Sunday, July 29, 2012

Heidi and Craig's Wedding, Oregon

Aaron's brother Craig got married to Heidi in a small ceremony at Heidi's families old wooden "Shack" in the woods just outside of Silver Creek Falls, Oregon. It was a very small, intimate wedding with only family. It took about 2 hours to set everything up and decorate with most of the family helping out with dressing up the house, or the bridal party. Then there was a short ceremony with a lovely musical accompaniment, then there were lots of family photos and some food.

The "Shack" decorated, with very rustic decorations down the aisle

Kortney and Emmalee just finished with their hair and getting dressed

The happy couple, Craig and Heidi, and son, Akhen, posing for photos in the woods

Us - dressed up for once... we thought it deserved a photo, especially Aaron in a tux

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hiking in the Colorado mountains

After a few days of acclimatising to the altitude we got out for a few walks to see some of the geology and spectacular scenery of the Rockies. We tried to take one or two of the dogs on most of these trips to get them out and about. They did get rather hot, and would jump into any water they could find to cool off. William on the other hand had his own sherpa and flash backpack. He was quite fascinated by the trees and scenery, but occasionally had enough and had a grump, or if we were lucky fell asleep. 

The first walk was near Steamboat Springs, Fish Creek to the falls with little Sacha in tow. He loved to splash in the river when he got the opportunity.

 William and his sherpa, Gill, Helen and Sacha

Sacha and Helen playing in Fish Creek

Fish Creek Falls

Another day we headed out around Lower Cataract Lake with the big dogs. This was a cruisy walk around the lake, although Maxx didn't like the river crossing at the far end as the bridge was broken and it was slippy.

Lower Cataract Lake with the aspen and pine forests

After the couple of walks at lower elevation we decided to try something a little harder and set off to climb Buffalo Mountain at 12777 ft/3895 m overlooking the local town. We set off, but soon came to a large boulder field which required some good balance and scrambling and this became very difficult for Gill to negotiate while carrying William in the backpack. So she hung out and then slowly made her way down while Aaron and I continued to the top. When we were 100 m from the top we heard our first thunder roll and so raced to the top to get a quick photo and then headed down. 

Gill and William at the start of the boulder field

Aaron almost at the top of Buffalo Mountain overlooking Silverthorne, Dillon and Dillon reservoir

Storm coming in while we were at the top of Buffalo Mountain

Finally on our last full day in Colorado we headed over to Vail and on the way we headed up Shrine Mountain from Vail Pass. This was spectacular with lots of great red sandstone/conglomerate outcrops and amazing views of the surrounding mountains. 

Red cliffs on Shrine Mountain above Vail Pass

Aaron, Gill, William, Maxx and Helen on Shrine Mountain

No we didn't do any 14,000 ft mountains.... maybe next time, but to be honest there are lots of great walks to do around this area without bagging the big ones.

"The Rabble"

Gill and Mike have an impressive log cabin - although rather larger than your typical cabin - in the middle of a forest of aspen and pine trees. We definitely felt like we were staying in a luxury hotel.... although our payment was cooking and helping with "the rabble".

As well as having young William, they also have 3 huskies that Gill is training to dog sled. The original huskies are Maxx and Reka, who are now a couple of years old, and they just recently got a new puppy Sacha, building up to a 4 dog sled team. Together Gill calls them "the rabble". We tried to help out with controlling and keeping the rabble entertained, alternately taking out one/two/all of the dogs and William on walks, runs etc.. The older dogs are very friendly and constantly want cuddles... while Sacha is still full of beans and although he was good when we took him out to get "socialised", he is still learning, and needs some more training to keep the teeth under control....and to learn to play with Maxx and Reka.

Aaron giving Reka (left) and Maxx (right) some cuddles

Little Sacha... sitting still for once. His adult coat and colourings are slowly coming through!

Looking forward to coming back in winter and seeing the dog sled team in action.....

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Visiting Gill in Colorado

3 flights and a night in a hotel near Denver airport, and we were ready for the guided tour of Colorado with Gill, including lots of interesting geology. We started with the fossil dinosaur footprints on they way from Denver to her house just outside of Silverthorne in the mountains. 

Fossil dinosaur footprints, supposedly 37 individuals (adults and babies)

The spectacular and classic picture postcard view of the mountains from near Gill and Mike's house

We went to Breckenridge, and as there is no skiing at this time of year we went down the Country Boy Mine to find some gold.... William wasn't so convinced by mining....he got a little scared in the dark mine. We tried our hand at gold panning afterwards - but no one struck it lucky.

William, Gill, Aaron and Helen in the Country Boy Mine

Today we headed over the continental divide to Steamboat Springs. We did a walk to see Fish Creek Waterfall and play in the river. We took Gill's new little husky puppy, Sacha, so that he could meet lots of people. It was pretty hot so we splashed in the river, then went for ice cream, followed by the hot pools - seemed like a good idea and felt pretty good - despite the heat of the day. William loved the hot pools.  

William (in backpack), Gill, Helen and Sacha (the puppy)

On the way home we got caught be an impressive thunderstorm with lots of lightning... 

On the road driving home into the storm...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Snowcraft with the Rangers at Ruapehu

For the last few months I have been planning this weekend away to the snow with the rangers (older girl guides). Unfortunately for me this was the first time anything like this had been organised for a few years and there were no up to date safety guidelines... so it caused quite a few dramas with a lot of paper work and e-mails. Several times I wondered whether it was all worth it.

A work colleague of mine who teaches the snow craft course for the local tramping club offered to help teach and we borrowed the minibus and the crampons and ice axe from the club. Jenny and her partner Steve, were excellent - they were very patient with the girls and built up their confidence. We were also incredibly lucky with the weather - with sunny, clear skies the whole weekend.

Unfortunately skiing on the Sunday was not quite so successful - with one girl falling and twisting her knee on the first lift. So I spent the whole of the morning in the medical centre.... Oh well.

The girls spent the drive home talking about next year.... so I think they had fun - I might have just recovered by next year! Hopefully it won't be so much work if all the paper work can be reused from this year.

The group

Jenny teaching the girls how to walk in crampons

Learning how to ice axe arrest - stop yourself sliding down the snow

Sunday, July 1, 2012

YTYY tramp

Despite it being the middle of winter the weather was looking good for the weekend and a friend of mine - Sam had his birthday and desperately wanted to get out tramping before his wife has their second child later this year (he hasn't been tramping since his last child was born 3 years ago). So we picked a moderate tramp  to Waitewaewae (YTYY) hut in the Tararuas. Despite looking relatively flat on the map this tramp is pretty diverse. It starts on an old railway line that was built to bring down the logs from the forest, then it climbs up a stream bed with lots of crossing of  the stream, and then finally it pops over the hill to the Otaki River and the YTYY hut. We did some geocaching along the way - although we didn't find the nano cache at the old boiler! We are sure it has gone missing....

We had a lovely evening in the hut, eating, drinking and playing games. It was very cold (especially when the fire went out over night). Then we walked out the next day... It was great to get out in the middle of winter and the frost on the plants looked quite spectacular. Looking forward to going back to YTYY hut in the summer and then floating back down the Otaki river....

Photos to come...