Monday, October 29, 2012

Griz Football

We went to a Griz football game when we were in Missoula this weekend (both my sister and brother-in-law's alma mater). Despite forecasts for rain AND snow, it ended up being a fairly nice day, all things considered. It was a good day for the Griz football team too, if you can call winning by 46 points a good game.

Apparently the University of Montana hasn't exactly been having a good year so I'm sure it was nice for them and the fans to see a win. It was exciting at the beginning but by the time Montana had three touchdowns in the first quarter, I started feeling a little bad. At least Idaho State got to score a couple touchdowns and field goals.

Montana used to have a tradition of sky divers landing in the stadium before every game. I saw some of them a few years ago when I went to a game with my sister. This time I was a little disappointed there wouldn't be any sky divers. They added a new level to one side of the stadium recently and it has apparently messed with the airflow in and around the stadium and created some up-drafts. Last year a sky diver got caught by a gust and missed the stadium, crashing into a concrete wall. He broke 19 bones but survived. He was actually at the game this weekend. They've also put in new light posts around the stadium and would need approval from the FAA to allow sky diving again. Combined with accident last year, I think they've decided sky diving into the stadium might not be such a good idea.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

40 years ago...

Mom and Dad at the Pacific Crest Trailhead in Snoqualmie Pass
Forty years ago my dad finished the Pacific Crest Trail, becoming one of the first to hike it from start to finish. A few things have changed since then, but the Washington and Oregon sections of the trail were well-established even in 1972 and are mostly the same today. We stopped at the trail head for the PCT/Kendall Katwalk hike in Snoqualmie Pass today to commemorate the occasion.

Some of my favorite things that have changed since the early days of through-hiking are that my dad and his friends never slept in tents (unless there were bugs), they usually cooked on campfires instead of stoves, they carried books and a checkers board, and they had never heard of purifying water (or giardia). It is a little bit liberating to remember that we don't have to sleep in a tent when we're camping - if it's clear and warm, why not sleep outside? I think I will stick with my water filter though.

My dad has been typing up his trail journals and already has his Appalachian Trail journal online. Next up is his PCT journal.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Picking

My dad, Ryan, and Ryan's pumpkin (he says he's carving the Obama campaign symbol like he did four years ago)

My cute little pumpkin
My parents are visiting and this weekend we took them to a local farm to pick pumpkins. I'm pretty sure were the only adults there without kid but since I was with my parents, I think I can claim I'm actually a kid. The fall weather was lovely. It was actually quite warm in the sun, but freezing as soon as it went behind a cloud. It was a good thing we got home early enough to do a bunch of yard work because late in the afternoon it poured. Then it hailed and then the thunder began. That does not happen very often in Seattle!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sea trial on the Aquila

I spent the last couple days preparing survey equipment and assisting with sea trails in Elliot Bay. Tetra Tech and Williamson and Associates are partnering for an upcoming survey aboard the F/V Aquila. The boat was mobilized on Lake Union so on Friday we cast off and sailed through the locks and into Puget Sound. It was exciting to be aboard the vessel with so many different survey systems in use. I won't be aboard for the survey so it was great to see the equipment in action.

My friend Ransom with the PS-60

Aft deck of the Aquila in the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard

Preparing the side pole mounted multibeam sonar for deployment
Of particular interest is Williamson and Associates PROSAS SURVEYOR PS-60.  This amazing synthetic aperture sonar system is a cutting-edge towfish that is setting new standards for towed system capability. It is also the size of a Volkswagen Bus. Fortunately the Aquila is an old crab fishing vessel with plenty of handling capability. I was impressed at how easily the PS-60 was lifted overboard and positioned aft of the vessel for towing. Soon we were collecting high resolution imagery of Ellite Bay including the Alki Beach outfall. Not only does the PS-60 collect high resolution synthetic aperture sonar it was also equipped with a mulitbeam sonar and a sub-bottom profiler. All this equipment operates simultaneously along with and additional multibeam sonar mounted on the vessel. I was very impressed and inspired.

Launching the PS - 60

Bringing aboard the PS-60 at night.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Apple Harvest

For some reason we keep getting more apples off our tree each year we live in this house. The first year we had none (in fact we didn't even know it was an apple tree), the second year we got 10 lbs, last year we got 15 lbs, and this year I've already harvested 23 lbs with a few more on the tree!

After the 30 lbs of plums we harvested last month and the gallons of huckleberries I picked this year, plus the all the frozen salmonberries and rhubarb my mom sent home with me, I've put up a sizeable amount of canned goods - more than any other year so far.

I've made four batches of applesauce so far as well as cranberry sauce with apples. The VitaMix has been a lifesaver for the applesauce production - I don't peel the apples. I just quarter them, cook them until their soft and then blend them. You would never know there are peels in there!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mountain Rescue Prime Time

Molly wrote about our camping trip last weekend, but what she didn't mention was my bonus hike on the way home. For Seattle Mountain Rescue, Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the summer are by far the most common time for injuries in the mountains. The most common type of injury being a lower leg and the most common location being the I-90 corridor.
Sure enough as we drove west towards Snoqualmie Pass on Sunday afternoon I got a message about a hiker with a broken leg on Bandera Mountain. I was only about a half hour from the trail head and had all my hiking gear with me. The girls dropped me off at the trail just as another SMR volunteer arrived with the rescue truck. I strapped half the litter to by pack and headed up the trail.  I was with two other SMR folks and there was one more already 10 minutes up the trail.

It took us a little over an hour to hike the 2.5 miles. The trail climbed a few thousand feet but was in good condition for the most part. Only the last three hundred feet to the injured hiker were steep and rocky.

Once onsite I assisted with splinting the woman's leg using a sleeping pad. It was quite obvious that it was broken but she was handling it quite well and had good circulation to her foot.

We used some large boulders nearby to build anchors and then used ropes to lower the patient in the litter a few hundred feet to where the trail leveled out. At that point a wheel was attached to the litter so we move down the trail at a steady pace. About twelve volunteers showed up to help, it was just about the right number of people. I think we had the woman to the trail head about 5 hours after we got the message.

The woman and her husband were extremely grateful for our help. I was glad I could be there and that I could be on site early and help with all aspects of the rescue. Thanks to my fellow SMR volunteers who took these photos.

Lower the patent down the steep section

Working the belay line

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Backpacking in Headlight Basin and Lake Ingalls

Mount Stuart from Headlight Basin

This weekend we did a one night backpacking trip in the Alpine Lakes District to Headlight Basin and Lake Ingalls. Jennie and I did this hike last year in a day and it was so beautiful we knew we had to go back and camp overnight this year. And with the phenomenal fall weather we've been having, it was absolutely worth it.

I believe we are currently in the longest stretch of dry weather ever recorded in Seattle (hence all the forest fires around WA). If you look back at our photos from this hike last year, you can see how much snow had already fallen in the mountains by the first week in October.

This year, it was completely dry up there and there wasn't a cloud in sight. It was very smokey by Cle Elum though and we even considered calling the hike off; I'm glad we didn't! Once we got into the mountains it was very clear. The view of Mt. Stuart from this camping spot is amazing. To top it off the stars were out in full-force and the moon bright.

We heard there were mountain goats in the area, but had no idea they were that habituated to humans. We saw one group of three goats grazing on the only little patch of lush vegetation up at Lake Ingalls and then another hanging around the camp sites. When I woke up on Sunday morning I walked out to the edge of the hill and looked down to see the three goats grazing right outside someone's tent. When the people woke up the goats just kept on munching and were not bothered in the least. They wandered through our camp too just as everybody else was waking up. The baby goat was particularly adorable and would whine every time it got a little behind the mother.

Kendra wakes up to a visitor in our camp