Friday, February 12, 2010

Powder at Mtn. High, San Gabriel Range

After another foot of snow fell in the San Gabriel Mountains this week, I made a Thursday trip up to Mtn. High with some students from The Thacher School. I ventured out to the west of the ski area and found good coverage in the trees and glades. This was one of the few times that I didn't take a camera, but I recorded some of my turns on my very low resolution (!) camera-phone and have included them here. In some cases I was only 40 yards from the top of one of the lifts, but I had the place pretty much to myself, that is except for one run early in the day in which 8 students, a faculty member from Thacher and I put tracks down a bowl faster then you can say "So Cal."

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Dry powder on the northern aspects

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One of my favorite runs of the day

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Below the West Summit, late in the day

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Grace Lowe, MacKenzie Boss and Jake Gannon on the bus ride home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Backcountry Powder Skiing on Mt. Pinos on Super Bowl Sunday (Los Padres National Forest, California)

Alex Macmillan, a senior at The Thacher School (Ojai, CA), and I discovered 5-6" of fresh snow on Mt. Pinos this past Super Bowl Sunday. We left Ojai at 6:20 AM, and by 8:30 were skinning up the first hill before dropping down our first run of the day (the first image below). We marveled at the gray-blue skies, the cold (22 degrees F), the thickly rimed needles on the conifers, and, of course, the superb skiing. Mt. Pinos is described as a nordic ski area (with a road to the top but no lifts), but with the right snowpack it also has good backcountry downhill skiing.

We made it back to Ojai in time for Alex to join his classmates for a Super Bowl party and for me to enjoy the rest of the afternoon playing in the sunshine with my twin daughters Adeline and Daisy. I may be a little biased as a seventh generation Californian, but I am consistently surprised and impressed by the variety of landscape and the potential for honest adventure in our backyard.

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A-Mac on our first run of the day

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Alex Macmillan - aka A-Mac

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Skinning back up after one of the best runs of the day

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Skinning up through Jeffrey Pine encased in rime below the summit plateau

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Glade skiing below the summit plateau

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Man in the landscape: Alex airing off granite boulders

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Second to last run before heading home

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Hitching a ride back up the road. We squeezed into the back of a Ford Bronco (I emphasize the "squeeze") of a snowboarder also named Alex. He turned out to be a Chewonki/Maine Coast Semester grad as well. Small world! Thanks for stopping and giving us a ride buddy!

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ceanothus Silk Moth

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My favorite moth of the chapparal - the ceanothus silk moth (Hyalophora euryalus). I have seen a few of these already this year, although it is a little early in the season. By the spring they'll be out in force.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sea Walls

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It is human nature to seek out boundaries in nature. Coastlines are one of the most classic examples. After all, there are few things quite like standing on the edge of the continent (or close to it) and gazing out on the expanse of the Pacific. (My family has owned one of these beachfront homes in California since the 1910s)

Heavy armament is required, however, to live here. Concrete, rip rap, steel and wood are assembled into bunker-like forms that bear evidence of how tenuous beachfront property really is. Battered by storms and salt, the sea walls and homes are in a near constant state of decline. Jeffrey Manson, a friend of mine, has a good song about the "armored coast" - you can hear his work on his My Space music page.

Sea walls represent one of human being's relationships with nature. They are fortification against the elements, and in many ways they diminish the aesthetic and ecological function of coastlines, but they also allow us to sit on the edge and look out on something that will always be bigger than us.

New Years Day at Pitas Point, California

I grew up and learned to surf along this stretch of coastline north of Ventura. It is still one of my most favorite places in the world.

I am delighted to be able to share it now with my daughters Adeline and Daisy.

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We were treated to this remarkable sunset at low tide with Santa Cruz Island on the horizon.