Sunday, November 6, 2011

My most popular Halloween costume ever!

This year when the family was tossing around Halloween costume ideas, Rig threw out one he was excited about and I quickly shot it down.

"I want to be the Grim Reaper this year!"

"What, that's lame. Every fifth grader is the Grim Reaper, you should be something cool."

I immediately realized that I had hurt his feelings. I tried to change my tune and convince him that his idea could be cool, but the damage was done.

"Dad you always think up cool things I never do."

So I let him in on the secret of my inspiration- the internet. We went googling together and we came up with the inspiration for this:

An external frame backpack, some of Dad's clothes and a jar of pretzels from Costco and we had a masterpiece on our hands. I call it "boy with head in jar" and it is pretty creepy. I have never seen a costume get more attention than this one did. He easily won the costume contest at the Ward party.

When it was time to go trick or treating Rigdon got stared at, gawked at, poked and prodded, and had to take pictures with complete strangers.

After 3 houses of which Rigdon had been invited in to all of them and posed for pictures at two of them, he turned to me and said "This is going to be a long night." But just like his Dad, he is a ham and loved it almost as much as I did.

The costume is pretty hot and doesn't exactly excel in breathability. So after about half of our normal route he was ready to call it a night, but I wasn't. I was still enjoying the praise that each new doorstep brought. (For the record I am totally OK with living vicariously through your kids once in a while.) I compromised with Rigdon and let him take the lid off the jar to get some fresh air circulating and he finished off our neighborhood. It was a great night.

P.S. Sara is in charge of posting the cute pictures of the girls.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More High Sierra Action!

I invited Bram and his boys out to do Mt. Langley with us in September but he couldn't make it. So we picked a different weekend and tried to find a different 14er to do. If you are only going to do one California 14er you might as well make it Whitney, but we didn't have permits. So I dug through websites and guidebooks until I finally found a route that was 34 miles and would give us a chance to bag 3 14ers; Whitney, Muir and Langley and most importantly didn't require a permit. Two thirds of the milage would be back country (no trail) and there would be some class 3+ scrambling, not to mention a lot of route finding. It seemed like a lot to bite off with the group we had, which included an 8 year old, two 10 year olds, and a 71 year old (Bram's Dad Ernie). However Bram and I are adventurers and so getting in over our head is part of the fun.
Same trailhead we had been at just a month ago but a totally new adventure.

Bram and I have a lot of things in common including good looking offspring.

The boys were stoked for any wild life.

The first day we carried our packs right past Langley and down the back side. It was a brutal day up over 12,000 feet and back down.

Rig posed with Upper Soldier Lake where we descended to spend the first night.

The meadow by the lake we camped at was beautiful.

The next morning we set out early in hopes of making it to Whitney and back.

After only hiking with us a short ways Ernie showed his 71 years of wisdom and decided to let us fools adventure out on our own.

I think we were all enjoying the freedom of not having a trail in the beginning.

The boys seemed to have plenty of energy especially since dropping their packs. Here they are stopped to throw rocks at a marmot.

The first part of the route finding had proved easy and we made the first 4 miles relatively fast.

Eventually the terrain got less friendly and the route finding less obvious.

Bram and the rest of the group trusted me to lead us as I was carrying the guide book. That was a mistake.

I made a horrendous orienteering error that led to me not being able to figure out why these lakes were not on the map. According to my poor route finding skills we needed to climb up what looked like an impossibly steep ridge. Forget me reevaluating our course and trying to determine if we were really where I thought we were. Instead I looked the direction I believed we needed to go and told the boys it was time to man up. I needed Bram to slap me upside the head and say "Are you retarded?" but that is not Bram's style. If Bram is faced with a challenge, he always accepts no matter how heinous it appears. People like that are not easy to find. Trust me I am always looking for them. This is one of the many reasons I am lucky to have a friend like Bram.

With no one to put me in check the group started up the ridge. It was soon steeper than class 3 which wasn't that bad until the rock got very loose. Then we all got pretty scared. Soon we were in over our heads. There were some tears that followed and those of us who weren't crying wanted to be. Despite our dyer situation it still didn't dawn on me that I had made a mistake reading the map.

We finally made it to the top of the ridge that was just over 13000 feet. We got our first view of Mount Whitney.

It was here that I broke it to the team that we were not going to make it to Whitney that day. For the record I still didn't realize I was lost. I just thought we didn't have enough time with the terrain that was still ahead of us. This was Rig's first time failing on a summit attempt and he did not take it well, there were more tears.

It was too steep and loose to descend the way we came up. We had to scout around on top of the ridge to find a portion that was a little less steep.

Everyone was pretty disappointed as we descended back to camp.

But we crossed this snowfield and the boys had a snow ball fight and that cheered things up.

Somewhere in our hike back my horrendous orienteering error became clear in my head. I stopped the group got out the map and came clean with them. This was again a time when I would have expected a normal person to slap me upside the head and say "Are you retarded?" but Bram didn't. Another reason he is a keeper.

Harry is a little daredevil. He is always finding something to challenge the older boys to.

Bram felt bad that Rig and I had been up in that same area just a month earlier but I could go there every weekend.

By the time we made it back to our camp that night, it was so dark that we hiked right by our tents and couldn't see them.

The next morning we broke camp and carried our packs to 12,000ft. We dropped them and headed up Langley.

Rig can be trudging along, barely keeping up with the group and then when he senses the summit is close, he is like a shark that smells blood and all the sudden he just wants to get to the peak.
First one to the top again.

Back again exactly 4 weeks after our last trip up.

The whole group made it including 71 year old Ernie, who actually did it twice. Once with us and once while we were all lost on a cliffside.

I am convinced there is not a more fun mountain to descend than Langley.
Rig getting ready for the base jumping merit badge.

Stockton going huge.

Harry with some Kung Fu flavor.

Rig with the method.

For the record Bram wanted to get a picture of me jumping off the rocks and after two mistimed attempts I finally said,
"Dude I am 36. I don't need a picture of me jumping off a rock!"

We finished our 3rd day by hiking all the way out. It was our biggest day and it really tested the boys. I was impressed with all three of them and with Ernie.

It was a treat to have Bram and the boys adventuring with us. I am sure we have many more adventures to look forward to.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rig bags his 2nd 14er!

This year for our annual father/son outing we were shooting for Mt. Langley, another California 14er. We invited our good friends the Hills, who just moved to Reno to meet us for the hike.
This was Rig's first time carrying his own pack.

Rig was really looking forward to spending some time with his best friend Micah again.

They insisted on hiking together.

There were scattered thunderstorms that we were hoping not to fall victim to.

But the rain came, and it came hard. We tried to take shelter under a tree, but to no avail. We were all soaked to the core. It was a little scary how fast the trip went from nice and pleasant to cold and miserable.

We had hoped to make it a little further the first day but the boys were shaking uncontrollably and we decided it best to set up camp and get them in something dry.

The boys were fine once we got them in something dry and fed them some hot chocolate.

We woke the next morning to sunny skies and views of Mt. Langley.

It was only 4 miles and 4000 feet away.

The boys with a view of Cottonwood Lakes where we had camped.

The hike was a class 2 scramble with a lot of sand that is not much fun to hike up.

It had a couple of fun little bouldering sections.

Rig zoomed right up them.

After the struggle we had on Whitney last year I expected Langley to be tougher than it was, but Rig made it look like a piece of cake. He was the first one to the summit to claim his second 14er.

His buddy Micah was not far behind.

Soon we were all enjoying the summit together. I look pretty silly in me pirate hat but unfortunately the way the Cougars are playing, I would have to say Damon looks more silly.

The sand that made things slow going up made things fast coming down.

You could launch off the rocks with reckless abandon and land in the soft sand.

Micah getting some air.

Rig with a little something he picked up from Mr. Miyagi.

We saw a bunch of marmots.

Descending the snow Rigdon couldn't resist trying to ski it.

He had mixed results with that.

We got back to camp with plenty of time to hike out that day but our friends talked us into staying one more night and we were glad we did. It gave us a chance to do the things we rarely have time for.

We ran through the beautiful meadow,

climbed on rocks

and logs.

I even took a swim in the frigid mountain lake. Luckily I am microscopic in the picture because I am wearing my all white board shorts.

We even got treated to a beautiful mountain sunset.

The next morning we had 6 miles to hike out. We got up early and skipped breakfast in attempt to make it out and to McDonald's for breakfast.

We were on the trail by 7:00. To our car by 10:00 and to McDonald's by 10:40,
but it was 10 minutes too late. I asked the lady if there was anyway we could get a couple Egg McMuffins and I was swiftly denied. We were stuck eating McDoubles.

Two California 14ers down, thirteen to go.