Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Dream of Wading the River

Words and photos by Greg

A small dream: For years I've looked at a certain spot in the river and thought, "Hmm. Could I carry my bike and wade across that?" This is a dry year. The river is low. Time to try.

First up, ride out of town, then miles and miles of beautiful chunky singletrack, climbing upward through the desert sandstone past a few lingering spring blossoms.

Next, a rollicking trail that dipped in and out of small, rough canyons, high above the valley and town.

Then, while storm clouds darkened the sky, a doubletrack descent to the river. Then further upriver to the shallow riffle where I hoped to cross.

I waded out into the "shallow" riffle to find that nothing was quite as easy as it seemed from high on the cliffs above. Deeper, swifter water than it had seemed. And under the water the footing was nothing but loose, slippery boulders that threatened to toss me into the flow.

Could I have made it? Maybe. But it didn't seem worth the chance of my bike and I being dragged down the river over the rocks. I retreated. But luckily, "just happened" to have my old Sherpa packraft tucked into the orange bag strapped to my pack.

Inflated the raft, tossed my bike and myself on top. Then, just below the riffle, I paddled across with my hands. Landed on a convenient rock where I re-packed the raft.

Rode the rails for a minute, then dragged the bike up the bluff. Looking back down, it still looked pretty easy to wade across.

Then more trail back toward town.

The small dream of wading the river? Failed. The bigger dream of crossing the river? Fulfilled. It's been about a year since the concept of the packraft and bikerafting fully whacked its way into my consciousness from merely a fuzzy idea that someone else might do to something I might do. (Thanks, Mike! Roman!) And so far, so good. Rivers are no longer barriers to mountain biking. Maps are twisting into new shapes and possibilities. And I'm dreaming new dreams.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride

Words and photos by Greg

I've been feeling like I'm too busy to ride. Always rushing from one thing to another during this overbooked season. Then I look back at the collection of photos and realize that I must be doing some riding. Maybe even riding is one of the things I'm rushing to fit into the schedule.

In any case, we hereby present a collection of ride photos that have been collecting in a heap. Many of them courtesy of the lingering evening sunlight that lets us ride until dark and barely make it home in time for bed.

Not our bikes! One tiny rainstorm in the past 3.5 months in otherwise dry and desolate conditions -- and these folks were in it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat

Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina

Trina has a new raft. There wasn't anything "wrong" with her old raft. But her new raft is a better size for her. And it's much more colorful and brighter and should look gosh awful nice in photos as we splash around in the water this summer. Looked good last eve on its maiden bike/dog town float.

In between her old raft and her new raft, we did some bike/dog town floating. She used my "new" sleek, black stealth raft. And I used my olde antique Dialian Sherpa with its multitude of patches, scrapes, repairs and near-complete lack of glamour. It also lacks a bit of sea/river-worthiness. Enough that, though I don't mind floating down the river through town with it, I never trusted it for "out there" use, far from bike paths and hitch-hikeable roads.

One thing I do like about the Sherpa is its cheerfully faded yellow. I'm not as into Black as I used to be back in my ninja days. Still, when the sleek black raft came available this winter, it further inflamed visions of floating through wild lands, far from civilization. Journeys that might go better without having to worry about an aged raft disintegrating beneath me.

So a new, black raft entered my gear pile. An amazing technicolor dreamboat has entered Trina's. With them we hope to keep floating into some wild and interesting places.

And the old yellow Sherpa? What will become of it? I suspect it has not seen its last journey.

Monday, May 21, 2012


by Greg and Trina

Yesterday's annular eclipse was temptingly close. With a "mere" three hours of driving, we could have put ourselves in the path of the full event and could have seen the Ring Of Fire as the moon passed in front of the sun, leaving only a ring of sunshine visible. -- And by visible I mean "Don't look at it or you'll go blind." Three hours? And then back? For a total eclipse, we'd have done it for sure. Annular? Maybe not.

Instead, we opted to mix a little singletrack with an as-good-as-we'd-get partial eclipse. We headed for the top of a local mesa with a piece of welder's glass to filter the brightness out of the eclipsing sun. Did a little early spring riding. When the light began to look strange and shadows started to seem extra crisp, we made a pinhole projector from a leaf and saw the crescent of sunshine in the shadow on Trina's hand.

Notice the crescent of light in the leaf shadow on Trina's palm?

Then we got out our welder's glass* and camera and took a filtered look at what was going on. The dark moon passing between us and the sun had taken a big bite out of the sun's disk. Cool! Filtered green by the glass. Interesting. But we're highly biased photographers and prefer our shots to have either mountain biking (dirt) or dogs in them. So using our glass filter, we did what we could to get our favorite subject matter in the shot - and a partial eclipse.

The result is a little quirky and, I think, interesting. Draw your own conclusions.

*Tech note: Welder's glass #14 is considered dark and filtered enough for safe eclipse viewing. The hardware store was sold out of #14. Instead we got #12. We couldn't safely look at the sun. Instead we used the indirect "pinhole projector" method. And let the camera look through the filter at the sun. Which seemed to work fine. And hopefully we didn't burn any holes in the camera sensor.

Then the eclipsing sun dropped into some scud on the horizon. Leaving us with dirt. Dog. Sunset.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Somewhere in the Desert - Part 3 - Extreme Edition!

Like most explorers and athletes, Trina, the dogs and I are highly inclined to push the envelope. We are constantly striving for that which is bigger, better, faster. We seek out that which is more and more commonly referred to as "Extreme" (and/or The "X-Treme") as a way of testing our limits. And, more importantly, as a way of drawing attention to ourselves so that we can post about our self-absorbed "Radness" on this here blog.

Sure, we dabble in hiking, mountain biking, and rafting. But we don't really "Go Where No One Had Gone Before" with those pursuits. And we are unlikely to enter the eternal halls of momentary fame on the internet for those types of adventures.

No, when we really, really want to "Go Big" we focus all our energy on the kind of activities at which we truly excel. I don't mean to brag here (I mean, I do, but I don't want to make it seem too obvious) but through diligent practice, training and dedication, we are now at the top of our game. We have reached a peak. We are doing what we do at a level that has rarely been achieved by anyone, ever.

Thus, we hereby (ever so humbly, yet cockily) present: Extreme Napping. Extreme Strolling. Extreme Hanging Out and Taking Photos of Tiny Things That Happen To Be Nearby.

Be warned, however. These activities are performed by highly trained practitioners. Consult your doctor. Do not attempt to repeat these sorts of stunts yourself at home. Instead, go outside somewhere in the desert and attempt them.