Bellingham, WA
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2006 Adventures

Photos without stories...

Bishop, CA
21-31 December, 2006
1-3 January, 2007

Molly and Brian in the Owens River Gorge

We had a wonderful trip to California this Christmas. Spending the first couple of days in LA (Los Angeles, not lower Alabama), we got to visit with lots of Brian's extended family! We had a blast eating pizza with the Cook family and a bunch of other folks. I got to practice my drumming a bit more and Brian played with all of the kids like one of the kids, which was absolutely a blast for them, even though the adults had to work a bit to make sure Brian was behaving.

After leaving LA, we headed to Bishop where we enjoyed hanging out with Ron, Tracy, and Pinyon. In addition to running in the desert, we became completely addicted to the amazing climbing in the Owens River Gorge. If only we lived in Bishop! The climbs were monstrous (typically between 90' and 125') compared to those we've done on the east coast and the exposure was much more noticeable since there were no tall trees to give you a sense that there's something more than rock, air, and ground surrounding you. We climbed every day except for one and loved every second of it. We'll definitely be headed back in the near future.

Climbing Photos || Map

Summer Vacation
Wind River Range, WY & Sawtooth National Recreation Area, ID
5-20 August, 2006

Deep Lake Cirque

After our hike on the John Muir Trail last summer, we were aching to return to the mountains. We stumbled across a book that included 30 classic treks around the world. In it a hike through the Wind River Range in Wyoming (southeast of the Tetons) as well as a tour of the Sawtooths (about 90 miles north of Boise, ID) were outlined. Both sounded incredible and we decided to do both. The Winds absolutely stole our hearts: They now top my "all time favorite locations" list as well as my "must return soon" list. Countless stunning lakes, relatively little elevation gain and loss while hiking, an incredible array of wildlife, diverse terrain and vistas, and fierce-looking solid granite towers were just a few of the factors that impressed us. It was tough to top this and our hike through the Sawtooths was a bit less inspiring, although still beautiful. After cleaning up one night in a hotel in Stanley, ID we shifted our focus from backpacking to shorter term adventures: paddling an inflatable kayak down the Salmon River and rock climbing in WY. Our final day, we toured Salt Lake City, UT before flying back to GA. What a time!

Full Story || Photos || Map
Daily Stats (Winds) || Daily Stats (Sawtooths)

Rock Climbing
Sand Rock, AL
1 July, 2006

Tiffany climbing at Sand Rock

And we thought we were addicted to rock climbing after climbing on the wall for the last few months.Little did we know how much fun climbing outside would be.  This weekend we headed to Sand Rock in Alabama for a climbing trip with a few other students from UGA.  Much like one would assume based on the name, Sand Rock is made of sandstone, a sedimentary rock.  The geology was quite incredible.  Walking down the hill from the parking lot, we turned the corner into a canyon-like tunnel surrounded by 30-60 foot sandstone rocks.  I have no idea how this area formed, but the rocks were incredible and there were a lot of them.  We began on an easy wall, which was ranked 5.6 and then moved to a new spot where there was a 5.8, 5.9, and 5.10 climb on the same wall.  Finally, we moved to Sunwall, which was actually shady because it was so late in the afternoon, and did another 5.9 and 5.10 climb.  It was surprising how distinct outdoor climbing was compared to climbing on the wall.  Spots for hands and feet on real rocks were much less obvious than the rainbow colored holds on the climbing wall; the rock was much tougher on your fingers than the smooth holds inside; and the feeling of accomplishment when you reached the top seemed more authentic outside than inside.  There's something about reaching the top of a sheer rock face not designed by man.  Will we go again?  Definitely!  If we could have stayed all night we would have, other than our fingers probably would been completely shredded rather than very raw.  I'm already trying to figure out how to get a harness so we can go again as soon as possible!  What a great day.

Photos || Map

Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race
Blue Ridge, GA
12th Place; 7hrs 42mins; 33-36 miles of Running, Canoeing, Mtn Biking, & Mystery Challenges
7-8 April, 2006

Team SUKA: Marcus, Brian, EJ, & Molly

Living up to his motto on life, Brian decided it was time to seek an unknown adventure (SUKA) and began looking into adventure racing. Although the idea of mountain biking, running, canoeing, orienteering, and completing mystery challenges sounded like fun to me, the first local race that Brian wanted to try was a 60 mile – 36 hour race. AND it was to be held two weeks from the date he found out about the race. This sounded like a bit much to me, but his second find, the 36 mile – 6-9 hour race in Blue Ridge, Georgia seemed much more plausible. Not only was it accomplishable in one day, which was a serious plus in my mind, but it was also 3 months out giving us time to train. We took advantage of this time and felt like we were in pretty good shape going into the race.

There are a few interesting aspects of adventure racing that I should point out before talking about the race. First, in order to be qualified to place, you must have a co-ed team of three people. Having never done this before, we ended up trying to find a teammate at the last minute, and, fortunately, ended up with a teammate who was a perfect match (in terms of ability & personality). We felt fortunate that this set-up worked out so well since we had never worked out with Marcus, a med student from Atlanta, and only met him about 15 hours before the race. Second, in adventure racing the course is not marked and is not publicized until the day before or day of the race. Furthermore, the course you select for yourself does not necessarily follow trails and the flags at the check points are not always visible from the trail (if you are on a trail). Thus, being able to navigate well is critical to your success in the race. This year the maps were handed out the night before the race, which allowed us time to plot the UTM coordinates and determine how to navigate to them prior to the start of the race. In past years the maps were often handed out after the race had started, which drastically changed how teams approached the race. Third, you have to have a support person in order to compete. This person delivers your gear (canoe, bike, food, water, etc.) to certain checkpoints. Additionally, all of this gear had to fit on or in one car, which can be tricky with such large equipment (bikes & canoe).

Full Story || Photos || Map
Results (pdf) || Race Website

Spring Break
Manatee Springs State Park and Crystal River State Park, Florida
Cumberland Island and Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia
16-19 March, 2006

Melinda & Molly at Manatee Spring

Spring Break 2006 was a blast. We began our trip by meeting up with Molly’s parents and sister in Crystal River, FL for a private manatee tour. Watching other boats filled with 12-20 tourists, we felt really spoiled to be the only 5 on the boat with our wonderful guide, Doreen. Our first encounter took place near the edge of one of the manatee sanctuaries. These sanctuaries were basically small areas near the banks of the river marked off by buoys in order to indicate to humans that they were not to enter. The first few manatees were chomping away at the seagrass and moving in and out of the sanctuary – not so exciting, but still cool. The more exciting encounter happened away from the sanctuary. A group of 4-6 manatees were exhibiting signs of spring fever and were courting. The group swam around us repeatedly and bumped into us. We were able to hold onto the backs of the manatees and swim along with them for quite some time. Often, one of them would surface with their snout inches from our face. It was quite incredible! The next day we headed north to visit Cumberland Island and the Okefenokee Swamp with Melinda.

Full Story || Photos || Map

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