Monday, September 29, 2014

Dusty Equipment

You might be surprised to learn that I love gear. 


That is if you don't know me. I first became aware of my addiction to gear years ago. It was through my first true outdoor passion: Astronomy. 

It was some time back,when I was in high school, and I was deeply invested in the sciences. I enjoyed how they changed the way I viewed reality and enlightened me to the order of the world that surrounded me. The awesome power of natural phenomena and the complexity of our universe truly appealed to me. Astronomy, though, was my discipline of choice to see deeper, literally, into this cosmos.

Over the course of this hobby I devoted thousands in my personal expendable income into telescopes, eyepieces, filters, solar filters (for viewing sun spots) tripods, maps and all the other accoutrements you can think of to make one self respecting amature astronomer.  I experienced a number of amazing sights, for example,  routinely being able to manually find the Andromeda Galaxy or the time I used a green filter and a 2Xs barlow with a piece of string attached so I could see Phobos, a small asteroid captured and turned into a moon by Mars. A few weeks later I used the same method to see the even smaller Deimos.

Tonight I decided to bust it all out again for a small moon viewing sesh. I had a pretty rough day at work and wanted to see mountains. I thought it was impossible, but then I remembered that the moon was in a great phase and I realized I could see actual light from actual mountains all from my backyard in New Orleans.

After a short dusting of all the gear (and it WAS dusty) it was time to get to viewing.

Great night for viewing the Western hemisphere of the Moon.

The only real problem here is that all these "mountains" are formed by meteor impacts. On Earth, mountains are not only capable of being formed by meteors but they can also be formed by volcanism and the process of orogeny, which has only been observed on our planet.

Oh and for the record, I never spent the money on astrophotography gear. The photos of the moon here were taken hand held.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Down River

My summer of rafting has finally come to an end and I am now back in New Orleans. The major bit of adventure in my life will come exclusively through the swamps as I start guiding canoe tours once again. It is fine though, I am hashing out a big winter mountaineering trip but the more I think about mountains the more I realize how much I miss the river.

The river seems so distant now; her water and all the people I grew to love and respect. We were a respectable group of transients, vagabonds, and wayfarers. Money was only as important as it was necessary and there was always a good time to be had. What tied us together though, in my mind, was the environment. It provided an overabundance of opportunities to test our skills, learn more and, in the end, take bigger, more calculated, risks. It's like ole Jim Whittiker said: "If your not living life on the edge your taking up too much space."

Maybe now that I'm home I might be taking up too much space on the couch but it gives me time to reflect on my experience over these past four months.

The most prominent opportunity and risk I took this summer was my R2 trip down Chattooga Sec. IV.  If you know the river and you know her dangers, you are perfectly justified in having a healthy sense of caution approaching it. A fatal river in many places, Chattooga is littered with undercuts and sieves. As a designated wild and scenic river it has a natural flow and is isolated from roads making medical evacuation highly difficult. The challenge and gravity of consequence was there.

Chattooga also had an element of nostalgia for me. My father had taken me at 13 on a rafting trip with WildWater rafting down Sec. IV. This experience was actually one of the first outdoor memories I cherish and see as a defining moment in my love of the outdoors. It is funny though, it wasn't the river that got me. It was the first time I saw mountains. I still remember staring out of my hotel room at the distant hills and all I wanted to do was be on top. At that time the river didn't even register in my mind. It is funny how things turn around. That is one thing water taught me though, it is all ebb and flow.

I did a quick edit of our Chattooga run, enjoy it y'all!


Every year there is a world famous race on the Green River outside of Asheville N.C. The green does not play around and is almost exclusively a hard boat river. Some of the guys I had been living with are training for that race and they have been running it pretty regularly to learn the moves. Check em out.

Boof Ducks Green River Narrows Triple Crown from Alexander M. on Vimeo.

Happy to be back on the Blog-o-sphere!