Monday, July 16, 2018

James Taylor: You've Got a Friend

When James Taylor recorded the song Carole King wrote, You've Got a Friend it became an instant classic of love and friendship. I love the song and although played a lot over the decades since it came out, its sentiments and JT's voice, never grow old. I hope you enjoy it like I do. What a great live performance! This is for you.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Hiking: Uinta Lakes near Bald Mountain

Clegg Lake with Reids Peak in the background
Bald Mountain, more affectionately known as "Baldy" looms at the summit of the Mirror Lake Highway, a huge sentinel among many.
I did my best to get at least some images of these Sandhill Cranes
that I saw along the highway.

As soon as I stopped my vehicle, the birds decided to walk away. I had no time to grab the longer lens.
The hike to the top of Baldy is relatively short (2 miles) with spectacular views of the Uintas, and over to the Wasatch. I had done that hike several times in the past. Friday I was up for something I hadn't done. Ever since I had found the trailhead to the top of Baldy though, I had wanted to take the fork in the trail that headed over to some lakes and see what that was like. I was not to be disappointed.
The trail begins as part of the same trail that will take you to the top of the peak, but diverges very quickly and is unmarked. There is a fork about fifty feet after you start up the trail. The left fork heads over toward the picnic tables that are visible. If you want to go to the lakes, instead of the top of Baldy, that's the trail to be on.
To get to the lakes, take the trail that heads toward the picnic table (in trees, top left).
To climb Baldy, follow those people in the pic.

A brown Forest Service sign in this pic (top right) shows the way to the top of Baldy.
Some shallow cornices still on Baldy's edges.

Bald Mountain isn't quite as bald from this angle.

Reids Peak left, and Baldy right.
For the most part, the only way to go on this trail is down as you are pretty much at the highest point when you begin. Nevertheless, the trail is only steep periodically and had both uphills and downhills, some rocky sections, some not so rocky. This time it had some pockets of snow across it in several places, after all, it's still early June. If we would have had a normal or heavy snowfall winter, there would have been even more snow remaining.
As it was, there was a lot of water both on and off the trail. I expected a lot of mosquitoes because of the amount of water, but I only saw one, and that was when I was getting my pack ready to start down the trail. I killed that one, so if that was the only one, you're good.
I was heading for four lakes or really to see how far I could get in the time I had allotted myself, and depending upon how long I spent fishing or doing non-planned explorations. The four lakes I had in mind were Clegg, Dean, Notch, and Bench.
Lots of water with these white flowers.

Closeup of one of the daisy-like blooms.

Spectacular meadows. A lot of dead trees--probably from pine beetle.

Since this is part of the trail that you can begin at Crystal Lake trailhead and hike up to the Bald Mountain trailhead, or visa versa, I could've conceivably gone quite a bit further. There was no way I was going all the way to the Crystal Lake trailhead though as I'd have to walk back, either up the road or back the way I had come on the trail. That would have made for a very long hike.
Patches of snow like this were frequent across the trail.
I was moving pretty slow for the first hour or so, taking a lot of pictures, and checking things out. I think I was forty-five minutes in before I made it to the first lake, Clegg, just behind a group of three that had passed me shortly before.
Clegg Lake

Clegg Lake II

I took several pictures and then headed on towards Dean Lake. However, the next lake I actually found was Notch Lake, my planned fishing destination. I had re-passed the three people at Clegg, who had stopped for some snacks and they caught up with me again at Notch as I was heading down to fish. The lake itself was Beautiful. I could have sat there all day and just looked at it, and I probably should have.
Notch Lake
Something about the look of things told me that fishing would be slow. No indication of fish feeding--no circles on top of the water, no jumping fish. I baited my hook and cast it out. A wind had picked up making it difficult to see the bubble. I didn't want to waste a lot of time if the fish weren't biting. That wasn't the main reason I had come anyway, so after about twenty minutes, I decided to pack up and head further down the trail to Bench Lake and see what that looked like.
Bench Lake
It wasn't far--maybe another 5-10 minutes and I was there. It had the same lifeless look as Notch Lake had, so I didn't even bother to get a worm in the water. But the landscape was amazing! I couldn't help getting into my virtual John Denver "Wow!" mode.
I wondered if I could make it down and around the short row of peaks and follow it around to Ibantik Lake, which was the furthest I had been on that trail from the Crystal Lake Trailhead and thus would allow me to say that I had been over the entire trail, but never from trailhead to trailhead. Ibantik though was a lot further than I had planned on traveling and it would have to wait for another day.
I started back toward the trailhead, planning on trying to find the missing Dean Lake along the way. On the map it had appeared to be set off the trail a ways, so I thought maybe I just hadn't looked at the right time through the trees to spot it. I had left my Garmin GPS at home this time and I really could have used it.
When I passed Notch Lake on the way back I began looking for Dean Lake. I never saw it and finally found myself at Clegg Lake. That must be Dean I thought. It looked like a straight shot down from there, so I headed down. When I got there, I was not disappointed for taking a little more adventure time to find it. I think it was the prettiest of all the lakes and all of them had been Beautiful.
Back at Clegg, I decide to go up the high rocks to the right to find Dean.

I went up to the top of these and looked down, spotting Dean Lake
Off to the right was a rocky ridge and I climbed that  hoping that from there I could maybe spot Dean Lake down below somewhere. It was a good plan and it worked. Far below in the distance, I saw the edge of a body of water.
I followed some rocks, then this meadow down to Dean Lake, (barely visible top).
There were a couple of fire rings around, so people had hiked in here and camped and since it was harder to find, it was probably a little more solitary than some of the other lakes as far as getting away from crowds. I noted in my mind that I might someday like to come back here and spend the night, or have a picnic or something. I was thinking too, that this whole area would be great for GPS hide and seek or something like that.--you know, someone saying "here are my GPS coordinates--come and find me"--that kind of thing.
If you follow this meadow by this curved bridge down, it will take you to Dean Lake.
I looked for any kind of trail leading away from Dean that went back to the main trail, but couldn't find one. I assumed people just walked through one of the many meadows or down the rocks like I had done in order to get there.
I stopped and took a final picture of Clegg Lake and Reids Peak.
I headed up to the main trail and back to the vehicle. I had begun my hike at 7:45 and was done a little after 1:00. I wished I could have stayed all day--even for several days--but that was something that would have to wait for the future.
Resting on a log near Dean Lake.
As for now, I was happy to have had a few hours escaping into "God's Country" and a few adventurous moments. The rewards are always worth the effort up there as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Fitness goals: What are they and how do I reach them?

I used to have a lot of goals regarding fitness. Now, my only goal is to keep going. I do have a goal of a minimum of three days per week exercising, and a goal to eat nutritiously. All of this in order to maintain my health for as long as possible, or rather to do everything in my power to live a long, healthy life.
Every once in a while, I calculate how all of that is going. I decided to do that for the month of May. Examining my eating habits was rather easy. I asked myself how often I eat healthy versus unhealthy. Most days of may, I had a very nutritious smoothie for breakfast. My smoothie includes the following: plain whole milk yogurt, goat milk, spinach, carrots, blueberries, eggs, banana, turmeric, and now nearly daily--chia seeds. Often I include, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, or some other veggies. That's a very healthy smoothie and I have it for breakfast nearly every day. I would say I skip it once a week and on those days I have something else healthy, like oatmeal with blueberries, yogurt, turmeric, and real maple syrup for sweetening.
I take a few supplements as well, mostly to help with blood pressure control. L-Argenine, CoQ10, some super Resveratrol combination thing, and a multi-vitamin. I drink a cup of green tea at least five days per week.
For in between meals, I have Clif Bars, which are packed with nutrition. Sometimes I break down and get some street tacos or other fun stuff for meals. Sometimes even cheesecake or pie. I don't believe that anyone should forego everything tasty and wonderful.
So I think I'm doing far better than the average person on eating well. I am meeting my goals there.

As far as exercise goes, I do a variety of things to try and maintain a healthy body weight and good fitness levels. I make it to the gym, usually around four times per week. I take a walk on Sundays. I go hiking when I can.

My gym routine includes exercises for cardiovascular fitness, that is, aerobic exercise, and also strength training. My main aerobic exercise right now is stair climbing, but sometimes I am too exhausted and finish up with treadmill walking. Every so often, I start on the stair climbing machine and within 1-2 minutes realize that it's just not my day and head over to the treadmill to complete the allotted time. I generally exercise from 30 to 45 minutes on the stairclimber/treadmill, depending on the day. Each piece of equipment has the capability to estimate how many calories are burned depending upon a person's age and body weight.
When I finish the aerobics I will go and do about 15-20 minutes of strength-training on a particular part of the body--chest and shoulders, legs, arms and back, abdominal/core. I rotate through one of these strength areas each time I go to the gym. Except when I don't. Sometimes it's all I can do to get through the aerobic workout. It is exhausting. I find though, that if I go more than a week without tackling a particular body area, the next time I do it, I am hurting much worse the next day. It never used to be like that in my youth. Sometimes I skip the strength-training part because I have worked late and I need to get home, either to make dinner, or to pick it up along the way.
That being said, I manage to kill it at the gym

Here's what I found out about my exercise results in May.

On the stair climber when I averaged both the days when I go to the gym and my days off, I do 67 floors per day, or 1139 steps. When I add in the calories spent on the stair climbing, the days of walking both on the treadmill and outside, and hiking (the one 6.8 mile hike I went on in May consumed 2750 calories alone) I burned off 13,722 calories during the month, an average of 443 per day, not counting the calories burned in the strength training.

I think I'm doing about as well as I can. And if I can do it, you can too. It takes very little time to eat better. You can improve your fitness by walking a little each day, but if you have access to an apparatus, like a stair climber, you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time. You can even do some great workouts in under five minutes with no equipment. Check this out:  I've tried it and it's killer!

So, no excuses! You'll feel better by doing something about your health. Go for it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hiking: South Willow Lake

The day was still young as I drove toward Tooele. A few geese were flying up above Highway 201 by Kennecott, apparently using the road as guide. They were up ahead of me and I wondered how fast they flew. It took me a little while to catch them and I was driving at 65. They must've been flying at at least 50.
Leaving the freeway, I stopped at McDonald's and bought my breakfast, taking advantage of the two for four dollars breakfast sandwich deal they have going on. I was going to need the energy and I would burn off the calories. I figured I could eat both.
I had gotten out the door later than I'd wanted after helping my wife with a few things. That seems to be my modus operandi the past year or so. Ideally, I like to get to a trailhead prior to the sun coming up, just in case there are some fabulous sunrise pics to be had. I could tell though that it was going to be a stellar day.
As I made the turn off toward Grantsville, the early morning sun highlighted the alfalfa fields and fields of other crops, instantly bringing back memories of times when I had walked through such towns, feeling the breeze on my face, smelling the soft odor of greenness. Early mornings in small towns and farm land are like that all over. But I couldn't linger. I was heading for the Stansburys, to satisfy curiosity, to have adventure, to collect memories, and to breathe in what God meant for me to breathe in.

Same scene as at the top of my blog. That one with me in it was two years ago to the day.
One thing I really like about the Stansbury Mountains is that very few people, relatively, have discovered them as a hiking destination. For a long time they have been a destination for motorcyclists and ATV riders, and long before that they were home to large numbers of hunters. They still are. However, hikers, at least on the week days in May, are few and far between.
I had decided to do my second hiking goal of the year, which was to hike from the Medina Flat Trailhead in South Willow Canyon, north to Mining Fork Road, and then west on that road/trail to South Willow Lake--a 6.8 mile round trip hike. For a good description of the trail check out this blog: clickety-click
These yellow flowers were everywhere. I don't know what they're called.

The trail, which is part of the Stansbury Front Trail, starts out immediately steep for about fifty yards. It had rained heavily the day before, and I found it even more challenging to hike up the muddy hill than it would normally be. Still, it's only a short, steep slog and after that it levels off a bit, with some gentle uphills and downhills. After ten to fifteen minutes, the trail heads sharply downwards into Mining Fork, then cuts across Mining Fork Road. It was the road I planned on following so I turned off the trail to head west and up. The road itself is little used now. As far as I can tell, it's only used by mountain bikers and motorcyclists, and a few people with ATVs or other 4-wheel drive vehicles who have access to it from their private land. I have tried unsuccessfully to find a way onto the road from below.
I had been on this part of the road two years before and as I checked the date earlier, found out that it was two years to the day. The other time had been on a Sunday. I had memories of that time. Meeting some turkey hunters coming down, eating my lunch up among the cliffs, the preponderance of yellow flowers that were there this time too. Like many trails, this one brought back memories that I will never forget. One just doesn't forget how Beautiful an area can be at certain times of year.
Nevertheless, this was two years later and I saw no one else on the trail. My goal was South Willow Lake which I knew was at the end of the road--or so I had heard. As I continued up through the deeply forested canyon, I passed the cliffs where I had eaten my lunch two years ago and was tempted to climb up there and check it out.
Behind these trees is the rocky escarpment where I had my picnic in 2016.
There were a lot of fossils up there and I'm always interested in finding them. However, the still wet foliage discouraged me from taking that route. After all, it's rather unpleasant to hike in wet clothing, and I hadn't brought a change along with me.
Mining Fork Road goes mostly through a heavily forested area.

A lot of new green growth. I liked this so much, it's now my desktop wallpaper.
Awhile later, there was a fork in the road that went left. I looked down it and it looked like there was a bridge across the stream down there a ways. I wondered if I was taking the wrong path by going right, but I found that if I just kept right at every fork, that got me to the lake. Looking due west at the huge peaks that direction, the lake itself is right at the bottom of those rocks. Don't be fooled by the ridges before that. I was thinking to myself I wonder if the lake is on the other side of that. It never was.

The lake is right at the base of the cliffs dead ahead.

A little bit past the fork, the trail entered the Deseret Peak Wilderness Area and truly became a trail instead of an old road. Above this point, the quakies had yet to get their leaves, and there began to be large patches of snow across the trail. The first one I tried to walk through and was sinking in to my knees, using a lot of energy in the process. I exited the snow and walked through the sage brush where there wasn't any snow. Further on, when I cam to a big patch, there were some tracks that had been made with snow shoes and I stepped in the footprints, which kept me from sinking in. The cliffs loomed above and soon I rounded a corner and saw the lake. It was still frozen over and I had to cast aside my plans of diving in. I wasn't going to fish either as this shallow lake freezes all the way to the bottom in the winter and there aren't any fish.

I stood there looking around for a good place to sit. The only flat rocks were down a steep hill and across a snow field, so I wasn't going to make that trip. I finally decided to sit down on a small flat rock I found, just above ground level. From this vantage point, I could gaze out over Tooele Valley, and turn over my right shoulder to take a look at the lake. I ate a Cliff Bar and an orange and took a few pics (I had missed second breakfast and it was time for elevensies). I began getting a bit nervous as some dark clouds were rolling in and a breeze had picked up, chilling things down quite a bit. Nervous mostly because of the heavy rain storms we'd had the past few days intermittently.
When I saw this, I knew skinnydipping was out.

The trail visible crossing the ridge goes into North Willow Canyon.

I had a rain jacket, but like I said, no one enjoys hiking while soaked, even if they do love a good downpour after a hot July day. Hot July day this wasn't and so even though I'd worked up a sweat on the way up and hadn't been able to jump in the lake, at this point I wanted to stay dry.
Looking down into the Tooele Valley, the Oquirrh Mountains, and behind them, the Wasatch.

Bookends! I saw these deer on the way up.

Here they are with the rest, checking back to see how dangerous I was.
I headed back down, estimating my arrival at the parking lot to be two hours away. The trail had been pretty steep with a lot of loose rocks, and there were those snow patches. I wanted to investigate the structure that had looked like a bridge on the way back too. I would still make much better time going down than coming up. On the way up, I had sauntered the first hour, taking pictures and investigating, and after that I had been forced to saunter because of the steep terrain.
When I stopped to check out the bridge, it ended up being a culvert. The stream was diverted underground at this point. I had wondered why I was following a dry stream bed up most of the way. I still don't know why the powers that be thought it was a good idea to hide the stream. It kinds of takes a way a bit of the ambiance.
Clouds were rolling in. It was time to go down.

The culvert.

The stream above the culvert. It would be nice to have it all along the way.

This is the impressive fork that goes down to what I thought was a bridge.

A new cone forming on this tree.
As I got back to where the Stansbury Front Trail crossed Mining Fork Road and I turned off the road and onto the trail I remembered that someone had asked me about Box Elder Canyon, which is just south of South Willow Canyon, and that I had told him there was a trail going up from the campground called "Boy Scout Campground". That's part of the Stansbury Front Trail too and heads down to Hickman Canyon. The trailhead sign said it was 4.5 miles away or somethig like that. Anyway, I spotted the trail across the canyon from where I was and snapped a shot of it.
You can see the trail going up the ridge line.
I got back to the 4runner just under two hours from when I'd left the lake. I had begun hiking at about 7:45 and had reached the lake in three hours, eaten lunch (really elevensies), wished I had some hummus and something to dip in it--carrots, cucumbers--you name it, and made it back down by 1:00. Not bad for a nearly 59 year old. I'm pretty sure I won't be coming back on this trail anytime before I'm eighty, and even then, I might just stop for a picnic and never make it to the lake, but I will be back in this mountain range again someday.
Gotta prove I was there, don't I?