Friday, May 15, 2015

Trekking Volcanoes: Wright Peak of Mount Konocti

While idling after My Peak Challenge ended this past March, I was searching the internet for something to do physically. I didn't want all that work to go to waste. And I was coming down off of a high and sitting on my ass instead of working out. I needed a new goal to reach. Something to commit to that would keep me focused and working out. A few things happened. I found that climbing California's 14ers (peaks over 14,000 ft) scared the crap out of me, especially when people started mentioning ice axes and ropes. Summiting California's volcanoes (20 of them) sounded much more doable, and only one of them, Mt. Shasta, is also a 14er. And a Facebook/twitter group that I joined during My Peak Challenge decided to do a new "challenge" for May.

So, it is mid May now, and I am almost half way done with the May challenge. I'm on track! And this past Sunday I and my cohort completed our first volcano summit. Our adventure is as follows:

Balls! After mentioning on facebook my idea of climbing all of California's volcanoes, only one person said she was totally down with doing it with me. Crazy, I know, only one. I asked if she was serious, and low and behold, she was. She is fascinated by profanity and uses the word balls as a swear word. Although her favorite word at the moment is dick, I will stick to calling her Balls. Balls lives in Santa Rosa. For those of you not from California, it is north of San Francisco by about 55 miles. While researching which volcano to do first, I decided we'd best go for the closest one first. That happens to be Mount Konocti on the shore of Clear Lake in Lake County.
Red Arrow=where I live, Blue Arrow=where Balls lives, Black Arrow=Clear Lake/Mt. Konocti
Here's a quick blurb from the USGS: Clear Lake Volcanic Field is located about 90 miles north of San Francisco, California. The town of Clear Lake lies within the volcanic field as does much of the 43,000-acre fresh water lake of its namesake. The Geysers steam field, which sits at the southwest margin of the volcanic region, is host to one of the world’s most productive geothermal power plants, producing enough electricity for 850,000 homes. The heat driving the geothermal system emanates from a zone of partially molten rock (magma) deep below the greater Clear Lake volcanic system. The most prominent volcanic feature is 300,000 year-old Mount Konocti, rising about 975 m (3,200 ft) above the southwestern shore of the lake. The most recent eruptions occurred about 11,000 years ago around Mount Konocti. Although Clear Lake volcanic field has not erupted for several millennia, sporadic volcanic-type earthquakes do occur, and the numerous hot springs and volcanic gas seeps in the area point to its potential to erupt again. Monitoring in the Clear Lake region by the USGS and a collaborative effort with Calpine Corporation in the Geysers Steam Field, provides real-time tracking of earthquake activity. In addition, the USGS periodically analyzes volcanic gases and hot springs in the region.

I drove up to Balls' house Saturday night, forgot my phone, left it charging in the wall, and slept on Balls' couch. Woke up with her roommates dogs face in my face. Sunday morning we drink coffee. Coffee is important. We go to Whole Foods for snacks, and then leave for Kelseyville, where Mt. Konocti awaits us. We drive into town and turn down a road that turns to dirt. There is no signage telling you that there is a county park at the end of the road, let alone a freaking VOLCANO! Lake County is severely lacking on proper signage. This you will note is a frequent subject while Balls and I were on the trail. Balls was also somewhat shocked that I had an actual camera. Even if I hadn't forgotten my phone, it isn't a "smart" phone. So yes, I'm old school and carry an actual camera.

Look, we can take double selfies at the same time. We are awesome.
Mount Konocti is made up of five peaks (Howard Peak 4,286 ft, South Peak 4,286 ft, Buckingham Peak 3,967 ft, Clark Peak 2,880 ft, and Wright Peak 4,2999 ft). There are no trails to Clark or South peaks. Much of the area is private property. We hiked to the top of Wright Peak, which is the highest. There was a sign for the fork to Buckingham Peak, but there was absolutely no sign, post, or marker telling you that the road on the left would take you to Howard Peak. We saw it just fine from the top of Wright Peak anyway. Apparently Lake County decided having bathrooms, picnic tables, and benches everywhere was way more important than say a water spigot or proper signage telling you where the hell you are. Thank the spirits both of us printed out the crappy trail map and I had my pilfered GPS unit. Someone left it where I work and never came back to claim it. It sat in our backroom for a year. So, I'm sorry, I'm going to take it and use it. Balls was getting worried that she may not be able to make it up to the top, so we stopped at some of the many random benches for some breathers.


We finally made it to Mary Downen's cabin. Who? And why did she build a homestead on the side of a volcano? Well, once again, the signage wasn't great here. Apparently in 1903, a year after her husband died, her son-in-law Euvelle Howard (as in Howard Peak) took her up Mount Konocti on horseback and she fell in love... with the mountain. She staked a claim and paid a whooping $600. A cabin was built and she began homesteading... alone. There is no streams on the mountain and eventually she had a cistern built and her son-in-law Euvelle planted her orchard. Apparently her son-in-law moved up there. Balls and I debated why her daughter didn't move with him and talked endlessly about them most likely having an affair, but that kind of wigged us out. Ew. Euvelle is apparently buried near the homestead. The crappy signs say he is buried 500 ft from the cabin with a large "obvious" boulder with his name and dates carved in it. They even provide waypoints. But there is no path. So we plug in the waypoints into my pilfered gps and off I go uphill, off trail, looking for the "obvious" boulder. I never found him. Why the hell tell people he's up here and all and then not provide a way to actually get to him?? I don't get it. And why is he buried here and not Mary? What ever happened to her? We have no idea. We had to look her up on the internet during dinner. Found where she is buried. She's in Lakeport and shares her husbands marker. So she was buried on top of him, or next to him. I don't know. There is hardly anything about Mary on the internet. It's all the same little bit on every site we could find. She seemed like a very interesting person. Who decides to homestead on a volcano as a widower in her 50's in 1903? She sounds awesome. I want to know what happened to her. How long was she on the mountain? Where's her privy? How did she die? There is nothing! Now, there is obviously some archaeological records out there on her homestead. They fenced off her cabin and dump and there are pin flags everywhere. So those of you who still have access to CHRIS can maybe help a girl out?? Yes?
Mary Downen's Orchard
Anyway, we walked through Mary's orchard debating what kind of trees they are. Again, no signage saying anything about that. I said fruits, Balls said nuts. Of course she did. I think we were both right. We got eaten by mosquitoes, so dicided to get back up on the trail to our summit... after a pit stop at a random bathroom and picnic table.

We made it to the summit of Wright Peak! Great views. Top of the world... or Lake County anyway. While I was taking this pic of Balls, she took this one.


There is a fire lookout and cell tower on the top. The fire lookout was closed in 2005, technology and all that made it useless to stick a person up there 24/7 during fire season. There are some interesting stories about this mountain/volcano but I will spare you. I will say that I'm impressed that the Pomo name for the mountain remains. As with most of the history of white settlers, army, and Indians, things did not go well for the Pomo and Wapo that call this area home.

Clear Lake from Wright Peak
View of Howard Peak from Wright Peak
Balls' best Capt. Morgan pose

Our summit selfie

Our experience of Mt. Konocti has only wetted our appetite for more volcanoes, despite us being in Lake County and their lack of trail signage. We realized that both of us have forgotten much of our botany skills and need to brush up on them, not that we had any to begin with. And we need to do more pre-field research and learning before our next volcanic adventure. So 1 down, 19 to go.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Next Fitness Challenge, lord help me

As you can see by the picture on the left, I've decided to do a new "challenge". During the #MyPeakChallenge I did starting in January and culminating on March 14-15, I joined a Facebook group called The Peak Posse. It's a group of mostly women who did My Peak Challenge where we give support, offer advice, and tell each other our horror stories about getting healthy and fit, etc. The group also fundraises for the actors in Outlander (tv show) chosen charities. My Peak Challenge raised money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research which was Sam Heughan's chosen charity. The Peak Posse has decided to continue on and do a new challenge for Caitriona Balfe's chosen charity which is World Child Cancer.

The new challenge starts May 1, and lasts just this month. The 100 part can be anything you want. Write 100 letters, walk 100 miles, be able to do 100 push-ups by the end of the month, etc. Here's the scoop from The Peak Posse: Hope you don't mind me posting it here.

Dear Peak Posse Lassies,
In request to a new "challenge" we have come up with "Cait's Bikini 100 Challenge to Knock Out Childhood Cancer". (I know a mouthful right?) So for short lets just tag it as the "Bikini 100 Challenge".

As the title suggests, this challenge will help the lovely Caitriona's charity as WE prepare for bikini season. Just as we did with My Peak Challenge, each person will set their own individual challenge and their own donation rate.
The challenge will start May 1 and end on May 31st. That's right lassies, you have 30 days to complete your challenge.
Now you ask, "Why the 100?" Right?
Well YOU will chose what 100 physical or mental challenge you want to complete. For example, I want to walk 100 miles in May, or complete 100 sit-ups or squats in May, or knit 100 items for charity. Are you still with me here? GOOD!

Now for each #1 of the #100 you complete you will make your donation into Cait's jar. So if I'm going to donate $1 for every mile I walked, then I would place that amount in Cait's jar as I complete it (you can donate whatever you are able to do. More or less is fine).
Now what the heck is Cait's jar you're thinking! Am I right ? Haha Each person should take a jar or box or whatever you have and decorate it for the challenge. We will include a way for you to print off a pic of our bikini logo and ask that if you feel moved to, please change your profile pic or avi on twitter to the logo...

...On June 1 we will all donate our funds...
One more thing we are asking you to use the hashtag ‪#‎PPBikiniChallenge‬ on twitter.
I hope this is relatively simple to understand. We wanted to make it a short challenge that would be fun and would support Caitriona's wonderful charity as well.
Good Luck You Lovely Lassies! You know we are all here for support so post away on the goal you set and your progress.

I've chosen to run 100 miles the month of May. That's 31 days, 100 miles. I'm scared I won't be able to do it, but that's the point of a challenge isn't it? Since My Peak Challenge ended, I've had a hard time keeping up with the exercising. I've been kind of lost, with no goals to achieve, etc. The Posse Sisters want those of us doing the challenge to have a jar and decorate it however we like to put the money we raise in. So since I am running 100 miles, every mile = $1.00 in the jar. At the end, I plan on donating half to World Child Cancer and the other half goes to my funds for new hiking boots. I can't remember how I killed my last pair of boots. Back when I was still an archaeologist full-time, I went through a pair a boots a year. They are expensive. And I will need a good pair of boots for my upcoming adventures that I haven't told you all about yet... but I will, soon, I promise.

So, wish me luck, or have me committed to the looney bin, which ever works best. This will certainly be a challenge.

Almost forgot, I stopped weighing myself last year. I honestly don't know how much I weight. I came to terms and accepted that the amount I weigh is not important. How I feel and look is. So during the My Peak Challenge I exercised my ass off. And I started noticing muscle and such. Anyway, the other night, a regular customer came in where I work and commented that he noticed I had lost weight, and he wanted to commend me. I was shocked that anyone even noticed anything. The changes I saw in myself were, I thought, small. He made my night. I have shrunk a size in jeans I think, since I now need a belt. So woo hoo. Off to go run my ass off some more!

Monday, March 16, 2015

To My Mom Part VI: The Road Trip Edition 2.0

Way back in April 2013, my mom and I did a road trip to Los Angeles. I wrote a post about it. Before I share the link to it, a few observations. My mom had cancer at the time, it just wasn't diagnosed yet. I knew she had health issues at the time. She had a hard time getting around. She couldn't walk long distances. I was somewhat upset at her lack of mobility back then. I kept it all internal though. I did not voice my displeasure at having to cater to her needs. We got her diagnosis a little more than 4 months after this trip. I didn't know it at the time, when you read the last sentence you will understand, it was the last road trip we would take together.

Here's the link: LA Adventures

She catered the trip around her friends and family, as always. Her friend number 2 passed away just a few months after our visit. So we made it just in time. I actually think she used taking me to the book fair as her excuse to see her friends. I had no issues being used like that.

I mentioned in my previous post in this To My Mom Series, that my dad had finished a "project". And said I may or may not share here. He gave his permission. So here it is. It's an online memorial. The family was deciding what to do with mom's emails and letters she had written during her cancer "adventure". (she called it an adventure, I'm not kidding) A family friend had put a lot of them together for my dad. My sister saw them and said it's like a book. Mom had written a book via her emails to her support group about her journey with cancer. What can we do with this? So this is what my dad did with it all.

It's a closed link, in that it is not searchable or linked to anything.

www.paravel.com/carol

So here's to my mom who used me (more than once) to see her important people.




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Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Peak Challenge: The Epic Weekend Finale


We must all listen to this, my last song selection from the playlist, while we read. Because if I wrote this, it means I survived and I'm not giant kitty food or lying at the bottom of a ravine.

On Top of The World by Imagine Dragons


Now that it's playing, on with the show.

Saturday: EPIC PI DAY (March 14, 2015) Sadly, I didn't eat any pie.
Super duper ultra thanks to my new friend and fellow My Peak Challenge member, Double L for inviting me to join her on the De Anza Trail on Saturday. I was a bit nervous to say yes. But I'm always a bit nervous when I meet people for the first time. You are awesome. I had a nice time. Next time we should have lunch after in town. I don't know about you, but my tummy was rumbling by the time I got home.

We did a total of 6 miles. We made it to mile marker 3, which is the farthest Double L has ever gone on the trail. So yay! And just in case you don't want your picture on my blog, here are some highlights without your face front and center.



Sunday: Et tu Brute (March 15, 2015)

While the guy who started the #MyPeakChallenge was running the LA Marathon, I was sleeping. I didn't want to get up. I knew there would be no heroic shots at the top of Mt. Willson today. Because I knew I wasn't going to be able to do the hike I wanted. Ms. Certifiable went certifiable and couldn't make it. I was angry. I've been running my ass off for 2 months (literally, my ass has fallen off like 3 times) to get ready for this big day. I was ready. It will have to wait. I decided I couldn't stay mad at Ms. Certifiable, there's no point. Shit happens and you get over it and move on. We will conquer Henry Coe another day. So I decided to make the best of it. Because I went with Double L yesterday to San Juan Batista, today I can do what I had originally planned to do for that day today instead. And that was this: 7-8ish miles up and back down Mt. Madonna. I started in Sprig day-use. Trails included were merry-go-round, loop trail cut-off, upper miller, blue springs, and sprig.
Lupine!!!!
first redwood grove on the way up
looks like the top... but it isn't. more to climb
made it to the miller ruins
at the top, sitting on miller's front steps
that's twisted!
on the way down
on the way down
I don't think people knew how important it was for me to do this this weekend. I don't think I even know. I just had to do... something. And if I had to go by myself, then I had go by myself. Did I join My Peak Challenge to raise money for leukemia and blood cancer research? Eh, honestly, no. I donated a whopping $5 bucks. I needed motivation to get back out there after my mom died. It worked. I'm running again. I have no idea if I lost weight, honestly, that isn't important to me anymore. I don't know what my weight is. But I'm getting muscle definition, I'm getting healthier. I haven't had a soda in 69 days. I think that's a new record. I hate the taste of fast food now. I'm going to keep it up. I just have to decide what my next peak challenge will be. I'm not done yet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Peak Challenge Music: Week 9

 It's the final week in #MyPeakChallenge. So here is the (sort of) last song selection from the playlist. This is about as "girly" as I get when it comes to this particular playlist.

 In Love Again by Rogue Traders

Who are Rogue Traders? They're Australian. I was told about them way back when I was fangirling hard over Moonlight back in 2007. A fellow fan named mini moon, who happens to be Australian, told me about them when I asked her what music was popular/what she liked where she lived. They are no longer a band. Such is life. One of their songs, Voodoo Child from the Here Come the Drums album was in a Dr. Who episode from the 10th Doctor David Tennant era. The episode (New Season 3, episode 12) where John Simm was The Master who heard a constant drumming in his head. Now if you don't know anything or have never watched Dr. Who, we are no longer friends. I'm kidding. No I'm not.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Peak Challenge Music: Week 8

This list wouldn't be complete without something from Linkin Park.
So here is the song Robot Boy off their A Thousand Suns album.


It may be a strange choice considering they have many more "rawr" uptempo songs to choose from, but it's because of these lyrics mostly:

You say the weight of the world
Has kept you from letting go
And you think compassion's a flaw
And you'll never let it show
And you're sure you've hurt in a way
That no one will ever know
But someday, the weight of the world
Will give you the strength to go


To My Mom Part V: Music

I was working on making my mom a playlist for her to listen to while she was taking chemo. Once a month, she would have a long chemo session where they would pump in something that would help strengthen her bones. This would usually be an hour to an hour and a half session. So I wanted to make her something that she could listen to while they pumped chemicals into her port.

I never finished it. I only got five songs on it before she passed away. Now don't get offended but I called it "fuck cancer". I wasn't going to label it that when I gave it to her. But it is what it is labeled in my itunes. I was listening to the radio in my car when I heard an old U2 song and I immediately thought, "this would be a perfect song for mom, I need to make her a playlist." Well that one U2 song was the only song on the list for a very long time. I had a hard time finding other songs. What I find as inspiring songs and what I thought my mom would find inspiring songs are two very different things. Somehow I don't thing she would enjoy Rage Against The Machine.

Well, here are the 5 songs I did find:

One Tree Hill by U2

Adiemus by Adiemus

Strawberry Swing by Coldplay

I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz

Strong by London Grammar


On the rare occasions that I was the one driving her to the chemo center, she would listen to one of two cd's that someone had given her. They were religious cd's. (Discovery Singers and Haven Quartet) Many of the songs I remember singing in church. They helped calm her nerves. I knew she was anxious, when she would ask me to turn it up. Sometimes, I'd be in the back jumper seat of the truck while dad was driving her to an appointment that she wanted me to go to as well. I am glad that these cd's gave her comfort. But I had a hard time listening to them. I think at the time, it was because I was angry. Not at her, but at her God. How can she be so faithful and find comfort in a God that allowed this to happen to my mother. How dare he! What did she ever do to deserve this. I didn't understand how through suffering, one finds grace and comfort in God. Well, I still don't, but that wasn't my journey to take. That was mom's.

I suppose this isn't what you thought it would be about when you saw the title. I may do a music part 2 post later about her playing Axel F from Beverly Hills Cop so loud that the cd actually skipped. A CD skipping! That's some decibels.

Well, mom has been gone four months now. I'm still angry. And I still say, Fuck Cancer. Dad finished his "project" tonight. I was reading through it. It was late and shut down the laptop. Got ready for bed, and thought, I need to watch the video we made for the memorial. I had one of the songs we put on it in my head. So I turned it back on, and watched the video. Then I thought, well I can't go to sleep with any of those songs in my head. I need to listen to something else. So then I went into the fuck cancer playlist and thought, I'd just listen to the U2 song. Well, I'm now on the third listen to the 5 song playlist and wrote a post.

This is what happens when you get a song stuck in your head and have to do something about it. Well, me anyway.

Music is very powerful to me. It can bring me out of a funk. It can help me cope with depression. It can motivate me to run farther. Go faster. It can calm my nerves. It can make me angry. It can make me cry. It can make me laugh, smile. Sharing songs here on the blog that have helped me through something or inspired me is important to me. Sharing the music is very much like sharing the words and thoughts that come spilling out of my head here on the blog. It's therapeutic. And somehow, I hope that by doing so also helps whomever reads these. It's why I've been sharing songs off my running playlist these past few months during #MyPeakChallenge.

I've known for a long time now... maybe since my late teens that mom and I were both very sensitive to music and how it affects us emotionally, psychologically, and physically. She needed to sing. She needed to be involved in it. Immerse herself in it. It's why she joined the South Bay Singers. Seeing her up there on that stage and hearing them sing was amazing. It brought me to tears. It was emotional. It was physical. It was beautiful. They were so passionate and powerful. She was in it. She was part of it. I can't really describe it. It was like I was witnessing something normally intangible.

Music just does that.


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