Monday, February 19, 2018

Pleasant Fire Feb 18-19, 2018

On the 18th (Sunday) I was out bouldering around 2:15 when we smelled smoke and could see a few wisps over the rim of the canyon. We went up to the rim and could see a lot of smoke billowing up from around the area of the Pleasant Valley Campground (at the intersection of Chalk Bluff Rd, Pleasant Valley Reservoir Rd, and the Owens River. The wind was pretty gusty, so we decided to bail. I took a bunch of photos from the Chalk Bluff Rd before I left. There was a lot of smoke and some impressive flames as the fire burned along the Owens River in the willows and canes. There were little bits of charred material falling out of the sky where I was - but none of them appeared to still be burning.

burning just east of the PV campground. You can see a fire crew just left of the smoke (and a good bit farther away)

from the same position with the 14mm lens the smoke obscures the sun (3pm)

That afternoon the fire burned east along the river bed fanned by a gusty wind from the west and NW. The wind was forecast to switch to more out of the north which would have been bad for Bishop. They ordered an evacuation of pretty much everything in the area N of highway 395 and W of Hwy 6. Later I think they evacuated Laws too since that is the direction things were headed.

Once it got dark you could see the lit up smoke from town.

viewed from town (my front yard) the road runs N/S (7:49 pm)

I drove out west of town along Red Hill Rd where I had a bit of elevation to look down towards the fire (but I wouldn't be downwind like I would if I went out to the foothills of the White Mtns).

wider angle view from Red Hill Rd (9:06 pm)

You could see flames maybe along the canal heading SE off the Owens R across from the Happy Boulders and the main front appeared to be near the Five Bridges bridge over the Owens. There were what appeared to be entire trees engulfed in flames as well as at least a few wooden power poles burning. There were also a lot of blinking lights from the firefighting crews along what I think was 5 Bridges Road. (Cal Fire reported 20 crews with 50 vehicles and 4 dozers and 400 personnel worked the fire). I imagine that there wasn't a whole lot that could be done with some of the gusty winds. Thanks for all of your hard work firefighters.

fire front from Red Hill Rd (fire crossing 5 Bridges Rd?)  I suspect all the parked cars in the lower right are on 5 Bridges Rd. (9:11 pm)

zoomed in on the previous photo, note burning telephone pole and trees.

By the time I left Red Hill Rd around 9:20 the fire front was quite a bit farther east.

11 minutes later the fire has moved quite a bit the trees near the right of the previous picture are in the center of this one (9:21 pm)

zoomed in on the previous picture

From the N end of 2nd street I could possibly see an occasional flame but for sure the fire had moved a lot farther east.

view NNNE across the park towards the fire (9:58 pm)

The next morning things were much more calm and there was no obvious smoke plume. The webcam above Silver Canyon shows what burned fairly clearly.

the Silver Canyon webcam looking west the morning of the 19th. the burn scar is very obvious upper center right along the base of the volcanic tablelands and then along the river bottom with an arm following I think the irrigation canal that heads SE from the river. Bishop is within the darker area to the left (south) of the burn

Cal Fire originally reported 2,800 acres burned but reduced that to 2,250 after more careful mapping. they said it started at 2:12 pm the 18th. By noon the 19th they report 15% containment. It does not appear to be spreading, although with a fairly strong cold N wind any hot spot flare up could be bad for Bishop.

It appears that people will be able to return to most of the evacuated areas at 3 pm the 19th.

Over the next few days they gradually increased the % contained and fixed at least some of the downed poles and lines (power was restored to at least some of the areas effected). They also reduced the area burned to 2,070 acres. The roads were opened Friday evening I think and I drove in Saturday to boulder and take some pics.

Some areas were really burned hard while others were barely touched. I suspect it will be very green later in the spring, especially if we get any precipitation. Some of the willows along the river were completely burned but many were not. It will probably spread back from this patchwork fairly quickly (in a few years anyway). Meanwhile the packrafting and maybe even SUPing down this section might be a bit better since it was getting choked by branches hanging over the river.

Owens river just below where a canal comes off to go to Fish Slough - this area burned pretty completely, but there are living willows nearby

The fire was not close to the lower Sad Boulders parking. The fire was right up to and across the fence by the Happy Boulders parking. The sign at the end of the parking area was a bit singed but held up well, the dog crap bag dispenser was burned away. Perhaps this will decrease the number of bags of dog crap all through the boulders and along the trails? One can hope, but I think it unlikely. I only saw 4 today though.

singed information kiosk at the Happy Boulders parking - on the right is the bag dispenser

looking down at the end of the Happy parking note some of the willows did not burn

Saturday, November 4, 2017

50 cubed challenge

This year I decided to do a 50 cubed challenge. 50 things 50 times over 50 days leading up to my 50th birthday. I am now past halfway, so I guess that makes it 25 cubed right now?

Anyway the tasks range from silly or easy like eating 50 cookies to challenging but easily doable like 50 climbs and so on. I am in ok shape at half way, although there are a few tasks that I am woefully behind and a few more that might be hard for me to actually complete. Since one of the goals of this is to challenge myself but not spend a lot of time doing drudgery I might have to change a few of the tasks. (like changing gaining 50,000 ft of elevation to combining gain and loss). So far I have completed a few more than 5 of the tasks (biking 50 miles, eating 50 olives, 50 sun salutations, 50 laps on a slackline, 50 minutes on a slackline, and 50 slackline poses, reading 50 chapters... ) Maybe a few more, some of my record keeping is a little haphazard and some of it is carefully recorded on my whiteboard or on a computer spreadsheet. Some I am just doing once a day - like flossing.

I also need to come up with a little under 10 more tasks to do. If I end up short I'll head over to the fitness area at the local park and start working my way through the exercises. If you have any brilliant ideas I am open to suggestions.

In other news I've done a few more peaks (E ridge of Humphreys, Mt Baldwin, and Red Slate and failed on Fishhook Arete on Mt Russel (too cold and windy)) but now I am switching to rock climbing and bouldering. As always I seem a bit weak and out of shape, but it is coming back, and besides I have about 30 more climbs and boulder problems to do (plus more for the 50 V points).

This weekend is the AAC Bishop Fall Highball Classic so tomorrow I'll be doing some trail work or cleanup - I suspect I'll be able to finish ppicking up my 50 pieces of trash - but I'll keep picking it up anyway.

It is a sort of silly and arbitrary way to celebrate what is a pretty arbitrary round number of years since I was born. I guess it is past halfway unless I live to be over 100. So far so good.

some of my 50x50x50x50 challenge record keeping

Update - I finished (mostly) the challenge. Check out the report here:

Monday, August 14, 2017

2017 Sierra Challenge

The 2017 Sierra Challenge just finished up. This year I felt less ready than I have in past years, although I have done a bit of mountain training and can still plod up mountains off the couch. Especially for the first days I just tried to do the designated challenge peaks. This was both due to the weather (with afternoon lightning) and my feeling pretty tired. I never stopped feeling tired, but I reached a steady state and most everyone else got tired too. Most days I was able to keep up or at least within sight of the lead group up to the peak, On the way down sometimes I tried to keep up and others I just dropped into plod gear (but also had more time to take photos). This was a high snow year and I brought crampons and ice axe on most days. I also enjoyed some of the best boot (or running shoe) skiing I have ever had.

a pretty lake on the way down from 4 Gables. I sort of wanted to slide down the snow into the water

Bob and Alberto scramble from Wahoo peak onto Glacier Divide

Iris scrambles up Woods Peak

the moon heading down behind Nameless Pyramid (day 7)

Matt on the descent from the Sharktooth

The faster people ended up either taking a day off or doing alternate peaks on some days, so by virtue of being the only one who did all of this year's challenge peaks I won the Yellow Jersey. I also came in second for the "king of the mountain" polka dot jersey with 19 peaks - way way behind Scott with some 40 peaks I think (I am not sure exactly how many he got - he had many epic long days in the mountains). I actually finished with the stage winners 3 days, although on one day they started a few minutes late so were actually faster.

The total miles and altitude gain for just doing the challenge peaks was about 151 miles and 60,200 feet of elevation gain although with the bonus peaks I am sure I did a little bit more.

Iris models the 2017 Sierra Challenge shirt - and list of peaks
As usual I didn't get enough sleep but by not doing lots of bonus peaks I didn't end up with multiple days of sleep deprivation (although I did end up with only a few hours one night).

I would like to thank Bob Burd and all of the other participants for making this challenge so much "fun". It is a lot more fun to have big days and suffering with friends. I also had help from Leki (their trekking poles kept me going and upright when I don't think my feet alone were enough), Evolv and Altra for footwear. I wore the Evolv Maximus on days where I expected steep snow and scrambling/climbing and the Altra Lone Peak for longer days. Prana for Stretch Zion pants - with and without zip off legs, a Tilley Hat, Cotton Carrier for helping me lug around my brick of a dslr, and Columbia for an Omni-Shade shirt (more on this later I hope) and an ultralight raincoat.

For a lot more details check out Bob Burds web page...

Hopefully someday I'll have a real trip report with details and pics from every day.

That day is today, Check out the trip reports here:

2017 Sierra Challenge Part One:

2017 Sierra Challenge Part Two:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

March For Science / Earth Day 2017

2017 March for Science / Earth Day

On April 22, 2017 Bishop had a March for Science and Earth Day celebration at City Park. I wandered over a few minutes before the 9 am start. There were quite a few people assembling in the back of the park with a drum troupe providing beats. Things started with a number of speakers and a Paiute dance before we marched. We headed through the park and then S on 395 and then crossed at the crosswalk and headed back. There were about 200 marchers. The signs were a mix of pro earth and environmental and pro science with a few more overtly political (anti-Trump) ones. We got a lot of honks in support as we walked along the road.

Erik talking about the scientists in the area

marchers cross 395 in Bishop

Jean marched as a glacier

After the march I walked around the Earth Day festivities. These included a few vendors and a bunch of booths from local land managers and environmental and other groups.

Jean tosses a beanbag at the Earth Day celebration

solar roasted garlic - quite tasty, but we empirically determined that one shouldn't eat too many

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Red Rocks Rendezvous 2017 plus more in Red Rocks

This year we had more YogaSlackers than ever at the RRR. Dani and Michelle taught Yoga, Sam and Raquel taught acro, and Tom and Tom taught slackline. Kimberly was also there as well as Jen and David and Tina and heaps of other cool peeps. Paul and Kathryn came after the RRR to climb.

I got their early, but that just meant a really windy Wednesday night. Unfortunately I had already set up a tent to claim an area for the YogaSlacker tent compound. I discovered that if I set up tents then sometime during the night a woman would occupy them. Thursday Tom came and we set up the slack park and played on it a bit.

sunrises are often nice here

Friday we went climbing up first creek canyon. We did some crack climbing and toproped a face at the Romper Room. It was a bit of a walk to get there and back, but nobody got lost, we didn't need our headlamps, and only a few people got stuck by cacti.

I must commend Raquel's choice of bright colors - here on "romper room"

The Rendezvous passed in a blur of classes, playing and training on the lines and each other, talking to friends new and old, cooking and eating in "YogaSlacker East" (the parking lot), and sleeping in the YogaSlacker tent compound. Sadly I was not able to win any of the contests.

Warrior One on plank on plank (that is Michelle and Tina supporting me)

Sam achieves ToeSox enlightenment (this was fun to stage)

YogaSlacker tent compound at night

YogaSlacker East - the parking lot

 After the Rendezvous a number of us went climbing. Sadly there seemed to be crowds everywhere we looked. We ended up finding a few things at Moderate Mecca though.

the peanut gallery watching Raquel climb
Then a heap more people took off and I climbed a few days with Kathryn and Paul (who showed up the last night of the RRR). First we went to the Dog Wall and I got thoroughly beat down trying to sport climb. I did however get the rope up - perhaps that was the theme of the week.

Kathryn at the Dog Wall

Paul belays me on "no dogs allowed" (K took the pic)
 The day with the best weather forecast we went on a multipitch adventure climbing "mister z" and then "armatron". The not so great belays on armatron got a little old as a party of 3 but we all had a good time and managed to get down the slabs before we needed our headlamps.

Another nice morning here - this was on our way to a multi-pitch adventure
We got in a half day of cragging at the hidden falls area before the wind and exhaustion finished us off. The wind got pretty strong (staggering us as we walked). P and K were planning on heading back the next day and the forecast called for strong winds through their departure time so we packed up and bailed. I threw myself on the mercy of Val who recently moved to Vegas for a travel job. A shower and shelter from the wind was most appreciated. I spent a day mostly staring into screens and then on Saturday we went climbing. We went past Moderate Mecca and it was totally empty but the crag we planned to go to was packed. Sigh. We ended up doing some moderates (Val got to lead) at the Hamlet and then on to Newcastle wall to get tired out. Back in Vegas we had to bake some cookies and soak in the jacuzzi.

Val - Queen of the desert

When I got home there was new artwork on my white board. This one by Amara. I also have been finding bits of popped balloon about. It is nice to be able to return some of the generosity I have enjoyed during my many years on the road.

I intend to write a more complete trip report with more pics some day, but this is a start.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tom Grundy 2016 year end report

As some of you may know I try to write a year end report every year. Sometimes they don't really come at the end of the year though. In any case I wrote one up for 2016. I also mail these out so if you want to be on that list you should tell me. Google seems to have changed their contacts thing so that it is less like a computer and useful and more like a phone and hobbled so it is possible the report went into your spam folder this year.

on the summit of Longs Peak with Sam and Raquel

Tom Grundy 2016 Year End Report.

This year I am going to try something novel and new – writing up the year end report near the end of the year!

I'm starting in March 2016 since that is where the last report ended with a return to Bishop from overseas adventures. Mostly I was busy catching up with lots of little tasks that had piled up in my absence. And bouldering, a fair bit of bouldering. Then I took a trip to central Texas for YogaSlacker festival teacher training and to get pretty miserably sick – I might have been patient zero there. On the way back I taught at the Red Rock Rendezvous and stayed after with Nalumon for a few days for more climbing and a hot spring hike. Then back to Bishop. I got in a day of skiing in Yosemite. There were plans to climb the Colorado 14ers (peaks over 14,000 feet tall) this summer, so I began training for that a little bit with some gentle running and a few uphill efforts. As the weather warmed a few hikes into the Sierra including a Hurd –  Johnson - Trapezoid – Goode traverse and a training acclimitization hike up Mount Langley.

By the end of June I was packed up and on the road again to Colorado. First was Wanderlust music and yoga festival in Snowmass with the YogaSlackers and then the 14ers started July 4th. I won't bother listing them all here but in general I started in a range with Sam and Raquel and then after they left to work in various places I finished up the range before starting the next one. In July we did the Elk Range. Nalumon joined us near the end and although she didn't do any of these 14ers she did join in on rock climbing, camping, backpacking, and backpacking up a 13er. Then it was on to the San Juans. I wasn't able to finish them all with Sam and Raquel but Nalumon joined me on the second half of them.

In August I went to SLC for the summer Outdoor Retailer show and then back to Colorado for more 14ers with Nalumon before she escaped but I was rejoined by Sam and Raquel. We were working our way through the Collegiate Peaks when my truck radiator exploded. That put a crimp in our style but with their help I got back rolling again to do a few more before Wanderlust 108 in Fort Collins and then finishing the range up by myself with some early snow and a few days to rest and recover.

It was now September and with S and R back we did the Sangre De Cristo 14ers in some lucky weather windows and some rather grim conditions. After a brief respite in Pueblo we were back at it with Pikes Peak and then Longs Peak to finish up my effort. 57 in all and all of the 53 “official” 14ers except Culebra which I purposefully skipped because it is on private property with logistic and cost issues. These 14ers entailed hiking about 457 miles and 177.5 thousand feet of elevation gain. Then I hurt my bum knee and we taught at the Yoga Journal Estes Park Conference before rushing back to Bishop for Wilderness First Responder training at my place there.

The WFR training ended in October but there was little rest to be had with a visit from Nalumon and then another trip climbing in Red Rocks. It seemed like I would have a bunch of time to catch up for the rest of the year but then I discovered that I was going to Nepal and Thailand – yay and yikes. I scrambled to get everything ready for that and then whoosh off to the opposite side of the world in November.

In Nepal I met up with Sam and Raquel and we flew from Kathmandu to Lukla and trekked up to Gokyo by way of Tengboche before they had to return. I parted with them in Namche Bazar and trekked up to the Everest base camp area and Kala Patthar before returning via Kongma La. I got to experience sickness, cold, stunning views, tired legs, an early morning earthquake, and flying into and out of what has been called the sketchiest airport in the world.

In December I went to Thailand and immediately down to Krabi and Tonsai for 10 days of rock climbing. Sadly I wasn't in as good climbing shape as the last time I was here but I still met some great people and had a good time. Then I joined a bunch of other YogaSlackers for the Koh Lanta adventure complete with slacklines, waterlines, snorkeling, and acro. After that we went back to Tonsai for a few days before a day in Bangkok and 40 plus hours mostly awake flying back to LAX and the return to winter and what passes for responsibility in my life. Many thanks to the people I shared adventures with as well as the sponsors and people that allowed me to spend vast amounts of time away from home.

As usual if you don't want to be on this mailing list or you want this sent to a different e-mail then tell me. Also there are links to various trip reports on my web page and blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


In case you didn't know, I went to Nepal. There I met up with Sam and Raquel and after a few days in Kathmandu we headed to Lukla for some trekking.

Sam and Raquel didn't have a lot of time so we planned to head up to Gokyo and back. We took a detour to check out the Mani Rimdu festival at Tengboche and visit Brandon and the Khumbu Climbing Center in Phortse and then up to Dole and Gokyo. There Sam took ill (I woke up to the sound of him puking in the next room). So I climbed up Gokyo Ri alone (with plenty of others) while Raquel watched him. We spent another night in Gokyo and returned to Namche down the valley rather than up over Renjo La to a different valley for the return.

In Namche I said goodbye and they headed back to go to Thailand. I continued up past Tengboche to Somare where I really bonked. I ran out of energy and my stomach had not been processing food all day. I curled up in all my clothes in my sleeping bag under blankets trying to warm up. When I got up I puked. Ugh. The next day I slowly moved up to Lobuche and the next day to Gorak Shep. From there I hiked up Kala Patthar for sunset pics of Everest and others and then the next day went to pseudo Everest base camp on the Khumbu Glacier. By doing Kala Patthar the day I got there I freed up a day so after another night in Lobuche I went over Kongma La on the return and then to Dingboche and back to Lukla. My appetite came back in Tengboche. In Monjo I was woken up by an early morning earthquake (turned out to be a nearby 5.5 or 5.6).

looking down from near Kongma La on a lake with Makalu in the distance and Lhotse on the left 

Back in Kathmandu I was looking forward to a hot shower, but the hotel didn't have hot hot water until that evening. DOH. at least there was plentiful food to slake my returning appetite.

As usual someday I hope to get a trip report up on the trekking complete with some of the 100s of GB of photos I have taken. I'm pretty sure there are a few good ones in there somewhere.

I managed to survive a fair bit of walking up to over 18,000 ft (5600 M or so is the highest I got). There sure are a lot of spectacular mountains there as well as hardy Sherpas carrying huge loads on their backs and Yaks and musk deer and blue lakes and big glaciers and so on.

After another day here in KTM it is on to Thailand and hopefully climbing down by Tonsai.

I have a trip report up for the first part of my travels in Nepal....