Barb’s birthday hike

Barb decided she wanted to go on a hike for her birthday. She spent a lot of time trying to find just the right hike. Not too short, not too long, not too long of a drive, not too much elevation gain, and absolutely required was “a nice view”.

She settled on Cedar Butte. It was only 30 minutes away from home, 900 feet of elevation gain, and 3.8 miles round trip. It seemed pretty reasonable. But what about the view? I’ll let you decide.

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Quote of the day—Chelsea Karthauser

I’ve been trained for bear encounters. So if we see a bear, what you need to do is, gather around in a circle with me in the very center.

Chelsea Karthauser
May 17, 2016
Guide for Gastineu Guiding in Juneau, Alaska.
[We went on a hike to see a glacier with Chelsea (her nickname is Whalebait, interesting story on how that came about).

If you ever get the chance ask her about the time she fell off the trail in the snow, lost almost everything, including her shoes, was saved by Devil’s Club, made her way around the mountain to the tram, where people took pictures of her but wouldn’t help her.

We enjoyed our hike but most of the time we could have easily mistaken the scenery for that which we could have found with ten miles from home. We could have seen the glacier with a ten minute hike instead of a three hour hike. Now, the people from Texas, Arizona, and Florida saw some things quite different from their home area.







Thanks Chelsea.—Joe]

Joe and Barb’s unexpected bonus

Barb and I went on a walk to Poo Poo Point via Chirico Trail yesterday.It was a little more elevation gain than we wanted (1760 ft.). But it was supposed to have a nice view at the top. The weather was nice so we decided to go for it. We figured we should leave the house before 9:00 AM to be able to get parking easily.

We arrived at the parking lot about 8:15 to find the lot full and the sides of the road filled with cars. “What’s going on?” [Grumble, grumble] We found a place a couple hundred yards away that let us park for $5.00. [Grumble, grumble]

We were at the trail head at 8:27 and saw people with radios who explained this was the landing zone for paragliders and to not dilly-dally around as we cross the zone. [Grumble, grumble]

The hike was more than I was really prepared for. I got winded easily and sweat profusely even though the temperature was in the low 60s. There were a lot of people on the trail. [Grumble, grumble.] It was a nice trail though:


We stopped to rest many times and it took us an hour and 45 minutes to make it to the top.

It was a nice view. It was a very nice view:


But there were all these people:


Oh. They were launching paragliders from here! Cool! No more grumbling.

This was an unexpected bonus. More pictures below the fold:

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Sea level to 9800 feet

Barb and I were on vacation for the last week. Friday (October 16th) we left home about noon and drove to West Port, Washington (on the coast) to visit friends for the weekend.

I saw a couple stickers on a car that indicated I was near “my kind of people”:


On Sunday morning we drove to the Seattle-Tacoma airport and flew to Las Vegas, arriving about 7:00 PM. We then drove to Brian Head, Utah arriving about 2:00 AM local time.

It was an interesting drive from Las Vegas to Brian Head. Just getting the rental car was an adventure. We “got a good deal” on a Jeep (I need lots of headroom) via Fox Rent A Car. When we checked in they told us it was an extra $10/day for a second driver. So much for the “good deal”.

We loaded all our stuff into the Jeep and started to leave when I noticed the low tire pressure light was on. I reported it and they said to take a different Jeep. We loaded our stuff into and started the car and the “Oil Change” light came on. We reported it and checked out the only small SUV remaining, a Rav 4. By adjusting the seat to the lowest position I could sit in by tipping my head to the side just a bit. And it smelled strongly of cigarette smoke. We were discussing going to a different rental agency when another Jeep, freshly washed showed up. We inspected it, found nothing wrong, and moved all our stuff into it and drove away. It wasn’t until two days later that we discovered the right rear door would not lock. We won’t be renting from Fox Rent A Car again.

The weather apps on our phones warned of heavy rains and flash floods all the way to Cedar City. The speed limit was 80 MPH on much of the interstate freeway in Utah but with the heavy rains I seldom drove over 55 MPH.

We needed to get some groceries and according to our research prior to leaving home there was a 24-hour Wal-Mart Super store in town. We arrived about 12:40 AM to find the store was closed. We drove around a bit and found a grocery store which was open. Barb went in and started shopping while I parked the car. When I walked in I was told they were closing in seven minutes. Barb and I coordinated our searches and dashed all over the store picking up various items. It was a bit of a hodgepodge of stuff and few things that weren’t quite what we thought we had grabbed off the shelves but it was good enough and we laughed at ourselves as we went through checkout.

We continued on to our condo at Brian Head, climbing up to 9800 feet above sea level, with the last mile or so pushing slush and snow ahead of the Jeep. We got into bed about 2:00 AM.

The next morning, Monday, we felt ill. I recognized the symptoms. It was altitude sickness. I would get dizzy every time I changed from a sitting or bending over position to standing. I was sometimes gasping for breath. We considered just staying there and getting better before we continued on to the National Parks. Barb looked up the symptoms and treatments on the Internet. Symptoms are similar to having drank too much alcohol and a hangover. Hmmm… so that’s what a hangover feels like. I’ve never had a hangover before. The treatment is to go to a lower altitude. You can avoid it by acclimating more slowly. Gain about 3000 feet per day they said. Great. We exceeded the recommended altitude gain per day by a factor of 3.27. No wonder we were feeling messed up.

All the National Parks we were visiting were at a lower altitudes so we decided to continue on schedule in the hopes of feeling better when we got to lower ground. We went to Bryce Canyon, at an elevation of over 8000 feet, and went on a three mile hike down and then up out of the steep canyon.


We felt much better…

Details on our adventures with lots of pictures to follow in more blog posts.

Bainbridge Island Swamp Lake

Last Sunday Barb and I went for a hike on Bainbridge Island. We were meeting friends from the peninsula and as this is about halfway between our homes and them liking the outdoors as much as we did we decided to go on a short hike through the woods to Gazzam Lake.

We planned to leave at 8:30 AM to catch the 9:35 ferry but we were ready to go at 8:20 and left early. We arrived at the ferry dock, paid for our ticket, and were told we were going to be on the 8:45 ferry. Essentially we arrived just a few minutes before it was scheduled to leave and just had to drive onto the ferry and it took off. Excellent timing! The only problem was we were now 50 minutes early to meet our friends.

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Grandson Bryce’s first hike in the woods

Since his parents don’t really care for hiking in the woods Barb and I took it upon ourselves to take Bryce on his first hike. It was a short walk, about 1.1 miles round trip. He walked the entire way except for when I carried him about 100 feet at the place the trail was very narrow with a steep drop off to sharp rocks on one side.

He seemed pretty happy with the whole adventure. He did seem to think throwing rocks in the water was more interesting than looking at the waterfall though.

WP_20150808_10_34_18_ProPhoto by Barb

WP_20150808_11_16_27_ProHe switched things up a bit by throwing a stick too.

Photo by Barb



All indications are that he had a good time.

Better than a walk around the neighborhood

We weren’t in the mood for an all day adventure so we found a hike that was less than 10 miles away from home and less than three miles round trip with little elevation gain. We ended up selecting Around the Lake Trail.

Lakes are generally nice so there would be a view better than just the trail and the woods, right? Well… generally that is true. But this hiked ended up being, in the words of Barb, “notably non-memorable.”

It wasn’t bad in any way. It just wasn’t anything great.


One of the main attractions of this hike was a short branch of the trail called “Bus Trail”. This was the bus. I suspect its history is less interesting than all the bullet holes might suggest.

IMG_3684I’ve seen bigger and nicer ponds than this lake.

IMG_3692I’m sorry. This doesn’t qualify as a “lake”. This is a wet spot which should be drained and made into a meadow.

IMG_3691A fair amount of the trail was close to being a sidewalk.

IMG_3694Then there was the section of the trail that is fenced in.

IMG_3704This might be fun for kids of the appropriate age but we didn’t bother to check it out.

We did have fun with a short game of “Where’s Barb?”


There was some scenery that was pleasurable to look at and it was certainly better than a walk around the neighborhood.

Franklin Falls

It is very hot this weekend and Barb went looking for a hike that wasn’t too long and with very little elevation gain. Franklin Falls met our criteria.

It was crowded and it is easy to see why. The trail was mostly wide and smooth. The trail was shaded and while it was 90 F at home it was 72 F at the trail head. Only at the very end was it a little bit sketchy with a steep drop off on one side:


The actual falls were nice too:


The bridge you see in the upper left of the picture above is the west bound lanes of I-90 just west of Snoqualmie Pass. As Barb said, “I had no idea this was here.”

Grove of the Patriarchs

After our unexpected adventure on Saturday we took it a lot easier on Sunday morning.

We hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs Loop in the Mount Rainier National Park. It’s less than 1.5 miles and has about 50 feet of elevation gain. And the trail is wide and flat:


The trees, while no match for Sequoias or Redwoods, were pretty cool. Some were 1000+ years old.


As is usual in much of Western Washington there was a lot of moss:


There was a cute little bridge to cross:


And much of the trail was what we considered “just about our level” after the previous day of exertion:


This was kind of interesting. A bunch of little trees growing out of an old fallen tree:


I’m 6’ 3” so this gives you a little bit of scale for some of the trees:


This is Barb pretending to be a starfish in the same tree:


It was a pleasant hike with nothing particularly dramatic to see and a low probability of another “unexpected adventure”.

Barb and Joe’s unexpected adventure

It started out with a mistake on my part. I got a call from Bloodworks Northwest on Tuesday asking me to donate blood. I made an appointment for the following evening and a couple minutes after I got off the phone I remembered Barb and I were going to go hiking on Mount Rainer over the weekend. Rats! I’m going to be hiking up mountains at high altitudes while a pint low on blood. It figures. I did the same thing when we went to Yosemite a couple years ago. Continue reading

Rattlesnake Ridge

Barb, Maddy (Barb’s daughter), and I went on a hike up to Rattlesnake Ridge yesterday. It was cloudy and there was some precipitation but not bad. It was about two miles each way with quite bit of elevation gain. Because of the dreary weather I hadn’t anticipated there being any great photo opportunities so I didn’t bring my SLR with me.

The view was nicer than I expected and we took a few photos with our phones:



Pretty pictures

Last weekend Barb and I went to California for Stanford’s Parents Weekend. It is Barb’s daughter, Maddy, who is attending there and I was mostly along for support such as carrying heavy objects, navigation, and donating excess heat to Barb as needed. It was colder than we expected and we even had rain. I’m not really complaining about it. Mostly just trying to rub it in a bit to others. While others were dealing with snow and cold we went for a walk on the beach.

When not performing my normal duties I took pictures. We drove to Venice Beach and hiked a little more than 1.5 miles south were some of the prettier ones were taken. Some other time I’ll post pictures of the two mile long particle accelerator we toured.

As shown by the unruly hair it was a little windy.


It was a little bit cold. We only saw three women in bikinis and I only saw one of them get into the water. While we were glad we brought coats and long sleeve shirts for a time it was comfortable with short sleeved shirts.

We saw a group of about 15 or 20 people on horseback. I’ve never ridden horse on a beach before. I might like to try it sometime. But it probably would have to be without Barb. She doesn’t care for riding horses.

This is probably a radar station but I preferred to think of it as a giant golf ball on a tee.

There were a fairly large number of seagulls and I was a bit concerned they were on “bombing runs” sometimes when they flew over but they were actually well behaved.

I took this one with my phone. I wish I had used my SLR. With a longer focal length Barb would not have been so distorted in size compared to Maddy and the higher resolution would have made it something I would have cropped a little bit, printed, framed, and hung on the wall.

This is probably my favorite. The dramatic clouds. The active ocean. The disappearing tire track. Even the seagulls in the distance really appeal to me.

Mount Saint Helens

For the 4th of July this year Barb, her daughter Maddy, and I decided to go hiking near Mount Saint Helens. I have been interested in going for years but it just never worked out. This year we made it happen.

Mount Saint Helens exploded on May 18, 1980 and created the largest debris avalanche in recorded history. I heard the boom from it over a 100 miles away in Kirkland Washington. The ash from it fell on our farm in Idaho 275 miles away. I still have a pound or so of the ash that was swept off of the patio from my parents house.

We went on an eight mile (round trip) hike through part of the area destroyed by the high speed avalanche and blast from the explosion. We walked to within five miles of the crater. You might think five miles is a long way away. But the eruption killed trees 17 miles away. The scale of the destruction is amazing.

Taking a picture of something five miles away with the wide angle lens in an ordinary cell phone usually results in the object being invisible. This is not the case with Mount Saint Helens:

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Zion National Park

Two weekends ago we visited Zion National Park in Utah. We were visiting Las Vegas and since gambling doesn’t hold that much interest for us we drove to Zion National Park and spent most of the day there.

As Barb said, more than once, “When you see it you understand why they made certain areas National Parks.” Zion has a resemblance to Yosemite in that what Barb said about it also applies, “Meh. Maybe I’m getting spoiled but one stunning view looks pretty much like another.”

Yup. That pretty much describes Zion. It’s not surprising the park gets over a million visitors per year.

This was on our drive to Zion Canyon. I think it might have actually been in Arizona. We crossed the Northwest corner of it on our way.

Another picture that probably is in Arizona.

You just expect to see Wiley Coyote and Road Runner zip by you any moment. Is the dust in the picture below from them?

Again, probably in Arizona or outside the park near St. George Utah.

It’s beautiful to visit but Barb and agree there is no way we would want to live there. We like the tree covered mountains, rivers, and lakes too much to spend much time away.

The rest of the pictures are from inside the park and I’ll mostly let them speak for themselves.


Close up of the upper right corner of the picture above it. Notice the size of the trees to get a clue as to the scale.



There were some people climbing the cliffs. A small group of people were pointing at someone on this cliff. I couldn’t really see it so I took a picture with my telephoto lens, then zoomed in on the spot they were point at then asked them if this was what they were looking at:


Yup. Just as I thought. It was just a rock formation.




I sweat easily

It doesn’t take much to cause me to break out into a sweat. A tiny bit of exercise and I start sweating. Even the spices in the mildest spaghetti sauce will cause my forehead to start sweating.

It turns out my fear of heights triggers an increased heart rate and sweat—just from looking at this picture I took when I was in Yosemite last month:


Update: Here is a cropped version of the same picture:


Visualize where his center of gravity is versus his right foot. He’s taking a picture so he isn’t using much more than his proprioception and ears to maintain his balance.

Now give me a towel to wipe the sweat off.

I had to look away after taking the picture. It made me way too uncomfortable.

Barb wanted to look over a similar edge about 50 yards away. When she got within about eight feet I asked her to stop. It was making me too uncomfortable. She got down on her hands and knees and continued. As she got to within about two feet I again asked her to stop. She stretched out and looked over to my extreme discomfort. She pulled back and said, “That’s a long way down.”


I don’t know why she is smiling unless for some bizarre reason she likes my sweat.

Do you believe in mermaids?

Today Barb L. and I went to Flaming Geyser State Park (Washington State). This was the “stomping grounds” of Ted Bundy and The Green River Killer. In fact the Green River runs right through the park:

Map picture

As we were entering the park I told Barb L. the story of when Barb S. her mom, and I came to the park about 30 years ago. Barb’s mom, Joy, used to tell the story of that visit. Some guy started talking to Barb and quickly left when Barb said that her husband was “just over there taking a nap”. Joy thought the guy was acting strange and she was very suspicious. She would point out that Barb S. looked a lot like the victims of Ted Bundy and her recollection of the guy at the park was consistent with Ted Bundy.

It was sort of a strange feeling as Barb L. and I pulled in and parked. There, just a couple hundred feet away, was “The Green River” so famous for all the women killed and dumped near or in it.

We shrugged off the feeling and found the trail to the flaming geyser. It’s not much. For a while when hole was drilled (coal exploration), back around 1900, the flame would be as high as five or six feet. Now it’s about five or six inches (see also the picture associated with this tweet):


We found a geocache nearby. It was the first one I had looked for in a long time.

We then found the trail that went into the woods a couple hundred yards to the “bubbling geyser”. If you looked closely you could see bubbles coming up through the water. We hung around for a few minutes then some guy showed up on the trail above us with his dog and just stood there. I figured he was waiting for us to leave so I suggested we go because we really came for a hike, not to stand around and talk.

We hiked up the little hill to the trail where the guy and the dog were. The dog really wanted to approach us but the man had him on a leash and held him close. I slowly reached out my hand and let the dog sniff it. The guy started talking to us and told us a little about his dog. Then asked if we had been down the trail by the river to the Indian hieroglyphics. We told him no but that sounded interesting. He gave us directions then asked, “Do you believe in mermaids?” We smiled, and said no. He then started telling us stories about Indian paintings of people with big fins for feet and a hand coming out of fisherman’s nets and taking a swipe at the fisherman. “I believe”, he told us. As Barb and I started edging on down the trail he started talking about the UFOs (see also this tweet).

We strolled on down the trail in the direction of where the hieroglyphics might be. The guy and his dog passed us and disappeared on ahead. We found the trail near the river and followed it for a while in the proper direction until it petered out in thick brush and trees. We decided we weren’t so interested that we wanted to push through the brush. Then the voice of Mermaid Believer came to us, invisible through the brush ahead of us, “The river’s too high. You can’t get there easily now.”

Okay then. Time to head back out. We walked back toward the picnic area with Barb checking to make sure she had her knife with her. I told her, “And you know how to use my gun if need be and I’m not able to do so.”

We went back to the picnic area and there was Mermaid Believer again. He was a couple hundred feet away on the other side of the picnic area moving parallel to us. We went back to the car and I got out my telephoto lens and camera and managed to take just one picture of him before he ducked behind what we believe was his vehicle:

That was interesting.

We found another trail and went on up the trail with Barb telling me “women raped and killed while hiking in the woods” stories from the knife class she took last weekend.

Our trail made a loop and we arrived back in the picnic area 20 or 30 minutes later. Mermaid Believer, his dog, and his pickup were gone.

I have just one question for you… “Do you believe in mermaids?”