Sierra Climbing Trip in 2022

Betsy and I went on an epic week-long climbing trip in the Sierra at the end of May and beginning of June in 2022. We climbed three tall peaks, each via a steep chute topped by a summit plateau and summit pyramid. Here is what we did each day.

Day 0 (Monday, May 30): Drive from Del Mar to Lone Pine. Climb giant boulders in the Alabama Hills, and camp at “secluded” Campsite 39 in the Whitney Portal Campground.
Day 1 (Tuesday, May 31): Backpack up the Meysan Lakes Trail from the trailhead at 7,900 ft to Meysan Lake at 11,446 ft. This takes us 9 hours, including finding a good campsite. Online blogs say that the distance is 6 miles, but Betsy’s GPS says it is 7 miles. I packed up this trail in 1978 with Mary, my brother Jay, and climbing buddy Don McEachern.
Day 2 (Wednesday, June 1): Climb Mt Irvine, at 13,770 ft, in 12-1/2 hours. Betsy’s GPS says that the day’s distance is 10 miles.
Day 3 (Thursday, June 2): Climb Lone Pine Peak, at 12,944 ft, in 12-3/4 hours. Betsy’s GPS says that the day’s distance is 9 miles.
Day 4 (Friday, June 3): Relax, read, and hike on a rest day.
Day 5 (Saturday, June 4): Climb Mt Mallory, at 13,850 ft, in 12-1/2 hours. Betsy’s iPhone battery is dead, so we don’t have a GPS distance, but it is probably 10 miles. I climbed Mts Mallory and LeConte in a single day with Mary, Jay, and Don in 1978.
Day 6 (Sunday, June 5): Backpack out in 4 hours. I drive home, while Betsy joins her friend Emily for another climbing trip 🙂

Photos and commentary follow.

Death Valley Bike Tour in 2022

family in Red Rock Canyon

Here is my blog of the awesome, six-day bike tour with Lizard Head that I did in and near Death Valley in March 2022. Among the adventurous group of 14 guests and 2 guides were my son Gordon, brother Jay, and nephew Brian Cornwell, as well as friends Barb Schreiber and Mike Smolin with whom Mary and I biked in 2007!

I biked EFI (every fricking inch) of the offered rides, and the following itinerary reflects that.

Day 1 (Sunday, March 13): Red Rock Canyon -> Blue Diamond + Old Spanish Trail -> Shoshone (49 mi & 2,600 ft of climbing)
Day 2 (Monday, March 14): Shoshone -> Furnace Creek (77 mi & 3,900 ft)
Day 3 (Tuesday, March 15): Furnace Creek <-> Dante’s View + Furnace Creek <-> Beatty Junction (63 mi & 4,200 ft)
Day 4 (Wednesday, March 16): Mile 12 -> Ubehebe Crater -> Stovepipe Wells (74 mi & 4,300 ft)
Day 5 (Thursday, March 17): Stovepipe Wells <-> Emigrant Pass (46 mi & 5,400 ft) + 4-mi hike in Mosaic Canyon
Day 6 (Friday, March 18): Stovepipe Wells -> Rhyolite (41 mi & 5,300 ft)

This was a very well-photographed tour by me and others, so my blog is longer than usual. Also, check out Annette’s poem at the end.

Enjoy!

  • start of tour
  • bikers in Red Rock Canyon
  • family in Red Rock Canyon
  • bikes on van
  • Wayne and Jay by Amargosa sign
  • puddle in some dry grass
  • Shoshone sign pop 31
  • group in courtyard
  • Barb in a phone booth
  • family in parking lot
  • Gordon Wayne Jay bikes in the air
  • Jay bikes up hill
  • Wayne Gordon Jay with Salsbury pass sign
  • Jay biking in skeleton jersey
  • family with sign
  • badwater pool
  • looking out between the rocks
  • ranch sign
  • Lee Wayne Gordon in front of van
  • 15 percent grade sign
  • tortoise sign
  • Gordon biking
  • Wayne and Gordon at the top of a climb
  • desolate view with mountains
  • flowers
  • historic wagon parts
  • borax works plaque
  • group photo
  • wooden wagons
  • bikes and van and trailer
  • long road
  • crater
  • family at ranger station
  • dust devil
  • Gordon biking with road sign
  • sand dunes
  • parking lot
  • dinner
  • desert road
  • van with bikes and ladder
  • thumbs up at the pass
  • Gordon and Wayne at the pass
  • trail sign
  • family hiking
  • Jay climbing
  • rock arrow
  • Brian and Gordon
  • group stargazing
  • Wayne alone by general store
  • Wayne high speed turn
  • van with bikes
  • Wayne biking up hill
  • desert landscape
  • Gordon and Wayne Daylight Pass
  • Rhyolite sign
  • ruins
  • sign
  • train depot
  • sign
  • group photo

Multi-talented Annette wrote the following poem to commemorate the tour.

A fond memory by Annette Orella

I’m here to tell you all a quick rhyme 
Of a trip by fourteen once upon a time 
To Death Valley they rode
Bicycling their mode
To partake of all possible sweat and grime
 
Of great import were the guests on the trip
Not just anyone can take on this ***blip****
It takes true guts
Or perhaps be a little nuts 
To ride through the desert at a clip

From Oregon came Mike with Barb by his side
Three cross country trips a source of Mike’s pride
But she’s got a new plan
E-biking to catch up to her man
So up the hills her legs won’t be fried 

From San Diego hailed Rebecca and sweet Lou
Up and down the dunes they both flew
Not a pool did they miss
And with push ups found bliss
Through the trip their broad smiles and good karmas grew

From Kansas and San Diego came the clan
Bikers all through and through to a man
Wayne a true EFI
Gordon sturdy and spry
Jay and Brian never opting for the van (at least that’s the way I’m choosing to remember it!)

Next from New York came Patti and Steve
Whose laughter was truly a reprieve
She cranked up each hill
Pulling others by pure will
And keeping all entertained by your leave

Partway through we were joined by Richard and Lee
Sadly only one biker would they be
But Lee carried the flame
Riding hard all the same
While Dear Richard patiently did a look-see

And last but not least Chuck – none too slow 
Whose love for cycling continues to grow
As Annette tries to catch him
His sights never dim
As he continues to go go go go (go go go go go)

Now this story could not be complete 
Without the people who enabled this feat
Our guides were the best
Keeping bellies full, minds at rest 
Peter and Wylie thanks so much – what a week!

You might ask about our intrepid guide Wylie
Of whose praises we sing very highly
On each road he would dash
With tattoos and a stash
Providing care and encouragement kindly

This poem’s not complete without mention of Peter
Jersey born, a man of skills hard to beat(er)
Soft hearted and kind
Helping us out of many a bind
Having him guide was really a treat(er)

Now before we all say goodbye 
And return home with a bit of a sigh
We’ll pack up one last time
Jump on bikes, turn on a dime
And drink in the desert landscape and sky.

California Climbing and Biking Trip in 2021

Betsy and I spent five glorious days climbing and biking in Joshua Tree National Park and Owens Valley in November 2021. Here is what we did each day.

Day 1 (Thursday, November 4): Climb in Joshua Tree.
Day 2 (Friday, November 5): Bike near Lone Pine.
Day 3 (Saturday, November 6): Take Smoke’s climbing course in the Buttermilks near Bishop.
Day 4 (Sunday, November 7): Betsy takes a second day of the course, while Wayne bikes nearby.
Day 5 (Monday, November 8): Climb in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine.

Here is my blog of our trip with lots of cool photos by Betsy.

Sierra Climbing and Kayaking Trip in 2021

After missing a year because of the pandemic, Betsy and I were happy to again spend five days backpacking and climbing in the Sierra in June 2021. Our primary objective was the summit of Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. The morning of the sixth day we kayaked on Mono Lake to the east. Here is my blog of our trip.

  • Betsy trailhead

Yellowstone Bike Tour in 2019

The last bike tour that Mary and I did together was with Lizard Head in and near Yellowstone National Park in August 2019. We biked EFI (every fricking inch) for the first four days with the following itinerary.

Day 0 (Saturday, August 17): Fly from San Diego to Seattle and on to Bozeman.
Day 1 (Sunday, August 18): Shuttle to West Yellowstone and then bike to Canyon Village (40 miles & 2,500 ft of climbing); this was my best birthday ever: riding a bike with my best friend through spectacular scenery in perfect weather with a tailwind!
Day 2 (Monday, August 19): Canyon Village <-> Yellowstone Lake with side trips to the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (47 miles & 2,300 ft).
Day 3 (Tuesday, August 20): Canyon Village -> Grant Village (66 miles & 3,700 ft).
Day 4 (Wednesday, August 21): Grant Village -> Cody (103 miles & 3,400 ft).

Mary did these challenging rides with a cold that worsened each day. By the time she got to Cody, she was exhausted and decided that she could not bike the even tougher days ahead. Thus she rested on Day 5 and flew home on Day 6 😦

I continued on, however, with the following itinerary.

Day 5 (Thursday, August 22): Out-and-back from Cody along South Fork Road (52 miles & 2,000 ft).
Day 6 (Friday, August 23): Cody -> Cooke City (77 miles & 8,000 ft).
Day 7 (Saturday, August 24): Cooke City -> Red Lodge (66 miles & 5,300 ft); shuttle back to Bozeman.

Photos and commentary follow.

Sierra Climbing Trip in 2019

Betsy and I spent five days backpacking and climbing in and above Little Lakes Valley in the Sierra in June 2019. Here is my blog of our trip.

Chile and Argentina Trekking Tour in 2019

Immediately after our 2019 bike tour in Chile, Betsy, Gordon, Mary, and I did three days of trekking in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park and another two days of trekking plus a day of glacier viewing in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Our trekking tour was arranged by Cascada Expediciones, who did an amazing job of orchestrating the many shuttles, rooms, and guides in two different countries.

Our main motivation for going to Argentina was to see and trek to the base of the two most iconic Patagonian peaks: Monte Fitz Roy (11,171 ft) and Cerro Torre (10,262 ft). Fitz Roy was first climbed by Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone of France in 1952. The first undisputed ascent of Cerro Torre was by the “Ragni di Lecco” climbers in 1974.

We had incredibly good weather for the trekking tour as well as the earlier biking tour. We never got wet while biking or trekking in Chile; the few times that it rained were overnight or during shuttles. In Argentina we had sprinkles one morning, but even then, the sun broke through from time to time to give us rainbows. We had occasional wind, but many days were calm. It seems that March is a good time to do these tours.

Here is the itinerary for our trekking tour.

Day 1 (Tuesday, March 12): We shuttle from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales where we have lunch and meet Roberto Carlos, who will be our personal guide in Chile. We then continue our shuttle to EcoCamp where we spend the first of four nights in Torres del Paine National Park. We sleep in a luxurious suite loft dome.

Day 2 (Wednesday, March 13): We shuttle to Lago Pehoé and take a boat across the lake to the Refugio Paine Grande. We then trek 12 miles out and back to Mirador Francés (the French lookout). We spend the night camping in tents next to the refugio.

Day 3 (Thursday, March 14): We trek 8 miles to Glaciar Grey, take a boat across Lago Grey, and shuttle back to EcoCamp. We again sleep in our suite loft dome.

Day 4 (Friday, March 15): We trek 13 miles out and back to the base of the famous three towers for which the park is named. We spend one last night at EcoCamp.

Day 5 (Saturday, March 16): We shuttle to Cerro Castillo at the border with Argentina and take a public bus to El Calafate in Argentina. We have lunch there and then take another public bus to El Chaltén where we spend the first of two nights at Hostería Senderos.

Day 6 (Sunday, March 17): We meet Marcelo, our guide for the day and shuttle to El Pilar. We then trek along the Río Blanco, up to the base of Monte Fitz Roy, and then back to El Chaltén for a total of 14 miles.

Day 7 (Monday, March 18): We meet our second guide for a day and trek 14 miles out and back to the base of Cerro Torre. We then catch the public bus back to El Calafate where we spend the first of two nights at Hostería Los Hielos.

Day 8 (Tuesday, March 19): We shuttle to and from Glaciar Perito Moreno where we hike a little and ride a boat on Lago Argentino to the face of the glacier.

Day 9 (Wednesday, March 20): We fly from El Calafate to the domestic airport in Buenos Aires, shuttle to the international airport, and catch our overnight flight back to the US.

Photos and commentary follow.

Chile Bike tour in 2019

Betsy, Gordon, Mary, and I did a seven-day bike tour with Ecotours Chile in the lake district of Chile in March 2019. This tour was on Mary’s bucket list for years, and she was thrilled when the kids and I finally went with her 🙂 Here is the itinerary for our tour.

Day 0 (Sunday, March 3): We arrive in Santiago after a 14-hour, overnight flight from Los Angeles and check into our Airbnb. In the afternoon, Betsy, Mary, and I walk to Cerro Santa Lucia and visit the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts on the way back.

Day 1 (Monday, March 4): We fly to Temuco and meet our guide David, driver Javier, and the other two guests, Jennifer and Linda, who are sisters from Pittsburg Kansas. We shuttle to Corralco Lodge at the base of Volcán Lonquimay and bike 15 miles (with 1,800 ft of climbing) to Túnel las Raíces and back in the afternoon.

Day 2 (Tuesday, March 5): We shuttle through the tunnel and then bike for 66 miles (5,200 ft) through Liucura to Paso Pino Hachado and back to Liucura, after which we shuttle back to Corralco Lodge.

Day 3 (Wednesday, March 6): We bike mostly downhill for 61 miles (2,100 ft) from Corralco Lodge to Lautero and then shuttle to Pucón on Lago Villarrica at the base of Volcán Villarrica. We spend the first of two nights at Hotel Vientos del Sur.

Day 4 (Thursday, March 7): We bike from Pucón to Lago Caburgua and then on to Termas Huife where we soak in the hot springs. We bike a little more for a total ride of 44 miles (3,500 ft) and shuttle the last few miles back to Pucón.

Day 5 (Friday, March 8): We shuttle to Panguipulli and then bike 43 miles (4,300 ft) along the east shore of Lago Panguipulli and on past Volcán Mocho-Choshuenco to Puerto Fuy on Lago Piriheico. We spend the night at the Marina Fuy Hotel.

Day 6 (Saturday, March 9): We shuttle to a Nestlé plant south of Osorno and bike 47 miles (2,400 ft) along the west shore of Lago Llanquihue to a little beyond Frutillar. We do a short shuttle to Puerto Varas on Lago Llanquihue. We spend two nights there at Casa Kalfu Hotel.

Day 7 (Sunday, March 10): We bike from Puerto Varas along the south shore of Lago Llanquihue to Volcán Osorno. Betsy and Mary do all but the last four miles of the very steep climb up Osorno, while Gordon and I go all the way to the end of the road at the ski resort for 37 miles (5,000 ft). We then shuttle back to Puerto Varas.

Day 8 (Monday, March 11): We walk around Puerto Varas, take a shuttle to Puerto Montt, and fly to Punta Arenas where we start our trekking tour the next day 🙂 We spend the night at Hotel Rey Don Felipe.

Photos and commentary follow.

West Texas Bike Tour in 2017

Mary and I did a seven-day bike tour with Lizard Head in West Texas during April 2017, covering 382 miles on our bikes. We rode three days in the Davis Mountains and four days in the Big Bend parks on good roads with very little traffic. We did more shuttles than on previous trips but shared them with very interesting guests and our guides, John and Leslie. Here is a brief summary.

On Day 1 (Sunday, April 9): We shuttle from El Paso to just south of Kent. We then bike 38 miles into a strong headwind on the west side of the Davis Mountains and do another shuttle to our overnight stay in Marfa. This town was made famous by the movie Giant, which was filmed west of town.

On Day 2 (Monday, April 10): We shuttle to Fort Leaton just east of Presidio and then bike 59 miles to the ghost town of Terlingua. It has a population of 58, not including ghosts. This ride is up and down along the Rio Grande, mostly in Big Bend State Park. The air temperature is in the 90s, but our bike thermometers read in the 100s. We spend the first of three nights in Terlingua, which is just outside Big Bend National Park.

On Day 3 (Tuesday, April 11): We bike 48 miles from Terlingua to the Santa Elena Canyon of the Rio Grande, where we hike and wade in the river before shuttling back to our ghost town. We bike a U-shaped route, mostly in the national park, with an uphill headwind on the first leg and a downhill tailwind on the last leg.

On Day 4 (Wednesday, April 12): We bike up to the Chisos Basin, go on a hike, and bike back to Terlingua. We do 58 miles on our bikes, covering some of the same route as the day before. Mary’s GPS says that she sets a new 40-km speed record on the way back, as we go downhill with a tailwind most of the way. We see some scraggly lupine flowers, which are evidently called bluebonnets in Texas.

On Day 5 (Thursday, April 13): We shuttle to Panther Junction and then bike 68 miles out of the national park to Marathon. The scenery is pretty bleak, but are lots of small wildflowers and interesting roadkill: a deer, badger, peccary, and vulture.

On Day 6 (Friday, April 14): We shuttle to Fort Davis and the then bike the Davis Mountains loop, part of which reverses our first day’s ride. This is reportedly the best ride in Texas, and the last part of our 75-mile clockwise loop is very nice. Mary and I also add three bonus miles climbing to the top of Mt Locke where the 2.7- and 2.1-m telescopes of the McDonald Observatory are located.

On Day 7 (Saturday, April 15): We do a blazing downhill ride for 33 miles from Fort Davis to San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park. There we swim with fish in the huge, freshwater pool. Afterward we shuttle back to El Paso.

Photos and commentary follow.