Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tools Old And New: Time Machines (aka: Jam Time)

... was goin' thru an old parts and assorted junk drawer the other day, lookin' for a spare part, when we came across this piece of reliable gear that we never had the heart to toss...

... around '88, was in the checkout line at a Buffalo, NY Walgreens store - on the counter they had a display of these cheap diver style wrist watches at the sale price of $9.98 each... the watch nor the price didn't catch our eye as much as the light nylon wrist strap, which came in assorted colors - dive watches always came with a bulky, thick, hard plastic or metal strap that never adjusted to our satisfaction (particularly the metal spring-type bands)... well, our current timepiece had recently failed us - we had been going thru a significantly more expensive watch probably every two years over the previous six - so we grabbed one of these cheap models (with flashy red wrist strap) from the display and checked out for the purpose of checking it out...

... no idea who manufactured this thing - only 'Jam Time' was printed on the analog dial - all hard plastic construction - quartz crystal accuracy - we were impressed with the (printed) numerical detent bezel that was unidirectional rotation (so the wearer could only add and not subtract time - a typical safety feature if you were monitoring actual dive time - cheap watches usually rotated both directions) - water resistant to ???... 

... pulled from it's junk drawer grave - the 'Jam Time' at thirty two years age - the decal/paint numbering on the bezel had long ago worn off and that is probably the third replacement (NATO style) wrist strap... photographed thru a 24mm f/2.8 prime lens we have recently purchased - gave us a chance to experiment with some narrow depth of field - not as (critical) focused an image as we would have liked but was shooting tight, hand held - was too lazy to set up a tripod...

... we wound up wearing that thing daily for twenty six years before the second hand finally fell off around 2014 - and believe us it got beat up throughout that time - beat, dropped, scraped on rocks, covered with dirt, submerged in rivers and lakes, caked with cement and mortar, exposed to freezing temperatures, vibrated for hours on end when operating a pneumatic stone carving hammer - only a few of the abuses we recall - and throughout that time went thru three batteries and three wrist straps... we finally put it to rest only because we couldn't tolerate not having a functioning second hand - I'll bet that if we installed a new battery it would keep accurate time today...

... we couldn't find another 'Jam Time' for replacement, so we've since converted to a 'Casio' dive watch of near identical construction - currently available for $20.77 on Amazon... we never understood the need for anything more expensive (and not necessarily better)... besides, if a watch of this caliber was good enough for the iconic cave diver 'Sheck Exley', it's good enough for us...

--------------

... "I looked at the cheap Casio watch that had served me so well... we had gone back only two months later, and Mary Ellen had found the darn thing on a rock at 320 feet, right where I had dropped it... it was hard to believe that this tiny $29.95 timepiece, which wasn't even waterproof (merely "water resistant", and that only to 328 feet), was still ticking, or computing or whatever it is that these Japanese digital marvels do. And didn't the batteries ever run out?"...

...and...

... "the nearly 400 pounds per square inch of pressure that I would experience on the dive would literally crush the fancy, expensive diver's watches that the jet set liked to show off at plush dive resorts. My three $29.95 Casio watches would be OK"...

- Caverns Measureless To Man, 1994, Sheck Exley


--------------

... a few years back we were hiking a few members of a city based outdoor adventure club into a small cliff that they had inquired about... a small stream crossing en route was staging a bit high resultant to recent rainstorms, but still, it was a very small creek and only a three step crossing to ford - an accompanying gal threw a near sh*t fit for fear of crossing while wearing her expensive "$2000 Rolex!!" - so we wound up sidetracking about a mile to a small railroad crossing then (rough) bushwhacking the same distance to return to the opposite side of the creek - and this thru rattlesnake and copperhead terrain... although never commented, on the way back it was understood by all "f*k your watch!"... we crossed the creek... should have bought a $20 Casio... 

... all about time here - watch close (twice) for Bond's 'Rolex Submariner/NATO strap' combo in this classic clip...

(You Tube video)

... Connery's the man - however, Casio's the watch...

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Shooting Irons - Part 1

... red flag rules... at least the way we see 'em...

... two spray rounds no. 7-1/2 or no. 6 birdshot, .410 gauge... 

... chambered - one round .410 gauge '00' buckshot or .410 'Triple Defense' (.41 caliber slug over two .35 caliber lead balls) and three rounds .45 caliber, 200 grain Long Colt Cowboy stoppers...

... Smith & Wesson Governor - leather belt holster, 'SGT Joe Friday' cross draw style...

... backup...
... classic Remington 870 Express, 12 gauge '00' buckshot chambered...

... preferred DP...

... supporting our friends in VA...

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Forever Roamin' The Hills

... not much to do yesterday so we decided to grab a camera and take an afternoon hike - maybe do a bit of offroading ta' boot...

... opted to head up into the local 'Dunbar Mountains' and wander familiar 'Morgan Run' and surrounding hollow... first stopped at 'Buzzard Rocks' (aka: Kraylick/Krahlak rocks to Pittsburgh climbers - mention Buzzard Rocks and they have no idea where you're talking about)...

... the main climbing wall - probably 50ft to 60ft in height - around 100ft at a scenic overlook to the north - maybe 900ft to 1000ft total length - southwest facing so gets plenty of afternoon and evening sun... once the premiere climbing area for people visiting from the city, along with nearby 'Elk Rock' (aka: 'Colls Cove' to climbers) located about two miles due west as the crow flies... around the mid 2000's this area was supposedly purchased by an outside developer and posted as off limits to all visitors - nothin's happened since then but there's still old posted signs about - that's all we know about that... 

... was a popular area for climbing instruction and a great place for beginning climbers to get introduced to steep rock and a bit of exposure...

... probably the best moderate route here (our opinion) ascends that ramping inside corner and crack to reach those roof overhangs - moving left several feet the route continues up another crack and through the overhangs to the top... used to be some big 'Wolf Spiders' nesting in those overhangs - they're supposed not to bite, but we got nailed good by one resulting in a welt the size of lemon on the inside of our bicep - wasn't really painful, but itched like crazy for about three weeks until it cleared up - our buddy Rob Goodman took a can of bug killer up there afterward and sprayed the area pretty good - probably two dozen spiders, several with leg spans of probably three inches, came falling out of the crack and into the leaves below, each with a thwack!!...

... viewing a bit further north along the wall...

... two views ground up below the first overlook...

... which forms an outside corner and north facing wall return - you couldn't find a better location for instructing beginners...

... that wide crack is a heck of a fun face climb and very easy - a great place to learn lead climbing on gear as well... we watched a climbing instructor spend nearly 45 minutes coaxing a gal, three quarters up that thing and completely frozen with terror, into releasing her death-grip on the rock and back onto weighting the rope so he could lower her back to the ground... with respect to her, we also had a big "muscle guy" friend of ours (we'll leave him nameless) become a bit gripped at that same spot after his foot popped - the first and last time we could get him out on the rocks... fun stuff...

... our first introduction to rock climbing was at this area as well - although, not as participants... a friend (who incidentally just passed away this past year - peace, brother) had just purchased a new '76 Ford F150 pickup (boy, that don't make 'em like that anymore) and we were out off roading, drinking beer, and testing it out late one evening... while ascending the dirt/gravel hill below the cliff a guy comes running out of the woods and into our headlights, arms flailing and screaming for us to stop... apparently he and a buddy had been rock climbing when his buddy took a hard ground fall - when we got over to 'em he was lying there in a bit of pain, sayin' his leg was busted (it didn't look good) - the three of us were able to get him out of the woods and over into the bed of the pickup - we drove 'em both back out to their car which was parked at the top of the hill - the guy wanted to get to the emergency room - they said they were from the city and not familiar with the area, so instead of trying to give 'em directions we left the guy in the bed and drove him there ourselves while his buddy followed, and got him situated in the ER - we left after that - no idea who they were, the guy who flagged us down said his name was Don (?) as we recall - the following Monday the local paper reported that a guy was admitted to the ER following a rock climbing accident in Dunbar...

 ... a couple decent harder face climbs on these short walls as the rock returns north...

... this is the cliff face viewing north from atop the first overlook - it gets a lot shorter in prominence from here and on over to the main overlook, which you can just make out beyond the trees...

... this is viewing west from atop the main overlook (referred to as the 'Prow') - about 100ft from ground level below the cliff and maybe another 100ft below that to the floor of the hollow...

... wonderful... more (and recent) graffiti... and apparent climbing vernacular ta' boot (reads 'SEND IT')... sad... 

---------------

... we used to do many long solo dayhikes through these ridges with the dogs - would always toss a pair of rock shoes in the pack as ya' would always come across a one off boulder or two that maybe had a decent route to try, but which you knew that you would never return to...

... though this surely isn't it, we can locate three boulder fields within the Yough River gorge that are as good or better as anything we've  ever visited - unbelievably long and difficult access, however - that was what was nice about hiking with dogs - they never bitch and moan and will follow ya' forever... as long as ya' understand from the get go it's gonna' be f*k'd up, then your fine... 

... hikin' down from the flanks of the hollow - vehicle pictured for a sense of scale to the landscape...

--------------

... bottom of the hollow...

... 'Morgan Run'...

... an image from stream level...

... 'Blue Hole'... just one more image to add to the hundreds we've photographed over the years - some nice rocks and foliage for framing, though... this used to be a great place back in the day to skip school together and hang out with a gal - no one hardly ever came here and never during the weekday - always had the place all to yourselves... now plastered with posted signs at the trailhead parking...

... lookin' downstream from the falls... we've always wondered what the native trout population, if any, was like in that stream - we'd bet that a few fish make their way up from the Yough River - think we'll venture in there with the 'Tenkara' rod in the spring and see what's happenin' further downstream...

---------------

... some off roading on the way out...

... took a familiar mile and better detour - was just as f*k'd up as we remembered - didn't bother with any photos as we were more preoccupied with navigating deep mud holes one after the other with no hankering to get stuck back in there with no help...

...made it back, obviously...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Spruce Hollow

... the problem isn't the trash by the road... it's the road...
                    
                                                                 - Edward Abbey       

... a lot goin' on in less than an acre of ground...

... for somethin' different we recently took a short hike to check out this long ignored place - first climbed here in 1980 (and occasionally partied here long before that) - hadn't been here since probably 2000... on our recent visit we were a bit flabbergasted by the amount of spray painted graffiti and trash strewn about, so we decided to do a return visit yesterday just to better check out the current conditions...

... hidden in that forest of rhododendron there's a small sandstone cliff wall which extends for an estimated four hundred feet roughly east to west...

... while immediately adjacent Spruce Run tumbles down through the rhododendron canopy to the south...

... the cliff face is obvious at this westernmost exposure immediately adjacent to the hardtop pavement - so close you can easily smash a glass beer bottle off the rock face - it would only be one of probably hundreds of such over the past half century - the close proximity to the adjacent roadway has been the bane of this area since the first tire track... 

... we were told by others that the area was long ago posted as off limits by the current property owner - we didn't see any "immediate" posted signs, so decided to venture on in...

... although it's a literal sea of rhododendron...

... there's always been a pretty decent circumnavigating trail system...

... two perspectives of the lower main cliff wall...

... there's a few decent routes that ascend those roof overhangs and adjacent easy rock faces with some decent gear placements - modern (small) flexible cams would probably be a big advantage - we remember that we played around here with the original fixed stem 'Friend' cams when they first came out and that they had a tendency to "walk" out of those horizontal crack placements - we were also always fearful of falling and breaking a stem (which never happened)... gotta' watch out for loose rock as well... found two old blade pitons up there, too...

... a bit further down the cliff face... the entire wall averages probably 40ft height along it's length...

... before petering out into the hillside...

... nearing the end the trail ascends a small break in the cliff to reach the top...

... there's a small abandoned dump of old tires and junk just beyond the top of the trail that was once accessed via a now overgrown forest road -  has been there forever and had long ago been "learned to be lived with"...

... cliff top trail...

... a few perspectives of the view from the cliff top...

... with a bit of graffiti included...

... we're guessin' that painted target is for the challenge of testing the accuracy for lobbing beer bottles from this spot*...

... we're guessin' also that this nearby trash can was used mostly for haulin' in ammunition as opposed to haulin' out trash...

... not a bad mushroom, though - we can live with that... we're not old curmudgeons yet...

... a wide fissure break in the cliff which forms a short but decent body-width squeeze chimney...

... the entire sandstone outcropping is actually broken into two tiers - the lower main cliff exposure of earlier and an upper tier of which the clifftop trail traverses - this is an image of the tunnel entrance to the upper tier photographed from the western end of the clifftop trail...

... the trail as it descends from the upper clifftop to the upper tier...

...a few perspectives of the upper tier tunnel...

... some heavy graffiti - very colorful - the "artist" really hauled up an assorted color palette... the upper tier has always been the hangout for partygoers... we can understand why - did so ourselves...

... an obligatory marijuana leaf - official herb of 'FayetteNam'...

... we went very light here with the photos of trash... c'mon man - enough with the graffiti and clean up the mess... and they wonder why the landowner tosses their asses out...

... the overhanging upper tier wall - the best quality rock and most physical climbing can be found here... this wall used to be completely overgrown and inaccessible - long ago we spent the better part of a full day here opening it up... some good climbing to be had...

... the earlier squeeze chimney from the ground up...

... although not enamored of the the graffiti we have to admit that we like this toke'n Indian Chief...

... a few selected images from further along the upper tier wall - some tight quarters for photography...

... one or two boulder blocks there as well...

... coolest spot of the whole area - very nice overlook with blanket of thick ground moss for chillin' out...

... exiting the tunnel and upper tier - a decent boulder problem exists just to the left of the tunnel opening...

... vehicle for a sense of scale while viewing down from atop the earlier broken bottle face...

... exiting via the upper tier to main wall access trail...

... and final view from the trail looking east along the main wall...

*Note: We once did a nude photo shoot of a gal, at her request, from this very spot and posed atop that rock (how could we refuse) - still have the photo negatives - was well into Autumn with the fall foliage at it's most brilliant; she around twenty five and at her most brilliant...
(12/29/19: Ha - we were corrected... "29 and stupendous!"... good to hear from ya', Miss T)