Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tahoe Rim Trail: Desolation Wilderness Part 1

Yesterday, in my quest to circumnavigate the lake on the Tahoe Rim Trail, I did a piece of it from Echo Lake, past Lake Aloha to not-quite-Gilmore, turning off and heading down to Glen Alpine and Fallen Leaf Lake. This piece of the TRT is also the PCT. To do the full piece as the TRT defines it (from Echo Lake to Barker Pass) requires quite a commitment of almost 33 miles which I didn't feel like making yesterday. (By the way, TRT website maps section is recently re-tooled - looks great guys.) I chose to do this one now because this segment is the coldest, if not the highest, and will be one of the first to be made inaccessible due to snow. I might get one or two more in before the snows come but I definitely won't finish the project in 2017. As usual, the best wife in the world made my A-to-B hike possible with her unparalleled shuttle service as well as supplying tacos and Mountain Dew.

While the trail surface is quite rugged and at times irritating, this is hands-down my favorite piece of the TRT so far. Lake Aloha is always breath-taking, and there's still some snow on the mountains and even on the trail, even in late August. Along with the austere post-glacial beauty of the upper parts of Desolation Wilderness, the waterfalls and the wildflowers, this one's a keeper. Plus, next time: Dick's Lake and Dick's Peak! Tee hee

Carl Eytel, German-American Artist, 1862-1925

If you've been to Palm Springs, then I probably don't have to tell you these were done around Palm Springs. I don't even like Palm Springs but he might have just converted me. Carl Eytel died in poverty, but he left us with some great representations that boiled Palm Springs down to the core. Thanks Carl!

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Longest Routes Ever Walked

Reader Ollie made an awesome graphic of the longest walks ever taken - around the world - and was kind enough to email me the link. These people proved that everywhere really is within walking distance if you have time. There are specific images for each journey but the overall one is below. Awesome Ollie, thanks!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

New Projects: 1) Circumnavigate the Tahoe Rim Trail 2) Climb Shastina

Last year I finished running across California. As part of~ that project, I completed the northern ~quarter of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Of course I can't just leave that alone. So yesterday I started the rest of it, just going from Tunnel Creek Cafe up to Rose Summit on this segment. I will definitely not finish it before the arrival of snow and baby

This run at altitude was part of my effort to get back into mountain climbing shape for my attempt on Shastina, the subsidiary cone of Shasta. At about 12,000', on its own it would be the third biggest Cascade, but it's mostly a walk-up, with optional glacier travel. Years ago I climbed the main summit and was always curious about Shastina and the lakes visible in the crater. I'm aiming for September, and at this time of year it's going to be a nasty scree slog. It looks like most people start at Bunny Flat, go up to Horse Camp, then turn leftish and head over the bottom end of Casaval Ridge, crossing through Hidden Valley and then heading up the saddle. I've read good things about Diller Canyon just in terms of scenery and I'm trying to find out from the few people online who seem to know it why that isn't a preferred route. Either way it'll be a nasty scree slog this late in the season.

San Diego County More Humid Over Time?

Back around 2009 a friend in San Diego told me that he thought he'd noticed it getting more humid in San Diego County since he moved there in the early 90s, and he attributed this to human activity; specifically, people using water for landscaping. I didn't necessarily buy this, partly because like me, he'd moved from back East, and humans acclimatize very quickly to the Mediterranean climate. You get more sensitive to any mild discomfort, and what previously seemed to the climate-beaten Northeasterner like paradise might soon become noticeable humidity.

Or, was he right?

I looked at the Weather Underground historical data for average humidity on August 1 (single day, only because there are no annual or monthly averages, and August 1 because it's warm and it's after June gloom is over so presumably more sensitive.)  First I looked at KSAN, the San Diego airport. For the period 1950 through 2016, there is no change in humidity. But there might not be - the ocean is going to control the climate. What about an inland suburb which experienced growth (and more lawns) in that period? So I looked at Poway. Humidity data is missing for the period 1969 through 1998 inclusive, which is a bit frustrating because if I want to put together a scatter plot showing the relationship to population, that's exactly the period when Poway was growing fastest (from about 7,000 to about 47,000.)

However, the periods 1950-1968 and 1999-2016 are still interesting to look at.

A quick t-test shows that it's a statistical difference, with averages of 51 and 68% humidity respectively. You might actually be able to tell the difference between those two. So is this because of people watering their lawns? Because of some other broader climate change? Or (my bet actually) because of different instrumentation when they started collecting humidity data again? The thing to do would be to look at another inland city that grew over this period (Vista? Escondido?) with complete data, and see if they show the same effect - and then at a town that started small and stayed small. Assuming that there's a 1:1 correlation between population and human-produced moisture in the air from lawns etc., then if you see a difference in trend between the two, OR if neither of them change, then it's not humans watering their lawns. If you do, it supports the argument.

I won't waste much more of your time because here's the data for nearby (also fast-growing) Santee from Weather Underground:

I mean come on. Lots of missing data, but more importantly, this pattern has "different or incorrectly used instrument" written all over it. And I think the people in Santee would have noticed if their humidity suddenly dropped dramatically, and then increased again. So until I can find a reliable source of historical humidity data, the answer won't be forthcoming. (As always, if you know of such a source, please comment.)

Running Cross Country; or Rather, Around Country

This fellow ran a lap around the entire country of Nauru, a tiny single-island country in the Pacific. The post is half travelog, half an account of his run, but I found it interesting. Travel in the developing world often sounds adventurous and horizon-expanding, but then you smack head-first into the reality of health risks and incompetent hospitality industry employees and you wonder why you're doing it. All captured here. I ran across a good chunk of Andorra years ago and it was much more pleasant than this!