Monday, July 26, 2010

Targhee Downhill Series

Mountain biking is seriously the big thing around here in the summer. People treat it like skiing sometimes. I used to own a mountain bike, but was constantly afraid of the fact that if I fell, it was onto sticks and stones and not snow -- resulting in a lot more injuries. Nevertheless, I am now contributing to Influence Magazine and I will be open to shooting any type of adventure sport. Except for maybe ice climbing. I really don't ever see myself doing that...

This weekend David, Robin and I headed over the pass to Grand Targhee resort where the Wydaho mountain bike festival was going on. Sunday culminated in a downhill mountain biking race - the first of three in a series.

Here are some epic shots from the race:

Nicholas Deak - 2nd Place Sport 19-29

Eric Brecheen - Expert 18 & under category

Scott Fitzgerald - 2nd place Expert 30-39

Tim Meyer - third place in men's 19-29 expert category.

Tim Meyer racing to the finish.

Check out more photos from the weekend on Influence Magazine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finding Shoal Falls

This weekend David and I made it a mission to find Shoal Falls. When we took that brutal trail up into the jaws of the jagged Gros Ventres earlier this season, we were stopped by snow and never found the falls. This time, we decided to take the other side of the loop and head straight toward them. Thankfully this trail wasn't quite as intense as the Swift Creek trail. We still did a lot of climbing, but spend most of our time tromping through beautiful alpine meadows and groves of aspen trees.

Doubletop Peak
Doubletop Peak.

Moraine Meadow

White Columbine
White Columbine.

Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush.


It took us nearly three hours to reach the falls, but when we did, it took our breath away. I never expected that they would be so large. They gushed out powerfully from the jagged cliffs of the canyon below Palmer Peak, then ran through the valley below into a river where we saw three incredible beaver dams. I really don't think photos do this area justice.

Shoal Falls

Palmer Peak & Shoal Falls

Beaver Dam

As we started setting up camp, we realized that the mosquitoes were going to be a serious issue. As with our Deep Lake nightmare in Washington last summer, we found it hard to spend more than five seconds outside of the tent without getting totally swarmed. Gross. Regardless, I put on my rain jacket and some pants so that I could at least try to cook dinner. While I was milling around the campsite, I spotted this deer in the meadow nearby.

Flora & Fauna

Finally we got a fire built and the mosquitoes slowly subsided to their evil dens for the evening. There really is nothing like a good backcountry fire on a clear starry night.


Making Warmth

David and I woke up early before the sun crested over the nearby cliffs. The valley was damp and cool, the skies clear. David decided it would be best if we left before it started getting warm so that we could avoid the bugs. We packed up and left before 7 am. Not my idea of a good wake-up call, but at least I didn't acquire any more bug bites. I will have to say though, that sunrise is a truly beautiful time to hike.

Sunrise on Doubletop

Early Morning Reflection


Sunrise Departure

It truly was a beautiful sight. On another note, a sad one at that, I found out that my grandfather passed away in the wee hours of the morning on July 19 due to small cell carcinoma.

I know this is personal information, but it is always hard to lose someone you love, especially when it is a cause of the devious disease known as cancer. I know there are too many people out there that can relate. I feel so grateful to have spent time with him down in Mexico this summer when I went on the cruise. So for any and all who go out this week, please drink a Guinness, in honor of Papa Bob. May he rest in peace.

Heaven's Light

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Weekend in Death Canyon

There are days when I love living in Jackson, and days when I hate it. I think that if I made a pro/con list for both Seattle and Jackson Hole, the lists would be nearly equal in length. This place is gorgeous, as is Seattle...but sometimes, it's nice to drive only 30 minutes and find yourself in near wilderness after 20 minutes of hiking. That is Jackson Hole. David and I headed off to the Death Canyon trail for a weekend stint up in the woods. We passed the familiar sight of the Phelps Lake Overlook, only this time, we continued on.

Phelps Lake

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that we saw our familiar friend the moose on the side of the road to the trailhead. Meet him:


This hike turned out to be one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. It was pretty crowded with people at times, but the higher we hiked into the canyon, the more solitude we found.

Death Canyon Trail

Looking towards Jackson Hole

Unknown Falls

High in the Canyon

Eventually, after over seven miles of hiking, we reached the bottom of the Death Canyon Shelf. It's a pretty incredible view in this basin. Unfortunately, we could see the storm clouds rolling in so we set up camp as soon as possible.

Under the Shelf

Not even ten minutes after pitching the tent, the storm had developed into a monster. Thunder and lightning roared in the sky above us, followed by an angry hail. At first I was worried that our tent couldn't withstand the hail but luckily it did and we stayed safe and dry.

Finally we were able to emerge from our shelter to make dinner. Our friend Alex met up with us and told us that he had just seen a bear not more then 200 yards away from where we were camping. Great. This trip just gets better and better...

It wasn't such a big deal. All of us are very cautious when camping in this wild terrain and are respectful of the animals that inhabit our surroundings. We are the strangers here. We never ended up seeing the bear. After running into some trail maintenance crew members we found out that the bear Alex saw frequents the area and doesn't bother humans. Whew!

We spent the night laughing and playing cards in Alex's tent due to the fire regulations. It turned out to be tons of fun and being together in such a close proximity helped with staying warm. Rain began to pour as the night went on, and the sun finally came out in the morning, if only for a brief period of time. I grabbed a quick shot of the muddy ground as I looked out my tent.

Good Morning

I was so hungry and tired, I knew that I wouldn't have much energy to do any extra hiking. As we looked up at the shelf, we could see the clouds getting darker and darker. All of us decided that it would be a good idea to head out.

As we hiked out, we saw two more moose. They were off hanging out in a field near the trail. I also grabbed this shot of Alex crossing this riverin the midst of getting swarmed by evil mosquitoes. I ended up with a nasty bite on my calf, but it was worth it:

Log Crossing

As always, I look forward to our next destination. Next time I hope we can stay a little bit drier. I guess you really can't predict Teton weather.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fourth of July Weekend

With the unfortunate knowledge that I had to work at 5pm on the Fourth of July, I decided to get an early celebration in with some friends on the 3rd. I had heard about what a fun day trip it can be going up to Phelps Lake in Grand Teton National Park, and I hoped that it would cure my need for a day at the lake like we used to have in Washington.

Death Canyon Trail
Death Canyon Trailhead

A few miles down the worst dirt road ever and a quick hike in led us to some spectacular views of Phelps Lake from the Death Canyon trailhead. If you're not much of a hiker, this one's for you. The trail is easy, there are lots of people around, and you still get rewarded with an amazing view.

Phelps Lake, Death Canyon
Phelps Lake & Death Canyon.

We hiked down to the water's edge and over to a large boulder on the north side of the lake. This is the perfect jumping rock. The water was ice cold, so Julie & I opted to watch the boys. Alex took the plunge first and the rest followed suit.

Alex Goes First
Alex taking the plunge.

The Leap
Robin's stoked.

Since it was super cold and windy on the top of the rock, we moved over to a sandy area on the west side of the lake. We spent the rest of the day soaking up some rays, playing horseshoes, and taking pictures. Not a bad way to spend a beautiful summer day.

Phelps Lake
Late afternoon on Phelps Lake.

That night, David and I headed over to Teton Village to catch the fireworks. Yes, they were on the 3rd and the 4th. Highly beneficial for locals like me who are keeping this town alive on the holiday. Thanks Jackson Hole!

3rd of July Celebration
Teton Village fireworks.

On a side note, I took all of my photos this weekend with my film camera. I'm anxiously waiting for the results. More photos to come...