Sunday, May 31, 2009

Whitney Portal Ride

Brian C., Karen, Kathleen, and I trekked on down to Lone Pine to tackle the Whitney Portal with our good friend and Lone Pine local Jeff P.

First, a little background/side story. Last year the gang designed a shop cycling jersey with a cowboy motif and created cattle brands representing all of the major climbs in the Owens Valley area. This year Karen is on a quest to knock off all the climbs represented on the jersey. This week's climb was Whitney Portal.

The Whitney Portal climb is one of best known climbs in the valley because it takes one to the trailhead for the highest peak in the continental U.S., Mount Whitney. It's definitely a toughie, rising over 4,600' in about twelve miles with some consistently steep grades of up to 15%.

This is the view of Lone Pine Peak (front left) and Mount Whitney (back center) from down in the Alabama Hills. This was the last we would see of Whitney as the clouds slowly thickened. (Click on pic to enlarge).
Here's Karen and Kathleen wearing the jersey and riding proud.
Here's where the road really starts to steepen and it feels like you are a long long way from the top.
This is Jeff wearing his trademark attire. Cool, comfortable and protected from the sun, I think he might be on to something!
This is Brian C. arriving at the upper sections.
And finishing at the trailhead.
Jeff getting it done.
And K & K tickin' another climb off the list. Nice work!
The weather on the climb was ideal with nice cloud cover and a few sprinkles here and there. The descent was a bit wetter, but fun enough. The scenery was inspiring too. A definite classic!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Alabama Hills Mountain Biking

After a pleasant Memorial Day holiday with friends and family it was time to head down to Lone Pine and back to work.

This week I camped in the Alabama Hills and did a little mountain biking.

Last fall I found a nice piece of trail that begins up near Horseshoe Meadow Road and ends on Tuttle Creek Road. There is a lot of water in the area, so the trail winds through meadows, groves of trees and even a couple stream crossings. (Remember to click on the pic for a larger image!).

Yep, the trail even travels under this arch!
It's late spring, so the Cone Flowers have come out in force.
The next day I rode north from Movie Flat starting on Movie Road.
Then on up to the mining district in the northern Alabama Hills.
Here's Lone Pine Peak peeking over a short ridge early morning.
Despite a few sections of soft sand, the riding was great. It was nice to be back to my home away from home!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day with Family!

My cousin Kelly, her husband Charles, and their son Colin were in town for Mule Days, so Mary and I headed over to the fairgrounds and hooked up.
I was pretty impressed with their 31 ft Airstream "Classic" which they had dubbed "The Silver Bomb."We had a swell pancake breakfast at the fairgrounds (all you can eat!) and headed over to Main Street to join my Aunt Elaine and her husband John and see the parade.

We stopped by the stalls and visited with one of the Clydesdale "backup" horses - the others were already harnessed and lined up for the parade.
The parade was quite a show. We saw the 20 mule team.
The Clydesdales.
The Percherons.
and some Pygmy Ponies.After the parade we all got together for a fine dinner at Whiskey Creek where the waiter was kind enough to take a nice group photo of us.
The next morning Kelly, Charles, Colin and their dogs Bingo & Bear joined Mary, Porter and myself on a hike at South Lake.

Another group photo. The dogs were raring to go - exit stage left!
It was Bear's first encounter with snow and boy did he like it.
As did Colin, who threw snow balls, kicked snow slush, and slid downhill on his bum.
We made it up to a nice overlook of South Lake where Colin struck a nice pose.
Here's Mary and I and all the dogs, who got along famously.
Mary and I were so impressed with the whole Mule Days scene that we vowed to see some of the events next year, while Kelly, Charles, and Colin were so impressed with the scenery they vowed to skip most of Mule Days and go hiking and fishing next year! I can't wait.

It was wonderful to see them as well as Elaine and John. It's always a pleasure to spend time with such nice folks & family.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tioga Pass Ride

Mid to Late May is a special time in the Tioga Pass area for skiers as well as cyclists. The skiers have access to High Sierra chutes and bowls with fine spring skiing, and the cyclists have access to the highest pass in the Sierra without the bother of traffic.

This year the Park Service has been a little tighter and have granted access over the pass to cyclists only on Sundays when they are not working on clearing or maintaining the road.

My wife, Mary, and I joined some of our good friends to enjoy this great opportunity before the planned opening of the pass later this week.

There was still plenty of snow at the pass.
The gateway to perfect riding!!
Lembert Dome lies at the end of the long, mostly gradual, descent from the Pass to Tuolumne Meadows.
Mary rode all the way to the Meadows!
Jim T. and B. Cashore soaked in the view at Tenaya Lake.

Jim, Brian & Mr. Hauter heading up to Olmstead Point.
Where we enjoyed distant views of Half Dome and the company of about twenty other riders, many of whom we knew.
Heading back.

I had a little left in the tank so I time trialed up the last mile or two and arrived at the pass winded, but very happy.
The weather was sunny and warm, but not hot, as the snow acted as a giant air cooler keeping temps in the delightful range.

Adding to the enjoyment were the many other cyclists out there living large and smiling wide.

We capped it all off with a nice lunch at the Mobile Mart and headed home content.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Have You Done Lately?

So, you are probably wondering "What have you done lately."

Well, I tried a little skiing at Rock Creek.
Warm, mushy snow and sore feet turned me around, but the views were fine.
The wildflowers were still showing off in the Alabama Hills.

I car camped last Monday night at the trailhead to French Springs in the southern Inyo Mountains, and enjoyed a great early morning hike.

The wildflowers were good there too.

Now the Blog is up to date!