Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quote of the Day

Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink, for thirst is a dangerous thing. -Jerome Klapka Jerome

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fall Colors in Aravaipa

Lori and I spent the last few days hiking through Aravaipa Canyon, one of Southern Arizona's premier riparian areas.  We had not been there in December before and the combination of shorter days, low sun angle, and hiking in the water made for chilly days.  The pay off (besides solitude and silence) was the beautiful fall colors.  This was also my first hike since coming off the Pacific Crest Trail over three months ago and the lack of wild in my life was starting to take its toll both physically and emotionally.  Hopefully this trip was the start of more regular ventures into Nature.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pacific Crest Trail slideshow Dec. 8

Please join us for the first public showing of our 2008 Pacific Crest Trail slideshow.  If you were curious about what we were doing all summer, have questions about long-distance backpacking, or just want to see some pretty pictures of the American West, come on down.  This event is free and open to all!

When:  Monday December 8th   6:30pm
Where: downstairs meeting room Joel Valdez Library (map)
Cost:   FREE

Sunday, November 23, 2008

El Tour de Tucson

Another succesful El Tour!  This was my third El Tour and second time riding with El Grupo, the youth cycling club I help to coach.  We rode all 109 miles in 6:46.  While this time was slower than our time last year, we have a completely new crew of riders most of whom new to cycling.  I seriously expected our team to take about eight hours to finish so obviously we did great.  No flats, no accidents, no complaints - just 8 kids riding with their hearts.  We also managed a quick "Happy Birthday" to my mom who cheered us on at mile 68!  This last photo is of the incredible celebration breakfast that my beautiful wife prepared for me.

I'd like to give a big shout out to my neighber and friend Mike Dean who could not ride El Tour this year due to the fact that he is in Iraq for the FOURTH time.  He was going to try to ride "El Tour" around the Army base but couldn't due to security concerns.  You are in our thoughts Mike!  See you next year!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rainwater harvesting!

Today we had our new rainwater harvesting system installed.  You can see the before and after shots above.  First, we had the support wall built (second photo).  This wall was actually less for support than to raise the tank high enough to use gravity to water our raised planters.  The tank itself holds 250 gallons (and weighs one ton when full!).  It is a special tank from Australia that has a slim profile (look closely: it is not circular) which suits our tiny courtyard well - total footprint is 10 s.f.  The roof area that drains in to the tank is 468 s.f. and will fill the tank in a 1" rainfall.  In theory, we get enough rainfall each year to fill the tank about 11 times but this assumes that we completely empty the tank between each rain.  The black pipe in the corner is the overflow pipe that will drain any excess rainfall to the street (which is where ALL of our current rainwater ends up).  This system is essentially just a fancy bucket put under our downspouts - a brilliant concept in the desert!  Now we're just praying for rain...

Friday, November 14, 2008

All Souls Party

It was a looong haul this year but the party was a raging success (emphasis on RAGING)!  We must have had at least 200 people over the course of the night.  We polished off three of my 5-gallon kegs of homebrew and one from Barrio (thanks Ian!).  Only God knows how many calories of amazing food were consumed.  No major damage to report.  Thanks to all who came and helped to make this biggest and best All Souls party yet!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bahia Kino, Mexico

We just returned from a very relaxing five days in Bahia Kino (Kino Bay), Mexico. Kino is a sleepy fishing village about a six hour drive south of Tucson.  The weather was beautiful for snorkelling, kayaking, and watching the seabirds with a cold Tecate in hand!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

PCT 2008 photos online... finally!

Thanks for being patient.   There are two slideshows of 150 pics each - each takes about ten minutes to watch.  Get comfy, sit back, and enjoy!

If you have a Flickr/Yahoo account, please use the following links:
People photos here.
Nature and Wildlife photos here.

If not, visit our website here and follow the link to the slideshow.

Friday, August 29, 2008


What a daunting task we face trying to summarize the end of a magnificent journey. Our path has brought us over 112 days (95 of which we spent hiking, averaging 16.6 miles a day). We hiked through numerous life zones, broiling heat, thunderstorms, fires and many picture perfect days. We basked in the simplicity that only life on the trail can offer - rising with the sun and finding ourselves in rhythm with the natural. We struggled through aches and pains, smoke-filled skies and kamikaze mosquitos. We made some fantastic new friends and were reminded of the generosity and kindness of people who helped us along the way. Now our difficulty lies in our transition back to the "civilized" world. We meet this task with excitement while simultaneously planning for our next adventure!
Thanks for following along on our journey. We hope you have caught a glimpse of why we have a passion for long- distance backpacking. Check back in the coming weeks for a link to the finished slide show.

Oregon - short but sweet!

The Pacific Crest Trail through Oregon is less than 1/3 the length of the trail in California and yet our experiences through this state have been as varied and exciting as it's much longer neighbor to the south. In less than a month we hiked by Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. We traversed lava fields and around volcanoes in the southern reaches of the Cascade Range. We were overwhelmed by the lush silence and majesty of old growth forests. We navigated snowfields and abundant huckleberry bushes. We witnessed thunderstorms and the resulting fires from lightning strikes. We culminated our hike at the glorious Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge where we celebrated the wedding of our friends Bryan and Kim. Wow! Thank you Oregon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

One week to go!

Sorry - no photos this time. We finally found a library that gives a one-hour time limit and I can't upload pics (sigh).

We are in Sisters, Oregon. We have been walking through amazing country the last few weeks. Most of the PCT through Oregon is located in federally-designated wilderness or National Parks. We hiked around the rim of Crater Lake and the forests and lakes of the Sky Lakes, Three Sisters, and Mt. Washington wilderness areas. All magnificent! Our only complaint is the mosquitos (and the fact that our tent zipper broke about two weeks ago!). We are taking our last full rest day here before hiking the last 100 miles of the trek. We are both excited to do anything other than walking but sad to be returning to the world of car alarms, cell phones, bills and, well, not wilderness.

We will send out a few more post-hike wrap-up blogs from Portland. Hope all is well!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oregon baby!

Wow, California is one long state.... even with the fire and festival detours! Our friend Griz helped us out again by gettings us around the fire north of Etna, but not before stopping by the Etna brewery. We've decided to say we are doing a "Brew-Hike" instead of a Thru-Hike as we are drinkers with a hiking problem!
The air already seems a lot clearer here in Oregon. We've been hiking through smoke for close to a month now. Mt. Shasta has only been visible two days out of the three weeks that it typically could have been seen from the trail (see above photo). We are excited to be with our friends Michelle and Kevin at their lovely home in Medford. We will stay here for a couple of days before we head out to hike the state of Oregon. We will finish our hike at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood for the wedding of our hiking friends Yum and Pep near the end of August. We've enjoyed gorgeous wildflower displays in this last section and have been delayed by wild blackberries and raspberries along the trail.
There is a chance that this will be our last post until we finish our hike. Our resupply towns through Oregon are just small outposts with little likelihood of internet services. We'll update as soon as we can.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Lori and Fiddlehead!

Despite continuing smoke-filled skies, we had a great week. Our hiking buddy Griz (he hiked the Arizona Trail with us) and his beautiful dog Siskiyou Marie joined us for a night to help celebrate Lori's birthday. He packed in a bottle of wine and some of Alice's amazing lemon bars! Happy birthday to Lori, and also to our great friend Fiddlehead - wish you were out here FH!
We also met a couple of trail legends in this stretch. The man with the beard (above) is Billy Goat. He has hiked more than 33,000 miles in his life. We had never met before but had several friends in common. He said his home was "the trail." The other hiker above is Scott Williamson. We met him on the trail in 1996. He is currently on his eleventh thru-hike of the PCT! He has yo-yoed the PCT, meaning that he has hiked from Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico in a single season. And this year he is on goal to break the speed hiking record on the PCT - less than 79 days (we took 153). All that and he is an amazingly nice and humble guy. Even though he is trying to set the record this year, he didn't hesitate to take a half-hour break with us. Very cool!
So we should finally be through with our first state (California) in the next week. We are still healthy and happy and looking forward to Oregon!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

1000 mile summer!

Festivals, Fires and Flexibility.
When we last checked in we had hiked to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. All that hiking demanded a small vacation so we took a bus up to meet some good friends at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy California, approximately 300 trail miles north. For 4 days we relaxed, danced, ate fabulous foods and enjoyed time with friends. (Thank you friends!) We planned on picking up the trail right near Quincy but one of California's many fires had closed the trail and forced us further north. We have not seen blue sky for several weeks. In fact we have been hiking very near 14,000' Mt. Shasta and have only seen it twice through the haze.
We have received letters from friends asking us to post info about certain topics, so here is my attempt at answers. Ian asked us about wildlife sightings. We have seen the usual suspects, deer, marmot, reptiles, etc. Christian has seen two bears and I have yet to see any. The wildlife has been scarce and I wonder where the wild things are. We have speculated that with so many hikers on the trail there is little opportunity for those chance encounters. Some extra cool encounters have been a bald eagle, a fox with a squirrel in it's mouth and then there is the rattlesnake attack I thwarted with my hiking poles!.... I would have rather seen a bear.
Kelly asked us about food. This is a topic that occupies our thoughts for many hours of the day. Our appetites have finally stabilized. While in the Sierra we were consuming many calories, often eating two dinners each night. By and large we are happy with the meals we are sending ourselves although we probably won't be eating granola for some time after we return home. Town stops usually provide us with some of our top cravings: Pizza, beer, ice cream and fresh fruit and veggies. We were excited about the wild onions along the trail and now we are coming in to berry season with wild raspberries starting to fruit. Friends have sent some yummy care packages that not only nourish us with calories but a sweet connection to home. Thanks to all who have sent us things. Special mention to Jenny who has sent us a collection of home baked goodies at each stop and Aja whose creativity and love are a blessing. Our friend Griz surprised us here at Castella and has been taking great care of us by bringing us into Mt. Shasta City for a yummy Mexican meal, laundry and showers - much needed and appreciated.
Many folks have enquired about the fires. In Southern California the trail was closed near Idyllwild. As I mentioned we missed about 100 miles of trail south of Lassen National Park. We have just learned that the trail north of Etna is closed through the Marble Mountain Wilderness. Griz is going to meet us again for some hiking and will help us get around that fire. The smoke has affected us by obscuring views and causing havoc with our sinuses but we are lucky to be enjoying our life outdoors in all it's conditions.
What lies ahead for us? All will be revealed and we will keep you posted as the opportunity presents itself.