These potato-shaped prizes in the Alabama Hills are mostly made of biotite monzogranitean, quite a sexy mineral in its own right. But what really makes them stand out from the landscape is their spheroidal weathering pattern.
As the old bedrock approached the surface over millennia of overburden pressure (one of the processes behind Yosemite’s towering monoliths), geometric fractures in the rock allowed water to cyclically penetrate and react with the surface of these hidden blocks. These cycles caused the formation of ‘onion-layers’ of interesting minerals on the blocks’ surface; a chemical weathering process. Once these structures find their way to the surface, the layers erode sequentially, exposing these oddly-spherical solid monuments. These iconic shapes of exposed rock are especially common east of the Sierras, famous in places like Joshua Tree, and make boulderers even happier people.
I had a few days free in Southern California, so I drove deep in to the desert in search of darkness. Armed with a my modest a6500 and a rented Hyundai Elantra, I ventured between Jawbone Canyon and the Alabama Hills to capture every last little photon I could find.
We spent the week in the Adirondacks, with little more than a map and an RV full of backpacking gear. No plan at all, but as all hiking trips go, they come together regardless. Coincidentally, it was the first week with my new Sony a6500, so I put it through its paces (see video above).
We needed a bugout weekend in a bad way. So, much credit to Frontier Airlines, $140 per ticket round-trip got us safely to Las Vegas. Close enough to the desert we were looking for.
Arriving in Vegas pretty late, we rented a cheap hotel room and completed our obligatory night on the strip. Pretty lights, $20 dollar drinks, and an onslaught of bachelorettes tired us out pretty quickly, but we were able to rise early and head towards the wild. To save on checked bag fees for camping gear, we rented a trusty Kia Sorento and treat it like a camper.
We’re trying to squeeze every last drop out of summer, and this weekend we found ourselves adventuring around the Youghiogheny River and back to my hometown of Cumberland, MD to do some climbing with our new friend Todd. You can grade a successful RV weekend by getting her uncovered before Friday’s sunset and getting it buttoned back up by Sunday’s sunset. Mission accomplished.
Big storms rolling through Western, PA pushed us to my hometown of Cumberland, MD to find some sunshine. I lived there until I was about 9, and it’s nice to detour through town to appreciate it as an adult.
We climbed the Cumberland Narrows up over the north ridge; not a maintained trail by any means but trafficked enough to find our way. Took turns holding the dogs far enough from the edge to keep them out of peril. At the top of the Narrows is Lover’s Leap, which has a Romeo and Juliet-esque backstory, link below for more.
Late summer in our region is a precarious time to camp; some nights can be downright uncomfortably hot, and we were specifically trying to escape the heat wave of the weekend, so we headed towards the closest peak we could get to by sunset: the Laurel Summit. It didn’t take much planning, and I wanted to test out some new gear, so without much thought we headed east.
The folks at Tri-County ATV sure know how to throw a party. Since 2000, the group (which is sponsored by the local fire and rescue crew of Heilwood, PA) has owned/leased over 1000 acres with limitless trails get muddy on. Twice a year, they hold an open house and for a small fee, anyone can come get their machines in the mud.
Annual snow trip time! This year, the gang headed to Aspen, CO to partake in the epically, pillowy-fresh snow of the Rocky Mountains. We found time to hit up 3 parks in 3 days, the quintessential: Aspen, Aspen Highlands, and Snowmass. We stayed at a little VRBO in Woody Creek and threw ourselves down the mountain for an epic long weekend.
The holy grail of the process. The tangible proof. The gateway.
One thing is for sure: The Italians are an opaque bunch, at least when it comes to citizenship.
When I last wrote about the IDC process, it was February 2013. I had received a strange envelope from Italy. It contained voting ballots, the first on-paper proof of my Citizenship. Gratifying, yes. But I was slightly surprised that I never received any official proof that my application was accepted. No ‘Benvenuto in Italia’. No fancy, embossed letter recognizing the arduous path I walked. Nothing to frame and hang next to my diplomas.