Sunday, December 26, 2010

A review of "Faceless Killers"

by Henning Mankell

Faceless Killers is the second Kurt Wallander novel that I’ve read (my first was Firewall). I’m now officially a fan of Henning Mankell; this was even better than the first.

Again we’re given the little details that make Wallander a realistic character. While investigating a horrific murder, he deals with mundane issues like weight loss, an aging father, a failed marriage, a troubled child. Many of these problems he’s hopelessly ill-equipped to solve, and he seems to recognize this but soldiers on anyway.

On top of that there’s a peek into Swedish immigration problems. It’s always interesting to get a look at what’s going on in other countries, even in works of fiction.

I’m going to make an effort to find the other books in the Wallander series, and anything else by Mankell that I can lay my hands on.

Tank one hundred and forty-five

Total miles: 50367. Trip miles: 346.8. Gallons: 7.499. Price per gallon: $3.099.

Screen mileage: 50.2 mpg. Tank mileage: 46.5 mpg.

Long drive in the cold, plus some short trips, and a snow storm.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tank one hundred and forty-four

Total miles: 50020. Trip miles: 180.5. Gallons: 5.016. Price per gallon: $3.099.

Screen mileage: 37.6 mpg. Tank mileage: 36.0 mpg.

Terrible mileage! Lots of cold, short trips, and de-icing time spent with the car sitting and the engine running.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

more climbing

I made it back to the gym yesterday. I was feeling a little tired, and only stayed for about 1 h 20 min.

I started with the most difficult, outward slanting wall, where I still can barely get halfway up a route. Then I moved around back and forth between the vertical wall and the easier one that's less than vertical. I didn't do as well as last time. I completed several 5.5s and the same yellow 5.8 as last time, up the vertical wall. I'm suspicious of that 5.8, because it seems almost as easy as a 5.5. I couldn't complete any 5.7s this time.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tank one hundred and forty-three

Total miles: 49839. Trip miles: 243.6. Gallons: 5.204. Price per gallon: $3.039.

Screen mileage: 47.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 46.8 mpg.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

at the gym


at the gym
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went for another climb today!

I started out on the wall which slants out a little more than vertical. This is still pretty tough for me, I can't even make it halfway up yet.

That soon got me tired out, and I switched to a wall that was completely vertical. Here I was able to do a 5.8! It was a bit weird, since I could do one of the 5.8s but not the other one. And I couldn't complete a 5.7 either.

When I started to get too tired for that, I switched to a wall that was a little less than vertical, which makes things easier. There I did a 5.5, 5.6, and 5.7.

As usual, it was incredibly fun! I'm glad I finally started up doing this again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A review of "Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated)"

by Charles Wheelan

My comments are actually about the 2002 edition.
  1. I didn’t learn anything. I’ve read a bunch of finance books and a few books on economics, and this book just didn’t add anything substantial for me, so it was a waste of time.
  2. The author likes to give multiple metaphors to explain economic activities, things like people choosing a line at the grocery store. I found this to be boring padding, ymmv. I’d prefer a straightforward discussion of how it works, and then some detailed discussion of the nuances involved.
  3. I found the author’s writing style pompous on occasion, which was a turn-off.
  4. The book struck me as slanted to the right, although it’s probably true that I’m ignoring his minor attempts at appeasing the left. There’s the usual talk about “creative destruction” and rah rah for globalization. The author proposes that inhumane labor practices should be ignored in third world countries – after all, the alternative is prostitution for these workers, and no one is making them work under poor conditions in these factories, they are choosing it of their own free will! So buy your junk from Wal-Mart and feel good about all the tiny kids stabbing themselves with sewing needles for 12 hours a day, because we’re all winners in this equation! We are supposed to believe that only these two options are available, and that we have no say in adding more options for third world workers. There is not one mention of the fair trade movement. Negative effects of capitalism are sprinkled with fairy dust and swept under the rug with “yes, it really sucks to be poor, but we’ll give them a little government subsidy to soothe our consciences, but let’s not dwell on unpleasantness, but instead move right along to the next sterling example of creative destructionism.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tank one hundred and forty-two

Total miles: 49596. Trip miles: 391.1. Gallons: 7.255. Price per gallon: $2.999.

Screen mileage: 52.1 mpg. Tank mileage: 53.9 mpg.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

pie crust made from shortening


pie crust made from shortening
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.


I've never made anything with shortening before. It's a little scary, solid white greasy stuff which you don't have to refrigerate, but which claims to be edible. But I found Spectrum organic shortening - no trans-fats - at the Whole Foods store, and decided to try it. My hope was for a less greasy pie crust than what I usually get with butter.

Here's the crust as I'm rolling it out. It's considerably easier to work with than a crust made from butter.

Below is the resulting pie. It looks incredibly good and the crust looks perfect! Too bad I have to wait till tomorrow to break into it.


apple pie
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tank one hundred and forty-one

Total miles: 49205. Trip miles: 406.4. Gallons: 9.155. Price per gallon: $2.979.

Screen mileage: 48.9 mpg. Tank mileage: 44.4 mpg.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

climbing followed by chinese chicken


chinese chicken
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went for another climb today. Got some practice belaying, nice!

Then I went home and made Chinese chicken for dinner. It looked so good I had to record it for posterity. It tastes even better than it looks!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

basically it's the book (rated 4 stars)


I watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo today.

The movie’s well done, and very closely follows the book. The only problem is that there are no surprises. I’m glad I read the book first. I’d give the movie more stars if I hadn’t.

Now I sort of want to go out and get a nose ring…

my pm3 is dead, slain by a bad battery


I haven't used my indoor rower since June, at which point the monitor was working fine. Yesterday, I decided it was time to start preparing for the Concept2 Holiday Challenge. When I started to row, the monitor didn't turn on automatically, like it usually does. I figured, "dead batteries" and opened the monitor to pop them out. Much to my chagrin, I found one of the batteries had "exploded" and leaked all over the circuit board.

I was tempted to pour some Dr Pepper over the thing, but I didn't have any in the house. Instead I tried scrubbing on some baking soda with a toothbrush. That removed some of the corrosion but not all (the photo above shows the end result, still with plenty of gunk). I had to flush a little water over the area to remove the baking soda and detritus... I let it dry overnight, and tried it out this morning. It still doesn't work, no surprise.

I could continue to row without the monitor, of course, but then I wouldn't be able to record my meters, and couldn't participate in challenges, which is something I really enjoy.

So I've ordered a PM3 retrofit kit from Concept2 for the horrifying price of $160 (I guess I'm lucky that they still sell the things). Reminder to all: remove the batteries from expensive items when you aren't going to be using them for a while.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

skating rink


skating rink
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I took my first ice skating lesson today. I only fell once! My sketchy rollerblading skills came back to me after about 10 minutes on the ice.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

signed up for ice-skating lessons

That’s step 1 complete!

Bones of the Master

Bones of the Master is the amazing, true story of a Chinese ex-pat Ch’an monk’s incredible journey to honor his long-dead teacher.

I recommend reading the book all at once. I read the first 170 pages in parts, which took away from my enjoyment of the story, since it really requires full attention. The last 120 pages, which I read straight through, I found riveting. It helps that I love climbing mountains!

I found the spooky mysticism an added plus. As a fan of fiction like the X-Files, I enjoy that kind of stuff without having to make decisions about whether it’s bogus or not.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

moosilauke view


moosilauke view
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Soon, I left Moosilauke's summit and decided that I had time to do a loop back to the car.

As it turned out, I was cutting it close. Moosilauke Carriage Rd is a very easy trip all the way to Hurricane Trail. It's wide, not too steep, and has some nice views on the way down.

But Hurricane Trail was a mess. The 800 ft climb from Moosilauke Carriage Rd to the summit was a river, with lots of deep puddles that needed to be navigated with care. That made the going very slow. I think it took over an hour to do about 1.6 miles here. It didn't help that I was tired from the Moosilauke climb already.

I hit the saddle near Hurricane Mtn at around 4 pm. I was already worried that I'd be coming out in darkness, so I made my way down the trail as quickly as possible. This half of the trail was still wet, but not nearly as bad as the other side.

I made it out at 5 pm, and there was still plenty of light, so I got lucky there. Not much room for error. Overall, though, it was a great day!

moosilauke view


moosilauke view
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view from the summit of Mt Moosilauke. Words can't describe this mountain. 360 degrees of great views. Wow!

I was lucky and got to spend 20 minutes wandering around at the top inspecting the area. I had the place totally to myself. There are a lot of cairns, multiple rock shelters, two plaques, a geodetic survey marker, and a lot of engravings in the boulders.

The temperature must have been around 50 °F up here, but I put on a light jacket because the wind was blowing so hard. Any snow that accumulated over the last couple weeks was almost gone. The trails were clear of ice and snow.

view of moosilauke from south peak


view of moosilauke from south peak
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

It's worth it to take the spur trail over to South Peak, only 0.2 miles off the Glencliff Trail. There are amazing views from South Peak in practically every direction.

You can see the trail up to Mt Moosilauke in this photo. It's an unbelievably easy stroll over to the peak from here. Of course, I did have great weather, which helped!

glencliff trail


glencliff trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

It took me 2 h 15 minutes to hike from the Glencliff trailhead to the junction with Moosilauke Carriage Rd. That's 3 miles, up 3000 ft. The AMC Guide estimates it as a 3 hour trip, so I did incredibly well up this part of the trip.

It really helps to have a clean, dry trail without a lot of obstacles.

mt moosilauke


mt moosilauke
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Today's hike: 6 h 15 min | 11.2 mi | 1.8 mph

I took the Glencliff Trail to Mt Moosilauke (at 4802 ft), an elevation gain of 3300 ft. This was my 13th 4000-footer.

On the way back, I made a loop of it by taking Moosilauke Carriage Rd and then following Hurricane Trail back to the Glencliff Trail. Hurricane Trail takes you up another 900 feet.

The Glencliff Trail up to the junction with Moosilauke Carriage Rd is among the easier trails I've taken up a 4000-footer. It helped that the trail was fairly dry, with no ice or snow; in fact the weather was spectacular!

Tank one hundred and forty

Total miles: 48798. Trip miles: 308.6. Gallons: 5.552. Price per gallon: $2.799.

Screen mileage: 55.9 mpg. Tank mileage: 55.6 mpg.

Added air to the tires recently.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

pumpkin at buck hill


pumpkin buck hill
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

It turned out cold and gray this morning, so I decided to skip the Whites and go for a shorter hike closer to home. I spent about 1.5 hours over at Blue Hills Reservation instead.

Someone had propped a miniature pumpkin at the cairn on Buck Hill. Nice seasonal touch.

It was strangely busy at the park today. I guess the leaf peepers are still out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-nine

Total miles: 48490. Trip miles: 388.5. Gallons: 7.641. Price per gallon: $2.879.

Screen mileage: 54.3 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.8 mpg.

Way too much driving going on.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-eight

Total miles: 48101. Trip miles: 288.6. Gallons: 5.381. Price per gallon: $2.970.

Screen mileage: 53.9 mpg. Tank mileage: 53.6 mpg.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-seven

Total miles: 47812. Trip miles: 218.9. Gallons: 4.183. Price per gallon: $2.830.

Screen mileage: 51.3 mpg. Tank mileage: 52.3 mpg.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

peabody river


peabody river
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Mt Moriah is my twelfth 4000-footer in NH. I was a bit disappointed that it was so windy, and I was expecting more sun, too. I hope there's time for another hike or two before ice sets in. I saw a few flakes of ice on the descent from Mt Moriah.

footbridge from west of peabody river


footbridge from west of peabody river
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Eventually, the Carter Moriah trail became less "slide"-y and more like a normal walk through the woods. It was around here I became a little nervous, since I heard 1) the sound of crowds screaming in the distance and 2) what sounded like gunshots. Briefly I imagined disaster. However, I decided that the screaming was probably coming from a ball game at the park I had passed along Rt 16. And the gunshots, well, that could be from hunters. I had stupidly forgotten to check for the opening of hunting season and was wearing all black with no hunter orange. I pondered the idea of my body being discovered in the woods, shot by a drunken hunter who had mistaken me for a bear.

Finally, I hit Bangor St. Just a short walk away, I was filled with joy at the sight of a footbridge crossing the Peabody River. This meant I didn't have to walk all the way through town, and cut about a mile off the trip back to the car. Sweet!

The footbridge is marked as a line on the topo map, but the line is not labeled. I didn't realize that's what it was till I saw it in real life.

gorham, nh from surprise


gorham, nh from surprise
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Once I reached Mt Moriah, I decided to continue on the Moriah Carter Trail, go down to Gorham, and walk the road to get back to the car. It would add miles to the trip, but I thought I'd be out of the wind more quickly.

Well, it turns out that Moriah Carter is a pretty difficult trail to go down here; this is not mentioned in the AMC Guide, and you can't tell it from the topo map either. Basically, there's about a mile or so of "slide"-like rock between Mt Moriah and Mt Surprise. Some parts are very close to vertical. I was very glad that I was only carrying about 10 lbs at this point.

So the going was really pretty slow again. Eventually, I reached the vicinity of Mt Surprise. I could see Gorham in the distance, and I could see the bridge close to where my car was parked on Rt 16, almost directly west from me. I briefly considered bushwhacking down to my car to save me the trek through town once I hit the road, but quickly decided that would be unwise, given the time of day.

geodetic survey moriah


geodetic survey moriah
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is the second geodetic survey marker that I found on Moriah. I thought they were supposed to come in threes, but I think I've only ever seen them in pairs or singles.

This one reads "triangulation station" in addition to all the usual regulatory verbiage ("$250 fine or imprisonment for disturbing...").

The views from Moriah, and along the Carter Moriah trail, are spectacular. I didn't enjoy them much, though, due to the constant heavy winds.

geodetic survey on mt moriah


geodetic survey moriah
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Once the high winds started, I wasn't enjoying the hike very much and just wanted to get up and get down. I hit the peak and was met with more blasting winds. And a surprise - I found two geodetic survey markers on Mt Moriah! Very nice!

moriah summit at last


moriah summit at last
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

As I neared the end of the Stony Brook Trail, strong winds began to pick up. They blasted the mountain top the entire time I was on it.

It is 1.4 miles from where Stony Brook Trail meets Carter Moriah until you get to Mt Moriah, just under a thousand feet of climbing. There are several sections which are completely exposed. The wind was almost strong enough to knock me off my feet. I think I wound up doing about 1.5 mph here.

It was very nice to finally reach the summit. There is a crazy clamber to get to the peak. It's the kind of thing that's fun when you're not carrying anything, a bit difficult with a light pack, and nasty if loaded up with a heavy pack.

great view cairn along carter moriah


great view cairn along carter moriah
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

As I moved up the Stony Brook trail, nearing the point where it meets Carter Moriah, I began noticing some wet bootprints on the rocks. Eventually I saw a couple of hikers up ahead. I stopped to fill my water bottle, and give them some distance.

Soon, I began to approach them again, and I realized I'd just have to pass them. They politely gave me the right of way.

Later on I caught up with them at the trailhead. They were kicking back at their car, downing some cold ones.

I had taken the loop back to the car, while they had apparently come back down via Stony Brook. They expressed some surprise at how fast I was hiking. It's my feeling that they were slow, not that I was fast - I wasn't going much faster than book time. It was somewhat amusing. I'm not used to people remarking on my speed (unless I'm being too slow). I didn't explain that to them though!

stony brook trail crossing


stony brook trail crossing
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Climbing the Stony Brook Trail was overall pretty easy. The trickiest part was crossing Stony Brook.

I wasn't completely sure that I was supposed to cross here, in fact, since the trail is not well marked on the ascending side. Arriving here, I wondered if this was just a side trail, since I didn't see any blaze, carin or other marking on either side of the brook that made it clear the trail continued on the other side.

I've erroneously crossed streams in the past, and I didn't want to make that mistake now. The brook was really full, and crossing it was a puzzle. I spent 10 or 20 minutes walking up and down it looking for a way to cross without removing my boots. In the end, I caved in and crossed barefoot. This photograph shows the path I took across the rocks, just above the little cascade. Fortunately the water wasn't icy cold. My feet dried off quickly and I was soon ready to travel on.

There's an arrow engraved in a sign on the other side of the brook which you can only see once you're across. Very helpful - NOT! It should be moved so it's visible from both sides of the trail.

stony brook trail meets carter moriah


stony brook trail meets carter moriah
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Yesterday's hike: 6 h 30 min | 11 mi | 1.7 mph

I took the Stony Brook Trail up to Carter Moriah Trail, turned north and followed Carter Moriah over Mt Moriah and down into the town of Gorham to make it a loop.

The Stony Brook trailhead is easy to find, where Rt 16 crosses the Peabody River. To begin with, I wasn't sure whether I would do the loop, but kept it open as an option.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-six

Total miles: 47593. Trip miles: 302.7. Gallons: 6.520. Price per gallon: $2.730.

Screen mileage: 49.9 mpg. Tank mileage: 46.4 mpg.

More long drives.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-five

Total miles: 47291. Trip miles: 385.6. Gallons: 6.991. Price per gallon: $2.619.

Screen mileage: 57.2 mpg. Tank mileage: 55.1 mpg.

Two 3+ hour drives.

Tank one hundred and thirty-four

Total miles: 46905. Trip miles: 435.4. Gallons: 8.861. Price per gallon: $2.699.

Screen mileage: 52.3 mpg. Tank mileage: 49.1 mpg.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

autumn view from flume slide


autumn view from flume slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.


Want to try this hike? Take a look at these resources:
Mohamed Ellozy's description
Flume Slide Trail discussion at Views from the Top
Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy's trip report

Notice that Chris Oberg and Robert Havasy say that the hike along Flume Slide Trail to the beginning of the slide itself is difficult, which was not my experience. I think they had a rough time because of the high temperatures, whereas today it was around 50 °F. Their perception of the hike to Mt Flume is entirely different from mine, so it's worth taking a look to get a different perspective.

some autumn color


some autumn color
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

On the drive up 93, I saw a lot of autumn color. But on the hike itself I mostly saw green leaves, and just a few yellow or red accents here and there. I think northern NH is peaking soon, but there's still quite a lot to go.

As I neared the bike path, I met a woman climbing down with a lot of difficulty. I learned she had sprained her ankle at the top, and had hobbled all the way down with a partner. Worrisome! So far, I've avoided this fate. I hope she's okay.

Despite the grey skies it was yet another great day for a hike! I'm very happy it didn't rain on me. Also, I'm glad I made the decision to try the Flume Slide, which worked out so well. It was challenging but fun.

Last but not least, I applied blister protection prior to hiking, so I didn't get any blisters. And I didn't get any knee pain, either, hallelujah!

farewell mt liberty


looking back at mt liberty
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a look back at Mt Liberty on the way back down.

The descent from Mt Liberty is remarkably easy if you follow the Liberty Spring Trail, which is a leg on the AT. Unbelievably easy! It's probably one of the easiest trails, if not the easiest, to a 4000 footer that I've taken so far. Admittedly I was not climbing up it, but down. Still, I never had to scramble or crawl over giant boulders. It was a completely normal hike. Whew, quite a pleasant surprise!

us geological survey marker at mt liberty


us geological survey marker at mt liberty
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

From Mt Flume to Mt Liberty is about a 50 minute walk. The continued ascent gets a little tedious after taking the Flume Slide, but it's not really difficult.

I was excited to find this US Geological Survey marker at the summit of Liberty. Nice alternative reward, given that there was no view!

When I arrived I was met by several groups, some people hanging out to eat or doing yoga (or maybe meditating). It was a little chilly, and I was still a bit concerned it might rain, so I didn't hang out for long. It was around 1:30 pm at this point. My legs were shaky so I figured I should eat something, even though I wasn't hungry. I started in on my Clif bar, and began the descent.

looking up franconia ridge trail towards mt flume


looking up franconia ridge trail towards mt flume
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Once you pop off the Flume Slide Trail, you have to take a very exposed ridge walk to get to Mt Flume. Fortunately it was weirdly quiet today, no wind at all. There were a lot of non-biting gnats at the summit.

This view was taken on the way up to Mt Flume; there was too much cloud cover to get a nice shot from the summit. Too bad, since the autumn colors are looking really nice now.

a look up flume slide


a look up flume slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Here's another look up the Flume Slide. This section was not so bad, but it had a larger wet area. Along one large section of the slide, the rock surface got really slick when wet. It was difficult getting traction if your boots were wet, even if the rock was dry. Someone should patent the stuff.

There were times when I had to lay my body against the rock and work my way up with hands and feet, so I can see why it's a class III. But I still think the North Tripyramid slide is more difficult. That's because the North Slide opens out into a wide, exposed area, and it's difficult to know if you're going the right way. I may be mistaken in thinking it matters how you ascend the North Slide - perhaps any route will do. I will have to go up the North Slide again to get a second opinion on that route.

Maybe I was seasoned by North Slide, but the Flume Slide just didn't seem so bad to me. I kept slogging at it, slow and steady, and eventually hit the top. I only slipped a few times, and never more than a few inches. The climb took about 1 h 30 min.

I met two people coming down the slide, something the AMC Guide does not recommend. They didn't seem too bothered with the descent and were using poles (whereas I was using hands and feet). However, I encountered them pretty high up, where the footing was better. I wonder how they managed on the slick parts.

water running down flume slide


water running down flume slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I started at the hiker's trailhead just north of the Flume Gorge parking area, off Rt 93 in NH. In case you're wondering, you should take the Flume Gorge exit, 34A. I overshot it, thinking that the hiker's trailhead would be at another lot directly off 93. No. I wasted some time circling back. Despite that, I started my hike nice and early at 8:30 am.

It looked like it would start raining any minute, despite the 10% chance of rain predicted. I decided to trust the weather report, possibly a foolish idea.

Getting to the Flume Slide is incredibly easy. The hike is mostly flat with just a few hills almost all the way! It made me kind of anxious wondering just how steep the ascent up to Mt Flume would be (the Guide indicates it's 1500 ft in 0.5 miles).

Well it turns out the Slide is not so bad. Here's a look up one section. I was lucky that it hadn't rained. A lot of the rock was dry, although there was water running down along parts of the slide.

Mt Flume and Mt Liberty


got to franconia ridge trail in 3.5 hours
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Today's hike: 6 h 45 min | 9.5 mi | 1.4 mph

I hiked up two more of the White Mountain 4000 footers today: Mt Flume (4328 ft) and Mt Liberty (4459 ft). These are my 10th and 11th 4000 footers, w00t! Total elevation gain was about 3000 ft.

I had some trepidation about taking the Flume Slide Trail up to Mt Flume. The AMC White Mountain Guide indicates the trail is particularly dangerous when wet, but it wasn't supposed to rain today, so I decided to attempt it.

But later, I read a trip report that says it's a very difficult Class III climb - "harder then the North Tripyramid slide" - yikes! Given my recent difficulty hiking that slide, I wondered if I was up to it, especially since I've recently recovered from a terrible case of food poisoning. This would be my first hike in a couple of weeks.

I waffled all the way to the foot of the slide. I decided that if it looked bad, I would just turn back around.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A story about "Water Lilies"

by CĂ©line Sciamma

I just finished viewing Water Lilies. Summary: teenage hormones run amok at the pool.

And the French word of the day is: un collier (necklace).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-three

Total miles: 46470. Trip miles: 334.6. Gallons: 5.905. Price per gallon: $2.619.

Screen mileage: 55.6 mpg. Tank mileage: 56.7 mpg.

Two long drives, 3+ hours each.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tank one hundred and thirty-two

Total miles: 46135. Trip miles: 149.4. Gallons: 2.614. Price per gallon: $2.559.

Screen mileage: 50.6 mpg. Tank mileage: 57.2 mpg.

The tank mileage this time makes up for the poor mileage last time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A review of "On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World"

by Jason Burke

In On the Road to Kandahar, Jason Burke writes about his experiences as a reporter covering the Arab world (Pakistan, Iraq, etc). A lot of the time, I had a hard time understanding what was going on inside his head. I don’t always get the feeling that he’s horrified at what he’s seeing (whereas it horrified me) and that kinda creeps me out. I also don’t fundamentally understand the attraction? romance? of reporting in those regions; maybe it’s a British thing.

I found the book tedious at times. I think it could have used some editing, or maybe it’s just that I don’t enjoy the author’s writing style. Caveat: the book was given to me by a friend, so it’s not something that I picked up of my own accord. My attitude may be due to that.

Monday, September 06, 2010

rainbow


rainbow
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

As I was driving away from the Cascade Path trailhead, I saw a brilliant rainbow to the east.

The Tripyramids make a challenging hike! I got completely exhausted and also developed a few small blisters, but I feel great today! I'd like to hike them again, perhaps taking some variations on the route.

livermore trail


livermore trail
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I got a sprinkling of rain on the way down the south slide. Fortunately, it never turned into a downpour. Fortunately - because I neglected to bring any raingear, aside from my backpack cover!

Compared to the Tripyramid slides, Livermore Trail looks like downright civilized. It made a nice change on the return trip.

gravel on south slide


gravel on south slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

For the curious, here's a close-up look at the make-up of the gravel on the south slide. The toe of my boot is there for scale.

south slide narrows


south slide narrows
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

The south slide is wide open at the top, but it narrows down pretty soon, as you can see here. Most of the south slide is narrow, in fact, making it easier to traverse than the north slide, in my view.

looking down south slide


looking down south slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Getting from Middle Tripyramid to South Tripyramid is reasonably easy, and from there you go down the south slide. This view was taken at the top of the south slide. It's very steep over here, too.

The Guide says the south slide has bad footing, and I guess it does. But compared to the north slide, I found it a piece of cake. Yes, there's gravel, but there are also lots of little plateaus where you can set your foot down flat. There are some short spurts where you are at risk of sliding (and I did), but never too badly.

If I had been wearing a heavier pack, it would have been more difficult. A set of poles might have helped. I didn't bring mine.

view from middle tripyramid


view from middle tripyramid
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Hiking from the north to the middle peak is a nice walk with just a little bit of boulder climbing. There's a great view from Middle Tripyramid.

stones at north tripyramid


stones at north tripyramid
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Practically speaking there's no view at North Tripyramid; it's crowded with trees. There is this little "rock couch" near the peak, nice for taking a break. If you want to stop where there's a view, you can do that at the top of the north slide, or wait till you get over to Middle Tripyramid. There are nice views over by the south slide, too.

view of ski area from north slide


view of ski area from north slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Here's another view of the slide, with mountains in the distance. I think the mountains just make it look steeper.

view across north slide


view across north slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I took a photo looking across the slide to get a feel for the angle. It really doesn't look too bad here, but feels pretty bad when you're on it.

One question I have about this slide is: how necessary is it to follow the yellow blazes? I spent quite some time trying to find them, and was concerned when I wasn't sure if I was on the right track. If you stray off the advised trail, does the slide become a lot more difficult? I think I took too much time trying to search out the yellow blazes. If I go again, I'll just make my own way.

I'll have to do some research to see how difficult it is going down this slide. It seems like it would be much harder going down than going up, and going up was pretty tough.

cairn along north slide


cairn along north slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view of a cairn on the most difficult part of the north slide.

At some point, the slide opens out to this very wide, exposed area that is covered in a jumble of steep slabs, unstable rocks, and gravel. The slope here is quite steep, and the trail is poorly marked with a rare yellow blaze. I was frequently buffeted by blasts of cold wind while making my way up here, which I found disconcerting.

The AMC Guide says the trail along here "turns sharp left into the woods at a cairn", but don't be fooled by the first cairn that you see. There are several cairns along this slide, and by the time you reach the right one, it will be obvious because it is close to where the trail goes into the woods on the left side of the slide.

I don't usually suffer from acrophobia, but it did a number on me going up this slide. I probably aggravated the problem by turning around to look out at the vast mountain views frequently, and stopping to take photos.

I crawled up most of the way, sometimes pulling myself up with my hands. This got to be pretty tiresome since I was wearing a 12-lb pack. I recall thinking several times that I should never do this again; being concerned that it might rain and the rocks would become slippery; that I might get stuck without being able to move up or down.

Regardless, I did keep moving up. Eventually I was passed by one guy who seemed to have little trouble walking up, without using his hands. This makes me think my problem was mainly psychological. Looking at the photos from the safety of home, it does look steep but not murderous.

north slide goes on


north slide continues
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

It was kind of hard for me to grok just how long the north slide is. The AMC Guide describes it as "climbing 1200 ft in 0.5 mi." This slide seems to go on forever.

At this point, I thought I was nearing the top. In fact, I was nearing the part of the slide where it expands into a large open area. So far, this was a fun climb, though tiring. It gets a bit tricky after this, to say the least.

north slide continues


north slide continues
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Here we continue up the north slide to North Tripyramid. This area is still not difficult. I didn't slip here, and the trail is obvious.

start of the north slide


start of the north slide
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

It's a pretty easy jaunt from Cascade Path over to the start of the Mt Tripyramid trail. Cascade Path is not always perfectly marked, but if you're moderately alert you shouldn't have problems.

The AMC White Mountain Guide recommends climbing up the north slide of Mt Tripyramid Trail, and taking the south slide down. I did this. I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm posting these photos to give you an idea. This first picture shows the beginning of the north slide. It's not at all threatening. The moss would be nasty in rain, but yesterday I had no problems slipping.

cascade path trailhead


cascade path trailhead
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I got started a little late, because I didn't print out a detailed map to get to the trailhead. It's not described well in the AMC White Mountain Guide, and the trail map doesn't make it clear. So here are directions to the Cascade Path trailhead.

Take Rte 93 in NH to exit 28, and follow Rte 49 northeast just about as far as it will go. Eventually, the speed limit goes from 50 to 30 mph, and you'll see signs for the Waterville Valley ski area on Tripoli Rd, to the left. Don't go there; continue straight on. At this point, Rte 49 gets confusing. A lot of this area seems like a set of private streets meandering through a condo.

You'll eventually get to a big brown sign on the right of the road, which is called "Valley Rd" here. The sign points to various attractions, including a (public) golf club, and "WVAIA" trails. Take this right. This is the confusing point. You have been following Rte 49, which is Valley Rd, and you need to continue on this road by going right. If you continue on straight, you'll be following Snow's Brook Rd, which leads off in the wrong direction.

Follow Valley Rd past a golf course and tennis courts. You'll pass Stone Tower Ln and W Branch Rd on your left - Valley Rd becomes Boulder Way around this point. Soon, you'll pass a large shed next to a ski lift, followed by a dirt parking lot. You'll want to park in the lot, as described in the AMC guide. Just beyond the dirt lot is Cascade Ridge Rd; the Cascade Path trailhead is located at the intersection of this road and Boulder Way.

The road in this photo is Cascade Ridge Rd; you'll see this view when driving on Boulder Way in front of the parking area. This is where I started my approach to the Tripyramids.