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Squamish, BC: Climb - Hike - Climb
Squamish, BC
5-7 September, 2007

Molly and Brian overlooking Howe Sound from the Bulletheads

World class climbing? Bring it on! Brian and I were thrilled to read the article in Climbing magazine describing the amazing climbing and world-class rock in Squamish, BC, located only 100 miles from Bellingham! After our sailing trip we decided to head up to check out British Columbia for a few days. While there we explored Cheakamus Canyon, which had quite a few good sport routes, and the Bulletheads, which is a smaller portion of the well known Stawamus Chief wall that demands one's attention. Cheakamus was fun but the routes weren't as long as those in the Owens Valley Gorge and many of them were too difficult for us. The route we did on the Bulletheads was two pitches and was very slabby. It took us almost 2 hours to actually find the climb as the trails in the area were a network of goat paths that were difficult to discern from one another and shot straight up the mountain. We almost felt we needed rope protection while hiking up to the climb. I (Molly) led the slabby route…SCARY!!! I felt like Spiderman for much of the climb as the granite was virtually featureless requiring me to trust my feet on tiny crystals and minimal texture. The view from the top was incredible, though!! Our general take? Squamish would be awesome if we climbed harder grades and if we climbed trad routes. Until we do, the Owens Valley Gorge is still the best we've seen.

For a rest on the middle day we did a day hike up to Garibaldi Lake and then beyond the lake to Black Tusk! We saw thousands of mushrooms, a black bear eating berries, and thousands of wildflowers and incredible, jagged, glacial peaks. Because the views were so grand we made a long day of it, hiking approximately 16+ miles. Not much of a rest day, but the grandeur was worth it!

Photos


Sailing the San Juans (Learn-N-Cruise)
San Juan Islands, WA
25-31 August, 2007

Sunrise at Spencer Spit

Sailing for a week in the San Juans? A week in the San Juans sounded like fun. I (Molly) wasn't sure about the sailing part of it though. Brian was so smitten with the idea, however, that I decided I must at least try it with an open mind. I'm glad I did as we had a wonderful time learning the intricacies of sailing and earning a certificate that makes it possible for us to charter sailboats anywhere in the world. Studying the anatomy of a sailboat was rather tedious especially after finishing my dissertation only a few weeks earlier. Fortunately, Brian helped me sludge through learning the vocabulary which allowed us to enjoy the trip as more of a vacation and less of a school-like experience.

We began our journey at San Juan Sailing in the Squalicum Marina (Bellingham, WA – our new home town!!). It was drizzly, cool, and fairly windy – not the most appealing weather for an impending sailing trip. After taking our initial test, unpacking our groceries and gear in the 35' sailboat that would be our home for the coming week, and meeting our instructor Andy and our fellow classmates, Ryan and Emily, we headed out into the bay for some sailing. We had great wind the first day, but once it began raining, the wind died down. Fog set in and we motored the rest of the way to Pleasant Bay, where we anchored for the night. Pleasant Bay was quiet and just a few miles south of Bellingham in front of the Chuckanut Mountains. The wind rattled our rigging most of the night and we frequently woke up to the noise of rope slapping wire rigging. This sound reverberated through the boat and was amplified in the process. What sounded like nothing at all when standing on the deck in the morning sounded like sleeping inside a beating drum from the interior of the boat.

Full Story || Photos || Our Boat (Hunter 356 "Mystic Breeze") || San Juan Sailing Website


Artist Point Picinic
Bellingham, WA
24 August, 2007

Molly, Brian, and Mount Shuksan

Moving to Bellingham, WA has been everything we hoped it would be and more. One perk is the easy access to high alpine territory. One of my new colleagues at WWU took Brian and I to the incredible vista called Artist's Point located about 80-90 minutes from Bellingham. The name is self-explanatory. As we drove the switchbacking road up to Artist's Point (yes, you can drive there), the hairpin turns gave way to an incredible view of the elusive Mount Baker, which was engulfed in clouds, and its brother to the east, Mount Shuksan. These glacial giants soared above the heather and evergreen foreground, beckoning the bystander to venture into their surrounding wilderness. This particular visit we had a picnic lunch before exploring the short loop trail at Artist's Point. We'll definitely return to explore the Baker wilderness area and appreciated the opportunity to preview what it has to offer.

Photos


Moved WEST!!
Athens, GA to Bellingham, WA
2-7 August, 2007

Taking up just a few parking spaces in the Wendy's parking lot

It still seems strange that we've moved from Athens. When we looked at pictures of our house the other day we realized we didn't own it anymore. Very weird. Moving was a surprisingly smooth endeavor. The worst part was packing the truck in the sweltering, humid heat of early August in GA. Fortunately we didn't talk ourselves out of the 26' truck, which allowed us the extra space we needed as amateur packers. We had a nice time chatting with our neighbors Jess, Karen, and Glen one last time before we headed out with the plants filling the back seat of the car and with the huge moving truck and Brian's truck in tow. It was very helpful to have Ron, Brian's dad, join us, both for his company and for his ability to drive when we were tired.

Perhaps the most eye opening part of the trip was driving the car behind a moving truck that accelerated much more slowly than the car can. We got incredibly high gas mileage (from 36-40 mpg) in the Accord, which typically consumes about 30 mpg on the interstate. Granted it was frustrating driving up mountains at 40 mph, but it did save gas. It was also interesting driving such a large vehicle. I have a new appreciation for semi drivers. Being passed by a semi when you fill almost the entire lane is much different than passing a semi as a car. Some of the most eventful parts of the trip included a stop at my parents' house, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, the thousands of bikers we passed and encountered along I-90 most of whom were headed to the Sturgis Bike Rally, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and the signs for the Testicle Festival in Montana. I still have questions about what goes on at that festival. We were also struck by the amount of corn in IL, IA, SD, and even WA. We enjoyed some incredible views of Mount Rainier on our way into Seattle.

When we arrived in Bellingham, we were disappointed to find our apartment still very dirty. Fortunately, our cleaning supplies were near the back of the moving truck. After scouring for an entire evening, we began moving our stuff into the apartment, which has 2 flights of stairs leading to the entry level. Our neighbor explained that she now had calves like a sherpa after moving in. We were grateful the railing was not yet installed on the newly redone steps as it made maneuvering heavy furniture much easier. It will be interesting to see how we fare when we move out as the rails have now been added. After arranging most of the house, we spent the rest of the summer playing. Brian has tirelessly finished the final touches while I've been at work.

Photos || Route Map


Christmas
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)


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

 
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