Washington Snow Storm '09

Some photos from the weekend's big snowstorm. We got about 23".

Great Falls after the snow storm 2009

This is Great Falls from the Virginia side. Rob and I ignored the warnings about staying off the roads to drive to Great Falls Park for some winter snowshoeing. It was beautiful.

Snowshoeing at Great Falls Park in Virginia

We were the first ones to break the snow. And the new snowshoes worked great.

Rob showing off his snowshoes at Great Falls Park in Virginia

Rob shows off his new snowshoes at the overlook for the falls. More photos HERE.



Dolly Sods Southeast

Waterfall in Red Creek Canyon

Rob and I chose the Dolly Sods Wilderness for our first backpacking trip. Dolly Sods is highest plateau of its type east of the Mississippi. The term "Sods" refers to the many boggy areas due to the abundant precipitation. The high elevation means the area is cooler than surrounding areas. Average snowfall is over 100 inches per year. It also has a unique collection of plants and animals more reminiscent of Canada ... like the snowshoe hare. Other animals include grey foxes, the bobcat, and the black bear. While we didn't see any foxes or big cats, we did see a black bear not far from the campsite.

Map of Dolly Sods Southeast

This trip focused on an area of Dolly Sods called Dolly Sods Southseast.

There are several trailheads along Forest Road 75 (FR75) which lead into the wilderness area. We began our hike on the Wildlife Trail. The original plan was to hike along the Wildlife Trail to Rohrbaugh Plains Trail and camp at a scenic overlook. Unfortunately we didn't get to the trailhead until early evening. The high western plains and the heavy tree cover on the trail meant that dusk quickly turned to darkness and we were forced to make camp along the Wildlife Trail.

This was a our first overnight camping trip in black bear country so I did a lot of internet research on the proper techniques for dealing with food. Although black bears are not known to kill people like the Grisley we really didn't want to temp them packets of tuna fish.

The black bears in the Dolly Sods Wilderness area are pretty crazy. See video above. We brought about 25 feet of rope to hang our food bag in the trees. We just threw the rope over the highest branch and hauled the food bag up. If a black bear had come by the camp I'm sure he would have found a way to get our food. BackpackingLight magazine has some better suggestions on how to hang a bear bag HERE.

Wildlife Trail -- Dolly Sods Southeast

The following day we hiked along the Wildlife Trail up through the first part of Rohrbaugh Plains trail to the scenic overlook campsite we had wanted to camp at. It was definitely better than the dark woods campsite we had the night before.

Scenic overlook campsite along Rohrbaugh Plains Trail

This is the overlook along Rohrbaugh Plains Trail. We hike back to the where Rohrbaugh Plains intersected with Wildlife Trail and followed the Wildlife Trail down to Fisher Spring Trail. Parts of this trail are a virtual boulder field. I would strongly suggest bringing a pair of hiking poles. I own a very nice set. Unfortunately they were left by the fireplace by accident.

Hiking over boulders on the Fisher Spring Trail -- Dolly Sods Southeast

The Fisher Spring Trail leads straight down to Red Creek where you intersect with Red Creek Trail. There are a number of secluded campsites along the creek, many of them close to the waterfalls. We found a nice campsite with a waterfall in the background.

Campsite along Red Creek in Dolly Sods Southeast

The rest of the day we spent hiking along the creek and taking pictures of the falls.

Waterfall along Red Creek -- Dolly Sods Southeast

Rob actually did most of the photography. I beached myself on a rock and enjoyed the sun.

Sunning on rock along Red Creek -- Dolly Sods Southeast

For more photos from the trip ... click HERE.



Wings on water

The Huki Gull Wing

This is the new Huki Gull wing which I just had installed on the S1-A surf ski. Nick, who owns Precision Rowing Repair in Arlington, Virginia, did the retrofit. I've been looking at the Gull Wing for over a year but the cost and shipping expenses always held me back. Then this summer I ran into another racer, Earl, at the Wye Island Regatta with an S1-A and an extra Gull Wing. He had ordered one from Huki but it arrived damaged so Jude replaced the wing free of charge. I bought the damaged wing for $200 ... a fraction of the cost of a new wing + shipping ... had it repaired and installed on the surf ski. The installation is designed so it can come off when needed and paddled without the wing.

Huki Gull Wing from the back

The beauty of the Gull Wing is that it's designed to sit above the water except when the boat tips to the side. This provides less water friction than if the wing were sitting in the water all the time like an ama on an outrigger canoe. So it provides maximum stability without sacrificing too much speed. I actually thought I was faster with the Gull Wing because I was able to focus entirely on paddling without worrying about flipping over. Flipping over in an S1-A is very easy. It has a 14" waterline beam and a pretty rounded hull.

Paddling away in the Huki Gull Wing

Here are some short video clips showing the Gull Wing in action.

Huki Gull Wing in action from Susanita on Vimeo.



Something's gotta give

Tom Cat on his way to the shelter

I love animals, especially cats and dogs. But occasionally you cross paths with an animal who's needs directly oppose your own. Intact male cats have a biological need to spray everything in their path ... spray as in urine. He snuck into the house twice through the cat door and sprayed the entire house. I could barely breathe the stench was so incredible. So there he sits trapped in a raccoon cage awaiting transport to the nearest animal shelter. This is sad because he is a beautiful animal. But in his present state he is not adoptable. His days are numbered and he seems to know it. On the ride to the shelter he peed and pooped in the cage. He was really scared. I could feel it. But it was either him or me.

~Susanita ... who is getting back to her blog!

Monumental Outrigger Race

Trash in the Anacostia River

When it rains hard and continuous the Anacostia River becomes a conduit for trash, mud, sewage and worse. But that didn't stop us from hosting the Annual Monumental Race at the Anacostia Boathouse. These photos are looooong overdue. But it's been a busy summer. The Monumental Race was in May of this year. It's now October ... and I'm just getting caught up on events. Since I met Rob it's been nonstop paddling, biking, climbing, hiking, camping ... in addition to relaxing. And with the addition of Facebook as a new conduit for communicating with friends the blog has fallen behind.

So here are some highlights from the Monumental Race back in May 2009.


It rained! And it rained some more. But the great thing about paddling is you're wet anyway. So the race went on as scheduled. Only when the thunder rolled in after noon did the races get cut short.

Hawaiin dancers at the Anacostia Boathouse

The compete photo album is HERE.