Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Pics


Me at the Upper Yosemite Fall trail head

Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley

View from the top

Half Moon Bay:

Get ready for the beach
Carry the tire
Beach walk
A small hill to climb
Successfully pull the (darn) tire to the top

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Activities

Weekends are for training as usual, i.e. hiking and tire pulling. This weekend was a little more fun.

I decided to go Yosemite National Park with my friend Peter, hiking up to the Upper Yosemite Fall. While this is not the most challenging hike in Yosemite for most people, it is for me because I had my 40 lbs backpack. Most people bring two or 3 bottles of water and snack which usually weight a less than 10 pounds.

The trail is 3.5 miles, with 2700 feet elevation gain. Average person can do it from 6-8 hours round trip. Upper Yosemite Fall trail is steeper than Mission peak which is 2.8 miles and gains 2100 ft.

We started out Friday after work, drove to Groveland, one hour away from the park. We got lost a little but managed to reach to our motel at 11:30pm. Earlier in the week we couldn't book a cheap room so we decided to sleep in a tent the motel offered. Apparently a lot of people do that too, to save some cash.

Saturday morning we got inside the park by 8. The park was pretty empty. We were told it would get packed later in the day. I couldn't complain. It was nice with less people.

We got to the trail head at 9 exactly. After a few photo ops, we started hiking. At first the weight seemed ok for me. I was used to it. But boy, about half way, the sun was out and it was hot, right at the section there was no shade. I was dying pretty much. At the beginning, we try to make a steady pace, and have 10 mins breaks every 50 mins. After the 3rd one, I requested more frequent stops. Good thing Peter drank a lot of water but that didn't help too much off loading the weight on my back. He asked me jokingly why I was torturing myself and that he found such a great deal on this trip. Usually carrying water up the trail is a big thing for people. I carried all our water (obviously) and when he finished his, I just refilled his. Never have to go stingy on water! About 2/3 of the way, i was pretty drag my foot. I was in exhaustion and Peter suggested me to dump some water. I refused. We finally made it to the top by 1:15. Man, it was such a relief, literally :) I could finally take off my backpack and lie down on the rock. Such a great bed at that moment.

We stayed there at the top of the fall for one hour and 15 mins to lunch and rest and enjoy the view. Beautiful view from the top though it could get better if there was sunshine.

On the way down, while I had no issue (now that my backpack was half the weight as I had dumped the some water), Peter was in misery. His knees couldn't cope very well with the descending, especially on the rocky trail like this one. It was his turne to request frequent stops.

We finally reach to the trail head at 5. We were glad with the result, though this trip was not to time ourselves, not with the backpack I had anyway. Peter runs but doesn't hike so this was his big one since forever.

We stayed Sat night in Groveland again. We took it easy as the town has nothing to offer.

This morning we drove back to the Bay area to "my" training beach. I told my friends how people react when they see me pulling the tire but none had joined me to the beach until today. As usual, some people looked and we ignored them, some were curious and talked to me. It's just part of the routine and in fact it makes the training less boring :)

Because this time I was with someone, I had a lot of pictures taken. I'll post some pictures and video of the hike and the beach tomorrow when download them to my computer.

All in all, hiking national park and beach bumming in one weekend is not too shabby, eh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fund Finding

The biggest challenge is getting funded for the trip. I haven’t done much on sponsorship. This year in particular is not a good year to go around asking for money to get a person to an unimaginable place. So if I want to go, I have to explore other options. I am exploring getting a loan. I am trying to work out the details on this plan, how much financial risk I can take and how I am going to pay back, and that how much it will affect me. I must have everything worked out by the end of the first week of Sept, before the deadline to send ANI the big cheque.

Let me tell you, finding funds is no fun.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Part of my training is pulling a tire (or two). I have been slacking in this department but the trip is not too far away. I really have to get back to tire pulling training. So I went to Half Moon Bay yesterday.

It was such a beautiful day, not too hot (high 70's ~ 26C). There was heavy traffic to the beach at 2pm when I went there. I spent like 20 mins driving around along CA Highway 1 to scout for a relatively empty beach to pull the tire. Last time I did, people really looked at me weird. I did not want to explain to people what I am doing so an empty beach would be nice. Also I don't have to run into people or dogs every few steps. I finally found this beautiful spot, quite empty.

I donned my long sleeve shirt, attached my hiking pants' legs, slipped my feet inside the almost-6 lbs mountaineering shoes, applied some sun screen and voila I was ready for my first day back to pulling.

An ugly picture of me. You can see how empty the beach is
Along Northern California beaches are cliffs. This one is no exception. The access to the beach is quite steep, especially when you have stiff mountaineering shoes and carrying a tire. I managed to come down fine.

There was just a few people on the beach. Some with dogs. I started to pull the thing. I was surprised I didn't find it too bad as the last time I tried it. Maybe I have improved a lot? I combed the beach back and forth for about 1 hour 15 mins and I wasn't dead tired. I was very happy about it. Next time I probably could attach some weight to the tire or maybe add another one.

As I moved along the beach, there was a few people looked at me but I ignored them. But when I finished with my laps, I ran into this couple. The wife asked me what I was training for. I said to simulate pulling a sled. She then went on asking where I was going. I told her about my plan to the South pole. They showed their surprise and interest and asked me a lot questions. They seemed to be the active kind. The husband did some winter camping in Maine and the wife really worked out quite a bit. Anyway, they wished me luck when they left. I do need it in the Antarctica.

I have a tiny video clip. Enjoy the beach :)


Monday, August 10, 2009


I haven't posted as much as I want to lately. Been so busy with work project. Finally one was done last Friday but a new one started today, lots of new material to digest. Its good to be busy in recession, as everyone says.

I still stick with my training program, at least trying to. Still climb the boring stairmaster, lift some weight and hikings on the weekend. Yesterday I carried almost 45 lbs (20.5 kg) of weight to Mission Peak. It was pretty hot but I started out early at 7:30 so it wasn't too bad. There was a little bit of breeze so it helped tremendously. This time around I learned my lesson, carry cold water. I put lots of ice in the two bottles. It definitely felt good to drink cold fluid on a hot trail. With all that, I managed to cut down the time to the peak by 30 mins. Still have a lot of room for improvement but I wasn't panting to go up. I did make a few quick stops for snacks and drinks. Some people jokingly asked me if I planned to stay up there for a week. The pack is half of my height and not too far from half of my weight! Some people got heat stroke or got prolem hiking up without a backpack. Ambulance sighting on the trail is not unusual. A few weeks ago, I even spotted a helicopter come for a rescue (see videos)

But yesterday there was this little kid, around 8 years old made it to the top with his dad and uncle. Amazing kid. He made it to the top shortly after me and got back down at the trail head at the same time as me. Amazing thing is he didn't appear too tired, and full of energy. I don't know what his dad feeds him with but I could see a potential great athlete. A lot of adults can't even make it half way, let alone the summit and back down with energy and in such a hot day (at the time we were at the trailhead, it was over 90F - 32+ Celcius)

Today I checked Eric Larson's blog. Eric is the polar explorer who is doing the 3 poles this year. He just did Denali early July as a training for Everest. Apprently he was in the Bay area to promote his Save The Pole program and some advertising for Sierra Designs gears at REI. I couldn't believe I missed his presentations. I could have connected with him in person. Oh well. But anyway, we still plan for the polar training. He was thinking of Yellowknife or Colorado or even Churchill. That would be in late Oct or early Nov when it's cold enough. He'll let me know the time and location. Hopefully there are other people as well, to cut down the cost. The training will be about 6 days.

In less tha a month I'll be climbing Mt Rainier. This is going to harder than Mt Shasta. I have bought quite a few more gears for this, all top of the line. Hopefully this will be the one time investment deal. I do not want to spend more for the same item later. The only thing that I am looking for is a light 4-season tent. I know the models I want to get but they are really expensive. Guess I can wait on this. Another item is an expedition parka. I do have one, in fact two, one from the North pole trip and one I just bought recently. The one from North Pole is was too heavy for mountaineering cuz it is filled with synthetic material and not so good. The one I bought recently is down filled parka, a decent one but I think that one might not cut it for extreme cold. Will see when I test it in the training.