural camouflage really works.
From OK TX NM

From OK TX NM

I’ll be hanging out for a week in El Paso, then heading on to Phoenix. Read all about it here, as usual.
From OK TX NM