Monday, July 14, 2008

Thumbs up! - A belated trip report from last summer...

The first part of this post was written shortly after returning from Oregon and Washington, the balance was written later - much later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Weekend to Be...

Well is calling for the following as of right now...

Sunny - High 72 - Low 59 - 20% chance of precip
Scattered T-Storms - High 78 - Low 57 - 40% chance of precip

Which suggests the following:
Chance of at least on rain free day: 92%
Chance of a rain free weekend: 48%

Looks like a possibly good climbing weekend, unfortunately is also predicting at least a 30% chance of rain for every day between now and Friday with a 70% chance for Thursday. This isn't good for the area; which has received far too much rain in the last week, resulting in the flooding shown below. What you're seeing in those videos is the collapse of Lake Delton a few miles from Baraboo.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lake Delton

The weekend that was... rainy.

It's been a while since I posted, and the last time I did I mentioned a Florida trip. Christina and I had a great time there hanging out with my parents. Jenny was psyched when we got back.

This most recent weekend Christina, Jenny and I drove up to Wheeler's Saturday morning. I met up with Todd, and he and I embarked on what was to be our dress rehearsal for out trip out west. The plan was to hike in mountaineering boots and 35lb packs from Parfrey's Glen, to Devils Lake, down the CCC trail, up Potholes, down Balanced Rock, around the south end of the lake, up the West Bluff, down the West Bluff, around the north end of the lake, up the East Bluff and back to Parfrey's Glen (~18-20 miles).

Conditions were, to say the least, not optimal.

We left the parking lot at Parfrey's around 9:50 in the morning and marched into what felt like the jungle. It was sunny, with temps in the high-70s to low-80s, and extremely high humidity. The mosquitoes and black flies were out in force and my practice of ignoring them was working just fine until Todd pointed out that I had, " six mosquitoes on each leg and four on each arm..." This comment of course turned me into a fly-swatting machine unable to simply ignore the mosquitoes.

As we made our way from Parfrey's over to Devil's Lake, blues skies became partly cloudy, became mostly cloudy, became gray skies. About the time we crossed into the park I started texting Christina for a weather forecast. By the time she got back to me with word of the tornado watch we were almost to the CCC. We pressed on because the sky wasn't looking that bad. We went down the CCC, and then up the Potholes. That's when word of the Tornado warning came from Christina, accompanied by ever more ominous skies to the west.

We booked it over to the Balanced Rock trail and started down. We were shocked by the large number of totally unprepared people wandering up the trail oblivious to impending doom gathering in the skies overhead. I even told Todd that it was almost a certainty that there would be a rescue later in the day. We continued to hurry down the trail sidestepping tourists on their way up.

At the south shore we sat outside on a picnic table near the beach. We took off our boots, had a snack and watched the approaching weather. I gave Todd a quick tutorial on weather patterns (specifically why all that upper level wind out of the south was really bad with the giant blackness off to the west -- for more see "Low Pressure System" here), as the skies to the northwest turned an evil shade of green. The rangers were driving around announcing the tornado warning over a loudspeaker, and we decided to move closer to the shelter as the wind picked up and the aforementioned blackness started to roll over the west bluff.

I have never seen weather like that at the Devils Lake. It was ferocious, no tornado, but straight line winds that I had to lean into in order to remain standing. People at the shelter were freaking out. Children were crying and their parents were trying to reassure them, but lack of confidence in those parental voices was pretty obvious. It was scary, especially since the "shelter" we chose was fitted with giant picture windows overlooking the lake, and as a result offered little in the way of actual protection had there been a storm of any significance. We sat by the windows (I know it was dumb) and I taped up the gaping blister that had popped on my left heel, leaving the unpopped blister on my right heel for a later date.

After the storm subsided we put our boots back on and headed around the south end of the lake toward the West Bluff. On our way we ran into my old friend/boss Paul, who was on his way out after having ridden the storm out on the West Bluff with some friends. While we were chatting another ranger drove by announcing that there was another tornado warning. Paul and I both thought that this warning would prove to be fruitless. So after some discussion Todd and I continued toward the West Bluff trail.

About 200 yards up the trail it became obvious that things were going to get much worse before they got better (now we were the idiots going up the trail despite the impending doom gathering overhead, but at least we were prepared and I had an intimate knowledge of the area). I decided it would be best to haul ass to Misery Rocks and hang out in the cave under the Pillow (where the "5" is in the picture). The rain, lightning and wind were heinous, this storm was at least as bad as the one that had preceeded it. So we waited, and finally the storm let up.

We headed back up the Misery gulley, and back to the trail. We continued on our way to the north shore and started to discuss the idea of bailing. It seemed like we had made a valiant effort, and that with the highly uncertain weather this was the best option, but we left that decision for the north shore. The remainder of the way up the west bluff was otherworldly. It felt like a rain forest. At the top of the trail above Great Chimney and Lost Face we could scarcely see the east bluff through the fog. Perhaps the coolest thing we saw was the water running off from the west bluff. The trail was more stream than trail in some places, with water as deep as six inches. It was an amazing sight to behold.

We got down to the north shore and decided to bail -- which was good, because the storms didn't let up, and we would have been miserable hiking back into Parfrey's Glen after dark. We went back to the camper and made brats and had beers in the rain.

Sunday wasn't any better and we bailed early.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The weekend to be

It looks like a great weekend at the Lake. Highs in the mid to upper 70s and only a 20% chance of rain on each day. Which translates into a 96% chance of at least 1 clear day, and a 64% chance of two clear days.

Unfortunately for me I won't be able to make it. I'm on my way to Florida with Christina and my Mom & Dad.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Weekend that Was

Another fine Memorial Day weekend in Wisconsin.

Christina, Jenny and I arrived at the camper around 10:30pm on Friday night. We greeted with the familiar image of Lollie, Marc, Nate and Ron sitting around the front fire and waiting for the remaining check-ins. It was good to see Ron, as this was his first trip to the Lake this entire season, and things just haven't been the same without him. After consuming a beer or two and some conversation around the campfire it was time for bed.

Saturday morning was a lazy morning, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't out of be until at least 9:00am. Once I was up and moving Christina and I headed into town to pick up some donuts and assorted other breakfast type food. When we arrived back at the campground we helped Ron assemble the "Thunderdome" around his camper, and generally took it easy.

Ron and I finally started to find some motivation around 10:30am and we made it to the CCC parking lot around 11:00am, after getting Ron his park sticker for the year. The hike up to the bluff went fairly well. We had decided to do a "tour of the East" -- which to us means leading a few routes on several formations. Since it was Ron's first day out and I had gotten a few routes in already this season we decided it would be best for me to lead. I was apprehensive (this would be mt first day of leading for the season, and more to the point, my first day leading since last August).

The tour started on Full Stop (5.6), the scene of the now infamous (at least among my closer climbing friends) "mud incident" -- which Ron was kind enough to remind me of shortly before I began the route. It's good to return to old familiar routes when you haven't been climbing in a while. It's like seeing an old friend you haven't seen in a while. It's a bit awkward at first, but eventually the familiarity overcomes the awkwardness and a pleasant conversation ensues. After bringing Ron up he complimented me on not being too rusty, and I in turn admitted that there had been a little ""...wind in the wires..."

Next on the docket was Peter's Project (5.7), but a group had just thrown a toprope on it, and they weren't too keen on the idea of us leading through. So we headed on down the bluff toward Foreplay (5.5) where we found a Boyscout troop or some other such nightmare setup all over the bedroom amphitheater. We still asked if we could lead through and to my surprise the guide was more than okay with it. So we quickly led through (Ron even had to tell me to take my time) without incident and discussed where to head next.

We decided that since we were so close The Pretzel (5.6) we should just scramble down Leaning Tower Gully and do that. After a quick lunch/smoke break we racked up and did the route, which was as awkward as I remembered, but good nonetheless. The only real incident on this route was the "sketch factor" added by the Scout troop stumbling up and down Leaning Tower Gully kicking rocks down left and right. This didn't present a real danger for Ron and I as we were along the side of the gully and out of the fall line, but it was exceedingly annoying.

After completing The Pretzel we headed back down the bluff toward Peter's Project and found it in the best conditions one could hope for on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend -- open. At this point Ron's lingering elbow-itis was flaring up, so I built an anchor above the route and he wandered around to the base. The plan was that I would rap the route, lead it, and clean it on lower. Trouble is Ron had the rope in his pack, so after I was done building the anchor I had to wander down around to the base as well. The route went well, and it made a for a nice end to the day. We packed up and headed for Wheeler's, having done four routes in about four hours car to car.

We spent the rest of the day Saturday doing site maintenance, and grilling out in full Wisconsin Memorial Day weekend style.

Sunday was another lazy morning, and Ron had to leave around 10:00am to go to Kato and Pete-o's party up in Appleton. Christina and I went to Pierce's for fresh donuts again, and then started making plans for my parents to meet us at the campground for a Memorial Day weekend cookout around 2:30pm. We had a little time to kill, so we went to the Lake, I went on a long hike and Christina and Jenny went for a run.

My hike started out on the South Bluff (from the West Bluff parking lot) where I visited "The Reserve" and some of the talus fields west of the cliff bands on the South Bluff. I think I got some really good pictures of the lake (we'll see when the film comes back) . I had intended on going to the cliff bands, but ran into a section of densely forested talus field, and was tired of bushwhacking since the black flies and mosquitoes were eating me alive. So I bushwhacked my way down the South Bluff to the South Shore visitor center, and then walked over to the Grottos trail. I took the Grottos over to the CCC and then took the CCC up the East Bluff. Then I took the East Bluff trail to the North Shore where Christina picked me up.

Christina and I pulled into Wheeler's just in front of my parents, it took us a little while to get the fire going and lunch cooked, but we got it done eventually, and had a great meal. The weather started to look like it was going to take a turn for the worse, so my Mom and Dad headed out pretty quickly after lunch.

Jenny, Christina and I decided to ride the storm out in the camper, Jenny was scared out of her mind, but the storm came and went pretty fast. We were left with an incredible rainbow in the front field at Wheeler's. I took some pictures, but I'm not sure how they'll turn out until I get the film back. The rest of the night was pretty relaxed, and went by quickly. We all went to bed fairly early.

Monday morning was the earliest of the long weekend, and saw us up around 8:00am. We packed up the truck and were on the road by 11:00am. Traffic wasn't too bad and we took our time which got us home around 3:oopm. All things considered it was a great weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I saw this on youtube the other day and I think it captures the spirit of the Valley really well.

The Weekend to Be - Memorial Day '08

A 3-day Weekend and I can't wait...

As of now, the always reliable forecasts the following data:

Saturday: High 72 - Low 54 - 0% chance of rain

Sunday: High 77 - Low 63 - 40% chance of rain

Monday: High 80 - Low 50 - 40% chance of rain

That all adds up to the following:

Probability of one rain-free day: 100%

Probability of two rain-free days: 84%

Probability of three rain-free days: 36%

Here is a pic of last Memorial Day: