Trip Report2017-07 Courtright swimming kayaking climbing hiking with friends
"What are they doing?"
"They're going climbing"
"Why do they need a pool cleaner?"
And that is how my son learned about cheater sticks. It was a week and a half of exploring, hiking, climbing, kayaking, swimming, cliff jumping, campfires with friends new and old, tales tall and apocryphal, music from funk to Floyd, serendipitous celestial sightings, and lots of time to just plain hang out and do nothing in a beautiful setting, I taught my son how to play gin rummy, he beat me in war, we beat each other in a board game called Gobble-It, and I read about 600 pages of a sweeping historical epic fiction by Ken Follet. Best bang for my buck vacation in a while. It pays to just stay in one spot.
The new van:
First night we stopped well past Shaver and Huntington Lake, at Kaiser Pass around 9,000 feet en route to Florence and Edison Lakes. Good acclimating, and wonderful to just pull over and crawl into a bed in the back! Vans are the shizzle.
First day out there, we lock in a 9 mile hike:
I've got my eye on that ridgeline for an awesome traverse... hardmen would do it car-to-car, but I'd be content doing it with a Devil's Bathtub base camp.
Ready to do battle with the mosquitos:
I spent a lot more time being in the moment and being connected to the people around me and less time taking photos on this trip... even so I still have the camera phone in my hand a lot. This is the spot where a few minutes later, my son and I were sitting in deluxe rocking chair camp chairs, each with a guitar in hand, while I taught him how to play "Horse with No Name".
That was after we had our fill of milk (cow for him, soy for me) and chocolate bundt cakes at the end of the hike. Dinner of the champions.
Slept somewhere between Florence and Edison that night, not a bad spot to wake up and eat breakfast:
We wanted to cross the San Joaquin at Jackass Meadows, but the gates were locked to prevent yahoos like me from getting their vehicles floating down the river. Oh well. On the way back down, we stopped where the various lakes have been linked to pour into Hungtington as part of the massive effort to harness the energy and irrigation potential of the Sierra snowpack. Pretty damn awe-inspiring project for the times, and I can't think of what Americans are doing today under one administration to rival it. Imagine drilling 15 mile tunnels through granite in the days before combustion engines were widespread. That is pretty stout. But their vision generated electricity for more than a million people. That is quite a feat.
The rest of our trip was in Courtright, a mini paradise (though some would question the "mini" claim):
Thank you Moose for inviting me out, putting the spot back on my radar. Last time I was here was my first, and I didn't really get to check it out much... after partially dodging a dislodged boulder, was preoccupied with field surgery on my leg and exfiltrating to the nearest urgent care facility for necrotic flesh flap amputation. I didn't take any pics around the campfire or hanging out with folks, but I did get some during a few climbing days. Here's Moose and TWP and my son en route to some warm-up cragging on Punk Dome:
And a very nice mid-day sheltered base camp:
My son's first multi-pitch climb was technically easy, but the long unprotected traverse meant he got a taste of don't fall territory:
Moosedrool and TWP were lapping us on a little harder stuff, but generally just taking it easy in a pretty spot:
I must be doing something right because sonny is not ready to kill me yet:
Moosedrool goes bush-diving in search of further goods...
Technically another multipitch climb for sonny-boy, but it was pretty short:
TWP is a hoot, and here he's giving my son a rappel lesson:
And here TWP is providing a faithfully snug fireman's belay as my son takes his life into his own hands ;)
Shout out to Jaybro for giving him his first rappel lesson a few years ago in Entrajo canyon!
Then the climbing became a bit more robust, requiring full attention, and my son impressed us all with a sequence of events that makes a hilarious story, best saved for a live campfire. The short version is he lived up to TWP's proclamation about "when you can't figure out how to get up any more, just climb a little higher until you find some holds." Or something like that.
I've also got a couple minute video of TWP and Moosedrool goofing around on toprope, with TWP instigating it then Moose taking it to the next level with the belayer about 75 feet up the cliff next to the climber, then using gravity to pull in the slack. Good times had by all!
Sonny-boy and I took a rest day the next day, paddling our inflatable kayaks across the lake and to "Gilligan's Island" and around in a big triangle.
We had so much fun, we recruited Moose and TWP to do it the day after. But damn TWP can't keep his pants on, wearing his shirt like chaps:
It may not surprise you that Moose couldn't keep his eyes off the gorgeous chunk of man meat:
TWP gave an in-depth intro to Yoga clinic, and Moose had to show off a litte
And we whiled away the hours on the warm rocks and cold water.
Obviously TWP has shrewdly outmaneuvered Moosedrool in the kayak locomotion negotiations.
Tough to get a selfie pano of us all, but this is close:
Now, for some camp lounging pics:
The van is just a big blank canvas for a camper-mobile... bed on the ground and piles of food and gear for hiking, climbing, paddling. That's Punk Rock and Penstemon Dome in the backround.
I should have taken more pics of the lively campfires... Mark regaled us with epic SAR rescues; Footie recalled climbing El Cap in the early Pleistocene; Linda was alternately surrounded by dagger-brandishing Sikhs with bad intent and sweating out Dengue Fever on a beach in Thailand; Allison and I swapped Russia stories; Moose told some Polish jokes that were funny and some we couldn't figure out; other Scott waxed poetically about first ascents, new areas, and the shifting emphasis from run-out deathfests to family-friendly bolted lines; and the collective amusing bumblings and early climbing experiences went around the circle for a few nights. You know how it goes... everything under the sun comes up eventually, and this is just a smattering of what stuck to me. I think TWP may have dispensed some legal advice and discussed the nascent llama market, and Chris and I discussed surfing for a bit.
Oh, oh... I forgot a few nights before the campfire series, we had a bunch of serious astronomy enthusiasts staying near us. We had computer-controlled 18" polished mirror setups, and I saw with my own eyes the Cassini Division (the dark line separating the rings of Saturn), a bunch of moons of Saturn and Jupiter, a bunch of celestial objects named M-something or other (including a ring nebula and some spiral galaxies seen from the side and face-on like M84 and M85?). The images were not all colorful and hi-res like Hubble pics published by NASA/JPL, but there was a raw and primitive thrill of really seeing the objects with the direct light amplified by simple optics. It was a visceral connection to the reality of these things out in space that we know to be true but seldom have more than a theoretical awareness of through the dedicated efforts of scientists.
Anyhoo, this is getting purdy long. Last adventure. First real multi-pitch adventure for my son on Voyager Dome! Climb "BB" in the guide... Ramp On or On Ramp or something... TWP and Moosedrool and Chris went ahead of us, and I accept full glory for figuring out the correct start to the climb.
Pretty glorious top-out after a day facing the other side of the rock with no view of the lake:
A bit of fatigue at the summit:
And a little food does wonder for the spirits:
Getting up is only half way!
Eventually we made it back to camp, and straight away headed to the lake to knock some dirt off and cool off.
Good times! And for those curious about MB Sprinter fuel efficiency in real-world conditions:
2017 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 144" wheel base high roof
p.s. A bonus pic for the thumbnail image...
p.p.s Cross References:
* Moose report: http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2997659/Six-Days-at-Courtright-photo-TR
* TWP report http://www.supertopo.com/tr/My-Climb-with-Andre-A-Little-Nukey-for-Old-Guys/t13180n.html
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