Sunday, September 28, 2008

To Shoe Lake (Again!)

Started the day off fairly late and didn't hit the road from the Tri-Cities until about noon. I was off to make my self-imposed annual pilgrimage to Shoe Lake. Shoe Lake is an alpine lake in the Cascade mountain range and is along the Pacific Crest Trail. I started trekking to this lake back in 2001, and I've been making trips up almost every year since. Have always jumped onto the Pacific Crest Trail via the trailhead at White Pass. This time I wanted to try and get to the lake from a different route. I tried this via a couple of attempts.

McCall Creek & Corgis

My first doomed attempt at getting to Shoe Lake was via the McCall creek. This creek comes from the McCall Basin which is a basin north of the Shoe Lake basin. There was no trail. So, the dogs and I did some bush whackin' along the creek. This was a doomed trek. Made it ok for a little bit, but after a while, the creek-carved canyon became narrower and much more thick with brush. Eventually got to a point where my back-packed body and my dogs' short legs were done in. Tried to continue for a little bit by hiking up the canyon wall and then going up the canyon. The climb up was burly, but the dogs were troopers. Once on the top of the canyon hiked toward the McCall Basin. Unfortunately, the hiking wasn't much better. At this point, I called it, and decided to head back down. I still wanted to get to Shoe Lake, and there was only a few more hours of light. So we booked it back to the truck via some elk/deer trails. Then headed to a the Tieton Meadows trailhead to catch the Pacific Crest Trail south of Shoe Lake.

Tieton Meadows Trail...this was EASY

Now I read reports of this trail being super steep, but we felt up for it. There wasn't much time to think about it. It was about 4pm, and there was only about 3hrs of light left. So, the dogs and I had to book it.

Only followed the North Fork Tieton trail for a little bit, and then we took a right onto the Hidden Springs Trail (#1117). This was the beginning of our hell for the evening. It seems like after a few minutes the slope of the trail zoomed vertical. It wasn't bad at first, but after time it wore us down. Every other opportunity, I'd look skyward for any signs of approaching the Shoe, but time after time---nothing.

Rock Face with Scree Slope Below (not in picture)

At one point, we approached the base of a scree slope (a wall of small boulders). For some insane reason, I thought we could leave the trail and cross this slope horizontally and somehow end up at the east side of Shoe Lake.....I thought this slope was just below Shoe Lake. So, the dogs and I slowly and carefully walked on the rumbling rocks. It was steep, and the rocks were very loose. We tried this for about 15min, and at one point I looked back and saw Gunner and Gomez sitting down and just looking at me and thinking, "you don't expect us to hike this, do you?!" I picked up Gomez, and we headed back to the trail.

While scrambling the scree, this was the first time we heard elk bugling in the distance (or it could have been hunters). It was cool to listen to.

It was good, because when we got back to "climbing" the trail, I found that this slope was at the base of just another range. We were still one range away from Shoe!!!! So, we put our heads down and continued upward.

At one point, I looked up to see another person (first of the hike). This guy (and later his wife), were just coming back from Shoe Lake. They were camping at Hidden Springs. They suggested I camp with them, but we were focused, and we had one mile left, so we politely said, "no thanks", and continued up the trail. We shortly reached the Pacific Crest Trail....we were almost there!

After a few more minutes, my tired legs, blistered feet, sweaty body, and aching back reached familiar territory: The southern rim of the Shoe Lake basin! Snapped a few pictures, and then we rushed down into the basin. Gunner and Gomez knew where they were and made a beeline toward the water and slurped away.
Shoe Lake! (& Gomez)

We then made our way around Shoe Lake's shore to the small grove of trees we call our camping spot. At this point, it was all business. I got some water boiling, pitched a tent, and then started cooking dinner. All in all, it was an uneventful evening. Before going to bed, I watched a movie on my iPod: There Will Be Blood. Then it was off to sleep.

Shoe Lake at Dusk

Around dawn we were awoken by a loud "bark". I believe this was a male elk (they were in rut now, were "horny", and wanted to fight, or...well, you know. I think the elk was on the rim of Shoe Lake basin, and was barking to see if there any elk in the basin. This has happened before during other trips. It barked a few times, and then it stopped. It was a loud noise, because it is so quiet along the lake.

Shoe Lake In The Morning

Hidden Springs...very "hidden

Woke up and had a bit of a snack, and then headed out. Stopped by Hidden Springs again and looked for the actual spring. It was pretty small--now I know though. Then hit the trail again, and made quick work of it. Topped the day off by making a pit stop in Yakima at Miners. It was alright (a bit too much mayo on my burger), but next time I think I'll hit the taco truck Taco El Grande.

Until 2009, Shoe Lake.

And Here Are The Signposts...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blog To The Future

After blogging for a while, I had a bit of a dilemma in wanting to make a few posts from the "distant" past. I wanted to write something about my January trip to Panama & Colombia (or any other trips over the last year). I know this was almost a year ago, but I still wanted to write something to log the trip and also post some of my favorite pictures and video from the trip.

So, I went ahead and posted what I could remember from the trip. I also dated these posts as close to when they actually happened as possible. So yeah, these posts are certainly delayed, but atleast now that trip is documented. Hope you like!

Oh. So, to look at these posts, go to my posts from January and February.

Corgi Calculus

Just thought I'd post this video. If this dogs knows calculus, my dogs know atleast their times tables!

Gomez Calculating How To Lick Some Ice Cream

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Officer Tee!

It was years in the making, and it culminated in over four months of intense training both physically and mentally. On September 10, 2008, Stephen Lee Gray and more than 25 other citizens became Police Officers as they were deputized after successfully completing Snohomish County's Police Academy.

Tee has long had aspirations of being a Police Officer and being a servant of the community. In Steve, the Tulalip Tribe will be getting a strong-willed, fair, smart, and exemplary employee--a natural leader.

Becoming an officer wasn't easy, and it wasn't handed to him. He endured job interviews, physical agility tests (with tons of sit-ups and lots of running), tons of training for various police skills, and lots and lots of PT (that's physical training to us civilians). He was even more "negaTee" than normal due to the stresses of Academy life, but all close to him knew it was tough. There were times when most would have had thoughts of quitting, but Tee endured.

Through it all we heard many of his tales of woe and wonderment, like taking part in a police situation exercise, getting talked to by one of his teachers, and then getting surprised by this teacher as he sprayed Tee in the face with pepper spray---Ooooo fun! :) Or, getting to drive vehicles in ways we only see in the movies (I'd say think of the A-Team, or Talladega Nights). There were also the drill instructors screaming in your face (a la Clint Eastwood in
Heartbreak Ridge), and making you feel like a "scum bag". Then there was....lots and lots and lots of running. Or addressing and being addressed by last names, "Yo GRAY!! Gimme 20!!"

I know Tee and his fellow cadets will miss all of this fun stuff, but for us, we were glad they were done and are very proud.

The graduation ceremony was held at convention room at the new Tulalip Resort. The room was packed with friends, family, and fellow officers. The ceremony opened with the marching in and placing of the colors/flags. After this, a few veteran officers gave talks, and instructors for the cadets were introduced.

Then the cadets took the stage. This was our first chance to see them together and at attention. Additionally, this was our first "photo op", and as soon as this was mentioned throngs of
"paprazzi" rushed the stage (including me & Asia). Flashbulbs were flashing and people were tripping over each other trying to get the perfect snaphots. All the while, the cadets did their best to stay stoic. We were allowed a few minutes to scammer around, but then we had to take our seats.

After this, more talks were given. Some awards were given, and then the future officers were given their certificates of completion and were badged by someone close to them. The way it worked out, the Tulalip tribe ended up being the last agency to deputize their officers. And since there were only two officers and Tee's name was what it was, Tee was the closing act for the show. Basically this meant he didn't have to stand at attention as long as everybody else.

One by one, each recruit was called up to receive their certificate and congratulations from various Veteran law enforcement officers, they were then badged, they then all went up on stage and stood at attention. Our dad did the honor of pinning Tee's badge (was a little loose, but it looked fine).

Once again, while all the officers stood at attention the audience were given our second opportunity to snap pictures. The throng rushed the stage and the flashes snapped and popped for minutes. This time the crowd did their best to crack cadet smiles. "Yo Tee. SMILE, man!" I said in a deep funny voice. Today these officers were stars.

This was the ceremony, and this is what happened. This was Tee's show. But he had a contingent there to share this special moment. His ex-boss from the Tulalip job, and other officers were there to share the moment. But more importantly, Tee also had some family there to whoop (war whoop, that is ;) ) and holler.




Crackin' A Smile!


On The Line

I love graduations. They are such big parts of a person's life. They usually signify a change in one's life, and it's always good to be there to support a graduate. I'm so glad I made the trek to the west side to be a part of it with Tee, Asia, Dad, Tork, & Suzie. We had an awesome time.

Line Up

Not everyone could physically make it to the graduation, but Tee knew they were all their through texts, thoughts, and phone calls. We're all proud of ya, Tee ("ya big lug", says Jay).


PS--Tee, I owe you $$ for a tattoo!!

PPS-- Ok, enough of my rambling. There are tons of pics, and those are far more interesting! You can click on each picture for a full-size view. Enjoy.

The Colors

The Gang

Tulalip Cops

Tee & Asia

Hanging Out

Asia Smile

Tee's Posse

Future Hoopty

Outside Tulallip Resort

Tee & Dad

Tee Escalade

Cop Feet

On Patrol, Aieeee!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rock The Bells 2008 @ The Gorge in George, WA

Hip hop in the deserts of WA! The Gorge was host to the hip hop festival Rock The Bells, and we were there. Thanks to the Romanian's (aka Effler) keen eye and organizational skills to get a group of LIGO-ites to represent the Tri-Cities, we had an awesome day out in George, WA.

Through The Fence, Yo!

The LIGO Crew

This was an awesome show. Living in the desert of Eastern WA one doesn't get the chance to catch much hip hop. When Rock The Bells announced they were going to be at The Gorge, and then I saw the line up: I WAS DOWN!

C'mon, De La, Mos Def, Tribe! Dang!!!!

I'd be reliving my high school days w/ some De La and Tribe. I must admit, when I saw some of these dudes up on stage, I was feeling old! But that's alright, they still rocked the house and got the crowd jumpin'.
Awesome Patch of Grass!

De La was on point, and I think they were the first group to get the crowd going. When they played "Ooooh!", I was totally jumpin'. I was down close to the stage and bounced their whole set. I felt 18 years old in the Toe again! Yeeeyah!
Can You See Mos Def?


Here's the "Oooh!" video


Mos Def was alright. His TWO DJs would spin some songs, and Mos would rap a bit, but then they'd stop the sample and do something different--granted they were nice samples, but hate it

when I'm groovin and then they catch me mid-step floating in the air when they stop the jam. It was alright though. They played Ms. Fat Booty--my only gripe, they didn't play my favorite lyric:

"Showin me that tan line and that tatoo Playin Sade, "Sweetest Taboo" "

That's cuz Sade's my future wife! If he rhymed that line I woulda pooped my pants!! So I guess its good that those lyrics were lost into the Columbia. :)

But atleast he rapped my second favorite lyric:

"A$$ so fat that you could see it from the front"

Mos Def: "Sexual Chocolate!"

Another highlight was Supernatural rhyming off of items he pulled off people in the crowd--it was hella cool. Among some of the 20+ things he grabbed and rapped about: a cell phone ("called someone in NYC"), glasses ("was like Tom Cruise in Risky Business"), sombrero, and a joint!

Tribe was on point. I was wondering if they were all their, cuz they started w/ Q-Tip on his own, and then later joined by Mos Def. But after a few Q-Tip songs, the rest of ATCQ got on stage and they rocked! I just wished the played longer!
ATCQ Fists UP!

The Scenario Video

Oh My God Video

Check The Rhime Video