Monday, April 6, 2020

Secret Journey

... one path...

... 'Ghost in the Machine'...

...'Spirit' boulder...

... a bit of wayback inspiration from 'The Police'...

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

(YouTube video)

(YouTube video)

... encore...
(YouTube video)

... good stuff...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Over The Hills And Far Away

... the only directions that we need...

... springtime - first day out - a long afternoon workin' out some tight winter tendons on 'Guppy' boulder...

... easy route...

... hard route (Goodman's old route "Master Blaster")...

... and makin' peace with the natural world - we believe she may be a bit pissed at the moment...

Edit 03/28: 
... vintage image of original crewman Strong Man Matt - probably around '96... even when he can't be with us he's with us...

Edit 03/29:
(You Tube Video)
... Hey - lets add some MTB... makes your car run better, too - had a Chevelle that would do 125mph when ya' would put this in the tape deck...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Sanctum Sanctorum

"... whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god..."

                                                                                                       - Aristotle       


... responsibly practicing "social distancing" for the past sixty plus years - we always called it "f*k everybody", however...

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Too Little, Too Late

... winter really disappointed this year - three decent snowfalls that coated the ridge with maybe six inches of morning powder - each instance fading to wet slush by early afternoon as the air warmed from above and the unfrozen, warm wet ground thawed from below - and each occasion we're bridled by prior commitments ta' boot - so any snow excitement was limited to two brief broom sweepings of the front sidewalk - never even broke out the snow shovel... we personally consider the first day of trout fishing season to be the official last day of winter in this neck of the woods (we've occasionally fished in some near blizzard conditions years back) - that's five weeks away - so there's still hope yet... but if not who cares - bring on springtime...

... we came across a few old photos that we forgot about - these two images are from Bear Run Nature Reserve (BRNR) around 1990, skiing with a young Muscle Girl Sarah and Strong Man Matt - we used to have a batch of XC ski photos for this place but they all disappeared - we're sure that all the 35mm film negatives still exist within the negative archive files - however, a recent "mandated" upgrade to our Mac OS subsequently quit supporting the operating system to a great film scanner that we functioned with for years, rendering it useless - so that's where they'll stay... we're pretty fed up with everything computer controlled - come spring we'll be spending the majority of our time outdoors as usual, where we don't use any of that crap, so who cares... we find that all this "computer automation" just makes the dumb even dumber, anyway... at least nature is a final design and build - done...

... "God looked upon his world and called it good, but Man was not content - he looked for ways to make it better and built machines to do the work - but in vain we build the world unless the builder also grows"...

- 'I Robot' (The Outer Limits - 1964)

... that ain't happenin'... anyway, we digress...

... here's a old BRNR trial map... under optimal snow conditions (say a foot plus) that is great backwoods ski area - around twenty miles of trails with nearly 1100FT topographic relief spread out a little over 5,000 acres traversing creeks, spruce/rhododendron thickets and hemlock groves - pretty rocky and steep in spots so the deeper the snow cover the better for skimming rocks and downhill control - wouldn't call it a beginner XC area as it can be a real workout and the steeps are just that... used to ski here a lot back in the reliable snow days as it's only about twenty minutes from the front door - some great late evenings were had...

... we were lookin' for a reason to even handle a pair of skis a few weeks back (it was a January day and nearly sixty degrees) so we photographed this image... we been gliding around on a pair of Rossignol BC 110's (2) with Voile HD 3-pin hardware/Alpina Alaska 75's (1) drivers, for the past couple of seasons - Black Diamond adjustable poles (3)... we got pretty fond of skiboards (4/5) for quite a few years - we originally bought 'em as approach skis for ice climbing as they come mounted with ratchet strap bindings that accept mountaineering boots - we liked their performance navigating dense woods and steeps so much that we souped 'em up a bit with 3-pin hardware for just plain old backwoods trails - we wouldn't recommend 'em for much more than powder snow as they're pretty sluggish in any snow that you can form a snowball (particularly for breaking trail) and if crusty you're all over the place - we also would prefer a fish scale pattern base (not available for some reason) as opposed to the built in climbing skins which hold a lot of moisture and balls up with snow - we usually spray the heck out of 'em with 'Macs 8300 Silicon Spray' available at NAPA Auto Parts... for fun (and to clean off the dust and cobwebs) we included an old school pair of nordic style Trak Glide "No Wax" skis (7), souped up with old Voile Plate style 3-pin bindings, non adjustable bamboo poles (6) - don't know how many pairs of those we split -  and ASOLO Glissade 310 boots (8)...

... came across a few more old stills from Ohiopyle SP from around '87-'88 - hangin' out with the "Good-Man" and a young Strong Man Matt... the upper three photos are along a "secret trail"...

... 3-pin equipment seems to be coming scarce with most everything we see nowadays being toe-bar style drive... we've never skied 'em so really can't comment... we tend to be a bit rough on equipment (at least that's what we're always told), but have broken more bones than (durable) 3-pin gear - that's good enough for us... we don't get out that much anymore, anyway...

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...