Monday, October 7, 2013

Welcome to Heavy Hiking

I maintained this blog from October, 2008 to October, 2013 - five years and 500 posts.  Most of the posts are about long-distance hiking and backpacking, ultramarathons, mountaineering/scrambling, and generally spending time in the great wilderness areas of the American West.  I also wrote about food and restaurants I liked and disliked, music, travel, and other non-work-related interests, including a surprising number of posts about development in my neighborhood, the Denver West Highlands.  Over the last few weeks I had fun adding some old scanned photos in order to round out the total number of posts to 500.  Blog highlights include my hikes of the Colorado Trail and Arizona trail, a month on the Pacific Crest trail, and longer trips to Switzerland and New Zealand.

I will continue to post photos at Flickr, may be more active at my nascent Twitter account @WillStenzel, and will also post updates here on other online developments.  Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

HHPF! #22 - A few old ones

I think this was my second backpack: 

Every year for five or six years, my Dad and I backpacked Pictured Rocks.  Some years it was nice, some years it was rainy, and one year there was a huge outbreak of deer flies.  It was a good place to learn how to backpack.

This is from about the same time:

Ryne Sandberg!  I don't remember if my Dad or I took this photo.  I remember an usher letting us down close to the field, but not too much else.  It's a great shot.  

HHPF! #21 - Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta, 1990 (I think).

HHPF! #20 - The lost Poland trip, 2004

(HHPF intro here).

I have a friend who disappeared for a year to Poland - we went to go see him in Wrocklaw (and he just finished his first novel).  It was a dashed-off trip that became unique and indelible in hindsight.  A day before we left, I realized I was about to try to travel post-9/11 on my old replacement passport made at the Nepal embassy - it had a old cracking photo of me glued onto the first page, and my nose had chipped off.  It literally looked like a ten-year-old's attempt at cutting and pasting a passport.

At that point there was no other choice but to simply go.  Sure enough, at Schiphol the customs woman decided not to let me into Europe.  Somehow we got around that, and then we were on another flight to Berlin, where I was flooded with old memories of when I was seven, when there were tanks and soldiers everywhere, and I cried because I couldn't go to East Berlin.  This time, we got on a train, zipped by the Brandenburg Gate, and I wondered where all the time had gone.

We found Ian, and he took us around to see the local sights.  I expected to settle in for a few days of this, but instead Catherine made motions across the map and soon we were hiking across the Tatras:

Each little lodge was more beautiful than the last, and each time we went through the same routine - the warden would be convinced we were German, refused to accept that we didn't know the language, and was then astonished to find we were actually American.  We would then devour large amounts of bigos and try to figure out where to go the next day.  We didn't want to show my passport again, spent a day or two hiking through snowdrifts, and then eventually by some guys in jeeps with guns on either the Czech or Slovakian border(s).  We ended up in the Czech Republic in a town called Harrachov that had hot showers, a huge ski jump, and several restaurants that serve pig knuckles.

It was all wonderful, and it should have been a jump off for a dozen similar trips - especially because it had been basically free.  Instead, it became a one-off dream, at least until last summer, which, in retrospect, makes it seem even more special.

HHPF! #19 - Nepal, Dhaulagiri

Dhaulagiri, Nepal - 1996.

HHPF! #18 - Jarbidge Mountains

Here's my Forest Service work truck, somewhere near the Jarbidge Mountains, Nevada, 1995.

HHPF #17 - Horse

Mexico, 2004.