Friday, September 25, 2009

Off to a fantastic start

So I do seem to have largely avoided jetlag - don't know quite how.  A little tired, certainly, but not falling asleep in the middle of the day.  12 1/2 hours is a lot to get used to!

It seems surprisingly normal to land here on my fourth trip.  Not like home, exactly, but without that sense of excitement of going to a new place.  I pretty much know how things work (or don't, as the case may be) and where I'm going.

But that doesn't mean things aren't going to be interesting.  The bike I loaned out at my departure from Sikkim in the spring is here in one piece, but some of those pieces are a little... missing.  Missing part of the headset (bearings and top cap) and the nut on the end of the quick-release skewer for my back wheel.  Really, when you're disassembling it, it IS important that all the little pieces get in the box!  So a miracle part supply by friend Dickie and an hour drive later, I'm trying to figure out how much I really know about bike parts - I know what this bike mechanic is doing is wrong, but not quite what is right.  In the end, I took most of the pieces home and put it back together myself - hope this works!!!

We'll find out.  Heading up to Shimla in an hour and the 10-day race starts on Sunday.  Hope my bike works, hope my ribs are truly healed, hope I can manage not to get sick... definitely always an adventure.  Here goes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Up, down, over!

Three more laps on the mountain and a great hike with some friends to finish off the season.  The good weather continues to hold, at least mostly...

Didn't miss much up on the mountain, in fact it was a great time to be gone.  There had been some pretty horrendous weather on the mountain, and between that and the resulting avalanche danger, no one had summitted for over a week by the time we arrived.  Garrett and Lhakpa Sherpa went up and kicked in part of the route the first day, and Lhakpa and Seth went up the second day and did more work.  Turns out all the snow and wind actually filled in some of the big crevasses we'd had to use ladders over.  They took the ladders out and we walked over the snow again!  I turned around with a climber on this first trip - the potential disappointment inherent in any climb.  But with the help of some other guides in breaking trail, they tagged the first summit in 9 days.

One last hurrah in the Northwest before heading off for many months: hiked the 18-mile Enchantments loop with several friends in one long day.  Perfect weather - it got really hot just once, and we managed to jump in the closest alpine lake for a quick swim.  You know the water's cold when there's still snow melting in the other side... Walked out in the dark, but had a great time through some beautiful terrain.

Last two trips: I ended up staying in camp on the first one with a climber who suddenly realized he's not a climber, and got more sleep than any other three day trip this season.  A beautiful sunrise.  That group went down and I stayed to meet the next group, a crazy bunch of Brits  who had just climbed Mt Adams.  The forecast was completely bad for the next morning, so we took our strong group and did a sunset climb the second night.  Beautiful and, even better, a great call because the weather was in fact crappy when we woke up - no one summitted that morning.  That's what we call sneaking it in.

One day in town and off to India!  Let's see how this one goes...

Monday, September 7, 2009


Mmm... a nice long break, and only a mini-expedition.  Took a few days off, then cycled up to Port Townsend to visit a friend there, and on to Bellingham to see a couple more people.  A few sprinkles the first day, but otherwise nice weather, and the blackberries are out!!!  Plenty of time to stop and enjoy roadside berries, perfectly ripe and more than I could possibly eat.  At one point I was picking faster than I could eat - double-fisting it!

Then, because working the body hard sometimes feels better than not, up to Mt Baker, site of a regionally-famous hillclimb race.  I had to pack the panniers (bike bags) for a combination of social and recreational destinations, so went pretty light on the camping gear.  It's 35 miles from Bellingham to the town of Glacier, at about 1000' elevation.  From there the road goes UP, gaining 4,000' in another 25 miles, much of it right at the end.  So I went as far as I could the first day and camped at the higher campground, 52 miles from Bellingham.

That made the next day a little easier, only 12 miles (but UP) to the end of the road at Artist Point, then all the way back to Bellingham, making 72 miles, but largely downhill.  A friend joined me for the last 30 miles back, psyched on a new roadbike and looking to ride.

The funny thing is, I can feel the difference in my legs from only a few days of cycling with weight - went for a run and felt strong on the uphills.  MTB Himachal here I come!