Sunday, June 28, 2009
Just so many beautiful pictures to share! This is only the start of the Sierras! We keep hitting these beautiful and cold streams. It is just amazing. I can hardly resist to dip into each one! Jen agrees that they are cold and so far hasn't taken me up on the invitation for a dip into the streams. I hope she will pop in at least once before the summer is out- it is an awesome experience!
We have ran into a few skinny dippers along the way. First, there was a hiking pair that highly recommended a high elevation lake to us. Their hair was wet as they hiked off, leaving us to explore the lake they said was "warm". I hesitated to go in the shallow lake up at timberline. But, finally I splashed in all the way, quickly retreating to the shore, shivering and red all over. It was still fun!
The other occasion we had to run into a skinny dipper was just down from Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,200 ft. This guy had just submerged himself into the cool blue lake in the above photo. What a fun time for a PCT hiker!
The most fun I have had so far has been all within a 24 hour period. The first element was a great stay at Tyndall Creek. A skinny dip here was so incredible. The rock just moves the water around in all these refreshing looking interesting ways. Next morning we headed up and over Forester Pass. This was so fun. We got a big adrenaline rush from the fear factor of crossing over ice chute drop-offs, and we had a fun thrill glassading (aka sliding on our butts!) down the back side of the pass.
The summit of Mt Whitney was an incredible "breathtaking" experience. You get to the top of the world, and you can see down the Owens Valley, up to the White Mountains, all around you to various high points in the Sierra, and down to the lakes you've hiked past on your way up!
It was pretty cold, lots of people, and I was feeling a bit ill from the elevation on the way up- otherwise I would have loved to have made the summit in the nude. Oh well, it was incredible nonetheless, and I'm sure there are many more nude summits in my future.
It was a real shining moment for my partner Jen. She has come from having no energy under the influence of a cancerous thyroid to having the strength and will to climb to the top of the United States and beyond! Congrats to her, I am so happy for her and her super achievement in the mountains.
If any of you get a chance, hike up Mt Whitney! It is a real pleasure- just take your time, and be acclimated if possible.
Naked Hiker Day was a blast! I hiked from about nine in the morning to four in the afternoon completely in the nude! What an awesome day! It was sunny, sunny, sunny! Up at elevations of 9,000 and 10,000 ft the air temperature stayed very comfortable.
Hiking along the cool drafts of breeze felt wonderful all along my totally exposed body. The warm rays of the sun were free to hit along skin rarely exposed to the sun, creating wonderful large amounts of vitamin D reserves for the winter!
Lunch was had at a small sandy ridge. The wind that was light and playful throughout the day settled down completely during lunchtime and the warm air just hung out. It felt just like the beach, out there on the sand engulfed in toasty warm lazy air!
We hiked on carrying only about a liter of water, since the supply is so ample throughout the Sierra. When we needed water we journeyed over to a beautiful meadow to draw water from a small stream that ran silently through it.
The day ended with lively conversations around a campfire at beautiful Chicken Spring Lake. This is also where we saw our first marmot on the trail. In the days following we have seen dozens of them, playfully dotting the upper elevation meadows and rockscapes.
Wow. First week in the Sierras was incredible! I've grown up hiking in Southern California: the San Gabriels, the Lost Padres, and the San Bernardinos. What a difference the Sierras are! They are more like a hiker's Disneyland than the comparable Wasteland that I'm used to. I love the forests of Southern California, and I really enjoyed hiking there because I grew up there. But, as far as face value scenic quality the difference is huge, and the magical quality of the Sierras is stupendous.
There is no shortage of beautifully inviting lakes and streams. These turn out to be terribly ice cold, and can only be tolerated by me on the warmest of sunny days. They are so beautiful though, I hope to become acclimated to the cold water!
During our first week we: climbed up over the highest point on the PCT- Forester pass, summited the highest point in the contiguous United States- Mt Whitney, and hiked on the most important day of the year- Naked Hiker Day!!! I'll do another blog just about Naked Hiker Day soon!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Jen and I took a little side trip from the trail- a two night stay in Las Vegas! Wow, we had plenty of fun the whole time we were there. Highlights include: Zumanity show by Cique du Soleil, show by Blue Man Group, gambling at Hooters, free beers at Pour 24, and the fountain show at the Bellagio.
Most of all I have to say Zumanity stood out. I would love to go see it again immediately! The show included all kinds of sexual fantasies along with amazing gymnastics/acrobatics and some great humor thrown in too! I would say the show was relatively pretty liberal about nudity. They did not show the genital areas, but everything else was fair game. Maybe half or so of the performers wore some type of simulated skin suit. Maybe this was to help with the acrobatics, or their comfort level with nudity. The fantasies were directed to both male, female, gay, and straight. How evenly balanced between these I can't say.. but they seemed to give a good attempt at not just appealing to the standard straight male psyche. I was really stoked with this performance! I think it is a pretty positive force in the world of Vegas shows. This may be the only experience people have with real naked people standing in front of them for a 1 1/2 hour period!
For me this show was truly incredible.. and perhaps transcendental of Las Vegas? It did not just provide a tantalizing or teasing kind of experience. It actually felt truly fulfilling! It seemed that the performers and the show/script combined to create a wonderful giving experience. I got the feeling the cast was giving to me, they were sharing genuinely with me, and that they wanted me to really enjoy myself. What an incredible feeling! If you can do so, go see this show!
Blue Man Group was very funny, and the music was sweet! Where do they come up with that stuff? It is totally wonderful, wacky, and very talented. They can get a little messy when you sit in the front row, so we had to don plastic suits!
Hooters was a treat. They gave us some free slot play, and Jen ended up winning some pretty good cash! We got free drinks, and or course some tantalizing eye candy too (for better or worse- this type of boob display is kind of like caffeine.. a big up and then a down later.. not really healthy.. but an all too frequent addiction for some I'm sure...)!
We were given some coupons for free drinks at Pour 24. This place was at the hotel we were staying at; New York New York. It had the most amazing bar! It was made up of these thin cross sections of blue geode! Incredibly beautiful. This is my most favorite bar ever! Oh yeah, the beer was good too. Got to try Dogfish head 90 minute IPA, and Stone Ruination IPA, both on tap.
This was the first time Jen and I had seen the fountain at the Bellagio; it was spectacular! We watched it several times. The whole light and fountain show is set to this beautiful opera music.. Wow.. a must see!
Went for a little five mile hike up the North Fork of Bishop Creek today. It was amazingly beautiful. There was practically no one up there and we were free to walk around at a leisurely pace, checking out plants, and animals, and taking plenty of photos along the way.
It was the most exercise Jen and I have had in the few weeks since we've come off the trail. Our bodies feel very rested after the time off. Today was a great success, since Jen went almost completely free of back pain on the two hour hike.
The running water was so clear and beautiful I had to get in for a dip! It was near freezing so I decided to not dunk myself after all. I got out and my feet felt like ice! It was worth it though, that stream was so wonderful and beautiful, I was glad to experience it close up!