I had a nice permanent 2×4 bed built into my long bed Tundra. But when my daughter needed to move I realized I faced 3 hours of disassembly before my Tundra was back to a normal empty truck.
On to version 2.0 . My priorities were:
It had to be removable in minutes, not hours.
It had to be light and lean, the 2×4 bed was bulky
I needed fold up bed platforms so I could easily walk back to access a rear box, and avoid crawling up the tunnel under the permanent bed.
It needed to be compact, in case I had to disassemble and store it while carrying something large, like a fridge, or some 4 x 8′ sheets of plywood.
Bridge poem by Ted Kooser
June 24th, 2021
I was recently at Vantage with a friend. We are old friends going back 14 years, but she prefers to climb with women. We met a really nice climbing couple by Air Guitar. The girl was burly strong and super fit so my friend asked if she ever climbed with other partners. She mentioned that she usually climbs with women.
Then she glanced at me and said: “Well, except for Mark here, but he’s almost a girl anyway, so he doesn’t count.”
“That’s going in the trip report!” I said with a chuckle.
Fletch and I were talking about growing older at the gym and I remembered this old poem.
Again this morning, in a cold wind from the future, I walked all the way to the end of the long bridge of my life, having a look at its cables, its rods and rivets, its perforated metal flooring through which I could see whitecaps slamming the pylons. Then I turned and came back, inspecting it all from the other direction, fretting about every hex nut and bolt though they seem sound enough to hold things together. I ought to give the long bridge of my life a little rest, but every day it seems I’m walking from past to possibility and back to past with my brush and aluminum paint, hiding the rust, the deepening cracks, dabbing a shine here and there. ~ Ted Kooser, November
Hag Crag – Free sheet music
June 23rd, 2021
Climbed z corner at hag crag. It’s a tough 5.7 on which I should bring many more hand sizes from #5 to green.
Got up Toxic Shock cleanly and Battered Sandwich. Super fun climbing with Ben, Kena and D. Wood.
I’ve nailed down Perfect by Ed Sheeran. It does need a capo (up 1) if you wan to play along with Ed.
I keep all my sheet music guitar chords up on my server. If you search online, you can find chords that are quite close, but they always have problems. It’s a crowd sourced website, meaning people like you and me upload what they think are the correct chords. Consequently, there are usually errors, and almost always the chords don’t fit on one sheet of paper.
I fix all the problems. Anything up on my website has been tested multiple times around climbing campfires.
I just got a pair of these UE Fits. For reference, I’ve had the original Air Pods, which always fell out, and some sound isolating ISOTunes Pro.
Bottom line is I think they are worth the money…especially if you have had trouble with ear buds falling out and or hurting. I’ve worn them for 4 hours straight, very little pain, and the sound is fine. I’m not an audiophile. I’m mostly deaf in one ear, and the other one has some age related loss. I do love music though…who doesn’t?
Now the bad:
I could only get one bud at a time to pair on my iPhone XS. I was sweating the ‘light exposure’ warning for about an hour as I tried to get both buds to pair simultaneously. Finally both right and left paired, but there was a ghost right and left showing up that couldn’t pair. I had 4 buds showing in my iPhone settings, two of them paired, two not paired.
Fortunately the UE Fits app said they were both found so I went forward to the next step. Then the app said the battery was dead. Arg!!
Back in the charging case they went for 10 minutes.
Finally I was able to get all the way thru the fitting process.
Back to the good:
That was quite cool…warm actually. And they passed the head shake test…like, really shaking…gave me a headache shaking…didn’t fall out.
After that initial pairing weirdness I’ve had no problems. The app is a bit slow to reflect whether they are in my ears…it has to ‘scan’. But the buds themselves play music as soon as they are in my ears, and they stop playing when I put them in the case. I can also do one bud playing music, the other charging.
I do like the way I can see charging levels of both buds and the case…3 values.
They stop music (or talking book) when a call comes in, and resume music when I hang up. Wife said my voice sounded normal.
So far they are the best buds I’ve owned. I sew backpacks on an industrial machine, and I like the way they mute the hum of my machine. I haven’t tried them next to my drill press…but the profile is so low I suspect I could wear shooting muffs over them.
I’ll edit this review if I change my opinion.
Rose at the point
June 11th, 2021
I’ve been climbing every three or four days for weeks now, basically since returning from Utah. Yesterday Chris and I went to Index. It was raining hard so we continued over to Domestic Dome where we both led Ranch Style. Then she led the 9 to the right. It’s the one that has an undercling beneath a one foot overlap. You shove a 9mm cam under the roof, 6 feet above your last bolt. Then you undercling the thin crack with sketchy feet on a steep slab. You keep inching your feet up while the fingertips get worse and worse. Finally you can reach the bolt above the roof and you have to do a horrible cross though…but your stance is so unstable I could barely touch the bolt. I have know idea how she kept it together clipping that bolt.
Later I led Dogleg cleanly. I love that move! You place your gear, rest on the fingerlocks, then step up with the left toe into the toe jam. Stand, then reach high to an ok, but not great hand jam. You pull, bump up the left foot on the crack, then throw for a high hand jam. This barndoors you off to the right, but the friction right foot is do-able as you grab for a yellow cam. At that point you are 6 feet above the last cam…it’s rather intense climbing. Super fun route!
I have a photo of Sue leading it in 1979 with hexes.
Clint and Jamie invited us to hike Point Defiance. They brought Rose down the steep dirt trails on the bluff to the beach.
Didn’t see Elvis
May 26th, 2021
I started my Spring trip by driving solo down to Vegas. There was a long stretch where 93 turns to 6 south of Ely where there was no cell service. I remember pulling over at an intersection. My maps app had died, the no stoplight town was long dead and abandoned. I had no idea which road to take at the Y junction. I got out my paper Atlas map of the country and figured that South was a good guess and drove. Fortunately I had a full tank of gas.
I got up on a pass where it was snowing lightly and pulled over. Still no cell service. Before leaving town I’d installed my HF ham radio in the Tundra. I got out, tuned the antenna to the twenty meter frequency band and spun the dial on my Icom IC-7300. I heard a couple guys in New Hampshire having a friendly competition to talk to every grid square (sort of like counties) in the country. It’s like Bingo, they color in their paper map as they talk to the grid squares. I told them I was in Nevada and they got all excited.
“Where are you in central Nevada? We don’t have any grid squares because no one lives there!”
“I know, I’m driving down a random highway and haven’t seen a soul for hours!”
“Can you look up your location on your phone?”
“No cell service, I’m glad I have this ham radio.”
I continued to talk to those guys, and a dozen others as I racked up the dusty deserted miles in my trusty Tundra. It was really cool to be able to reach out into the invisible airwaves in the absence of a cell signal.
As I pulled into Vegas Aaron invited me to drop by for dinner and some music. He plays banjo and is an old Tacoma friend going back 8 years. We got up in the morning and climbed the 5.7 Group Therapy route to the left of Purblind Pillar. It had a long 7 inch chimney that had me wishing for more big gear.
The next day I hooked up with Kena, Tony and Cole for Cat in the Hat. The last two pitches were intimidating as I was so rusty. Cole led the last (4th?) pitch with the bolted runnout. That took me to Monday and I needed a rest day. Two days of driving followed by two, long approach multipitch routes had me hammered.
I did a bad painting in the afternoon, and activated Red Rocks in the morning with my Icom 7300, making about 25 contacts. The next day the four of us hiked up to do Johnny Vegas. We found a slow moving party of 3 women doing a NOLS training climb and bailed to Solar Slabs Chimney. It turns out they weren’t that slow, but you have to go with your gut in those situations. The chimney was super fun and relaxing climbing. At the top the sun was blazing down and we bailed.
I’m having trouble remembering what I did every day now, it being 5 weeks in the past. Kena and Tony and I continued climbing. We had a splendid day at Physical Graffiti, one of the best 3 pitch 5.6’s anywhere. We also did one of the pitches of Big Bad Wolf 5.9 sport. Then Tony left Thursday to be replaced with Pamela, another OB/GYN doctor and we three climbed at Panty Wall.
On the weekend, Aaron was off again and we climbed Ragged Edges, a two pitch 8? that was uber cool. By Monday, everyone had flown home or gone back to work so I drove toward to Moab to meet Fletch who was off work Wednesday evening. I stopped near St. George and activated a random state park on the way. Ham radio is a fun diversion. The wind almost broke my antenna again. I picked up Fletch at Grand Junction airport in Colorado after camping two nights at Courthouse Rock. We met up with Lisa and Brian and drove to Beef Basin. I led Generic Crack with some hangs…it’s so long! I should have taped. My crack gloves were too thick. I followed Chocolate Corner and a few others.
In the morning we drove all the way back through Moab to the famous Fisher Towers Ancient art route. I’d been hearing about Fletches adventures with our friends there for at least a decade. It looked extremely intimidating in photos. I’d heard it described as climbing mud, rotten everywhere, with loose bolts a plenty. But it was actually reasonably safe, for a desert tower.
Fletch backed off the last pitch. I couldn’t blame him, it looked extremely dangerous. I decided to go take a look, since he’d already clipped the first 3 bolts. There was no way I was going to stress those bolts on that weak tower with a lead fall. I french free’d all of them, even added two cams to get to the top.
That took us to Sunday and Fletch decided to go to work. I dropped him in Moab and met Cole. This was kind of a pattern. I’d wear out a couple partners and new ones would drive or fly in to replace the old ones. I never stopped climbing for 3 weeks. Well, I did take a few rest days to paint, and one was forced on me by rain…but yeah, I basically never stopped hustling the whole trip.
Cole and I climbed at Donnely where I led Chocolate Corner clean (Yes!) and Supercrack not clean. Then it rained and I did a nice painting at Beef Basin. Next day I painted Delicate Arch, Cole left and I picked up Fletch from work and we climbed Castleton Tower in a 17 hour day. Young people do Ancient Art and Castleton in a day…but wait until they are 67…well see how many linkups they can pull then.
We were tanked after that and headed home with a brief stop at The City where I led (finished) Rye Crisp. We were both clearly done with climbing. When I got home I started to spend some time with my grandaughter Rose. Sue likes to babysit her. I’m starting to warm to her also. She seems to tolerate me fairly well.
I’ve been up to Rainier once and did a great painting with pen and Gouache.
Radios, soldering, a hit and run
April 1st, 2021
It seems I’ve taken a break from painting. I had expected to be dirt poor when I retired. Painting was going to be my second career. During the last 30 years I’ve diligently chipped away at the ‘teach yourself to paint’ learning curve. I’ve sold around 90 paintings in galleries. But for every painting I’ve sold, I have 10 that are sitting upstairs piled up against the wall, or stacked in boxes, or hanging on my kids houses walls. They come to me for free decoration.
So, yeah, I’m kind of burned out on painting. I did paint on my last trip, and I’ll paint on my next one. Climbing is hard, rest days are important, and the cliffs are always lovely.
But lately I’ve been playing radio a lot. Like climbing, it is totally pointless…my favorite kind of hobby. I even taught myself to solder. I ordered a kit for an antenna. Everyone is out of the finished product…but kits are available, and only cost $25. My last one took all day to build, and it was so complicated I don’t know how to use it yet. But it sure was fun to build. Who knew soldering could be so much fun?
We drove to two parks today. I took my 7300 today. I’m finding that 100 watts is a nice solid workhorse. QRP with 9 watts is a nuisance. I haven’t given up on QRP, but I think I might save it for mountain tops, or Panorama Point.
Lots of radio
March 19th, 2021
Well I got what I asked for, a challenging new hobby.
The new radios are like learning a completely new technology. It’s not a laptop, not a phone, not a camera, it’s a tranceiver. I’ve mostly figured out the radio side of things, but antenna technology is another huge learning curve.
When I tell people about my new ham radio hobby most people react with: is that still a thing?
Asking for contacts on the open air can be very tedious, boring, and often frustrating. You are basically standing in a city park and saying: “Does anyone want to talk…about the weather…politics….anything?” Granted you are somewhat anonymous talking into a microphone…but the lonely feeling of asking for conversation gets weird. Which is why I sold most of my radio gear ten years ago.
But this time around I discovered there is a group of hams who take their radios up on mountain tops. It’s called Summits on the Air (SOTA).
Anyway, I’ve been having a great time with it. I’ve been working pileups of people trying to talk to me. I typically get 25 contacts in the 4 parks I’ve activated. It got so easy with my 100 watt radio I decided to up my game and try a 5 watt radio. My radio weight went from 10 pounds to 2. Battery went from 4 pounds to 1.
Lower power is attractive because the gear is much lighter weight. The downside is that you must have a lot more skill. Think of the secret agents in World War two. They carried their spy radios in little suitcases. They were entirely self contained, running on batteries and talking across continents.
I like the fact that ham radio is all about DIY experimentation. Everything from the radio to the antenna can be built from scratch. I’ve ordered a couple light weight antennas but covid has messed with everyone’s supply chains. I’ve even ordered the raw materials…like ring toroids and enameled wire. That’s my big news.
It will be interesting looking back on this post in a year. I’ll be shaking my head going: radio? Really? What the heck was I thinking!
Jtree, snow backpacking and Ham
March 6th, 2021
Long time between posts with a lot going on, I guess that’s a good thing. Just back from Josh with Sue. It was two week road trip testing out our new rig. We were the oldest dirtbags in Josh, though I’m not sure I qualify as a DB anymore with my Tundra.
We stayed in a county fairgrounds park in Roseburg, then 14 hours later in a noisy rest area north of Sacramento. There were massive diesel trucks idling nearby, not a good nights rest. We arrived at Hidden Valley in the afternoon. It was packed as usual and looked like it would be impossible to get a spot…ever.
Next morning we did the dawn tour at HV and scored big, site 18 was empty. It’s the walk in site with the trail to Iron Door Cave and the huge aid ladder boulder.
Sue climbed 7 routes but wore out her thumb at the short wall. Her year old surgery pulled a bone out of her thumb, and hand jamming aggravates it. She did great on Toe Jam, and the slab routes.
I was worried about playing my guitar and disturbing the neighbors. I only played between 9am and 8pm but still…I know how bad I am compared to real players. Afterwards, both neighbors either clapped and cheered, or told me later that it was lovely. Nick said that he loved the sound of guitars in a campground.
Two sites away was a very high end Sprinter van. Nick turned out to be a climber and former base jumper who knew my friend Ammon McNealy. A decade ago Nick went on his honeymoon with his fellow basejumping wife. She died jumping, as all BASE people do if they jump long enough.
A BASE jumper once described the sport to me like this:
You start out with two buckets. One is the experience bucket and it’s empty. The other one is the luck bucket, which is full. Each time you jump, you pour a cup of luck into the experience bucket. After a certain number of jumps, your experience bucket is full, but you’re out of luck.
Nick, in Jtree, also had a very bad BASE accident, not sure of the timing…but he said he gave up the sport. Said that being a former BASE jumper was like being a heroin addict sleeping with a syringe under the pillow. Base feels that good.
I met Ammon 10 years ago in Site 27 where he and Ashley shared a campsite with us. Now Ashley is dead, and Ammon is missing a leg. I really dislike BASE jumping. I lump free soloing and BASE together. I get that it’s a free country and you only live once. “Die like a lion or live like a sheep” blah, blah. Or should I say: Baaa, Baaaa.
Sue and I hiked Dash Point where I set my radio on a log at low tide. I spoke to other Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) in New York, Connecticut, Colorado and Alaska. I got 13 in all, which was enough to qualify as an ‘Activation’ through the POTA website. POTA = Parks on the Air. It’s a non profit organization devoted to getting people outside while promoting Ham Radio.
Ten years ago I got into ham radio as a bucket list thing but quickly got bored. But with POTA and SOTA, it’s fun again. There are a bunch of young youtubers having a lot of fun doing ham. I know it sounds stupid, and you have to study to get a license…but, gosh darn it…it’s just fun. And it’s a good break for me from painting, climbing and yard work.
Zion, St. George and Jtree
January 26th, 2021
It’s been 20 days since arriving home from my 22 day holiday trip with James. We left on the 18th after the fall quarter ended. and drove to Zion in two days, sleeping once in the snow up on the Blue Mountains. It was a weird campground. Who keeps a campground open with 6 inches of snow on the ground? The rain and melting snow were pelting down at a furious rate all night. I wondered if we might be snowed in for the winter, but there were a few other campers around and I knew we’d get out eventually. The freeway was only a block away.
Next day we made it to a free camp spot outside Zion near Springdale / Virgin. Sue and I have camped there before. James left his tent up for 4 nights with no problem. The most we saw there was 5 cars. The next day we got to the Angels Landing parking spot around 8am and as soon as I drove into the crowded gravel lot I was immediately surrounded by other cars jamming in. It was merciless. I backed up into a fishy spot that potentially could have blocked other cars from leaving, unless they drove backwards and around the lot. But I had no choice. My truck was too big to back out, that was like swimming up river. I was soon blocked in myself by cars doing much worse parking jobs right beside me. James was like: “Well, you’re not in Kansas anymore.”
We cooked breakfast in the dirt then packed up and started the hike. To save weight I took my oils out and put my gouache kit in my rock pack. Angels Landing is an extremely dangerous hike. It’s far worse than the cables route on Half Dome. The chain railings are secure enough, assuming some out of shape tourist doesn’t fall off and cause a chain reaction. But what if you pull a muscle in your hand, or slip, and and can’t hang on? The worst spots were some sandy slabs where there were no chains. Who decides these things? On a climbing approach we’d belay the hell out of slabs like those. There were huge drop offs below them.
The trail looked endlessly dangerous…but was actually quite do-able….as long as I kept my cool. People hike it all day long. I did regret my huge pack. No one had as large a pack as my art pack. But, I did do a reasonably good painting considering we’d just driven a thousand miles in the last 35 hours.
I need to sew a lighter pack, one that isn’t so overly re-enforced everywhere. It just needs to be good enough for skiing and gouache painting days. Probably should have a zipper in the back for repair access…with a vinyl bottom.
Next day I painted Upper Emerald Pool, badly. I just couldn’t seem to get my game face on. Day after that, our third day at Zion, we tried to climb the Mountaineers Route. It used to be like Angels Landing with cables everywhere, built around 1920. It was chopped in the eighties when maintenance became too expensive. There is lots of evidence of the old tourist route in the shape of chopped one inch iron bolts and polished footsteps carved into the sandstone.
James was totally comfortable free soloing death slabs but I hated it. At one point, I was traversing a slab with a huge drop off. There was a bush 50 feet down that might have stopped a slide towards the drop off, or maybe not. We actually had a discussion about the odds of landing on the bush, versus missing it and plummeting into air. James was already across with the rope. The cliff ahead got steeper and was forcing me backwards. The ledge narrowed down to 2 inches of horizontal “trail” on the steep sandy slab. It was about as steep as Slender Thread at Peshastin.
As I stepped forward there was a prickly bush that forced me even farther backwards off balance toward the drop off. I thought of calling James for a belay, but he was out of sight around a corner scampering happily along. With no other options, I grabbed a half inch thick branch of the bush and edged forward thinking: This is a really stupid way to die. I made the move, the flat spot on the slab got bigger and I was able to “hike” another block or so before the same scenario repeated itself. This time I hollered for James. He came back and was able to get me a top rope by scampering up to a 2 inch bush behind which he could belay. All together there were 5 places I had him belay me in the thousand feet we climbed. People on Mtn Project were saying they either free soloed everything, or belayed maybe twice.
I have zero tolerance for mountain climbing. People who enjoy the danger are made from sterner stuff than me. I like the “relative” safety in rock climbing. Sure, it’s dangerous, but so is driving in the dark in a heavy rain storm at 70 miles an hour. Mountain climbing involves a lot of movement over 5th class terrain with no rope. It’s more like that same rainstorm, in the dark…but on a motorcycle. Your margin of safety is very narrow while mountain climbing. I’ve had 8 friends die mountain climbing. Any serious mountaineer will tell you the same stories.
But back to the cliff…we were only half way, a thousand feet up, and it was 2pm. I didn’t want to descend in the dark so we bailed. The rangers told us they were locking the gates next day, which was Xmas eve, the 24th. For three days we had been able to drive through the gate at 6 AM before the rangers arrived.
Beginning in the morning you would only be able to come in via shuttles, and only if you had a reservation. That was a non-starter for us and we bailed at dawn, driving to St. George in a few hours. We lucked out with a $20 camping spot at Snowy Canyon campground. Full service hot showers and everything.
Just Deserts is a lovely three pitch 5.8 with modern bolting…so fun! There is a three pitch 5.7 to it’s right. I led the first pitch, but bailed on the second after Dennis took a 20 foot whipper on a pin. It’s protected with half inch angles…but they held his whipper…I just didn’t want to chance it.
It was good we bailed because at the bottom James suggested doing another route, but I realized Dennis and Julie were probably having trouble finding the walk off. They should have been down an hour earlier.
I hustled around to the walk off an saw them at the very top, belaying down the wrong way. I hollered to look for a hidden manhole style tunnel to skiers left, then began climbing up to guide them down. James and I had just done the walk off earlier on Just Desserts, so I knew it well.
We got all got down and had a nice wood fire that night. Dennis brought the wood.
The next day they did Just Deserts while James led a horror show of a 5.6. 50 feet to the first manky cam, and it got worse from there. He has a dangerous ability to basically free solo chossy rock. He just keeps going up as the pro gets worse and worse. And he does it in guide tennies.
We joined Dennis and Julie where the routes converge and sailed to the top, where it started to rain, hard. Dennis set up a 3 cam anchor for a handline, which I happily used. Then we slid on our butts down the 4th class slabs. That night, they guided us up to Prophesy Wall where there is BLM camping…and 3 inches of snow.
In the bright white morning we drove to Jtree with a stop to see Aaron + Katie and the ham store in Vegas. I ordered the FT3DR general delivery to Jtree post office where it arrived 4 days later.
Jtree was fine, I led Hands Off, Damper, Toe Jam and a super fun new route called Penny Lane left of Double Dip. I tried to lead Stick to What and Touch & Go, but there were crowds of top ropers so we bailed to a nice little 5.8 chimney route left of Chalk Up Another One.
That’s basically the trip. It was 22 days on the road in the Tundra. I never got very good. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, or if it was all the interruptions. Driving here, driving there, bad camp spots many miles from the cliffs, endless hours of driving, unfamiliar climbing areas….I have lots of excuses.
One of the things I really like about jtree is those lazy mornings at the campground. This is pre-covid of course. You get there, you stock up on food and you live the life until the food and water runs out. All the climbs are familiar, like seeing my cousins at a family reunion. There is very little stress. It’s conducive to getting real good real fast. Can’t wait get back down there after covid eases up.