Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I wish for fair winds, hard ice and deep snow for everyone! Love and world peace also! Here's to a great 2009!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Yesterday the lake was covered with snow. I'm actually glad it's melted today so there won't be any insulation on the ice for the sub zeros we have coming. The wind today was raw up on the bluff. I took photos from Frontenac State Park and the boat landing today. Standing at the landing light snow was falling and the wind was dancing across the lake throwing up snow tornado's. Such a tease yet so beautiful to watch. I wonder why it is that when you venture out in storms you feel the most alive?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Library Trip Ended at the Point

I felt like bumming today and ended up at the point in Lake City. I took a stroll on the pebble beach looking for agates of course. Lake Pepin is frozen all the way across but the ice isn't safe yet. Such a tease today as the wind was what I would consider ideal. Steady off shore breeze, no gusts...I could have kited for ever on that wind. Next week there'll be sub zero freezes so the ice should be hardened up soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deck of Cards

A deck of cards has been in my mind as I approach my 52nd birthday. Yep, it's today. Take a deck and toss them to the wind and you see just how many years you've acquired. So what's left...oh two Jokers! Wild cards! I think I'm going to have fun playing these next two cards/years! After that I'll just open a new deck but since I'll be older and wiser(?) I'll know to play the Jokers first this time. This last year has been fantastic! My first birthday present was waking up to a white birthday!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rattlesnake Bluff

One of the things I have always done on Thanksgiving is hike. Kind of a tradition. This year Shane and I had our Thanksgiving Wednesday so I found myself free to roam. Rattlesnake Bluff had always been a bluff I thought I'd never hike due to it being hard to get to and, oh hey, all those rattlesnakes. Due to interest in possibly climbing this bluff I was the probe today. Here is what I found. The bike trail they are building this year takes you right to the very base of the bluff. Beautiful walk! On my way up I headed right up the bluff as soon as I could and climbed to the base of the lakeside or dark side of the bluff. The way up is an emerald wonderland. Green moss and tumbled rocks everywhere! Even the crystal rocks are stained green here. There is also alot of scat of different sizes. If you look you can see how some of the rocks have made great dens for all sizes of animals. The climb up is steep but not a problem. As you get closer to the bluff you start to absorb just how big it is. Having climbed outdoors this summer, I was looking for routes. Not hard to find as there is all kinds of varied rock on this side. Cracks, ledges, corners, flakes...anything you want. As you walk around to the front side you'll find a beautiful narrow crack that starts at the base and travels almost to the top. There it widens out to about two feet wide and tops out from there. Walking around you notice that the cliff is getting taller. Much taller! By the time you're in the front you're looking at some beautiful cliffs. I am not able to do the type of climbing required for this part, at least not yet, but for those of you who are all I can say is get yourself a rope. I didn't go to the summit but it would be easy to get there. I can see lots of trees that could be used for anchors. The down side is that the hill falls away pretty steeply at the base. I came down the bluff from the front and found it much easier using the deer paths. Total time it took to hike up, take photos and sight see...only one hour. Easy!

This is the lake side or dark side of the bluff. Lots of texture to the cliff here as you can see.

Look close at this photo. You'll see a narrow crack on the left side of the photo that would be great for trad. The narrow crack goes almost all the way to the top where it widens out to a two foot crack to the top.

These next photos are of the front or sunny side of the bluff. The cliffs are incredibly impressive. Taller than Barn Bluff. The hill below here is crisscrossed with deer paths. The deer use the sunny sides of the bluffs for foraging in the winter. This is also the best way up or down to the base of the bluff.

Deer paths

4 Inches that Keep You Coming Back for More and More

The last swipe I took at the hold fell short by 4 inches yesterday. Only 4 inches but enough to tell me it won't be today that I make the next hold on that route. The last time I was on that lead route was when I tested out for lead climbing. The test has you go up 5 clips and then climb above the fifth and take a fall. After passing the test I climbed it again and got the sixth clip but no further. Yesterday I was able to get well above the sixth clip only to fall 4 inches short of the next mandatory hold. Thinking about it I realize that if it had been 3 inches I would have been able to push it a bit more and make the hold "that day". 4 inches tells me it's time to rest and let my muscles build and come back again. I have tried this year to be more disciplined on my climbing. By disciplined I mean considering the mandatory rest day between climbing to be just as important as the day of climbing. So far it's been paying off. Being patient and determined this year has added much more ability to my climbing. Not to mention the changes physically. I've noticed added muscles in more places and a huge increase in my grip strength. As I get older I really have to seriously schedule rest right along with my sports that I do. I've learned that working swinging shifts rob me of sleep and will throw my circadian rhythm off balance. The result of that will have me craving sugars and caffeine to make it thru a day. It's a downward spiral. Bottom line is for top performance, which means maximum enjoyment, feel free to sleep and not feel guilty about that extra hour or two. Take off days and do an aerobic sport such as racquetball or hiking. Be aware of your body. Some days you find your body and mind, scream for a day of nothing but a hot tub and that's OK also. Those are the days you can work on stretching. Keeping to this I find that my "on" days are so much more fun.

OK now what do you do when rest is not an option? You've blown it out one day and your muscles are completely depleted of glycogen but you're facing another day of the same. This happened this summer when I took the Freestyle Clinic with Colin Kemp. He worked us HARD the first day. I felt like an old person the next day. Totally whipped and thinking, wow...I suck. Then I saw that I was not the only one that was whipped. From young to old we were all exhausted on day two. I tried the resting but it had pretty much knocked alot out of me. Problem solving for next year I concluded that the only way to be top of my game for comp was to forgo the seminars. Something I didn't want to do. Well I picked up a copy of Silent Sports at the Midwest Expo this last weekend and there was an article on how to replace all the glycogen in your muscles...yes it said only four hours. It detailed a study of using caffeine and carbs spread out over the four hours following your workout. I have yet to try out this method but I have signed up for the Freestyle clinic again. My goal for 09 is to shake up those top three in the Masters division.

This was the first time I had read Silent Sports. It's a great mag with intelligent, well researched articles and it's all based in the Midwest here. Definitely worth the subscription!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Today is an aerobic day so I'm hiking Rattlesnake Bluff this afternoon. One of my climbing friends, Ron, has expressed interest in climbing this bluff and it's sparked curiosity. It's big and tall and it's on state land. They built a bike path below it this year so it's much more I hear. But then again they didn't name it Rattlesnake Bluff because there are alot of bunny rabbits up there...I'm glad it's cold! Today I'll be the probe for our group and recon what it looks like up close. I have this feeling that we'll be climbing this bluff early this spring...on a cold day!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Banff Film Festival

I went to the Saturday showing of the Banff Film Festival this last weekend. I was sooo kayaking movies!!! Or kiting! The first two films of the evening were the best. The Sharp End and The Fine Line. I believe both were from Rocky Mountain Sherpas. The Sharp End had some awesome climbing in Czech Republic. The rules were, no chalk, no metal safety devices, (cams and such), and they wore no shoes. They used knotted ropes instead of cams and nuts. They also did something called tower jumping...THAT looked fun! I also saw one move I really need to try the next time I climb.
The Fine Line is a training film for avalanche awareness and training. Next Halloween you need to show this movie as it is the scariest movie I've watched. It had incredible footage of actual avalanches and the people that were caught skiing or boarding in them. Interviews of the survivors and memorials of those who didn't. I was at the end of my seat. I would like to get this movie and watch the full length version. The movies that followed were nice but more artsy and not enough adrenalin for my expectations of the evening. Still a fun evening out!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Icy Run on the Kettle

I woke up this morning looking at snow outside. Just a little bit, not too bad. I loaded up and headed north. While going thru the cities the light snow turned icy on the roads. I saw several spin outs and started questioning if heading to the Kettle today was a good decision. I slowed down to below the speed limit...yes, it was that bad! I met up with Allen and David at the wayside on 35. The roads soon cleared up and traveling was fine the rest of the way north. We put on and played a bit but soon came to the conclusion that it was more of a day to run the river than play. The temps started out just above 32 but then started to fall fast! Still a day freezing yer arse on the river paddling is better than not paddling...we had fun! It's different paddling with different people. Everyone has something they like to do on the river. Allen and Dave like to do technical paddling. At the dam in Sandstone Dave ran it first. Now I have always ran it right down the center thru the whoop de do waves. Dave went far river right and then made the move to enter the river left eddy. I watched Allen do the same. I came up slow looking to see what was what on that side. I saw a nice green entry and took it. I saw Allen and Dave watching me and expecting me to follow them to the left eddy. I on the other hand looked at the nice waves and thought...eddy or waves? Eddy or waves? You know I took the whoop de do waves. Turned out kind of fun. I was put into a stern squirt and pirouetted down for a last hurrah on the Kettle. Lord, I sure miss warm water playing! This was most likey the last river run for me this year with the exception of the Verm. It's never too cold to run the Verm since your car is right there. It did get pretty cold on the river today but it was worth it! So who is "running" the pool next Sunday?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Verm Today

So is this 25 cfs? I don't think so. What's going on with the gauge I haven't a clue. I checked the river yesterday and saw that it looked paddleable...low and tame. I brought my boat to work today and threw it on this afternoon. The trail up to the falls was great so I put in just below. There were a few shallow spots but I didn't have to portage anything. What I found was play on Triple...flat spins there and surf all day. RR was a small play spot. S Bend was easy all day surf and "Hello Donut"! Small foam pile and easy spins. Definitely a lesson in rock dodging at times but deep enough to paddle all the way to the takeout. Hopefully we'll get more rain...soon!

Friday, November 07, 2008


No..not nuts. I took my lead climbing test today at VE and aced it. The only critique was that I needed to breath while clipping. I took the class last winter but with the rivers running I haven't tested out. I have been leading at Barn Bluff so I wasn't too rusty. I was hoping for more of a paddling day today but when someone cancelled because of the snow???! I sent an email out to some climbing friends and we ended up with a nice group of four. John took his lead test today also and aced it. Next weekend I have to get some good water!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Truly Amazing History!

Words cannot describe the feelings I have since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. I had tears in my eyes listening to the acceptance speech. Senator McCain showed true courage and wisdom in his concession speach. Sushing the "boos" and welcoming the historic change. I could not be prouder of Americans...Republican, Democrat and everything inbetween than I am right now. The ripple effect of this election will be world wide in a very positive way. Obama has a spirit of all that is good and right in life and an iron will to accomplish anything he sets his mind to. The world has always looked to the President of the United States as a role model. It won't all be an easy road but I have a feeling it will be a beautiful road to travel. I am very glad to have volunteered and to have been a part of this making of history!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Looking for Lust in the Morning and Climbing with Snakes in the Afternoon!

Today was the most awesome day for climbing! This morning I met up with Richard, Ron and John. They're three awesome climbers so they were able to lead some harder routes today. I had my best climbing day to date today. I did Too Low for Zero which was really challenging. I gave Looking for Lust a try. And then I tried again and again. The start is very strenuous to say the least. I finally got by it and made it a bit better than half way up. My body by that time was shaking from the effort but I was happy with my progress. All of us had a great climbing day this morning! I ended up climbing alot of the climbs up there. Then after a break I hooked up with the Red Wing crew. Todd had his first lead on Jenna's and Nicole had her first climb on Jenna's. Todd heard something on the way up. He wasn't sure what. Nicole didn't hear anything. I made my climb and when I heard it I knew exactly what it was. I yelled down "That's a rattle snake in that crack!" I came right down and we pulled the rope and went to Dealers Choice. Todd led and we were joined by Davis and Caleb and Shirley. It was Caleb's first outdoor climb today also! Everyone did great on the second climb. I'm glad it worked out that way. Shirley said it best when she said it was just God's way of saying it was time for us to up our game. What a great day! Beautiful weather and fantastic climbing all around!

Ron leading Looking for Lust!

Me on Cinc Jour D'Affille

Todd's first outdoor lead!

Nicole's first outdoor climb

Todd leading Dealer's Choice

Shirley on Dealer's Choice

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Pug!

One of the things I missed the most about my dogs getting older is not being able to go on long walks. Pugs in their prime can run the bluffs for hours! I found this jogging stroller on craigslist for a measly $10! Boo has had a decline this spring and summer. To tell the truth I was thinking of the unthinkable but I could tell she wasn't ready to go. I'm glad I didn't. About a month and a half ago she took a turn for the better. I have been doing physical therapy on her and it's working. We are at the point of strengthening her back legs now and she's walking much better. With her new found health she is getting bored. With the stroller we're able to take long walks just about anywhere. A great $10 bucks spent for sure. In the photos are my two favorite Red Wing statues...the Jesters and Colvil Park. Colvil is a great place to watch eagles all winter long. Click on the Jester photos to see the detail.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fall on the Louis

I don't think there was four luckier paddlers in Minnesota today! The day turned out to be spectacular! Sunshine and warm...well, warm for Minnesota fall. Allen, Dan, Dave and I paddled what may be the last Louis run for me this year unless rains come soon. We took our time running the river to make it last. Even the wind on the reservoir was from the side and not an issue today. We topped it off eating at Cosy's restaurant in Carlton...very good food for sure! I had such a good time paddling that when I woke up and saw sunshine out my window I had thoughts of paddling the Louis again. That lasted only until I got on my computer and saw the weather for Carlton today was 1 to 2 inches of snow with winds gusting to 50 mph. Ahh well...I can still hope fall rains will bring up the Vermillion river.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Leading Ladies!

Sunday afternoon at the YMCA! There wasn't anyone climbing except Shirley, Gabby, Olivia and I for the first hour and a half. We were able to climb all we wanted. All of us did some lead climbing today. I'm looking forward to Shirley and her girls leading outdoors. Both are very talented natural climbers! Us matriarchs aren't too shabby also!

Apple Cake Run

Once a year I make an apple's sooo rich I can only make it once a year and only for cold water paddling. Disclaimer...if surf ever comes up while I'm off work I may be talked into making it again or a late Nov Louis run. . Marie, Art, Dave, Tom and I ran the Kettle at 800cfs. The day was gorgeous! Still a few leaves on the trees and lots of sunshine! Just a wonderful day on the river! Check out Marie's article in the Minneapolis Examiner