Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Dangerous Combination

What do you get when you take a retiree, a computer, thousands of slides and a film scanner?  In my case, you end up with a collection of blog posts that chronicle trips from decades ago. 

I don’t do this expecting acclaim for the trips since they really weren’t anything special.  One thing I learned from the travels is that there are lots of people doing what I did and MORE.  I do this mostly for myself.  I haven’t compiled my recollections anywhere else and I expect that as I age further, I’ll need a way to stimulate the pleasant memories of past trips.  Hey, I spent a lot of money and time on these trips and all I have left of them are the photos and memories, I might as well get some enjoyment from both.

I am not so disciplined as to start with my first “trip” (a hike to Annette Lake in 1968, as it turns out) but will post trips in a scattered fashion.  The dates of the trips will jump around but I’ll try to keep them in order by jiggling with the blog entry post date as best I can. 

Trips before 2007 are hosted on this blog site while trips 2008 and later are hosted on our MV Alpenglow blog site.  Since this site journals old trips and events while the Alpenglow site collects more recent activities, I thought that distinction made sense.

I’ll probably keep this blog entry the first one displayed so there is some context set for the individual trip posts that will follow.  As I enter the detailed post associated with a trip, I’ll convert its title to a hyperlink and add a date (e.g., 2/15/2015) that I uploaded the post.  That way, if you come back to the blog later, you can at least see what was most recently posted.

The Denali Series

Between Marcia & myself we have six different trips to Denali.  Fortunately, we each have a successful summit ascent.  Mine was on the first trip I did and Marcia’s was on her last.

Foreign Travel

A collection of overseas trips that includes climbing, trekking, kayaking and general touristing

Trips Closer to Home

A collection of trips in the United States (and occasionally Canada) that includes climbing, hiking, kayaking, skiing and bicycling.

The Way-Way Back Collection

This section collects my first outdoor and backpacking trips.  I have lots of slides from that period but they aren’t well organized nor are my memories very complete.  I thought it best to memorialize what I can recollect somewhere safe, like here.

Friday, May 3, 2019

2019 – England Coast to Coast Wrap-up

The style of this blog site is to do one trip/one post regardless of the trip being a three-day trip to LaPaz or a 3-month trip to Nepal. The England Coast-to-Coast trip was originally done as 20+ contemporaneous posts which I have regathered into one very long post.  While long, it is now at least in a proper chronological order from top to bottom which is more easily read.

Each subheading is a blog post’s original title, and the content is written in the present tense, reflecting their style as being the events of the day.

March 2  - England Coast to Coast

Marcia and I have had a walking trip in England on our list of future trips for many years.  Marcia has a strong connection with the United Kingdom on both her mother’s and father’s side and visited relatives when she did her European hitchhiking trip in 1970.  My mother’s side has an English connection but mostly, I like walking and the thought of staying in B&B’s along the way.

The particular trip we’re doing is one identified by
Alfred Wainwright in 1973 and is probably the most popular of the English coast to coast hikes. The route starts at St Bees on the coast of the Irish Sea and ends at Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea.  The map below shows the route of the walk.  The different colored segments represent the 16 daily segments we’ll be doing.

We’ll be leaving the end of March and returning in early May.  The walk will start April 13 and end April 28.  Each night along the way will be in a different B&B or inn.  We’ll only carry the gear we want for the day’s walk (it being England, rain gear is high on our list) with the remainder of our gear transported for us to the next lodging.

Since we’re making the effort and spending the money to get to England, before the walk we’ll do some touristing in London and make a quick trip to France to visit my brother and sister-in-law who have an apartment in Nice.

My goal is to upload contemporaneous blog posts along the way, although my success will depend on Internet connectivity and, more worrisome, my initiative.

April 4 - Foreign Travel With Training Wheels

2019-Europe-056xIt has been several years since we've traveled beyond the well worn path from Puget Sound along the Inside Passage to SE Alaska. That being said, so far our trip to England hardly seems exotic or difficult. The common language, similar culture and shared heritage makes travel in England only slightly more difficult than travel in Canada.

2019-Europe-KWH-005xWe've now completed three full days of sightseeing plus a half day on the day we arrived. The number of museums and historical attractions in London is simply overwhelming. We'll spend an additional two days sightseeing before we depart for a brief 3-day visit in Nice with my brother and sister-in-law.

The weather so far has been "Spring-like."  We've seen showery conditions the last three days, including some hail. Today was particularly cool with temperatures struggling and failing to reach 50°. We are hopeful that by the time we start our walk on April 13 precipitation will have decreased and temperatures increased. Fingers crossed.

April 7 - Phase One Complete

Our trip breaks into phases demarked by transit to a new locale. We've completed phase one, London touring, and are now headed to Nice, France and a visit with my brother Steve and his wife Terry.

2019-Europe-028xSince a major purpose of this blog is to record trips so that I don't forget them in the future. I'll recount the daily log of our London touring.

Day 1 (4/1) - London arrival, British Library and British Museum

Day 2 (4/2) - Churchill War Museum, British Museum (it's BIG)

Day 3 (4/3) - Greenwich (Cutty Sark, Greenwich Observatory, National Maritime Museum)

Day 4 (4/4) - Tower of London (history of London, the tower and, of course, the Crown Jewels)

Day 5 (4/5) - Imperial War Museum

Day 6 (4/6) - Stonehenge (and Bath)

2019-Europe-085xThe Stonehenge tour was the only paid tour we did. It was a special tour that gave its clients access to the inner circle of stones after the site has closed for the day to other tours and the general public.

Partway through all the activities I picked up a cold which reduced my voice to a whisper and came out sounding like a squeaky toy. The slower pace in the the next phase ought to give me a chance to recover ahead of our C2C walk which begins in less than a week.

April 10 - A Brief Taste of the Côte d' Azur

My brother Steve and his wife Terry purchased their apartment in Nice about 2 years ago and this trip seemed the perfect opportunity to visit them. We arrived in Nice in the early evening on Sunday, 4/7. Too late for a large dinner, Steve & Terry offered up a classic French repast of cheese, baguettes and wine.

2019-Europe-138xOn our first day, we simply walked the Promenade along the beach to the old town where the weekly flea market was occurring and climbed the steps to the headland separating the old town from the Port of Nice.

For the second day Steve rented a car and he and Terry showed us some of the sights near Nice, the Roman ruins at La Turbie, the walled town of Saint Paul de Vence 2019-Europe-152xand the beach town of Antibes. I was struck by the steepness and height of the hills behind the coast in this portion of the Mediterranean.

On our third and final full day, Marcia & I took the local train to nearby Monaco where we spent the day touring the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. It was a fascinating museum and I had no idea that the Monaco royalty had a long and deep connection with oceanographic research.

We thoroughly enjoyed our brief introduction to the Côte d'Azur and understand it's attraction to Steve and Terry.

We are currently flying back to London for a night and will take the train tomorrow to St Bees on the West Coast of England where our hike we'll begin our hike on Saturday.

April 11 - Dinah's Cat Emporium

2019-Europe-KWH-043xFor the afternoon that we returned from Nice, Marcia made reservations for High Tea at Dinah's Cat Emporium. The premise is that as you enjoy your tea you'll have the opportunity to interact with some of their 14 cats currently in residence.

What struck Marcia and I was the absence of either cat or litter odor. We learned that area in which the customers eat is the cats' full-time home and includes their litter boxes spaced throughout. The absence of odor was the result of fastidious and rapid cleaning whenever a cat used a litter box.

It was a pleasant interlude before we started the more strenuous portion of our trip.

April 12 - Day 0 - St Bees

2019-Europe-179xIt took two trains (express to Carlisle, local to St Bees) to get to St Bees but both were on schedule and comfortable.

2019-Europe-KWH-051xWe arrived about 1:30 pm and quickly checked in to our accommodation for the night.  We went to the beach, baptized our boots in the Irish Sea, collected a few pebbles to carry on the walk and headed out to the lighthouse at St Bees Head.  Our plan is to bypass the headland on Day 1 to shorten the route by 4 miles but we didn't want to miss the stunning scenery along the coast.

Distance walked: 6.5 miles
Elevation gained: 800 feet

April 13 - Day 1 - Ennerdale Bridge - Walking with Sheep

The weather was sunny, albeit cool and windy, as we started our first full day of walking.

2019-Europe-203xSince we had hiked along the St Bees headland to the lighthouse the day before, we bypassed the headland using a path that paralleled the local train tracks. Soon we were crossing the first of many pastures occupied by sheep and spring lambs. The mothers usually led their lambs away from us but occasionally they would stand their ground and keep a wary eye on us as we passed.

2019-Europe-KWH-056xThe route wound it's way through fields, a couple of villages and over a hill with a remarkably steep backside descent. We stopped for a lunch snack along Nannycatch Beck (stream) in a narrow but delightful valley.

Since we arrived in Ennerdale Bridge before the check-in time for our B&B, we stopped at a pub for a pint to end our day.

Distance walked: 10.0 miles
Elevation gained: 1500 feet

April 14 - Day 2 - Seatoller - Lake District

We are now walking in the Lake District of England. It is a popular destination with vacationers and hikers.

2019-Europe-216xIn about a mile after leaving Ennerdale Bridge we were walking alongside 3 mile long Ennerdale Lake. It probably would have been more pleasant had a brisk and chill East wind not been blowing the lake's length onto our face.

2019-Europe-226xIt turned out that the wind persisted pretty much all day. As we gained altitude and climbed out of the valley we had to pull out more gear to prevent getting too cold. Fortunately we were able to have a relaxed lunch break in the Black Sail YHA hostel out of the wind.

Despite the cold we were appreciative of the absence of precipitation (this area has the wettest reporting station in the UK). Additionally, the vistas were wonderful.

Distance walked: 13.7 miles
Elevation gained: 1800 feet

2019-Europe-248xApril 15 - Day 3 - Grasmere

Foreign visitors to the Lake District often underestimate the difficulty of hiking here because the altitudes are relatively low. The last several days we start at a around 300 feet and climb to about 2000 feet then descend back to about 300 feet. The highest point in England is nearby and is around 3200 feet. All of these altitudes are modest compared to major mountain ranges around the world. The factor that increases the difficulty of hiking here is the English weather and barren landscape.

2019-Europe-255xOur walk today was a case in point. The easterly wind kicked up a notch from yesterday and was steady in the upper-teens with regular gusts in the thirties. The open landscape offered little shelter beyond a stone wall or b2019-Europe-262xoulder. Nevertheless, it was lovely and the continued absence of rain very appreciative.

Our destination tonight is the charming town of Grasmere. The poet William Wordsworth lived for about ten years here and is buried here. Between it's access to the recreation in the surrounding peaks and the noteriety of Wordsworth, the town is a buzz of activity.

Distance walked: 10.3 miles
Elevation gained: 1930 feet

April 16 - Day 4 - Patterdale

2019-Europe-264xThe forecast today called for less wind but offered up a chance of some rain in the late morning or early afternoon. Concerned about the prospect of rain, we overdressed and had to quickly strip down as we began the steep climb that greeted us shortly after leaving Grasmere.

2019-Europe-284xAs is common near the towns in the Lake District, sheep farming starts at the road and continues to nearly the ridge top. The route passes through fields and your responsibility is to not harass the sheep and leave the gates you pass through in the same condition you found them (i.e., open gates remain open and closed remains closed).

With the wind sharply reduced and the temperatures moderating we were able to enjoy the scenery along the route which went up and over Hause Gap. Sheep were 2019-Europe-KWH-066xgrazing in the fields along almost the entire route with only rock walls to keep them from wandering away.

Since we were staying at a B&B about a 1/2 mile out of Patterdale we decided to eat in a pub before we checked in. Our lunch was pretty typical pub fare. Marcia had the steak and ale pie and I had the lamb shank.

Distance walked: 9.3 miles
Elevation gained: 1940 feet

April 17 - Day 5 - Shap - A Hard & Beautiful Day

The difficulty of today came as no surprise, nearly 16 miles traveled and 3,000 feet of elevation gained.  The weather was also not a surprise having been forecast as sunny with high about 60°.  Nevertheless, the reality of both when experienced was striking.

2019-Europe-285xWe began climbing the hillside from the valley bottom almost immediately. We climbed up a West facing slope shielded from the cooling easterly winds. We and everybody else heading up the hill was shedding clothing in order to cool down. The clothing that had been our "uniform" in the previous days.

2019-Europe-294xOnce we reached the higher elevations the slope eased, the easterly winds were felt and we needed to put a few more bits of clothing back on. The vistas opened up and the full beauty of the Lake District was on display.

2019-Europe-297xAfter traversing a summit (the highest point of our trip at about 2560), we started an equally steep descent to Haweswater Reservoir, walked for four long miles along it's shores then another 4-1/2 miles through farm fields to our destination for the night.

Distance walked: 15.6 miles
Elevation gained: 2970 feet

April 18 - Day 6 - Orton - Yorkshire Dales

2019-Europe-KWH-078xThe terrain made a profound shift as we entered the Yorkshire Dales area. The hills are lower and less steep, the fields flatter and larger and the water courses calmer (think more babbling brook and less raging torrent).

2019-Europe-308xOur walking took a similar turn, less than 9 miles and 1000 feet, as walked from Shap to Orton. Most of the walk was on paths going through pastures with only fretful sheep as our audience.

The shorter walk allowed us to arrive in Orton in time for lunch at the Orton Scar Cafe. As it turns out we didn't plan well because if we had gone 100 yards further we'd have have found 2019-Europe-KWH-080xthe Kennedys Fine Chocolate Shop which serves homemade ice cream (besides oodles of chocolate treats). Clearly, we are losing our touch.

The weather was very mild today and the forecast looks good for the next few days. We'll keep our fingers crossed that it holds beyond that.

Distance walked: 8.7 miles
Elevation gained: 820 feet

April 19 - Day 7 - Kirkby Stephen - A Very Good Friday

2019-Europe-306xThe sunrise through the window of our room in the George Inn was lovely. Today's forecast called for sun and highs in the upper 60's.

While the distance hiked was over 12 miles, the elevation gain was modest and mostly across pasture land. So far sheep are the farm animal of 2019-Europe-312xchoice in this region although we've seen cows and ponies. An unplanned treat of visiting now is that many of the spring lambs are out in the fields with their moms. The cuteness factor is almost off the scale at times.

2019-Europe-313xAside from the time spent talking to the sheep, the walk went smoothly, and we were able to arrive in Kirkby Stephen in time to have afternoon tea with scones, jam and clotted cream.

Distance walked: 12.5 miles
Elevation gained: 880 feet

April 20 - Day 8 - Keld - Over the Hump

The section today, between Kirkby Stephen and Keld, is often considered the midpoint. It is roughly halfway in distance; the 2019-Europe-322xterrain changes becoming more rolling and less rugged; and we have now crossed the spine of England with all drainages flowing to the North Sea and not the Irish Sea.

The route ascended to the Nine Standards, a summit with nine ancient rock piles with an indeterminate origin. From there we continued across a high plateau with a notorious reputation for boot sucking boggy mud. Fortunately, the recent dry weather 2019-Europe-KWH-099xtamed it's appetite for boots and we kept ours. We descended to the village of Keld that was formerly a center for lead mining.

This being a holiday weekend (both Good Friday and the Monday after Easter are official bank holidays) and stunning weather, we are seeing lots of folks walking the paths and vacationing.

Distance walked: 12.4 miles
Elevation gained: 1840 feet

April 21 - Day 9 - Reeth - This is England

2019-Europe-KWH-103xSo this is the first time I have toured in England but I have watched every episode of Midsomer Murders and the Yorkshire Vet so I know what the English countryside should look like. Today we found it.

As is typical of England in April, the day starts off sunny and mild. You begin 2019-Europe-335xyour walk traveling a narrow lane with buildings built of stone blocks and a slate roof on both sides. Your path descends to a stone bridge over the river and you ascend the opposite side.

From there you alternately travel alongside the river or on the valley's slopes. Sheep and  young spring l2019-Europe-KWH-114xambs populate the pastures you pass through. Near noon you enter a village nestled on the hillside and have a scone and beverage before continuing on your way.

Dinner is steak and ale pie washed down with a pint of ale at a local pub. The temperature remains mild as you watch the sun's last light fall on the pastures above the town. Just a typical April day in England.

Distance traveled: 12.1 miles
Elevation gained: 1150 feet

April 22 - Day 10 - Richmond - The Style of Stiles

Not surprisingly, today's walk was similar to yesterday's. We followed the same river, the Swale, on both days. The weather 2019-Europe-KWH-118xwas almost the same. The distance walked was about the same as well as the terrain.

Rather the repeat myself, I'll take this as an opportunity to talk about "stiles", a topic I knew nothing about until we started our walk.

2019-Europe-KWH-073xOn most days we spend about half our day walking through fields with sheep and occasionally cattle or ponies. Separating the fields from each other are fence of stone or wire mesh. A stile is the means by which we climb over the fence.

2019-Europe-KWH-079xThe type of stile varies with the type of fence. On wire fences, the stile is usually two steps (2 x 6 planks) at differing heights sticking through the wire mesh. You ascend the 2019-Europe-KWH-119xsteps on one side, step over the fence and descend the steps on the other side.

Stone fences are much wider and usually higher than wire fences and stepping over more difficult. One type of stile is the A-frame ladder which has you ascending ladder rungs to the top of the fence on one side than 2019-Europe-KWH-085xdescending a similar set of ladder rungs on the other.

Another variation is similar to the wire fence type of stile. Instead of planks there are stone steps projecting out from the wall that take you up one or two steps to a narrow slot in the wall through which you thread your lower torso than descend a set of steps projecting from the wall on the other side.

Often the route simply leads to gate which might be a wide livestock gate or a narrower pedestrian gate.

Distance walked: 11.0 miles
Elevation gained: 1200 feet

April 23 - Day 11 - Lovesome Hill

2019-Europe-KWH-128xThe Wainwright Coast-to-Coast route cuts across three national parks, from west to east, Lake District N.P., Yorkshire Dales N.P. and North York Moors N.P.  All represent examples of England's upland areas.

Right now, we are in the flatter section the route between the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. There are fewer sheep farms and more cattle farms. The land is often planted with crops rather than simply growing grass for pasture.

2019-Europe-359xBy distance, today's walk was our longest but the elevation gain was the lowest and our average speed over the day was the fastest.  Our feet sense mostly the mileage and are pretty tired.

Today's temperatures were cooler than the last several which was a relief. A shift in the fine weather we've been experiencing is taking place over the next several days and we are hopeful we can avoid any major rainstorms between now and our planned arrival in Robin Hood's Bay on Sunday.

Distance walked: 16.8 miles
Elevation gained: 510 feet

April 24 - Day 12 - Osmotherly - Farmland

2019-Europe-KWH-143xWe continued our trek today across prime Yorkshire farmland. Until we reached the western edge of the North York Moors N.P at the end of the day, the land was pretty darn flat.

2019-Europe-KWH-137xWe have grown accustomed to having sheep move away from us when we entered their pasture but we’re surprised when the cows came over to us. 2019-Europe-KWH-140xWe saw mostly steers so any trust in people was not going to help them in the near future.

The day's travels were short so we had time to stop at a cafe enroute for tea and scones and then later for a pint and a snack when we arrived in Osmotherly, our night's destination.

Distance walked: 10.2 miles
Elevation gained: 720 feet

April 25 - Day 13 - Chop Gate - It Does Rain

2019-Europe-KWH-150xIt has been so long since we've seen a forecast that included rain, we were intimidated by today's forecast of heavy rain showers during the midday. When the showers did come, accompanied by strong winds, we were prepared. 2019-Europe-371xAfter showering for about an hour we were glad that we had been spared the rain all but one other day of the trip.

The route itself was pleasant, traveling through the heather moors on the ridges. We could hear the grouse squawking in the bushes as we tromped by. The only real complaint was that we 2019-Europe-KWH-151xkept having to go down between the ridge tops. All told, we had five separate up-down cycles of several hundred feet or more.

Tonight's accommodation is at a lodge (the Buck Inn) in Chop Gate about 3 miles from the route. The inn will pick you up and drop you off at the pass where the route crosses the road so you don't have to walk any extra miles.

Distance walked: 11.1 miles
Elevation gained: 2410 feet

April 26 - Day 14 - Glaisdale - The Home Stretch

2019-Europe-373xToday we crossed over some of the high moors of the North York Moors N.P. They are large expanses of treeless heather and scrub bogs. Fortunately, we followed well-defined paths of flag stones, dirt roads or paved surfaces. Part of it was even an old railway bed with a nearly flat grade.

2019-Europe-375xCompensating the easy tread was its distance, the longest of the trip, and the persistent wind, southerly 15-25. We kept the pace steady throughout the day and managed to arrive at our B&B seven hours after starting the day's walk and beating the heavy rain shower that rolled through in the late afternoon.

One more long day before we close with a short five mile walk into Robin Hoods Bay, the terminus for our Coast-to-Coast route.

2019-Europe-KWH-161I'll close with a picture of a sign we saw as we walked back from the pub at which we had dinner.  It probably represents the economic necessity of putting together a variety of jobs in order to make a living. An interesting combination, nevertheless.

Distance walked: 17.9 miles
Elevation gained: 1020 feet

April 27 - Day 15 - High Hawsker - On Again, Off Again

2019-Europe-396xThe weather forecast this morning was pretty convincing. Strong winds with probability of precipitation bo2019-Europe-397xuncing between 50% and 90% and we dressed for it in rain gear top and bottom. What we experienced was a lot less dire. Taking clothes off and putting them back on was the order of the day as we struggled to keep from getting damp from sweat or from rain.

Ignoring that, the walk was lovely. We walked along tree-lined streams and through charming villages be2019-Europe-404xfore crossing more moors and descending through farmland towards our destination of High Hawsker.

It was another long day but it leaves us with a short day and early arrival on our final leg into Robin Hood's Bay.


Distance walked: 16.2 miles
Elevation gained: 1790 feet

April 28 - Day 16 - Robin Hoods Bay - The End is Here

2019-Europe-KWH-181xWith great satisfaction, we walked the final section of road down to the life boat launch ramp and let a little bit of North Sea surf wash onto our right boots. The left boots had a similar treatment by the Irish Sea at the start of our journey.

2019-Europe-KWH-178xThe final few miles from last night's accommodation to Robin Hoods Bay were quite pretty. We were walking on a trail along a bluff that offered a view of the waves marching on to shore. The wind was brisk and the sea birds seemed almost to be playing in the updrafts rising from the bluff face.

2019-Europe-416xWe have enjoyed this trip immensely and consider ourselves fortunate to have had generally dry weather for the last two weeks.  We've also been fortunate that our bodies have held up with no foot, knee, hip or back pain or injuries.

Tomorrow we'll take trains to Windsor near London where we'll do a final bit of sightseeing.  A one-night stay in London on Wednesday than a long flight back to Seattle on Thursday.

Distance walked: 4.7 miles
Elevation gained: 330 feet