Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sprawl

We saw/heard Calexico and Arcade Fire last night! Wow, what a great show. We wiggled, foot tapped, and eventually rocked out with our fellow Seattleites in a giant basketball arena. Beside the throngs of 20-30 year olds, there were many multi-generational families; the kids, the parents, and the grandparentsjoined forces last night.

Calexico is a rockin' "southwestern" band of guitars and trumpets. We loved it.
Arcade Fire is amazing. It's like they are already legendary. How do they know exactly what it's all about and then project that feeling through music in such a perfect way? consistently over the last ten years?! sigh....

I love their new album "The Suburbs" and I loved hearing all the new and old songs played together in one night. The songs all flow together so well. I love their themes of growing up, neighborhoods, and friends. They perfectly capture that fiery feeling of wanting to bust out and do something but you're still figuring out what that something is.
Arcade Fire really fits the description of good art being like a mirror; everyone can identify with what they produce, though it is slightly different for each person.
They put on a great show, too. The stage backdrop was a picture from under a freeway overpass, so it felt like we had all met up under the freeway in the suburbs to hear them play. They had great video clips taken from old silent films, kids hanging out, and live black and white footage of the band playing - but it was instantly processed in a high contrast way that gave it a gritty, old movie feel.
They are so cool....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Enchantments part II - the fungi

Here is a photo list of the abundant, amazing, high elevation, Larch forest, Fall fruiting fungi we saw in the Enchantment Lakes area, Washington.

Some kind of Postia or Tyromyces ? The pink color caught my eye.
The same Postia/Tyromyces from below
Sarcodon scabrosum from above

Sarcodon scabrosum from below (has spines instead of gills or pores)
Clavariadelphus ligula
Hygrocybe conica
Gomphidius subroseus (gills)

Gomphidius subroseus (cap)
Phaeolus schweinitzii (from above)
Phaeolus schweinitzii (from below)
Some kind of Hydnellum....(makes me want to specialize in toothed fungi!)
The same unknown Hydnellum from below

The slime mold Hemitrichia, I love slime molds!
A cluster of Albatrellus floedii
Albatrellus floedii from below
Suillus ochraceoroseus growing with Larch at about 7,000 ft (remember this from Ice Lakes?)

Suillus ochraceoroseus (from below)
Hydnellum suaveolens
A tiny Hydnellum suaveolens :)
Tricoloma focale
Amanita muscaria! (saw about 100 on our last day)

An awesome, fuzzy, pink slime mold, Lycogola epidendrum growing on a fallen log.
I squished it and a bubble gum - like goey spore mass oozed out. Adam poked one and he thinks it sprayed him in his eye! Surprising!

It dries out to this. With a grey papery covering over a purple pastey spore mass.

Aleuria aurantia, the orange peel fungus :)
Close up of Aleuria aurantia
Sarcodon imbricatum (This was the first time I've actually seen this toothed fungus in real life but I knew immediately what it was from pictures I've memorized. It has huge scales. Some of the Sarcodons we saw were 20 inches in diameter!)
Gyromitra ambigua, or esculante?
Suillus lakeii (growing in a dry area with Douglas Fir)
whew...that's it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Enchantments and Prusik Peak

We snatched up a hard to get permit to backpack through The Enchantment Lakes area in the Cascades near Leavenworth, Wa. Only 60 people are allowed in the area per day, so usually people make reservations in February for summer trips. I don't think I can plan that far in advance for a camping trip! Fortunately, someone made a reservation back in February, but ended up not being able to go by the time September rolled around and they posted the permits online. Lucky us - with no kids and good jobs - we fit this opportunity into our schedules.

And let us just say...the Enchantment Lakes really are enchanting. I'm glad we could go and see what all the fuss is about!

So, the Enchantment Lakes area is a high elevation granite basin surrounded by awesome, jaggy, granite mountains with about 20 small, glacier melt lakes - some just a few feet away from each other! The two trails up to the area are steep and long (about 10 miles of constant upward switchbacks and 4,000 ft elevation gain/loss). It is also a Larch (Laryx sp.) forest area which means cute trees and cool fungi :)

With one day's notice, we planned to hike in with our gear and climb Prusik Peak (above photo).
When it came down to it, though, we decided not to climb because we are not ready. It is a simple trad route (you place all your own protection using cams, tricams, hexes, nuts, etc.) but it is exposed, with an "airy traverse." I was syched to climb, I was really determined to not freak out and to make it to the top. But Adam pointed out that we shouldn't "try" to climb Prusik, we should be confident, well practiced, and well prepared to make it to the top.
I agreed, so we didn't climb :(
I really wish we would have, but only if we would have made it to the top! We need to be a faster climbing team so I'm glad we didn't do something out of our skill level.

Here is how the trip went:
We started at the Stuart Trailhead off Icicle Road
and hiked up to Colchuck Lake
where we camped and prepared to hike up the steep, rocky Asaagard Pass the next day
On our way up Asaagard Pass,
there was a beautiful rainbow over Lake Colchuck
and several incredibly dangerous rockfalls coming off Dragon Tail Peaks
We made it to the top of the pass and saw our destination (Prusik Peak) shrouded in mist...
We hiked through the Upper Enchantments area
meandering around many beautiful lakes.
This was our neighborhood for two days
We set up camp under a giant boulder for our second and third night. It was just off the trail to Prusik Pass, where another trail breaks to the right for Gnome Tarn. It was the closest place to camp for climbing Prusik.
Here we are at Gnome Tarn with our mountain in the background
Climbing day dawned sunny and beautiful, but we were starting to accept that we shouldn't climb. Adam woke me up in the night to say he felt like we shouldn't, but I really wanted to so I thought we could walk up and "see" one more time.
We walked up to the balancing rock where the 5 pitches start.
Here is the basic route:
And took reconnaissance photos of the route (you can see the white areas along the cracks where people have accidentally scraped off the black lichens as they climb). We climbed this first pitch un-roped and it was s i m p l e.
The white horn (far right), and two blocks to traverse before the chimney to the peak (far left)
detail of white horn.
detail of blocky traverses.
It is a very simple climb, I really wanted to do it - but I know I can get uncontrollably frightened when climbing, so it was a wise idea to prove ourselves in some practice routes before we meet Prusik again.
Then we practiced building anchors, explored around in the valley, and Adam decided to aid climb a sapling.
A great opportunity to teach me to Prusik (a type of aid climbing where you ascend a rope by using loops of cord attached to your rope in a Prusik knot). Prusik Peak got it's name from the prusik knot. Fred Becky (the Cascade climbing legend) made the first asscent by lasso-ing the summit and ascending the rope (aid climbing) using prussik knots. Legendary.
The next day we packed up and left our neighborhood. I loved that place!
Then we walked 10 straight miles down steep switchbacks to Gutav's
for dinner!!!!!