Sunday, March 21, 2021

Grand Canyon Down and Up Overnighter

One of my bucket list hikes has been to trek to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  We had a trip scheduled last year that was canceled due to events beyond my control.  So this year I grabbed a permit and was determined to make the trip.

Jyoti and I drove out Wednesday morning and arrived near the south entry gate in about 8 1/2 hours.  There was a long line to get in that was backed up to Tusayen.  After paying, we made a quick stop at the closed visitor center to get a first glimpse of the canyon then drove over to the Yavapai Lodge to check in.  We were surprised how many people were there especially many of the rim hotels were still closed for winter.

After waking up and eating some breakfast we drove over to the backcountry office.  The shuttles were not on normal schedules but they had hiker express buses that left in the mornings to the South Kaibab Trailhead.  Arriving at the trailhead, we squared away our gear and headed down the South Kaibab trail. We quickly ran into ice covering the trail.  Since it was pretty steep, all the hikers were having issues getting a grip.  One one stretch we glissaded down on our butts.  Luckily this lasted only about a half mile and we back on dirt and rocks.  We cruised easily downhill to our first stop at Cedar Ridge.  We cruised another segment down to Tipoff Point.  From there the trail got steeper as we headed into the inner gorge.  We were both getting a bit tired at this point and started slowing down.  We eventually got to the Black Bridge and crossed the Colorado River.

Once in Bright Angel Canyon, we scouted out the campground for a good spot.  We found one that was near the creek and had some shade.  It is surprisingly hot down at the bottom and if we didn't have a nice breeze it would have been unpleasant.  After setting up camp, we explored Phantom Ranch and the area.  The mule rides were still running and the ranch looked to be on limited service although the canteen only had window service for limited snacks.  After a nice dinner, we went down for an early night.

Next morning, we ate breakfast, broke camp and headed out for the long trip up Bright Angel Trail.  We crossed over Silver Bridge and then took the River Trail for a bit to get to the canyon that the trail followed up.  As we wound our way uphill, we had to dodge lots of runners doing the rim-to-rim thing.  The trail followed the creek steadily up but then got really steep at the Devils Corkscrew section.  The it was a nice hike along the creek again into Indian Gardens.  We stopped there to rest, eat and fill up on water.  The next mile or so was mostly in the sun and it was a bit warm.  Then the switchbacks started as we trudged into 3 mile rest stop. We were now getting worn out and making only 1.5 mph but that was plenty up the steep trail.  There were loads of people happily cruising downhill that were in for a shock when they turned around.  We took another break at 1.5 mile rest stop to add a layer as it was getting colder and also mentally prepare for the ice.  Luckily it was later in the day so most of the ice was turning to mud but there were a few dicey spots.  It is also much easier going uphill on ice.  We finally reached the top after 7 1/2 hours which is a good time.

We checked back into the Yavapai Lodge, took showered then searched for food.  There were tons of people and not many places were open.  We finally got takeout from El Tovar and some drinks at the Yavapai Tavern.  Sleep was welcome.

Once the sun came up, we saw an elk right outside our room.  I then took a quick walk out to the rim for one last look, then we drove home.

At the top of South Kaibab trail

Icy trail

Great views to the north rim

All smiles at Cedar Ridge

Tipoff Point

Down the inner gorge

Crossing Black Bridge

Our camp at Bright Angle Campground

Bright Angel Creek

Crossing Silver Bridge

Waterfall along the trail

A bit more to go

Almost there

Almost there

Ice going uphill

Done!



Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Joshua Tree - Indian Cove Campout

We finally got a campout together with the troop!  We headed up to Joshua Tree NP and the Indian Cove campground.  Jyoti came along as well for her first trip to JT. We got great weather, sunny during the day and cold at night.

Hiking Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill

Joshua Tree - one of many

Indian Cove campsite 99

Campfire




Monday, February 15, 2021

Jackson Flat Snow Camp

Since HALT classes have been canceled for the year, Rich and I decided on an overnighter in the local mountains.  Due to some recent storms we were confident of snow coverage in the San Gabriels.  We drove up to Grassy Hollow via Wrightwood.  It was good to see Mt. High ski area open with plenty of snow.  We made it through all the snow play folks and parked alongside the road at the Grassy Hollow ranger station. We geared up and started hiking up the road to Jackson Flat.  Rich towed the sled and I walked in my snowshoes.  However the road was pretty sparsely covered and were grinding our gear pretty good.  The campground had plenty of snow thankfully and we found a good spot near one of the group sites.  The wind made it pretty cold so after dinner we hunkered down in the tent for a long night.  In morning, we made some coffee and quickly broke camp.  Overnight a slight dusting of snow covered the road a bit more but also added quite a bit of ice.  It was great trip and good to get out with friends.

North Face four season tent is rock solid

Didn't have to dig out a table

Morning dusting

Mt. Baden-Powell from Jackson Flat

This sled was retired after this trip




Tuesday, February 02, 2021

More San Diego Hikes

 Jyoti and I have been getting in some good local hikes:

  • Daley Ranch Engelmann Oak Loop - nice hike especially when you get off the main trail
  • Stanley Peak - fairly long and strenuous but worth it
  • Boden Canyon - nice secluded oak-lined canyon 
  • Fletcher Point - great spot along Lake Hodges
  • Double Peak - surprisingly hard hike and crowded

Along the Engelmann Oak Loop

Summit of Stanley Peak

Fletcher Point trail run

Summit of Double Peak

Snack time in Boden Canyon

 

 

Stop policing, murders go up...who would have thought

I guess if you stop policing, the bad guys just don't go away.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Mini Ham Field Day

Sunday was a mini field day to test out my Nooelec SDR dongle and 40m dipole.  I drove up to our condo rec area parking lot and found some palm trees to throw my antenna over.  I quickly discovered that you need to secure the ends of the dipole lest they get into a big tangle when hoisting the feed line :(  The other big lesson was to set the offset when using the upconverter (-125Mhz for the Nooelec Ham It Up).  After getting the antenna up and CubicSDR software configured and running, I was able to get some 40m phone.  I didn't get any JS8Call traffic though.  Overall a good success.

 

Dipole in V hung from palm tree

Mobile ham shack

 

 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Open Letter to Rep. Mike Levin

Hello Rep. Levin,
I too share your thoughts on the despicable acts in Washington DC and am glad you and your staff are safe.
I have a few questions in response to the message you sent to your constituents on Jan. 8:
* You claim the Constitution must be defended "every day" and I wholeheartedly agree.  However, your stance and actions against the Second Amendment are opposed to this claim.  I know the discussion on reducing gun violence is too much for this forum but how do you reconcile these contradictory stances?
* Although DC riots were more targeted at government itself, the ongoing riots attributed to Antifa, et. al. were much more widespread and damaging to property and life.  What is your office doing to stop those acts and hold those responsible accountable?

I response would be very much appreciated.

 

Mr. Levin's message:

Dear Neighbor,

I wanted to reach out and address the recent attack that occurred in our nation's capital on Wednesday.

For the first time since 1814, the United States Capitol Building was breached by an angry mob. More than 200 years ago, it was British troops. This time it was domestic terrorists, inspired and encouraged by President Donald Trump. 

I started that day preparing to uphold my oath of office — an oath I took this past Sunday at the launch of the 117th Congress to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That is an oath I upheld later that night by voting to certify the results of the Electoral College and declaring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris our next president and vice president.

While I was forced to shelter in my office for most of the day, I am thankful for the Capitol Police officers and other law enforcement agencies who tried to keep everyone safe. There are many questions that must be answered for how this security breach occurred in the first place, and there will be a full investigation. 

As for the domestic terrorists who sought to overthrow our democracy, they must be prosecuted. 

We must also acknowledge how these terrorists were inspired. Despite 81 million votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, multiple recounts, and more than 60 failed lawsuits challenging the election results, many of my Republican colleagues followed Trump’s lead and pushed outlandish conspiracy theories and baseless claims of voter fraud without any evidence, entirely void of reality.  

Many congressional Republicans sought to overturn the results of a free and fair election because they didn't like the results. They didn’t realize — or didn’t care — that their actions could result in a violent coup attempt. That’s exactly what happened Wednesday.   
  
The question now is a vital one: Where does our country go from here?  

For many decades, we have had passionate but peaceful political disagreements — a shining beacon of democracy. We Americans do not support insurrection or mob rule. 

In short, we are so much better than this.  

We are now at a crossroads in our great nation’s history, a moment where we see two divergent paths in front of us. We can continue down a path of hyper-partisanship, divisiveness and democratic decay, or we can try to heal our country. 

We can come together to reject the violence we saw Wednesday and recommit to upholding the values that unite us as Americans: democracy, justice and equality. It is paramount that we choose the right path.  

Our Constitution must never be taken for granted. We must continue to support and defend it every day, as our oath demands. 

After this unbelievable attack on our Capitol and democracy, we can't afford another day with President Trump serving in office. I am calling for Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment or for Congress to impeach and convict Trump immediately.

I also want to send my condolences to the family and loved ones of the Capitol Police officer who was killed during the attack on Wednesday, as well as at least four others who died during the insurrection. Those responsible must be held accountable.



Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Newsom School of Economics

Comrade Newsom has a great idea to restore the California economy he ruined: buy electric cars!  Surely this is much better than a 5 year plan consisting solely of tractors.