Sunday, March 14, 2010

Carmel-by-the-Sea and Carmel-Away-From-the-Sea

SUMMARY: A vacation day with the dogs.

There is nothing like being in the great outdoors with your dogs running freely off-leash. Wish we could enjoy that with greater regularity.

For various reasons, I got a late start this morning and arrived in Carmel around 12:30 on a beautiful day, perfect for a little hiking. Although check-in time at the Cypress Inn is 4:00, I figured it was worth dropping by early to see whether our room was ready. Yowza, it was, so we made ourselves comfy in our spacious room. (The fireplace is a bit of a fake--it's about 8" deep with a tiny flame and no way to adjust it.)

We then walked the half mile down to the beach (and it is *down*). The beach is over a mile long, and we walked up to one end and partway down to the other, then randomly encountered a friend who happened to be there at the same time we were, and strolled back towards the first end again.

We played some frisbee as we went, but I quickly tired of Tika catching it, running out into the surf and dropping it, and then Boost refusing to get anywhere near moving water in order to bring the frisbee home. Each time, we had to follow the frisbee down the beach as it appeared and disappeared in the waves, until finally it was close enough to the receding edge of the wave for boost to bravely get her feet wet and retrieve it.

Squillions of dogs of every size, shape, and color romped on the beach, off leash. At times when I put the frisbee away, Boost made attempts to do outruns on dogs chasing their own toys, but I kept moving along the beach and so she had to come along, too.

Tika liked exploring and running in and out of the surf, but Boost just wanted to play frisbee. Tika once again became so excited that she had to grab my feet for a while to get it out of her system. Boost, not so excited.

Per the pedometer, we got about 3.5 miles of walking between going to & from and the long walks along the clean, smooth sandy shore. Stopped in the hotel room for a little while to play with my computer: Wireless is listed as being available in the courtyard, but my room is close enough that I get it right here.

Realized to my dismay that I hadn't brought the card reader for my camera's memory card. So no way to upload photos, which means that one again I've missed the deadline for my 52 Weeks For Dogs. Crudola. THat's twice in 2.5 months; I think you're out if you miss 4. Just last week was so busy--

And I think I got a lot of nice photos today, but can't use them next week because them's the rules.

After that, we drove out Carmel Valley Road about 8 miles, through Carmel Valley, to a regional park that allows dogs off-leash. (Carmel Valley is different from carmel-by-the-sea. They just want you to know that.)

The weather remained perfect; sunny but just cool enough that I could walk as briskly as I wanted to and not work up too much of a sweat. I picked trails to walk that were mostly level, but did a little uphill and downhill. One branch of a trail descended abruptly via a series of a few dozen steps cut into the hillside, crossing a broad trail running the length of the valley. Boost apparently found THAT exciting--she blasted up and down the stairs and raced madly back and forth on the trail down in the valley. Not sure what sparked that excitement. OK, for Tika it's surf at the beach, for boost it's stairs in the woods.

Boost was quite happy to just run and explore in the park, unlike at the beach. She mostly used her hobby horse floppy puppy gait (picture those horses mounted in a rack on springs that you'd rock back and forth on--kind of like that) that's so unlike the focused, intense border collie working look.

After the first 25 minutes, I discovered that my pedometer had fallen from my belt and dangled from its leash, and had registered only .2 miles. I'm thinkin' it missed maybe a mile of hiking.

Not a lot of wildflowers yet, but a few here and there. The showiest display came along the Lupine Loop, where--surprise!--a field of lupies blued the scenery.

When we got back to the car about 20 minutes before sunset, we were approaching 8 miles on the pedometer total for the day (plus whatever it didn't count while loose). We then parked back at the hotel and raced to the beach for some glorious after-sunset sky colors, then back up the hill again to the hotel for a shower in a nice marble shower, dinner with the dogs at my side in the restaurant (in the dog section)--AHI tuna and some stuff, and a coconut creme brullee, yum!

I am VERY tired. Dogs are completely sacked out. Think I'll join them.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Life Outside the Agility Lane

SUMMARY: Walking, photos, funeral--

I've started a standing date [well--I guess a standing walking date] with a friend to go for a bit of a walk-hike Friday mornings to make sure I get out and move. The dogs go with us. These are for our own exercise, so we haven't been taking our nice cameras with us. Today we walked along the Los Alamitos Creek Trail--another one of our urban trails that meanders in a more-or-less natural setting alongside a creek, with houses and businesses lurking unobtrusively on either side.

It was a fantastic section of trail, and only about 5 minutes from my house. Wildflowers are starting to come out everywhere; birdhouses of various sizes are placed strategically all among the trees. We saw tons of birds of many varieties, up to a great blue heron soaring past. Talked for a bit with a photographer with his tripod set-up, poised to snap woodpecker photos, and we had a nice chat about birds and nature and all that. I am going to have to go back with my camera. In my copious spare time. Since I don't take nearly enough photos already. [Riiiiight--]

I missed my 52 weeks for dogs photo last week. Today, with help of aforementioned friend, I went into the yard with Tika and the camera specifically to get this shot:

This was about the middle shot of 30 I took from different angles while the friend baited Tika's attention with treats. I rather like this. BUT a little bit earlier, I was able to snap a whole bunch of "ready" photos of Tika while the renter baited her attention with her Jolly Ball, and I decided that it would be more likely that I could reproduce the ear photo at some later date than the nice ready pose. [Rule is that the photo must be taken & posted in the same week.]

Good thing we got in some photos and exercise today (also did some agility late this afternoon) because tomorrow I'll be gone likely all day to John Nunes' funeral. I expect to see quite a few other agility folks there, but he also has a huge extended family that I've never met, and from all accounts they're all as wonderful as he is. Was. Argh.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Life in the Agility Lane

SUMMARY: Dogs + class + car + yard + blahblahblah
For some reason, people seem to think that I'm into dogs. Go figure.

For example, my nephew gave me a lightweight fleece blanket with a picture of golden retriever (or maybe lab) puppies on it. Very nice blanket. But, see, dog stuff is not part of my *normal* life (in which I might use a blanket); it's part of my *dog* life. My house is decorated with dragons, not dog stuff. But, well, it gets cold around here with the heat turned down, so, nifty, a blanket. I take it down to my office chair to wrap around myself.

Also, here's a collection of greeting cards I've received over the last year. (Did I ever mention to anyone that I'm also known for things piratical? Apparently I did--)

Despite trying to keep my dog life and regular life separate, they all intertwine. Last night, backing out of the driveway to go to agility class, I broke off a sprinkler riser by the driveway. Eight and a half years in this house, backing out of the same driveway, and I've never touched it. Go figure.

Dogs did well in class last night. Tika's contacts were beautiful (sigh), very fast 2-on/2-off. Boost's weaves were beautiful. Boost still knocking some bars and not wanting to come in to me on serpentines. We were lucky: Tuesday classes were cancelled due to rain and it's supposed to be raining again today, so we just squeezed in Wednesday.

I'm trying to transfer out of the Wednesday night class because it's getting close to Real Hikes season with the sierra club Wednesday Night Hikers. But evening classes are very popular and at the moment there might not be any other openings. (My old Thursday night class was turned into a world-team class. Go figure there are enough people at that level around here for their own weekly class. Tough competition all the time at local trials.)

This morning the Merle Girls and I dropped off MUTT MVR at the dealer to take care of a few things. I set the alarm for 6:30 to be first in line, and the dogs were VERY excited because alarm always means going to dog agility. They were a little confused when I did a few things that I don't normally do on agility morning. (Yes, they did really look puzzled.) After dropping off the van, we walked home the two and a half miles. I remember making this walk back when i first moved here, and being exhausted at the end. Now? Piece of cake. I don't hike all that often at the moment, but when I do walk or hike, it tends to be more than a mile, so am I a studly hiker or what, doing my 2.5 completely level sidewalk walk?

At home, I'm sitting at the breakfast table, which on my split level looks down over my office, just a wrought-iron railing separating them. Tika comes over, looks through the railing, and starts growling, then when I say "What?" she goes into full offensive barking, looking down into my office. I look that way to see what evil she has detected (note that Tika is NOT Boost, who sees evil in many places, but not Tika ever). Go figure. Here's what I see:

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Tika's Happy Toe

SUMMARY: Update on Tika's toe: Doing great!
Somewhere over a week ago, I put the doggie door back in so that Tika could go in and out on her own again. No sign of problems with the toe. (Just a problem with Boost whom I spent 2 weeks unintentionally teaching to tap at the door when she wanted to go out or in. Now guess who taps ALL THE TIME even though the doggie door is now available once again!)

I'd been putting a little bootie on her left front foot whenever we were out in the yard, and I continued to do so. Then earlier this week I started letting her run and chase the toy when we go out to play, instead of holding her collar while Boost chased it, like we've been doing for weeks now. (And, yes, that was as much fun as it sounds.)

And the toe was fine. So we went to the park and played frisbee with the bootie on. (The bootie on tika's foot, not on the frisbee or not the frisbee on tika's foot...) And the toe was fine.

This weekend we went up to the mountains and Thursday we played a bunch in the snow and she was SO happy butt scrunched under leaping ears back running running running grabbing my feet, with bootie on. And the toe was fine.

With much ecstatic growling and tugging:

Then on Friday we hiked for about 3 miles in the snow, and her bootie came off after about 1/4 mile and I decided fagedaboudit so she was unbootied. And she ran ran ran happy foot grabbing happiest. And the toe was fine.

Then Saturday we hiked over 6 miles on sometimes extremely icy sharp cold snow. She slowed down quite a bit but so did Boost. And the toe was fine!

I'm thrilled. Happy new toe year!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Boxing Day Hike

SUMMARY: A-hiking we will go, a-hiking we will go--
The morning after Christmas dawned cold and cloudy, frost on the grass, with rain predicted for the 2:00 hour. I decided to take the Merle Girls for a hike up Coyote Peak, which we haven't done since August, I think. However, as I'm recovering from a cold, we didn't start at the base and go up 1000 feet. Instead, we started on the hunchback between the two Santa Teresa County Park peaks at just under 600 feet. Coyote Peak is at 1150. We took some alternative trails so did some extra upping and downing, so still probably got in 700 or 800 foot cumulative gain over about 3 and a half miles.

On the way up, you can tell it's winter because the hillsides spring to green life after the rains begin.

Boost (and Tika, too) wanted to graze constantly. Really, I do feed them.

The skies looked like they might be thinking about possibly considering getting ready to rain, but nothing imminent.

Boost is such a mama's girl; didn't want to stay within the friend's control even long enough for me to snap a photo.

To the east, Mount Hamilton (at over 4,000 feet) and its observatory moved in and out of clouds and fog.

We made it! I'm not as tired as I thought I might be after three or four weeks with hardly any walking or hiking or agility (between Tika's sore toe and the holidays and all--), and of course the dogs are hardly even breathing heavily.

Compare to the same scene from August (read the post):

I could zoom in on downtown San Jose to our north, but it remained somewhat obscured by overcast and moisture-laden air. Fog hovers over the southern end of San Francisco Bay much to its north.

Someone who'd been here before us had played numerous games of tic-tac-toe in the soil atop the mountain.

I posed the Merle Girls for some nice, green-grass, mountain-backed photos.

Sharing the top of Coyote Peak:

And as we were getting ready to descend, the sun began breaking out from behind the clouds, and Mount Hamilton and Lick Observatory lit up brilliantly against the dark skies behind.

Arachnophobes, watch out for the next photo--as we descended towards the parking lot, my friend asked what was that on Tika's face? A tick, crawling along, looking for some good canine real estate. When we got back to the van, I spent about ten minutes plucking ticks off the dogs (mostly Tika, mostly her legs and face) and tossing them aside downwind--sorry, whoever comes into the parking lot next! Could've gone looking for rocks to crush them, but it was taking long enough to detick as it was.

When we got home, I filled a tiny Dixie cup with alcohol and began combing the dogs for ticks. Most came from Tika (her nice dense soft fur is apparently very attractive to ticks; Boost's sparser, harsher coat apparently doesn't attract or hold them as much). I never stopped finding them--pulled off about 40 over the next hour to hour and a half of constant looking. My back and arms finally just couldn't take it any more. I checked their heads and necks periodically for the rest of the evening, found one or two more each time, until finally the last time I looked I didn't see any *in that area* (which is the most attractive to them), so I called it quits and have kept my fingers crossed. The good thing is that they keep wandering around for hours and hours looking for location location location, so they're very easy to remove the first day, haven't even started trying to bite yet.

We did not have that tick problem back in August. But I was also more careful then about keeping the dogs out of the grass, and this time I not only didn't try, I actually encouraged them to lie there! Doh!

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Head for the Hills

SUMMARY: Short hike with the dogs instead of agility
We're taking this weekend off from agility. There's a CPE trial going on, at which Boost's younger half-sister Quas ("kass") just finished her C-ATCH (championship). We're not going much CPE these days, as much as I enjoy my CPE weekends. I am working hard at cutting back on agility, and on enjoying my weekends reclaiming the life I used to have.

So, in that vein, when today broke sunny, clear, and cool, I scooted around doing various chores and errands (recycling: check! bank: check! (bank--check--ha ha?) flu shot: check! (H1N1 shot not available yet) basic blood test: check!) and then headed for Santa Teresa County Park again.

This time around, instead of starting out close to sea level and climbing 1000 feet, I drove up to the parking area in the middle of the park and we did a couple of loops for about 4 miles with cumulative elevation gain (and drop) of maybe 700 feet.

The weather was gorgeous, this park is basically right in the middle of our urban area with gorgeous views, and yet the trails were nearly abandoned. In our 2 hours there, I saw exactly 3 other hikers (and they all had dogs! what does that tell you about dog owners?) and maybe a dozen bikers. The parking lot with MUTT MVR is virtually empty.

Admittedly, climbing 200 feet up a trail in the direct sun was pretty warm, and everyone wanted a drink when we came to a good resting point. Me, of course, using my Salinas/Monterey Agility Racing Team agility water bottle.

Most of the hillsides were monochromatic golden, summer-dry mostly nonnative grasses and thistles. But that just made the splashes of color more brilliant and the seedheads more attractive.

Dogs had to be on leashes, and for a lot of our hike, this diagram was a pretty accurate depiction.

We had a lovely hike, which tired out the merle girls for approximately the 30 minutes (with stops) that it took to get home again. Ah, well. 

And since I don't want to upload and describe all the photos twice, go here to see the complete set of photos from today.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Black Mountain Hike Photos

SUMMARY: Another hike sans dogs.

Too hot to take the dogs; not allowed on this trail anyway.

Just a dozen photos of lovely sunsetty scenery with my crappy point-and-shoot here. If you have arachnophobia, watch out for the first photo, which comes up by default.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yosemite point of view

SUMMARY: Fellow hiker's posts.

My companion on the Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point hike talks a little about the set-up for the hike, cameras, wild animals, wild people, and so on:




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Monday, August 24, 2009

Mission Accomplished

SUMMARY: Glacier Point hike done!

The Plan

My estimated schedule was this:
* 5:45 a.m. Leave home.
* 6:30 a.m. Meet at Fremont BART station and carpool to Yosemite.
* 10:30 a.m. Arrive at trailhead for Four-Mile Trail and head out.
* 2:30 Arrive at Glacier Point.
* 3:30 Leave Glacier Point.
* 5:30 Arrive back at car.
* 9:30 Arrive back at Fremont.
* 10:15 p.m. Arrive home.

Welllll you know how it goes. I really wanted to check out Bridalveil Falls on the way by to see how much water there was, The Other Ellen (my adventurous coconspirator) was interested in the rock textures for her artwork, we needed new maps, we needed to visit the (really pee-yew!) biffies... then I wasn't quite as ready for the hike (physically) as I thought I might be...

Dang muscles

I knew that 3200 feet of straight up would be hard on my muscles and that back down would be hard on my knees, but I thought I had allowed sufficient time; 6 hours is about an average round trip, and we're both in reasonable hiking condition.

But nuuuuuuu, by halfway up my up-going muscles were shaky enough that I had to stop frequently as I got to where I could barely lift my feet off the ground. The rest of me felt fine, though. We stopped often anyway for photo ops, but I added more stops than that. The Other Ellen's GPS claimed that we spend only 2:38 actually moving on the way up, but I find that hard to believe--it took us 5 hours total, which means that we were stopped fully half the time? Dunno...

I was pretty good for about a third of the way down, then my legs began their transmogrification to quivering rubber--the couple of times I stopped to take a photo, they were shaking so badly that I couldn't hold the camera even close to still--and then they just started hurting. Not the knees so much (although they weren't happy), but more the thighs and calves because it was so steep and slippery that I operated in a knees-bent mode most of the way down, no normal striding at all. By the last mile or two, I had to stop every few minutes to rest as my legs were on the verge of collapsing under me.

I made it to the car, but if it had been another mile, it's unlikely I'd have managed it--I was already swinging my legs into position each step rather than lifting, using my trekking pole to drag myself. Sounds lovely, eh? Needed more conditioning-- On the other hand, I was a good distance ahead of The Other Ellen (TOE) and she didn't seem to be itching to go faster, either.

But the rest of me still felt great!

The Reality

So here's what it really was:
* 5:45 a.m. Leave home.
* 6:30 a.m. Meet at Fremont BART station.
* 6:45 Head to Yosemite.
* 10:20 Stop at Bridalveil Falls.
* 11:20 a.m. Arrive at trailhead for Four-Mile Trail.
* 11:45 Head out. Why did it take us so long there? Broken bootlace, couple of photos, I dunno, just took a while to get it together.
* 4:45 Arrive at Glacier Point.
* 6:00 Leave Glacier Point.
* 8:30 Arrive back at car. Divest hiking gear, find snacks, etc.; drop off found hiker at her car, etc.
* 1:17 a.m. Arrive back at Fremont.
* 1:50 a.m. Arrive home.

General trip notes

It's always fun traveling with someone with whom you can chat the whole trip away. Although TOE and I have known each other for years, have been in the same agility class off and on, read each other's blogs, and email quite a bit, still, this was a great chance to get to know more about each other.

And we didn't talk about dogs or agility nearly as much as one might have expected!

We seemed to travel and hike well together. Note to self: Worth doing more.

It had been 99F in Yosemite Valley on Thursday, 90 on Friday, so I was hoping it wouldn't be too bad for us. Turned out to be a lovely temperature--I never felt the need to don my fleece until we got back to the car.

The problem was that the air was therefore extremely hazy. Add to that a high, bright overcast, and there was so much glare looking out across the valley that I knew that all my scenic photos would be iffy. Only so much I can do in photoshop.

I did remember to put on sun lotion despite the overcast, so had no burn at all.

It sprinkled on us a couple of times, but never enough to get us or anything else wet.

It was disappointing that there was NO water, absolutely none, coming over Yosemite Falls, and this trail has the best views of those Falls from anywhere in the park. Guess that means I'll have to do it again. On the other hand, it was fascinating in a morbid way to keep seeing those dry, naked cliffs sans cascade.

We had vowed to have ice cream at the snack shack at the top. Man, my ice cream bar tasted better than just about anything! I didn't really feel hungry most of the day--got stomach pangs once so we stopped so I could eat half my sandwich; my stomach knew better than my brain.

We were absolutely the last ones to leave Glacier Point to head back down, and a German medical student leaving at about the same time slowed down to hike with us, for companionship both for the mere emptiness of the trail at this time of the evening and the fact that she didn't have a flashlight with her. If she had just passed us, though, she might have made it down before complete dark on her own.

Although she was wearing tennis shoes rather than hiking boots; this was a problem on this trial. In the old days, Yosemite paved *everything* to make it easier for people to get places. Not too many decades ago, they realized that paving difficult and dangerous routes to make it easier for every numbskull in the world to get himself into trouble wasn't a good idea, so they've been allowing the asphalt to gradually break down and go away.

The problem on this trail is that it was steep, so the sand and gravel on the unbroken stretches of asphalt made every step like walking on marbles or slick ice. We slipped even with our hiking boots and trekking poles; her shoes had a much tougher time of it going down. TOE had two poles and lent her one.

It was fun to have a third person to chat with. She was smart and funny and we talked about vocabulary and languages and medical training in Germany vs. in U.S. and travel and all kinds of things. We exchanged email addresses--best of friends after two and a half hours together on the trail! Amazing how that works. A year from now we'll probably have no recollection at all of the people we just met.

Not my beautiful dogs

This hike surely would have tuckered out the dogs, but in addition to them being prohibited, there were many reasons for them not to be there:
* Small wild lifes of which I got some snapshots
* Rattlesnake
* Sheer cliffs

Fan mail Q&A

My dad sent me some questions. Here ya go:
How was your companion? (See above.)

Did you have bear problems? Bare problems? Beer problems? We never saw bears. We were careful not to leave anything resembling food in the car. We did not encounter the guy who likes to hike in the nude. And no beer involved; in fact, TOE and the German hiker talked about wines!

Did you suffer from mountain lassitude? (Private joke.) I think if anything it was Drought Lassitude.

You mention ice cream - No champagne because Binder wasn't there? (Continuing the private joke. If you haven't read The Ascent of Rum Doodle, do so--family favorite.)

Did you get sun-burned? Nope. (See above.)

Run short of breath? Only once--on the drive in, we stopped & I jogged down the road for a photo shot. Realized I was a little short on breath. Took a hit from the albuterol and was fine the rest of the time.

Get cramps? Nope.

Many people going up? Down? Did you see any going both directions as you did? Or the other way - starting from the top for the round trip? As we were going up, people passed us all day going in both directions. We must've been the slowest ones on the trail. I'd guess we saw at least three dozen people on the trail. One couple passing us going up asked whether most people started at the bottom; they had started at the top, gone down, and were heading up again. They still passed us briskly.

If you did it again, would you take the bus one way - which way? Hmm, hard question. If I were to do it again--which is starting to be a given, now realizing what great Yosemite-Falls-with-water shots I couldn't get this time--I'd still start out going up. If I were to take the bus, it would be going back down. But that seems so much like cheating (or at least wimping out) at that point!

I've been trying to load a few sample photos to go with this post, PLUS photos of dogs that WERE there, at the top of Glacier Point, but Blogger has been giving me (and others) grief for the last 2 or 3 weeks about finishing its uploads, and I don't have time for hacking by hand, so you'll just have to go to our photo sites for ALL the photos:
* Mine: Glacier Point Hike photos with brief narrative. If you have the bandwidth for it, using the Slideshow button in the upper right is probably the way to go (you'll still see most of my text, but the links I've embedded don't show up in the slideshow, if you care).
* TOE's: Hike photos with sparse comments; lots of boulders because she's interested in the shapes and textures, but also plenty of lovely view shots. And lots of me for a change.
* TOE's brief blog post about the prequel to this trip.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

On Our Way

SUMMARY: On to Glacier Point!

In theory (there's a lot of that going on here) I'll be on the road when this is posted. Planning on leaving home about 5:45 a.m.

Dogs are staying home; too bad for them, but can't take them on this trail.

Temps are supposed to be in upper 80s in the valley! Maybe mid-60s atop Glacier Point, or maybe not. Plus the chance of scattered thundershowers. Not sure I really want to be going across the face of a cliff in a thunderstorm. We'll have to keep our eyes open at all times. (Actually I was planning on doing that anyway.)

I have my rental camera in hand with a spare battery and 8GB of memory. If only there were actually water in the waterfalls! Can't have everything. Here are all the SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras that I have in my house right at the moment. You'd think that I wouldn't be having any camera issues!
Borrowed Nikon works fine except that I've used up both batteries, don't have a charger, and have to return it next week. Three Canons but only one lens that fits any of them (and it's borrowed). One is film. One is borrowed and came with no battery or card. One of them is rented for the weekend, along with 2 batteries, card, and charger. So, really, I have one functional Canon at any time. Funny, huh?

Oh, yeah, what did she take the photo with? That danged point-and-shoot.

Found this site that has cool charts that graph your elevation based on how far you've hiked, your elevation based on how long you've hiked, and your miles traveled over time. We statistics wonks love this stuff. Look here!

That site claims it takes 5 hours round trip. I have my doubts. I'm guessing 6, with a an additional rest period at the top for lunch, ice cream, photo taking, and other touristy stuff.

Here's a similar map, showing that all 5 miles of Four-Mile Trail go pretty much up up up; no level parts or dips. (Elevation in feet on the left; miles traveled on the bottom.) And, for your comparison convenience in how high we're climbing, I've slapped on outlines of the world's tallest buildings (Empire State Building on the right) with their bases at our starting elevation, 4,000 feet. We'll be going up about 3,200 feet (975 m) according to plan. That's like climbing to the top floor of the Empire State Building almost 3 times. Something I would never do in my wildest dreams. Actually hiking the trail will be much easier than climbing stairs would be.

And here's a cool tracing of the trail showing the terrain and topography. I recommend clicking the "Terrain" button at the top of the map for the most useful view.

Meanwhile, you can:
* Find out about current Yosemite conditions.
* See how many bear break-ins into cars in parking lots there have been in the last week.
* Check out weather conditions in the valley with the live Yosemite webcams (Ahwahnee Meadows is in the valley looking towards Half Dome; View from Turtleback Dome looks over the valley towards Half Dome. Glacier Point is offcamera to the right in both those views.)

Graph I used is from; diagram of buildings is from

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Special Dog on a Sunset Hike

SUMMARY: Skyline Ridge Sierra Club hike and Rhubarb.

Most of the trails that we hike don't allow dogs, even on leash. However, assistance dogs are allowed. Rhubarb ("Rhu") hasn't been along for a while, but he and his avid hiker Human Dad joined us last night. I love the fact that he's a mixed breed.

For a dozen photos or so about our hike-- with brief comments--visit my photo page.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are We Ready Yet?

SUMMARY: Conditioning hikes...wellllll... plus Tika's butt and agility training...wellll...and about that camera.

I am swamped this week. THREE projects for work simultaneously. I can handle it, really I can--

But no energy to call the insurance company and ask to rescind my claim. NEXT week maybe.

Camera: It occurred to me that I must be able to RENT one of the cameras that I'm thinking of buying. Looked online, sho nuff, lots of places. So I reserved a camera (plus battery plus memory card--extra fees of course) and hopefully can pick it up Friday before heading for Yosemite. I have a borrowed lens that'll fit--18 to 200mm, which isn't quite as nice as a 300, but I didn't want the additional rental fee--not surprisingly, most lenses cost more to rent than the camera body.

So what kind of conditioning are we up to this week for the grueling 3000-plus-foot trek up to Glacier Point on Saturday--T minus 3 days and counting? Monday, a mile and a half on the flat with the beasts. Typical brisk walk. Yesterday, a mile and a quarter on the flat with the beasts. Another typical brisk walk. PLUS i went up and down my 3/4 story stairs 25 times! I added that up--that's about 150 feet elevation gain! omG I'm nowhere close to 3000 feet.

This evening planning on joining the sierra club group for a 5 mile, 500 feet brisk hike from Skyline Ridge to Russian Ridge (love those names). Then, to make up the additional 2500 feet of conditioning, I'll come home and climb up and down my stairs 416 times.

Or not.

Tika's anal gland is looking somewhat better. Monday she definitely drooped; yesterday her usual perky over-the-top self returned in full force. We're using hot damp compress plus antibiotic ointment twice a day. It's still bleeding a bit but not nearly as badly. I'm almost out of ointment, crud. Plus I doubt the renter's going to want to do that on Saturday.

And we're a week and a half from the SMART USDAA warm-up for the Western Regionals the following weekend, and what have we been working on? Noooooothing! Plus missed last week's class; it was rescheduled for earlier in the day because of World Team practice, and I couldn't make it. NEXT week I'll get serious again.

I mean, we do do a few drills every day, but just kind of general things: A little contact work, a little weave pole work, a little running and jumping. And now--on to Projects A, S, and P!

Things are looking up. Or, at least, I am.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Recap and What's Next

SUMMARY: Who's anal, who ate too much of the wrong things, who needs a camera, who's doing some real hikey-climbey thing.

Who ate too much of the wrong things (at Vicon)

Spent Friday through Sunday at the 25th annual Vicon (VIsalia CONvention, although it's not a convention and this year wasn't even in Visalia, so some people are calling it Sarcon because it was in Saratoga this year). It's a giant 3-day sleepover party for a bunch of college friends who have somehow turned into programmers, tech writers, parents of teenagers, VPs of engineering, PHDs in psychology, executive administrators, retired Captains, and other sorts of things that you wouldn't expect to see at a sleepover party.

Except this year, because it was closer to home, most of the weenies showed up only for Saturday afternoon and evening. Only half a dozen of us slept over, even though it was only 20 minutes from our assorted houses. It's the spirit of the thing, really. Felt kinda lonely Saturday and Sunday morning from the usual 20 people for breakfast. But it was still fun and something like 34 people (including half a dozen small children) made an appearance at least briefly sometime during the weekend, so it was pretty successful anyway. I woke up to a stunning swath of bougainvillea both mornings. What could be better? (I slept on a lawn chair; one guy slept in a tent.)

No dogs at all--TMH Merle Girls stayed home with Renter--but coming out of the kitchen on Saturday, trying to negotiate the small children's toyfield, I almost tripped over this:

The hard part was eating healthy. We had robust healthy breakfasts.

Vegetarian lunches.

Hamburgers and thickly mayoed potato salad for dinners. Plus handy snacks.

And dessert. The cakes arrived with no phrasing, so I was volunteered to add appropriate messages.


After a weekend spent mostly trying to take photos in difficult lighting situations of mostly moving objects with a basic point-and-shoot that doesn't like difficult lighting or moving objects, I really really miss having a real camera. Took my borrowed one for a few photos, but battery is getting low. The difference in photos was obvious in most cases. Sighhhh. So what to do about... [ominous fwahhhh]...the Glacier Point hike?


It's T minus 5 days. Less. In 5 days at this time I should be on the trail going up. To some AWE. SOME. VIEWS. Need camera. Will figure out something.

This weekend, to prepare for the hike, in addition to my healthy diet regimen, I walked for 2.5 miles around the neighborhood--no hills, but inclined streets--on Saturday, another 1.5 on Sunday, and hauled tons and tons of heavy gear from my house to my car (kinda like dog agility, only not as furry) and in to the party site and helped set up and rearrange and so on all weekend, for a total of about 6 miles worth of steps saturday and not sure how much Sunday, since my pedometer somehow reset itself.

The neighborhood is fancier than my neighborhood. Neo-plantation homes, fancy shrubberies, huge lawns, like that.

This 3-bedroom, 2-bath house is for sale. How much do you think they want?Did you guess $1.7 million? (Details here.) THIS is a depressed housing market? Sure, because it says that average listing price is $2.2M! Life's rough.

Here is some cool information about the trail to Glacier Point, with some photos and a link (at beginning of article) to a topo map of the trail and more photos; thanks, Dad, for the link.

That anal thing

Got home yesterday evening. Middle of the night, Tika starts licking her under-tail vicinities vehemently. Crap--could it be anal gland again? Have been trying to keep an eye on it. Will have to wait till after sleep and breakfast. By then, however, Tika had popped it open by dragging the afflicted vicinity across the hard soil. Very muddy. Bloody. Gross, actually. So I cleaned it up, applied warm compresses, applied ointment. Will repeat 2-3 times daily for a week. Plus MORE PRUNES!

OK, fans, that's all the excitement I can handle for today. And I am just not in the mood for rotating those photos because Blogger's upload is not behaving itself and I just don't have the time or patience. Turn your head sideways. I'm sure they'll work just fine that way.

I have many many photos to post for the weekend; will do later. Maybe much later.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Just Another Day

SUMMARY: A little sore, a little agility, no conditioning hikes whatsoever.

Work deadlines. Trying to take a 3-day weekend; not going to make it. No walkies at all.

After yesterday's hike, my hip muscles are sore, of all things. Legs and knee are fine. No recurrence of toe blister from last weekend.

Today they cancelled our usual evening class in lieu of world team coaching & practice. Invited us to an earlier class, but I was too determined to try to get this document update done before bed, so didn't want to go early.

Did a little bit of agility in the yard: A little bit of "out"/gamble work with Boost, and stopping FORWARD on the teeter instead of slued around to face me. Both dogs--blasting in a huge oval between 2 tunnels & trying not to knock the jump in between. Man, it's only at 20" and both dogs are bringing it down! Lead-out pivots, start-line stays, send-and-runs, sharp angles over jumps... Sounds like a lot, but did only a little of each with each dog. Plus the usual weave games.

Might or might not be on the web this weekend. Annual 3-day party! Dogs will go stir crazy here without me. Renter plays with them a bit, but not much. And I still need to get out every morning on my own & get in a couple of miles.

Live, love, laugh.

Sleep seems like a better plan at the moment.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dogs Get To Use Their Four-Wheel Drive

SUMMARY: Hiking up Coyote Peak.

Today's conditioning hike, T minus 10 days and counting to our Glacier Point hike, is 4 miles round trip and 950 feet elevation gain.

I decide not to drive 45-50 minutes to join the Sierra Clubbers for a mere 450 feet elevation gain; we have bigger game in mind! And that is Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa County Park, just 15-20 minutes from home. Less poison oak, too, from what I remember of Pulgas Ridge, which is important because the Taj MuttHall Merle Girls are coming along on this one. I'll miss the companionship of the Wednesday Night group, but will probably catch up with them again next time as they come closer to my part of the world.

There's Coyote Peak. Our goal: the radio towers.

The trail goes pretty much steeply up the whole way. Dogs don't care. LET'S GO HUMAN MOM!

Ah, the joys of hiking with dogs and no trash cans anywhere. Plus expired camera batteries.

Hey--we made it! Just over an hour, just under 2 miles, and 950 feet up up up. Stopped for breathers several times and once for a nice big drink. Who cares if the temps are maybe just now dipping below 80? We are studly hikers!

We catch some sunsetty clouds on the way back down.

View all 40 photos, plus a marked-up map, with comments about our adventure.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keep Moving Those Legs

SUMMARY: Dogs might not be climbing Glacier Point, but dangit if I'm moving my butt, they are, too!

We are all ensuring that we're in excellent shape for the 9-mile (14.5 km) round trip, 3000-feet (914 m) elevation gain Glacier Point Trail hike--11 days (11 d) to go! Even if the dogs aren't going, you KNOW that they want to support my effort in every way possible.

Yesterday's conditioning hike: Tried to get to Postal Annex--a mile away--and back again in under half an hour. The mission: Mail my Bay Team USDAA Regional entry, with check. The reasons: (a) Not supposed to leave envelopes with checks in your own personal mailbox (hence to PA). (b) Need to keep putting those daily miles in for GP**. (c) Sister & Bro-in-law coming to take me away for dinner (hence, half hour).

**For you other USDAA-heads: NOT Grand Prix; Glacier Point!

Uphill? Suurrre! The condos near the shopping center have rolling 4-foot lawn berms, at least half a dozen. So we got at least cumulative 48 feet (15m) elevation gain! We rock!

Photos? None! Were you paying attention? Hurrying!

Discovery: With dogs, even jogging across all the streets and not letting them check every newsworthy tree, cannot do it in under half an hour. Hard to believe. I mean, we hustled! Closer to 40 minutes.

Today's conditioning hike: Dogs came with. 1.5-mile circuit around Oakridge Mall because I needed to get my monthly supply of healthy, nutritious Diet Coke at the famed French department store, Target (pron: tar-ZHAY). (One prior such urban hike, with map, here.)

Uphill? You betcha! 77 steps up the parking garage at the Sears end (and back down); 79 steps up the parking garage at the Tarzhay end (and back down). Must be at least 100 feet cumulative elevation gain!

Photos? None! Camera safely ensconced on my desk! Where it can't accidentally be used to, say, take photos!

Discovery: Squirrels who live in holes in perimeter berms make an incredible shriek-ping racket when dangerous canine types come into view.

Tonight it's dinner with other chunks of the family. Tomorrow night the Wed. Night Sierra Club group is off to Pulgas Ridge, which not only allows dogs, but has an actual (smallish) off-leashey hikey area! It's's about a 50-minute drive there. Or should I just hit Santa Teresa Park again on my own, on-leash? (Dogs, I mean.)

Tune in next time for the exciting next episode of TMH, in which we are probably STILL not taking advantage of our 6 weeks off from competition to hone our keen agility knife [note to self: metaphor falls apart here] and instead are doing other undoubtedly worthwhile things.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hiking Among Other People's Dogs

SUMMARY: Blurry photos of the day, with exercise.

Here's the plan for Aug 22:
* Meet friend in Hayward (40 minutes, elevation ~10 feet) at 6:30 a.m.
* Drive to Yosemite Valley (4 hours, elevation 4000 feet).
* Hike up the trail to Glacier Point (4 and a half miles, elevation 7000 feet). (It's called "four mile trail" but it's longer than that.)
* Hike back down.
* Drive home.

That's dang ambitious for moi, up 3000 feet and back down in one day. I was tricked into agreeing to it by another dog agility person whose name we wouldn't mention if it didn't happen to also be Ellen. The dogs will stay at home.

You want to know what 3000 feet straight up a granite cliff looks like? Here's a photo from Glacier Point looking down into the valley where the trail starts. That's a lonnnnng way.

With this in mind, on Friday evening I walked a brisk 4 miles around the neighborhood with the dogs--no uphill/downhill, though. Then yesterday hiked at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (hopefully not one that will be closed due to budget crisis) in the Santa Cruz Mountains with 2 other friends. About 6-7 miles round trip, cumulative elevation gain about 1000 feet (and back down again). It was a perfect day for a hike among the redwoods, but unfortunately, dogs weren't welcome on the trails we wanted to do. Fortunately, they were welcome on some trails, so I got in a few shots of dogs.

With my crappy point and shoot, which doesn't do well in low light (can you say redwood forest?) and particularly not with motion (can you say dogs?). But here ya go anyhoo.

Borzois. Turns out my friend's son was once a student of the borzoi owner. Small world.

Labrador. They zoomed past, playing tug, to distract the lab from the borzois.

Cattle dog. Following along with a group of people on horseback. Didn't matter whether it was trail or water; faithful doggie.

And finally, an eager Siberian Husky who had better things to do than posing, or even slowing down.

Then there's me at the obligatory redwood forest cutaway with historic dates. Left hand, birth of Christ. Right hand, 1066 and the Norman Invasion. Didn't have another limb that would reach out to the early 20th century.

The full photo essay (about 40 photos, with captions, crawdads, snakes, and more trees), here.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Titles, tongues, trekking, tunes, with photos

SUMMARY: Still practicing terseness with assorted updates.


This arrived today. Woot! 50 Tournament legs at Championship level, highest possible tournament title. Never thought we'd never get there. But now already have 8 at Performance level after 10 tries.


Exercise the beasts in warm weather and see what hangs out.

How does such a small face contain such a gigantic tongue?

In case you always wondered: The inside of a panting dog.

Tika has a natural paw-tuck when lying down. Usually when I try a photo, she leaps up to check me out.


Left the Merle Girls at home and took myself for another 6-7 mile Sierra club hike with ~500 feet elevation gain at Rancho San Antonio. The hills were richly colored with this brilliant red foliage. Yeah, well, poison oak.

We don't often see horses on these trails, but this one passed us twice, trotting past the ubiquitous brilliant red foliage.

Air was a bit hazy/smoggy, but still had a nice view of the blimp hangar and wind tunnels at Moffett Field and of the south end of San Francisco Bay.

Looking down towards a section of trail on the dry hillside, probably the one on which we came up. And the requisite rich red foliage in the foreground.


Bad enough I make up bad lyrics when I'm awake. Last night dreamed I was in agility class and we were discussing the bad traffic coming home from the trial. (This is the only relationship that this topic has to dogs. It's a stretch but it's what I've got.) I said I had no trouble. Friend said it was awful just trying to get onto the freeway, how did you get around the on-ramp? I burst into song (to the tune of I'm Getting Married In The Morning):
We're stuck in traffic on the on ramp.
We're stuck in traffic going slow!
Pull out the stops! But let's watch for cops!
'Cause we're passing traffic going slow.
She looked at me blankly. I said, "Haven't you ever seen Mary Poppins?" which woke me up immediately, because of course it wasn't Mary Poppins, it was My Fair Lady. And it stunned me that the lyrics actually worked in real life, too, not just Dreamworld.

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