For those of you who don't know, this is us! A couple of midlife wanderers, desert rats, lovers of the unknown. We love exploring the dusty, less traveled paths that exist in this beautiful, crazy world we all call home!
Most anyone who knows us will know that Renee loves to handstand in all sort of funny/crazy locations and I love to take pictures of her (check out the Instagram hashtag #reneehandstands to see many of them). It is so amazing that we can be exhausted climbing a peak or swimming a river somewhere and yet—always—at the idea of a handstand, Renee is ready to go.
And the Internet teaches you all sorts of things, and one it taught us this year is that June 24 is International Handstand Day. So Renee was determined to celebrate it, and I was a more than happy accomplice. It fell on a day that we were slated to ride all day helping my family move cattle from one summer pasture to the next. A long, hot, incredibly exhausting day. But we were determined to play along, despite the incredulous comments of my mom, especially, who said I should do the handstands (to hilariously terrible results, although one day I will learn to at least approximate a handstand). So on a day that we were moving about three or four hundred cattle across the high desert mountains we stopped again and again for Renee to do handstands. I am so filled with fortune to spend the days of my life with a life-partner-in-crime so full of life and the fun of it.
Today’s Fun Photo Friday comes from yesterday! I have to work this weekend so I took Thursday off to climb State Line Peak, the highest point in the Fort Sage Mountains, east of 395 at Doyle, California. With the storm of the night before, you could see snow up high and I was determined even if we didn’t make the summit, we would make it to snow. And we did! This little palm-sized bit was my first new snow of 2017-2018, seen on September 21!
Written by Renee Aldrich
In August 2015, Dan and I headed out on a 10-day journey. The plan was to spend the 10 days biking around eastern Nevada. But as life and journey would have it we spent five 5 days biking and 5 days car camping due to an injury that would flare up while pedaling. It was a gorgeous, fun and challenging 10 days. We stopped at recreation areas, wilderness areas, state wildlife management areas, state parks and national parks.
The photos below are in separate galleries when you click on one picture in a gallery it will show the full sized photo. You can than click through all the photos of that gallery in their full size. The photos you see in the boxes below are thumbnails and some of the photos are cut off.
We hope you enjoy!
Day 1: Reno to Ward Mountain Rec. Area
We drove from Reno to Ely, packed up in Ely then biked a short distance from Ely to Ward Mountain Recreation Area. The campground at Ward Mountain is gorgeous, well kept, and when we were there pretty darn empty. We highly recommend it!
Day 2: Ward Mountain to Wayne E. Kirch WMA
This day was a long and rough one. It was a 70-mile day, but we weren't too worried about it because it was mostly downhill. However, we ended up having a huge headwind that annihilated any downhill advantage we had. It took us way longer to get to Kirch than expected, but we made it. We didn't quite make the spot we intended on camping at, but close enough for a short ride into the main campground in the morning.
Camp kitchen with the original RaD Crew! Coco, Dusty, Dan and me (Renee) taking the pic! This was somewhere in Arizona during our 2009 month long bike tour. We visited Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon and road on part of the Arizona Trail. It was a fantastic trip!
We miss these loves so much, but we take them with us on all our journeys.
Written by Daniel Montero
I love Mount Rose. Our Lady Rose, watching over the Reno skyline. At least from its Reno aspect, she overlooks the city in a rather gentle, unassuming way, sort of like a saddle thrown across the high ridge lines, rather than the normal craggy peak we associate with great mountains. (This just from Reno, once you hit Washoe Lake or the Mount Rose Highway, it has a more classic profile.) I love mountains like that, unassuming mountains that hide parts of themselves and that require your complete attention to understand their grandeur. So over the course of my time in Reno I’ve spent many days on Mount Rose or contemplating it from its immediate neighbors.
So having Labor Day Monday free, I decided to explore it from a new direction, climbing up its broad "saddle" aspect via White’s Creek and Church’s Pond. This Labor Day Monday started very hazy with wildfire smoke from somewhere blowing from the south and west. L.P. Larry and I started up the Whites-Jones Loop under this pall and almost immediately I was reminded of another climb I had made of Mount Rose a few years before, the year of the big Hetchy Ketchy/Yellowstone Fire when Reno was enshrouded in smoke for weeks (or what seemed like them) and on one of those days I decided to climb from the highway maintenance station on Mount Rose Highway. The haze seemed to unite the two climbs, and stuck with me a while together, as though time can compress and expand at will and yesterday is today and tomorrow. That day I was alone, the fool crazy enough (or allowed) to go out in air quality in which it was recommended to stay indoors.
The day I had climbed from the maintenance station I was alone all day. The air was thick enough that it felt physically heavy and that route, even starting a thousand feet above the White’s Creek Trailhead, is just a steep straight climb up the mountain’s spine. After a pause at the Galena Creek crossing, I continued upward. Moving slowly because there was no other way on a hot day with the smoke thick in the lungs. Those were our first days back in town after losing Bodie and abandoning our post on Secret Pass and I was a ghostly shadow ascending a vertical landscape. Anything could happen during those days when the smoke poured over the Sierras toward us in buckets. Days when I carried buckets of grief too, the summer after Bodie died when things just sort of seemed to lay down for me and life only had certain points standing out a flatland existence. Walking in a smoky landscape felt like that, as though I was passing along in the mists of Hades and not sure which side I was on. After climbing out of the Galena Creek drainage there is a long traverse through a brush thicket and then just around the ridge line then upward, climbing up and under the backside of the saddle’s seat. Trees coping with the unabated slope, and those dried up and withered into twisted sculptures bathed in the gloom.
On Labor Day we started with no grand pretense. Larry and I were going as far as we would go, no more or less, and I didn’t really have a massive ambition of making it to the peak. It was a hot day and while I just wanted to move and Larry is always a willing companion, but he’s black with long hair, so we more meandered than pushed on through the first climbs along White’s Creek and then the big switchbacks that cut up the ridge line toward the Church’s Pond turn and the descent into Jones’ Creek. There were many trail users enjoying the holiday. Even before the wilderness sign we were passed by a young man with a baby on his back. As I stopped to let him pass I said, “looks like you've got a good load,” and he laughed and responded and we chatted a moment. Later I passed him talking to another man with a baby on his back and we said hello again. I stopped above, where the trail leaves the creek, and ducked off a bit to see if there was any dog water, and then continued my climb. On the big switchbacks I came across the first man again, now perched on a rock, with the baby loosed from his pack, but now joined by a woman who obviously had to be mom. Passing by I quipped, “I think your family has multiplied!” to a good laugh. At least I had a good laugh at my wit. “Its a wise man who can laugh at his own jokes,” I think somebody said one time or another.
The beginning of the day with Larry was plain hot, but the smoke slipped away slowly to the east (or seemed to, which in the end is not the same thing). But at the beginning it was the heat. I had just read on the NOAA website about Reno hitting its record number of 100 degree days this summer, and while Labor Day wasn’t expected to quite get there, it was still going to be hot. So we stopped in the shade, we met three college girls who loved Larry, we passed and repassed and finally at the saddle over into Church’s pond, with Larry hot they resting in the shade, we had a stop and chat. They were as fresh-faced as cherubs and I might have thought high school still till I noticed the UNR t-shirt one was wearing, “Are ya’ UNR students?” “Oh, yeah, we’re just freshmen!” Oh freshwomen, fare thee well into college and beyond spreading your wings and taking flight from our beautiful lady Rose, fare thee well.
Church’s Pond was a pleasure to behold. In recent years shrunken to a puddle, this wet year swelled, it called to me. Where the trail turns up I crossed another long climber. He asked if I was heading to the top and I said I was headed that way, but I hope with enough doubt that he would know that my intentions didn’t go, at that point, much beyond the ridge line behind the pond, and this before taking the main trail and then ducking down on a seldom used and nearly indiscernible trail to the little shoreline meadows that ring the south side of the pond up against rippling quaking groves and looking toward the swell of the mountainside as it rolls toward Reno and the vast expanse of Nevada sky, still hazy but clearing, beyond. Larry and I descended to the lake bottom, emerging into the cool of the water, me shedding backpack and shoes and Larry shedding nothing but headed straight for the cool pond water. We waded in, neither of us testing beyond getting our legs cool but luxuriating in clear, cold water after the hot climb. We waded along the shoreline until a water’s edge boulder and hanging tree would have made Larry swim around so we turned and waded back, and then found a spot among the low, fresh aspens where we reposed for a while while as the sun climbed up overhead.
But eventually shoes back on, and up, I was determined at least to make it as far as I’d made it before, on a beautiful summer day with Renee, Dusty, and Coco, and maybe a little farther, testing the route and maybe seeing the more sure-footed and dedicated climber on his way back down the mountain.
I hadn’t really believed I would make the summit on the day years before either. I guess I’d just gone a little stir crazy on those weeks of hanging smoke. On the slope above Galena Creek, I’d had a sneezing fit that wracked me and left me a foaming and spuming mess, but had continued up the slope, through the twisted hunks until I made it up onto the shoulder, the vast made of our lady Rose climbing above me, not above the cloudy haze but neither dwarfed by it and she lifted my spirits and awakened me to her, brought me from the depths toward the heights. She lifted me and I continued upward.
It was just plain hot when we finally attained the ridge and looked down into the upper reaches of Jones’ Creek and the massive bowl-like mountainside sweeping toward the summit that I look up at during the course of almost every day in the city below. That I try to focus on at least for a moment as I go along, pedaling the river path toward a university office, walking midtown, driving south on the interstate home of toward, well, any point south. That big bowl she has where she mixes and contemplates the course of the world as she has seen it.
We rested in the shade of some big, wind-bent brush and I dried my shirt. I think until now I've not mentioned that I didn't bring any sunscreen and so I adopted even more strongly than usual a strategy of pushing straight through the sun and dawdling in the shade. I focused more entirely than I ever have on the shade on purpose, as an exercise of simply keeping myself in the moment and considering no other moment than the one that next held shade up to me.
We had a long patch of sun before the next tree line but eventually we decided to keep on keeping on anyway. But then, by the time we reached the shed and what I guess is some sort of snow measurement station, the clouds that had just poked over Rose's summit has blossomed into cover and wind without seeming to threaten too much and with the heat at bay we continued joyfully. There were some stone markers that led toward what I guessed was the route I'd taken in the smoky day (my day now with the wind and clouds smoke free) it was very steep and finally led to one of the big snowdrifts you also can still see from Reno. We skirted its edge up until we broke out on the eastern end of the high summit ridge. Now with the steep part of the climb mostly finished, we're just picking over the rocks to not roll an ankle. We also joined the route from that previous climb that had been on my mind in the morning, but by now the day had turned golden and the morning haze seemed a memory. Unlike that previous day Larry and I certainly didn't have the summit to ourselves. It was packed with day hikers, including one golden-haired Adonis “who was just back from Burning Man” flirting with a lycra’d girl whose was on Our Lady Rose for the first time. It was all nice even though I passed among them like a ghost. Maybe I really was in that day years ago.
I only stayed on the summit a little bit, it was getting late and the entire route down was before me. As long as I made it to Church’s Pond with some light I was fine, that trail is easy enough to navigate in the dark. I don’t remember much about sliding down my steep route to the maintenance station those years ago, but this time I do. I decided that I would try to cut across the bowl instead of going back the steep ridge line I’d taken on both times. I ducked down right after the first outcrop east of the summit and the trail was rocky, but is clearly the better option for going up and down, and next time I take this route I think I’d like to go all the over way over to the main approach, just to walk all the way across the bowl. It seems very doable, only scattered brush to navigate and of course rocks, but there are rocks everywhere. The rocks in fact glowed and the glades of wind-driven pines danced as I crossed through them. At the creek’s origin crowds of wild flowers waved in what was left of the breeze that had finally cooled us on the way up.
Headed down into White’s Creek again, I stopped and watched a big full moon rise and then walked underneath it all the way back to the car without barely needing the headlamp at all. And then home, my latest adventure on our lady Rose done. Until next time beautiful lady, and thanks for watching over Reno.
Post by Renee Aldrich
Even though the temp's have been in the high 90's, there's been a change in the weather here in northern Nevada, you can feel the shift in the air. It's still very warm, but you can tell fall is starting to creep in and winter is coming around the mountain.
With winter approaching and our recent trip to Highlands Lake, I was reminded of our magical New Year's escapade to Markleeville, CA in 2015/2016. It started on a whim. About a week before New Year's, Dan and I were discussing what we should do to commemorate the end of 2015 and start of 2016. Dan came up with the brilliant idea of Markleeville, CA for hot springs and cross country skiing. It sounded perfect, but how were we going to pull it off? Where were we going to stay?!
Dan called around and of course everything was booked, but at the Creekside Lodge the manager said one of the booked guests was being very wishy washy about whether or not they were going to come, so he told us he'd let us know if the guest decided to cancel. A bit later the manager called back and said, "hey I'm giving the guest till tomorrow at noon to decide and if he doesn't let me know, the room is yours." Low and behold we got the call and we got the room! Markleeville winter vacation was a go!
Dan, Coco and I pulled in to the quaint little lodge on the evening of New Year's Eve. There was going to be a live show at the bar next door to celebrate, but we got into town early enough to hit the hot springs first, so we did and it was magic! While we were soaking up the warm water under the dark night sky, it started to softly snow. Cool little flakes gently kissed us, then melted away into the warm water. It felt amazing on the skin. The juxtaposition of temperatures created a strange equilibrium that, when mixed with the quite that tends to come with snow, brought a wonderful sense of peace and tranquility over the pool.
The hot springs closed for the evening and we packed up and headed back to the lodge. When got there we could hear that the band had started rocking! We showered, changed clothes then headed over to get a drink and rock with the band. We stayed and listened for a while, but since it was still fairly early we didn't want to tire of the music before midnight, so we headed out for a stroll around town. There's a nice little loop that encircles the town so we walked that and headed back to the room. We settled in with the intention of going back to the bar around 11:00 pm to ring in the New Year, but of course we fell fast asleep and missed it.
We were sad that we missed ringing in the New Year, but we were very well rested and feeling refreshed for our day's adventure of cross country skiing. It had been years since the last time I had cross country skied and Dan had only been on skis a handful of times in his life, so we decided to start out easy. There's a lovely meadow across from the hot springs in Grover Hot Springs State Park, so we headed there to test out our skills. A nice, flat, mellow skiing area was perfect to see if we could remember how to do it.
It was great, we both got our skis under us pretty quickly and were off without a hitch. There was some tougher terrain up the trail so we decided to try that and even though we fell a few times, we were handling our skis better than I thought we would. We tooled around on our skis for a few hours, had a nice snack and break on the meadow and then decided to head back to the hot springs for another round of soaking,
No snow fell during this soak, but it was a nice way to warm up after being on our skis all afternoon. We headed back into town and noticed that the restaurant, The Stonefly, across the street from the lodge was going to be open that evening. It looked interesting and we were excited to try it out. It was apparently the restaurant's opening night for the season so we were very lucky to get seats at the bar for dinner. The food was AMAZING! So good. If you find yourself in Markleeville and the Stonefly is open, I highly recommend it. It's a little pricy but well worth it.
The next day we packed up our skis and headed to Hope Valley. At Hope Valley there are groomed trails and backcountry options. We did a really nice loop that was partly on groomed trails and partly backcountry. The part that was groomed was fairly steep, well at least steep for newbie xc skiers such as Dan and myself. We chugged our way slowly uphill. On the backcountry section we glided through meadows and forests of aspen and conifers. It was a lovely afternoon. We hit the groomed section again for the downhill back to the car and we (sorta) gracefully stumbled and tumbled our way down. Afterward we headed back to Markleeville and the last night of our sweet little vacation. After our great experience the night before we happily ate at the Stonefly again. We had a lovely evening, strolling around town, chatting and testing our our newly acquired Fitbits that Daniel got us for Christmas.
The next morning we woke early packed up our stuff and headed to Grover's for one last soak. We got there about five minutes before the pools opened. We were lucky, when the pools opened we were still the only ones there and we had the pools to ourselves for roughly 10 minutes before visitors slowly started seeping in.
We took our time heading back to reality, we stopped in at the Genoa Bar, The Oldest Bar in Nevada where there are diamonds in the mirror and Raquel Welch's bra hangs from the ceiling. Overall it was a wonderful New Year's weekend!
It's that time of year, time for the annual Burning Man celebration. So I thought I'd throwback to March and this fun photo of my friend and fellow wild woman Laura Blaylock kayaking over the spot where Black Rock City is typically erected.
Also, this photo is featured on the back page of Friends of Nevada Wilderness's 2018 calendar, YAY!
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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