... seeking simple answers to complex problems, and in the process, disrupting the status quo in technology, art and neuroscience.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Life Lessons of Burning Man

It's been said, words can not do justice to the experience that is Burning Man. And it's true. I've tried, over and over. But here's a a guy who has at the very least framed it nicely - and I suspect hit it square on the head - at least for himself, Mark Morford. Not only is he an excellent word-smith, he GETS it! But your mileage may vary.

Now I'll get out of the way so you can read HIS take on Burning Man - EXCELLENT stuff...

The Life Lessons of Burning Man

Another good column on the topic - Thanks Mark.

The Truth About Burning Man

Friday, August 21, 2009

AfterBurn at PermaBurn

Can't make it to Burning Man?

Or don't want it to end after you do?

Go to the AfterBurn!

Yep. I just had it confirmed - PermaBurn is hosting a FREE week of camping after Burning Man. All Burners invited, whether you made it to the playa or not!

PermaBurn is only 85 miles west of the playa as the crow flies, but 135 miles through Alturus and Likely, or 150 miles directly from Reno.

There will be water for showers, porta-potties and all the space you need to decompress slowly.

Plus... Wednesday evening, September 9th will be the left-over playa pot-luck.

And... starting Friday night, September 12th, Fixation Station will have their Dragonfly art car and dance venue operational for a weekend of music.

So if you're a Burning Man orphan, you've been adopted! You can at least sneak in a weekend with other Burners and get some playa dust on you.

Or if you're not ready to quit dancing just because BLM says so, here's the place to continue.

What : AfterBurn at PermaBurn
When : September 7th thru September 13th (early and late camping is fine)
Where : Madeline, California - 60 miles north of Susanville
Entrance Fee : 0.00, nada, FREE!

Thanks to CyberBiker for providing this Google Map link..

PermaBurn Location on Google Map

If you haven't been out, there is 5 miles of gravel road, so you may have to dodge some rocks.

(click to expand)

How to get to PermaBurn...

How to get to the PermaBurn turnoff from Reno...

Take 395 60 miles north of Susanville to Madeline, California
(the 395 junction is just east of Susanville).

Go 6 miles north of Madeline on 395 to the 134.92 mile marker at 41 7'43" 120 30'0".

How to get to the PermaBurn turnoff from Gerlach...

Take highway 447 north which becomes highway 81 when you cross into California. Continue through Eagleville then turn left in Cedarville onto highway 299. Go west on highway 299 until it joins highway 395 just north of Alturas. Go south on highway 395 to Alturas (which is the biggest post-playa town and gas stop). Continue south on highway 395 through the town of Likely. About 5 miles south of Likely find the turnoff at the 134.92 mile marker at 41 7' 43" 120 30' 0''.

From either Reno or Gerlach, turn west off highway 395.

Watch for the orange or mylar tape from this point on. If you go to Google map you won't find any names on any of these roads.

This is where the five miles of dirt road starts...

Take a left to go south on this gravel road.

Go 0.1 miles till you reach the green gate. Open the gate if you have to and go through. Please remember to close it back.

Go 0.4 miles until you see a second green Gate on the right with orange tape.

Open the green gate and take a right. AND close it back, please. Thar BE cattle.

Cross the yellow cattle guard about 30 feet beyond the gate.

Go 2.4 miles.

You will see another yellow cattle guard and orange tape.

To the right, will be a sign for the reservoir.

You are at 41 6'45" 120 32' 6".

Go just BEYOND the cattle guard, and then take an immediate LEFT turn on the dirt road on the other side of the fence. Turn left just AFTER the cattle guard, not before!

Go 2.2 miles south and up the hill on this smaller dirt road.

At some points the road tilts pretty bad, and there are a few rocks protruding but a normal car can make it with care.

You will reach the top of the hill with three trees on the left, and then come down into the PermaBurn site.

Welcome to AfterBurn!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Half Dome the Hard Way - A Review

I do lots of hiking, but once a year I try to really challenge myself (and whomever will come with me), to a hike in the marathon class (20 plus miles on difficult ground).

For this year's hike, we picked Half Dome in Yosemite Park. But I didn't want to just do the standard up and back along with the crowd from the valley below. So we decided to start at Tenaya Lake up on Tioga pass. This would give a chance to see some of the back country as well as make a stop at Clouds Rest which was actually a thousand feet ABOVE Half Dome and a challenging climb all on it's own.

We were 45 minutes behind plan getting started because of the drive, and our schedule slipped all day from there. The delays were caused by trail-bed, grade and lack of enough training. Most of the trail-bed we saw was rocky. Some of it is down right horrible.

Cloud's Rest was a hard climb of just under 2000 feet from Tenaya Lake. It was about six miles with a fairly rocky path. It made for slow going. An and I had not done enough training hikes this summer. Travis apparently did more. He lead all the climbing all day.

01 Clark Mt

As we approached, the top, views started popping up. Clark Mountain in the distance was especially impressive. We also got a good view of Tenaya Lake behind us.

02 Fall Line Off the Edge of Cloud's Rest

03 The World of Granite and Tenaya Lake Behind Us (click to enlarge, then look closely)

We got to Cloud's Rest just before lunch and were rewarded with a spectacular view all around. The scale is well beyond our normal perception. Looking into those granite valleys will almost pull you in. Photos do not do it justice. You just have to go and see it for yourself.

04 Trav on Cloud's Rest

05 An on Cloud's Rest

After lunch we began a steep decline losing far more than we'd gained all morning. But the trail was pretty good and we completed four miles in just over an hour - the fastest section all day.

06 Half Dome from the Back

Then it was time to climb much of it back, which is a bit demoralizing. It was about 1700 feet in the very short distance of only two miles. This is the steepest climb I think I've ever done for that distance, and is topped off with the famous cable assent.

08 Closer

09 Steps

The first third is simply trail, but steep enough to force breaks to catch your breath, even at 8000 feet. The next third seemed like a thousand steps cut into the granite. Maybe it was only 800. I think it was the worst part of the whole day, at least until it began to yield more amazing views. Next was the final phase - even steeper than steps.

Other than visually challenging (read scary as hell), the cable climb was mostly waiting for the line to move, even though we didn't have a line to get started this late in the day (3:00 by then). It took 45 minutes to go that last 400 feet - almost straight up. I got a Charley-horse near the end, but I think it was caused by the earlier never-ending steps. A few minutes relaxing on top and it resolved.

The view off Half Dome is probably not what you'd expect. Other than a small section over by the cliffs, you can't see into the valley below. This is because, if you walk far enough over the "dome" to get a good look, the footing becomes steep and dangerous without a rope. So most people were hanging out by the cliffs which split the dome in half and are truly dramatic.

14 The Cliffs

By this time, it was 4:00 PM, which was exactly when I told Rita (our ride back to the car), we'd be back at the village in the valley. By the time we got off the dome it was even later. Even though I didn't think she would leave without us, I was a bit concerned because we couldn't make phone connection. Or maybe it was just an excuse to go for a run.

You see, I like running down hill. And with rocks, it becomes kind of a dance. Once we got off the steps, I left Trav and An behind and began my run. The first few miles went quickly, with only a few rocks to dodge. But on the flats before the falls, was DG (Decomposed Granite) as deep as beach sand. That took me down to a walk for about a mile.

Next came the mist trail below Nevada Falls, which is some of the nastiest rock path I have ever seen, especially the first mile. This was more of a tap-dance than a run. Finally I hit paved path and sprinted to the finish (except for the small up hill parts).

The day had been a great work-out, especially the last few miles. I found Rita about an hour before the other guys made it out, making a ten hour day for me. We headed back to Rita's house and her hot-tub.

So if you're looking for two of the most visually vivid summits in the United States, either of these will do. But be ready for a challenge.

Even if you only do one.

11-13-09 three more photos from Trav

On Cloud's Rest

Second Objective

The Stair-climber

Monday, August 03, 2009

Finally... Enjoying the Soup

A Welcoming Double-Rainbow

It was noted, the weather called for 30% chance of rain, so some of you stayed home. Others were busy with Burning Man prep and couldn't make the trip. But for a few dedicated Burners, it was a very entertaining weekend.

Yes. It DID rain. Actually, the worst rain was driving out near Honey Lake. There it POURED. At PermaBurn the ground was dry and the little rain we DID get was light and short. Plus, it produced a nice double rainbow.

Fire over the ridge

The bigger problem was the wind and lightning. The wind blew down a couple of tents. And the lightning started a fire behind the ridge. Fortunately, it was about ten miles away. In spite of the weather, we got the camp settled, a fire going and had a great first evening.

Soon to be center camp

Saturday morning more people arrived and we got the center camp shade set up and then had some breakfast.

Kim making breakfast



Bike for 3

Greg and Kim

Some of the group

That afternoon, the Poly camp got a great discussion group going contrasting Poly to "normal" relationships with surprisingly candid conversation.

Later on, "Help Me" BSDM camp whipped up a storm (literally and figuratively) - red backs and thunderstorms (did anyone get pics?).

This time the storms were friendly and mostly stayed at a distance. It was more of a lightning show all night with a warm wind, and a sprinkles here and there - a truly magical evening.

On Sunday morning an owner's meeting was held. It was agreed to host an "AfterBurn" as a gift for those leaving the playa after Burning Man. Water will be brought in for showers and there's plenty of room to shake out the tarps. It should be a great way to continue the party, then decompress more slowly for those that have more time to get home. Stand by for details...