Monday, April 27, 2009

Friends and Family

Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be one year to the day that Mark and I took the first steps of our thru-hike of the PCT - a journey that would take us 4.5 more months to complete. It's incredible to me that it has already been a year since we started that adventure. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were hiking. I took off of work this past weekend so that Mark and I could go to the PCT Kickoff Weekend, which marks the official beginning of the PCT thru-hiking season. It's essentially a big party, with vendors, current hikers, past hikers, seminars, food, and all things for long-distance backpacking. We didn't get to go last year because of timing, so we thought we'd go this year to reconnect with people we hiked with last summer.
Needless to say, it didn't work out (again), but I still had this long weekend off and a free flight to use. It wasn't long until I figured out that friends from college were going to be visiting some other friends in the Quad Cities, so I jumped on the chance to go. Mark decided to stay behind to be available for job interviews, so a few days ago, I headed out alone to see friends and family.

I got to stay with Mark's parents while in the QC's. It was fun to get to see them and catch up on life in person! They were also very generous in letting me borrow a car to visit friends, etc. The funny part about this picture is that we decided to take the picture at night instead of in the morning before I left, so I have pj bottoms on, but changed into a sweater to make it look better for the picture!

Julie was visiting from Michigan, along with Steve B (not pictured). It was super fun, but I think we tired amber out since she's got a new little baby who keeps her up at odd hours of the morning :).

Amber and Lincoln. I just love how she keeps track of his pacifier!

Aimee is just one of four friends that had babies in the past 6 months. Elijah is 5 months old!

Kate is due with her second...and she just so happened to have her shower the weekend I was here! It was really fun to get to connect with so many great friends!

Babies galore! Elijah, Lincoln, and Oliver.

Virginia and Oliver...he's tiny because he was born 6 wks early!

Libby...she didn't have a baby (one of the few), but we got to catch up over coffee.
I wasn't so great with pictures, so I didn't get pictures of Stephanie and her son Will, Steve B, or Liz. There are always more people to see than there is time for, but I had a great time squeezing in time where I could. It was just so nice to get to reconnect with so many people that I miss and love, but I am looking forward to seeing mark again tomorrow! Off again to battle the airlines...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Winter Camping

We had planned an overnight winter camping trip with our friends, Ryan and Stephanie, at least a month ago. We just got lucky that when the days rolled around to go, it was the two nicest days, not only of the week, but of the year so far. It has been snowing a week or so before, so there was plenty of snow on the ground, but our days were bright, sunny, and warm. It was probably 50-60 degrees, but the sun made it feel even warmer. Mark and I snowshoed, and Stephanie and Ryan are telemarkers, so they skinned in. We chose a destination that wasn't too far away, about 3 miles or so from the car, but you would have thought we were miles from anything. It was beautiful and so much fun!

Mark, Jess, Ryan, Stephanie

Our view as we headed out from the sno-park. On the left is South Sister; the little bump in the middle is Middle Sister, and on the right is Broken Top.

Mark and Ryan headed down the trail.

This is what happens when you try to walk backwards in snowshoes without stepping carefully :)

When the snow isn't here, this is a bathroom like you'd find in a campground. It gives you an idea of how much snow we are standing on.

We stopped for a break right around Todd Lake, and apparently these birds are accustomed to people. Mark put a tiny piece of a chip in his hand and the bird came right over and took it, but not without posing for a picture first!

Our camp near Todd Lake, with Mt. Bachelor in the background.

Surprisingly, we weren't too cold...we had enough warm clothes. "Big Pink" kept me nice and toasty.

It did get cold at night, and since we were kind of in a little valley, some fog settled in overnight, leaving a pretty frost layer on everything.

The fog.

Our view of Broken Top after climbing the ridge behind our camp the next morning. We thought about climbing it, but didn't have enough time. Another day...

Ryan and Stephanie got to ski down the ridge while Mark and I slugged down on our snowshoes.

R & S have a kite like you would use for kite boarding, so we brought it along for something to do at camp.

Headed back to the car the next day. We were roasting, and if I could show you my face now, it would be a pretty shade of red, even with 50 spf sunblock :).