The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Signs of Spring

It's definitely been a long winter around these parts, but the cold and snow are finally starting to give way to warmer weather. On Saturday the morning started out cold and rainy. By noon the rain stopped, it was warm, and A.F. and I were out on the Mississippi with our packrafts.

getting prepped 

too much current and shallow water to go much further 
 It's been since last fall that I actually inflated the raft and used it, so I was excited to be out. The stretch of water we explored was between the two lock and dams with Minneaplois and St Paul on either side of the river. I've been down there once before on a kayak but didn't notice as much of the little bits of trash floating in the water. It was truly disgusting. We surmised it was from all the run-off of the spring thaw. It's such a beautiful place between the two bluffs it's sad to see the water all shitted up with garbage.
Lake Street (MPLS) on one end, Marshall Ave (StPaul)on the other


This isn't working
 When we could, we paddled into some of the drains along our route. The water moves so fast that forward movement is difficult. This, combined with the fact that we are floating in frigid water, on single wall "balloons",  scraping along rough concrete, forces us to rethink the idea. We decide to stay out of the drains and come back with the plastic boats at a later date.

No gloves, light jacket,    Yeahh
 As the day went on, the weather just got better. On my way home from the rafting I called ahead to see if any of the family would like to go for a bike ride. Big "D" and Super Y were all in. "G" Man was not feeling well and already had his workout in for the day at gymnastics, Lynn was not feeling well either so it worked out OK for the two of them.The three of us headed for a nearby bike path that we all know very well.
I think your feet are wet now

There's always time to throw rocks in the water
 As they have gotten older, we've been able to cover more ground with each ride. Their first time out for the year, they logged a little over eight miles with no complaining, and at a good pace. Lots of water over the trail kept it interesting and fun. Big D has moved up to a larger bike and mastered the rear hand brake, I will be buying many back tires in the future. Super Y is really good at skidding too, and will be in need of a rear tire very soon. The ride was followed up by a movie, at a real movie theater with the whole family, rounding out a really fantastic day.

Friday, March 29, 2013


As kids we are all told not to talk to strangers. As an adult, talking to strangers has led me to many free places to stay, meals, car rides, a guided multi-pitch rock climb in the Needles, lots of useful info and an adventure like the one I did today.

Urban X Guy
 Plans for A.F. and I to go packrafting mid-day were scrapped on account of rain and strong winds. Instead of leaving work early I decided to stay and make some money, until I popped my head outside and realized the clouds had cleared out and it was nice and sunny. I was out of there in a flash. The wind was still whipping pretty good so the packraft was out of the question as a solo endeavor in ice cold water. I decided to go check out something that was on my "list" for quite some time.

Aftermath of a hard night of partying 
 I stepped into my magical, space-time warp-transporter and arrived in Mahogany Town ready for some urban X. When I reached my destination I was greeted by a strong aroma and three people taking long pulls off of a giant spliff. On the ground beside them were knee pads and and gloves. As I approached they were startled and put on the best acting display they could muster, until I told them I was here to check out the same underground they had obviously just come from. They let down their guard, started chatting and freely passed their torch amongst one another like it was some amazing thing to behold.    
       For the record, I neither drink or do any drugs, my family and friends can attest to this. I don't condone drug use but have added it to the story to give a better understanding to the scene unfolding before me. I was comical to say the least.         
Old Schwinn 
 While making small talk,comparing notes and exchanging beta (info), four more people from the same above ground group came from below. After a few minutes of getting to know one another, one of the guys said he was going back in alone. I agreed to accompany him as long as his other friend would stay topside and watch my bike. This plan could end in me getting shanked or clubbed, my bike stolen, or I having a really good time. As the Law of Attraction would have it, I had a really good time. I wasn't super worried about the bike since I have, like Napoeon Dynamite, an infinity of them, or the the guy I went in with since he was so stoned he needed me more than I needed him.  When we came back out about forty minutes later everyone was gone except the guy and my bike. And just like that, a stranger became a phone number with the name Urban X Guy in my contact list.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Twelve Bucks

Model 426B
I found this old Coleman stove at a flea market last summer. I had never seen or knew of the existence of a three burner model. When I inquired about the price, I was astonished to here 12 bucks. Twelve bucks, I had to have it! Sadly the stove came home and was shelved in the garage, this week was the first time I tried to get it going. All I had to do was replace the fuel cap, and presto, it was purring like a kitten. I'm planning on putting it back into service soon on some family outings.      If only everything were made this well.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Man Trip, Final Day

antlered angel 
 The final day of any trip is always bitter-sweet,  a little more time to play with the deadline of going back to real life just ahead. I like to make the most of my last days by using them up and getting home as late as possible. What do I need to rest up for, work? I would rather have a good time all day and go in completely fried, that's what caffeine is for right.
This is much easier to follow than last night

this is the hole that had me freaked out the night before

this is where we "hid" our bikes when we transitioned to snow shoes. 
 On out final day we had the task of hiking and riding out from the cabin we had stayed in the night before. It was a beautiful day with lots of sun. The hike was much quicker due to easy navigation and a firmly packed trail from the night before. The ride was about the same but seemed to travel more up hill,but conditions were perfect and fast.
almost ready to roll out

 It was about mid-day when we got everything packed back into the vehicles and back within cell phone range. A text message from both AF and my wife indicated a substantial snowstorm was on the way to the Twin Cities and we had better get back home ASAP. A.F. and I decided to scrap our idea of getting out in the pack-rafts however brief it might have been. I had one more adventure up my sleeve that I thought we could get in before it got too late.
Is this safe ?

This is definitely safe

If you know the north shore, here is your clue as to which river we were on
 Vandy and The Legend decide to bail, citing exhaustion. It would be just A.F., EP and myself for one more river ride. This turned out to be the best conditions I have ever been able to ride on any river on the north shore. The conditions were so good we got to ride much further than previous years, and with almost no walking. It was fat-bike heaven! The ride went much longer than I had anticipated, but was well worth the risk of driving home in a snowstorm. I arrived home around 9pm. Mother nature held off on the snow until around mid-night thankfully.

So concludes the story of Man Trip 2013. Thanks guys, lets do it again next year.

 Others welcome in 2014, please include resume' and references..........D Rider out  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Man Trip 2013, Day 3

camp site day two
 Day three started on the cold side again, well below zero, but that didn't stop us from sleeping in a little(7:40am). After packing up camp, A.F. and I headed for the van to cook breakfast in the back. The Legend joined us and received a special delivery from E.P. in the form of a gas station breakfast sandwich. E.P. drove from Duluth to join the group on the tail end of the trip, replacing JJ who had to head home the night before. We were five strong again and ready for action.
I love it when the sun is out

fat-bikes go anywhere, even waterfalls
 We started the days adventure riding another river. This one is very scenic and my favorite one that I've explored on all of the north shore so far. I've done a lot of them and would be surprised to find something better.  Going up river is not as much riding as it is hike-a-bike, but the reward is the amazing scenery and a fast twisty down hill on a nearby trail.

A fast downhill awaits
 Now that our little warm-up was out of the way it was time for something a lot bigger and more time consuming. Another x-c ski trip down a river. This particular river never ceases to amaze me, I've been down it at least twenty times over the last 13 years, and it's never exactly the same. This year we left early enough in the day that we planned to have a good sized lunch and a fire mid-way down. Ramen noodles, rice crispy bars, and Monster were on the menu for me, as well as a special treat I brought to share, Jiffy Pop.
The Legend

Is this Colorado? I don't think so

No slipping and falling allowed here
 In less than an hour we were all fed and on the move. We were cruising the small water falls and past pools of open water on our way the the crux of the whole endeavor, a big waterfall with a  mandatory rappel. A.F. and I set up the ropes and he was first to go. With our little lesson in rapping the day before everyone was quickly set to go,  and over the falls in no time. Typically we spend a lot of time here getting ready, and as a result we all get very cold. I was happy to stay relatively warm this time. The stretch after the falls is deceivingly long, about two miles of well worn, rock shard littered, icy single track, not conducive to skiing. I'm sure everyone's skis took a beating on this section with gouges and scrapes on the underside like mine did.
 I went swimming here last fall

Miles of this kind of terrain

Who wants pop-corn ?
Back at the vehicles it was time for a drive and retooling of required gear. For the next exploit we would be riding fat-bikes somewhere, to some place and spending the night.  We would also need the snowshoes to complete the objective when we ran out of trail suitable for riding. All of us got the packing done in a frantic effort trying not to be last, and also to make use of as much of the daylight as possible. This part of the trip was also one that we did last year but wanted to improve upon.
We should do this every day

Metal !

Watch it, that last step's a doosie
      This time we wanted more riding and less snowshoeing. We achieved both, but had a bit of a breakdown several hours into the journey when we got turned around/lost/disoriented and contemplated retreat if the solution did not reveal itself within a set amount of time. It's not like we could get lost, we had a snowshoe track to fall back on.  Correct forward movement in knee deep snow, in pitch black darkness, in the middle of nowhere, with temps now below zero, and headlamps that just don't seem to shine far enough to get a good lay of the land was not helping us. I was a little rattled by know, moments earlier my entire left leg broke through thin ice dropping me to my stomach and pinning me to the snow as I could not pull it free. I thought I just stepped into a void in the snow-pack until I could feel water seeping into my boot and around my leg. I didn't panic but inched back and wiggled my snow-shoe shod foot free. When I looked back at the hole, I realized that what we had all just walked over was compacted snow. It gave me a sick feeling to think what might have happened if one of us had fallen through completely.  For me, these are the times when all of my "training" in endurance events and back country travel pay off. Sure I was cold and tired and getting really hungry, but I knew this wasn't shit compared to what I've been through in the past. We were all getting frustrated and had different ideas on which way to proceed, but AF was right all along to follow the otter tracks. In the midst of it all I threw on my down sweater, ate a couple candy bars and felt better.   
I'm Ready

uh oh, it's getting dark
        Looking back on last year's trek to the same place, we had similar problems with the unknown.  As the self proclaimed trip leader I feel responsible for everyone having a good time and knowing what to expect and where we're going at all times. In this territory it's just as much a first time adventure for me as it is the rest of the crew.
where the hell are we anyway ?

After nearly four hours of fat-biking and snowshoeing we arrived at a little cabin in the woods. Tranquility fell over me as I got my first glimpse of the moose skull hanging on the outside wall. The stars were out in full effect, the silence was at the point in which I can hear my heart beat, and inside the cabin a hot fire and warm food is about to erase any doubts I may have had about making the long trek to this special place in the middle of nowhere.