Category Archives: Travel
AM San Francisco
Historical Posts representing Adventure Continues: Second Quarter
I was presented with an opportunity to work for Hewlett-Packard in the San Francisco Bay area in the Summer of 1987. This was sort of a dream come true, but I also had to weigh it against living in such a beautiful place as Steamboat Springs, CO. But as was the norm for me I let the Adventure Continue, so California here I come. This first post is only about the first few weeks in California culminating with an appearance on the TV Show “AM San Francisco”. But first I had to get orientated with HP and figure out how to bring my family out. I went to the Bay Area first to start work and find a place for us to live. I was hired as a Systems Engineer for the Analytical Division of HP headquartered in Palo Alto but my home office would be the Santa Clara HP Sales Office. This division of HP was responsible for all of the instrumentation and computer applications associated with running a scientific laboratory. My Initial focus would be on the HP1000 LABSAM and LAS applications that basically provided automation and management for a laboratory. Our customers were typically using our HP GCs, LCs and Mass Spectrometers to process a large volume of samples.
It just so happened that I had joined this division just a few days before the entire workforce was to gather at a resort in the San Juan Islands for a big corporate retreat. I mean I started work on Monday and was given a travel itinerary for that Thursday. I was so green, I had no idea where the San Juan Islands were, sounded to me like a place in Central America. But my flight took me to Seattle and the land transit arrangements which included a ferry took me to Orcas Island of the San Juan Islands of the state of Washington. This was fairly cool for a young computer guy who had just come out of the mountains of Colorado. And topping it off, HP issued each of us an HP 110 laptop with a printer and floppy disk drive. The retreat was then mostly focused on teaching us how we would utilize this equipment.
What I really think was happening was that HP had a warehouse full of these computers and peripherals that they needed to unload since nobody was buying them. But it was still a really cool surprise and this resort on Orcas Island was very nice.
The following week back in the Bay Area I went through the HP Orientation. I remember during the wine tasting training I felt my first earthquake which would prove to be a significant aspect for living in California. I found a house to rent in Fremont and I headed back to Steamboat to move my family to California. I guess our many moves had prepared us for the chaos that surrounds a move across the country. But this was our first where the company took care of all the expenses. We just had to drive to San Fran in our VW Vanagon.
Sometime during all of this Connie came across an opportunity to enter a contest for a Clairol Makeover that would take place on the AM San Francisco TV Show the week that we would arrive. I think our real motivation for entering was for the new clothing that we would get to keep. Well of course we were selected because of my graying hair which was exactly what was going to sell Clairol’s new hair color product for men. So the schedule called for us to go into San Francisco the day before the show to receive the clothing and the hair makeover.
We would then come back the next morning to be on the show. What we did not know until the evening before the show was that our daughter Sidney had been exposed to Hepatitis at his daycare just before we left Steamboat and we were not alerted because we had just left town. Well sure enough we were not feeling very good but we were kind of committed to pull off this TV appearance. So we sucked it up and participated even though we were coming down with Hepatitis. Keep that in mind as you watch the video of the Show.
In the 1970s and 1980s, KGO-TV produced weekday talk/variety shows in the 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. timeslot following Good Morning America. A.M. San Francisco ran from 1975 to 1987/1988
Backpacking the Lofoten Islands
I can’t believe I did it. Many years ago I saw photos of this amazingly beautiful place called the Lofoten Islands in Norway. I then found a website that talked more to the backpacking opportunities. Then an opportunity arose to join a group that was to backpack the Long Crossing of Lofoten, but that fell apart. However, out of the process I did hook up with another senior backpacker from Switzerland who was interested in taking on this Long Crossing so the commitment was made. My earlier post Outside My Comfort Zone detailed some of the hopes and fears I had leading up to the actual adventure. In this post I will give an overview of the entire journey and then add specific trip reports for the various 1-2 day treks that comprised the overall adventure.
The adventure really began when travel commenced. In fact, I was probably most concerned about the travel. The three flights from Portland, OR to Oslo, Norway did not go as I would have hoped. My glitch occurred when my backpack did not make the connection in London to Oslo. In Oslo after diagnosing the problem I felt good about my backpack catching up to me that evening so that I would be fine for my flight the next morning to Bodø and then on to the Lofoten’s via ferry. That assumption was based on how lost baggage is handled in the US, but this was Saturday night in Oslo and nobody was actually concerned about my lost bag. So on Sunday morning when I realized that the process was not going to deliver me my backpack in time for my flight, I decided to find my backpack myself. I believed that my pack was on a late flight from London but no confirmation had been issued. The airport started waking up around 6:00 am but nobody could let me into the International baggage claim area until 8:00. My flight was at 9:30. Once I finally was able to speak with a baggage claim representative I was running out of time and they were not motivated to help, instead it was easier for them to assure me that my bag would be sent to me. Of course that was not going to work for my wilderness address on the Lofoten Islands.
So I resorted to serious begging and was finally able to motivate a handler to go search for my backpack. Thankfully, they did find my pack and I was just able to make my flight to Bodø and then catch the ferry to Svolvær. A lot of stress, but all part of the adventure.
I met up with my new backpacking partner, Jakob, Sunday night June 30th and we set forth our plans to hitch hike to the beginning trailhead at Delp. Hitchhiking didn’t really work, but we met a kayaking group who were headed in the right direction. We then got lucky where they let us off by catching a ride from a Swiss freelance writer who was working his way through the islands.
However, the weather was not cooperating so we decide to rent a cabin in the town of Laukvika and start the trek on Tuesday. We were basically trying to follow the stages laid out in what was referred to as the Great Crossing of Lofoten.
Stage 1 was a hike from the hamlet of Delp to the hamlet of Sandsletta over Matmora mountain. This would be about 15 km and 1000 m vertical with the high point at 766 m (2546′). The trail was rated medium/difficult. The day’s trek was great, some rain and some sun and amazing views. This trek helped to define what hiking would be like in the Lofotens. Difficult typically meant more difficult than a trail in the US. And if the listing was medium/difficult then it meant half of the trail was difficult.
It was difficult because the trails are laid out for the shortest path, as in, straight up a mountain, the concept of trail switchbacks does not exist. Unfortunately Jakob developed a problem with his foot on this first day and the injury would influence his participation throughout the rest of the Crossing. After spending a night in Sandsletta Jakob decided to seek medical advice in Svolvær and I set out to conquer stage 2 by myself.
Stage 2 Haugen to Svolvær takes you from one side of the island of Austvågøya to the other over a snowy mountain pass. I was not concerned about taking on this segment alone, however, I did borrow, Jakob’s Garmin which could utilize a GPX file. Unfortunately his Garmin was starting to whack out which did cause me trail confusion. The weather was good and the trail was decent but the scenery was stunning which totally motivated my tiring body.
Hiking in the Lofoten’s is a lot about avoiding muddy wet trail sections which probably contributed to what could have been a very serious tumble that I took on my descent into Svolvær. A misstep caused me to take a couple of somersaults ending up without anything broken except my trekking pole. The backs of my hands were scraped and bleeding, but a couple of Norwegian hikers, Nina & Erik, happened by to help me compose and bandage myself. Now I was a bit more concerned about my ability to backpack in the Lofotens, plus I was hitting that second day exhaustion. Thank God, Jakob decided to rent a car and was able to pick me up at the end of the trail. We regrouped in Svolvaer to plan out the next few segments. Jakob needed a few more days to rest his foot so I decided to head out on my own again.
Vikjorda/Lake Store Krenggårsvatnet Trip Report
We decided I should skip segment 3 which entailed way too much road hiking so Jakob drove me to the start of Segment 4 Vikjorda which would connect with Lake Store Krenggarsvatnet and on to Leknes. This segment was referred to as a mountain crossing connecting with a more tame segment 5. I was planning on taking 3 days to complete these 2 segments so I felt good about the progress I made on the first day. However, this was a strange trail because it stated that there was no trail to get you to a ridge and that was accurate. It was critical to have a GPX route to follow. I found a good campsite which would set me up to go over the mountains the next day since the clouds were not going to allow that on this day. All seemed good the next morning when the clouds lifted but that changed quickly as I neared the peak of Dalstuva. I was only a 50 m from the first highpoint but a cloud was totally blinding me.
Combining poor visibility with a very narrow ridge to navigate, not to mention a steep descent on the back side I succumbed to fear and wisdom and decided to turn around. I ended up back on the lightly used highway 815 hoping to hitch a ride to Leknes. I finally got a hitch after walking about 6 km and was eventually able to meet up with Jakob in Leknes on that Friday afternoon.
Jakob was feeling up for an easy hike out of Leknes so we headed to Justadtinden for an overnight. We did not intend to go all the way to the summit so this simple trek worked out well with a great view and time to come out before rain was due on the next day. As the weather deteriorated the next day we did our reconnaissance work to plan for our next 2 day segment. We did explore the trail options around Nusfjord but were not impressed with what we found or were told about. However, we did manage to give a number or rides to very grateful backpackers on that rainy day.
Selfjord Bay to Horseid Beach Trip Report
We decided to spend the night in Remsberg and then modify Segment 9 by going from Selfjord Bay to the Lofoten’s most remote Horseid Beach and then return. We were entering our second week and the weather forecast was finally cooperating. We had also totally abandoned the idea of completing the Great Crossing at least as it was laid out. Instead we used it as a guide to hit the most impressive hiking areas of the Lofoten’s typically by choosing 2-3 day routes and this next trek was definitely a highlight.
We got an early start with the goal to go from Selfjord Bay over to Horseid Beach for the night. The climb over the pass was tough but the beach reward was worth it. We ended up camping on an ocean overlook with an opportunity to view the midnight sun. The location was magical and my hours of private time on the rocks the next morning totally validated why I wanted to explore the Lofoten Islands. We spent the second night on the mountain saddle before descending back down to Selfjord Bay.
To the Summit of Munkebu Trip Report
Coming out on the third day allowed us time to drive to our next trek which was to be summiting Munkebu which offered one of the most spectacular 360 views of the islands. We ventured down to Sørvågen where we headed up to the Munkebu Summit trail. We decided to camp at about 250 m and then summit the peak the following day with day packs. This worked out well for the 766 m (2510′) summit on this popular trail which did not disappoint us.
The view was fantastic. We had some chats with other hikers on top and I believe this was the first place that I ran into others from the US. We hiked back down to our campsite for a relaxing evening.
Andstabben Above Lake Ågvatnet Trip Report
After hiking out the next day we ventured down to Å to take on the Andstabben hike. Unfortunately we did not have a GPX file for this hike and we never did find the trail up and over the mountain so we settled on camping above Lake Ågvatnet.
The following day we relaxed in the village of Å by renting a cabin and having a great meal at Maren Anna.
This brought a close to our Great Crossing of Lofoten. I took the Moskenes Ferry to Bodø where I wanted to do some backpacking but the weather did not cooperate. There were definitely some excellent backpacking options on the coast north of Bodø where I was able to do some hiking on my last day before catching my flight to Oslo. However, I did squeeze in a day of golf above the arctic circle at Bodø Golf Park. I then spent 3 days visiting Oslo where I totally enjoyed that energetic city.
What Retirement Means to Me
I retire on June 30th, but the term “retire” doesn’t really fit. I’ve tried to label this end of my one year contract to serve as the Interim CIO at Western Washington University as my official retirement. But what is retirement? I think I’m OK with just transitioning into my next job which happens to be the more serious pursuit of or the return to nature. And backpacking is my enabler for doing that.
The common question of what will I be doing next is answered with “I’m going backpacking”, but few have any clue what that really means. And of course going backpacking could be equated to varying definitions. Many ask if that means I will backpack the PCT or the Appalachian Trails. So I try to explain that I just want to be more serious and deliberate about backpacking to wherever opportunities it takes me to. If the conversation progresses it typically ends with some dismay that I actually will be doing this alone with my dog. And I have to admit that I’m not sure how to explain why I want to do this. However, I just read a blog post by Cam Honan, author of “The Hiking Life” entitled “A Natural Progression“ which is the best description I have ever read about why I am drawn to the wilderness. He breaks it down to “From Stanger to Guest to Family Member”. This paragraph from his post sums up why retirement will allow me to return to my “Family”.
From an intangible perspective, feelings of separation have disappeared, replaced instead by a sense of union with your surroundings. You have come home, and in so doing realised that your spirit never really left. Our connection with the natural world is innate, so while it may seem like Mother Nature is teaching, I’ve long suspected she is simply reminding. Providing the key so that we ourselves can unlock a part of us that has always been there. And I can’t think of too many gifts that are greater than that.
I thank Cam for putting into to words what I feel. The opportunity to be a part of this wilderness family is as good as it gets. Tomorrow I will reclimb Goat Mountain to get my own gauge on the snowpack in the North Cascades. The Adventure Continues