Monday, January 2, 2017

We will build, and we will climb.

Our volumes look so good!
I spent a lot of my childhood watching my dad build and remodel stuff. I can remember the moments sitting next to him while he soldered and pieced together the plumbing in multiple bathrooms, stripping down our second story deck and engineering a new one, plastering up miles of dry wall, and beautifully landscaping our yard into something you'd see in a magazine. The list goes on and on. My dad is the master when it comes to woodworking and DIY house projects and I can't thank him enough for instilling the drive and curiosity to build stuff on my own. I'm confident that if you stuck me in a house for a week, I'd at least have all the drywall and bathroom plumbing installed by the time you got back. In fact, last year I built my first seven-foot bookshelf all on my own. And yes, Dad, I did drill in pilot holes first!

Here in the Tri-Cities, there's a lack of indoor climbing resources. The largest wall is inside the Tri-City Court Club with about 15 ropes. I frequently find my way in there to help set new routes on the wall and climb a little top rope. The only other indoor spot that I've been climbing at for the past year is this fairly secret and exclusive boulder wall that was hand built inside the home gym of a couple of folks who live in Benton City. This bouldering wall and home is impressive to say the least. It's stocked with a lot of hardware, like a squat rack, bench, lat-pull down machine... Oh yeah, and a fairly large 12 or 15 foot bouldering wall equipped with 90, 45, and 15 degree incline portions. And best of all, it's a workshop. The home owner's are huge DIY people and their shop is filled with tools my dad would certainly appreciate. I feel at home when I'm in their garage climbing. It's pretty much the best of both worlds.

More wall space means more holds.
I've only been climbing at the garage for about a year but I've heard it's been up and running for at least three. The folks have continued to upgrade it with cooler features and new routes go up all the time. I've been happy to get involved with the newest project which includes expanding the wall and building volumes. If you don't know what volumes are, they are external features that can attach to the wall and be repositioned. You can bolt on a variety of holds to them. They add to the diversity of climbs and you can basically install more climbing technique and movement into your routes. A few weekends ago, we spent a Sunday afternoon driving T-nuts into the new portion of the climbing wall we were expanding. All of my climbing friends are engineers of some sort, and very competent with power tools and building things. It was a lot of fun to work with them and make measurements, use a table saw, and drill away the afternoon. This was all stuff my dad would let me help with. I was proud to show some sort of competency among my guy friends who obviously had more experience with woodworking.

The Install
After we finish our entire project, we will have a whole new 10x15 foot climbing section. The wall is still in progress but the volumes got put up yesterday. We built three four-sided polygons that Spencer sanded down, puttied, and painted a pretty blue color. They look phenomenal on the wall and make our little bouldering spot a pretty impressive resource for climbing and training. This garage is a little secret to our group of friends, something most folks won't ever know exists here in the Tri-Cities, which makes it extra special. I'm excited to continue helping to improve the wall, while continuing to improve myself as a builder and climber. When the time comes that I'm able to fund my own climbing wall in my future garage, I'm pretty sure I'll know exactly how to build it.

Still planning to summit MSH this month and go skiing a bunch. Waiting on some exciting news at work that would free up my schedule a bunch. More time means more adventures. Stay tuned. ⤲

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pandas and Drones

Panda flex. West Richland, WA
Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged here. That's largely due to the fact that I haven't really done anything cool this Fall and have stayed fairly local.

Oh wait. I did do something really cool. I had a friend of mine take some video of me driving in my Jeep with his drone. I've been practicing my bumpy dirt trail driving skills at this location in West Richland. I don't really know what to call this place. It sits next to a large rock quarry and has multiple dirt paths to wander down. I've seen various types of people out there - a couple moms who seemed to be lost, like they woke up with a crazy ambitions to do something active that day and had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I've seen a few folks and their dogs tossing a ball around, and then I've seen a ton of shell casings and broken clay pigeons in the dirt. Seems like an area for all types of activities. Especially of you own a gun or a Jeep.

Anyways, I met my friend Patrick through work and interviewed him several times with the Rude Mechanicals, a local Shakespearean theater troupe in town. Not only is he a star on stage, he's also an excellent drone operator. One day, Patrick sent me video of drone shots he'd taken over the Blue Bridge and said if I ever needed to use them for work, I was welcome to. Next thing you know, Patrick, his young son, and I were headed to the quarry in WR to get some shots of Panda. We chose an excellent sunny day with light winds and got to work. Patrick said it'd taken some practice navigating his Phantom 4 but I was simply amazed at how well the shots came out. Not only does Patrick have to safely drive the drone, he has to drive the camera on the drone at the same time. The shoot came out really well. Check out my first edit below:

The Wild Panda from Kelley Bayern on Vimeo.

First ski of the season. Opening day at Bluewood 12/11/2016
I'm really not sure what's up next in terms of adventure for me. I finished summiting the Big Five this summer and don't have any large goals like that in mind. I do want to get better and skiing this season so that I can start taking up a pair of skis with me on summits and ride down. Too many times I watched in envy of the people strapping on their skis about to shred down the mountain. Seems like a no brainer as the ideal way down. I plan to take a rental pair up to Camp Muir this winter for some practice turns.

Lastly, I've been doing lots of research on how to take this blog to the next level and possibly turn it into a non profit organization of its own. How to do so and who do donate to will be the big questions. Hopefully I'll have some big news for The Northwest Bear come 2017. Happy Holidays everyone! ⤲

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Meet The Panda

Proud owner
When you finally find exactly what you're looking for, you can't just let it go. I think this applies to many walks of life. But specifically, I'm talking about a car. Say hello to my new gas guzzling desert whippin' adventure mobile - a 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. I shall name him Panda.

When my hunt for a used Wrangler became serious, I spent months researching the market. I knew I wouldn't settle for anything other than a white stick-shift. Whether I wanted an Unlimited or Sport or specifics on trim were left to fate. I began my search in the Tri-Cities, looking at multiple dealers. Then I went online. Then I extended the radius of my search, and headed north to Spokane and south to Hermiston. The few white Jeeps I saw were either brand spanking new, costing $40K, or automatics. I was getting scared. Are white stick-shifts that rare? I thought so.

N Sunset Road, Benton City
Rewind to last month. I saw this beautiful 2013 two-door white Jeep pop up at a dealer in town, so I headed there to test drive the babe of a car. It was a stick... Jackpot. Things were getting exciting! As I got in and glanced around the car, I notice something huge. No air conditioning. Weird? Who makes cars without AC?! Apparently there are still cars, even in 2016, that do not come with AC. I also learned that some Jeeps, specifically Canadian born Jeeps, come this way. This Jeep was a beauty, but AC was a deal breaker for me. I'm sad to say it's gonna have a hard time finding an owner with our Tri-City summers. It sadly doesn't belong in our region.

Yeah that happened.
Putting the spotlight on The Panda, he is my perfect match. I spotted him driving past our local Jeep dealer. At the time, the price was a little too high so I figured I didn't stand a chance. But after a week they dropped it by $2K and owning the car became feasible. I was simultaneously looking at other Jeeps on the market so I felt pretty confident about what number I'd come at them with. That Friday, I went in to give him a test drive. For such a cute car, he packs some power. I loved the feel and knew he was a perfect fit. A four door would be a little too big for me. The dealer let me keep him all weekend to test drive and with a day of negotiating, we settled on a price. I have officially had him for three days and even embellished the back window with my UW decal. He looks perfect. Go Dawgs.

Yesterday, my friend Andrew and I hit the back roads of Horse Heaven Hills outside of Benton City for a mini off-roading adventure. This was my first time learning how to drive on this terrain and I learned low gears are how you do it. I need major training on off roading, so feel free to shoot me some tips & techniques and layman info on lockers and all that cool Rubicon stuff. Can't wait for more adventures, especially in the snow this winter. Thank you Andrew for the great photos! And a big shout out and thank you to Lithia of Tri-Cities for their excellent service. If you're looking for a Jeep, they won't let you leave until you're happy with the deal. 
Fifth the final summit! Mt. Adams August, 2016

Another cool thing, I did finish summiting all five of our state volcanoes with a topper on Mt. Adams in August. I forgot to blog about it, but here's a cool video I made (CLICK HERE) of our summit. Thank you to my badass group of friends who celebrated at the top with me. Now I need some new goals. Any ideas?

Last word - please give a moment of silence for all the bears going into hibernation. Sleep well guys. ⤲

Monday, August 8, 2016

Anna in The Wild

The Nature Squad
I spent a little weekend in the wilderness for some rest & relaxation with two of my best friends from college, Anna and Lauren. We chose to hike into Lake Talapus, an easy 1.5 miles into the Snoqualmie National Forest and about 45 minutes east of Seattle. Lauren, first of all, is an avid outdoors woman. Her and I have had multiple backpacking trips together throughout college including a 40-miler around Mt. Rainier, we spotted some bears walking the trails near Ross Lake in the N. Cascades, and hope to hike the Wonderland Trail together before our hairs turn gray. Anna on the other hand, has zero desire to scale mountains, or on the less extreme side of the scale, do much more than glamour car camp. But she was ready for her first trip Into the Wild.

Anna in The Wild
We started the trip in Seattle. I took the morning to drive over from the Tri-Cities to pick them up. We all coincidentally packed our Osprey 65's (the best backpack out there) and were pretty much ready to go by noon. Anna was a little nervous but we reassured her Lake Talapus was great beginner hike with its 1000 foot elevation gain, easy to follow, winding trail through a beautiful evergreen forest.

*On our way to the car*
Anna: Are there going to be barbecues there?
Me: No Anna, there will not be barbecues there. Smh.

Lauren & Jim
Planning and prepping for our trip was almost as fun as being out there. After we all loaded up and jumped into my adventure mobile, The RAV, we headed to Whole Foods to pick out our nature meals. It was a tough choice between Trader Joes or Whole Foods, but who can resist the hot foods bar there? We ended up buying $100 worth of mainly organic fruits and veggies including 5 lbs of the best blueberries I've ever tasted, carrots, strawberries, stir fry veggies, chili, eggs, grits, and cold brewed coffee for the morning. Not the most money efficient shopping trip... But, much health. So yum. Worth it.

We finally made the trailhead around 3pm for a sunny start. We wound our way through the trees and past a creek and Anna was doing great, soaking it all in. A few water breaks and photoshoots in and I'd noticed how much I'd gotten used to a very dry climate over on the east side. I'd really missed these lush forests.. It was incredibly refreshing to be back here and alongside my best friends.

*Near a hollow stump*
Anna: I was thinking.. of all people to get lost in the woods with, I'm pretty much with a wilderness guide and a certified EMT.

We must wash our dishes Anna
We all cracked up laughing because Anna was right. The Cascades are my second home and Lauren was a pre-med grad at UW, finished her cert as an EMT, and is a prospective doctor. Our group was solid. I dubbed us The Nature Squad.

After a quick hour of hiking, we spotted the southern tip of the lake. I was instantly excited, I'd already been here twice before and knew of the best campsite there and the best spot to swim off of. We dropped our stuff, set up my tent and set off in our sports bras for the lake with our cameras and a few beers.

The night went on with laughs and sips of beer with chili for dinner. We played cards over girl talk and took swings from our bottle of Jim Beam. Life was good.

Goooood morning, Washington!
The morning came with a few drops of rain. Lauren slept outside in her hammock for most of the night while Anna and I took the tent. We made grits with scallions and eggs for breakfast on my little rocket stove while drinking cold brew and a leftover beer. The perfect breakfast in the wild. I remember sitting in the hammock afterwards, peering at our campsite. We had made a bedroom for the bears and I didn't want to be anywhere else.

Anna's first overnight hike, swim in an alpine lake, dinner sans the barbecue.. was a complete success. I had not realized how much I'd missed the northwest lifestyle with great hikes as little as 30 minutes away from Seattle. And most of all, I really missed Anna and Lauren. Cheers to them, hiking, bears, good beer, blueberries, and Lake Talapus :). ⤲

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's All About Your Climbing Team

Day One: Camping on the N. Fork Sauk River
Glacier Peak stands to be the most remote stratovolcano of the Big Five in Washington. Since it's such a long hike in before you even hit the base of the mountain, I think it's a harder climb physically and mentally than Rainier is (the tallest mountain we have in this state). Climbing is 100% a mental game. If it weren't for the two friends I climbed with, I would have turned around 500 feet from the summit. A mixture of exhaustion, anger, and fear of not surviving the 8 mile the trek back to our base camp had me ready to chuck my ice axe down the mountain and sacrifice myself to the White Walkers.

But, Jason and Derek pushed me, we all pushed each other to make it. Jason is an expert navigator. He's climbed Rainier maybe five times already, and with this summit up Glacier Peak, he has finally summited all five stratovolcanoes. Hooray! Anyways, Jason did the research, and mapped out our route with 10 solid waypoints. I feel we make a good team because I sometimes compliment his nav skills. I would step in at the right times to add in my two cents. I'd almost crack the whip on him to say "No, we would definitely die if we went down there.." Under stressful conditions, a person's true personality comes out. In the midst of exhaustion and frustration, I may turn into a diva, but Jason stays calm, cool, and collected. This is why we can make it to the top of mountains. Every team needs a Jason.

Day Two: Base Camp at White Pass ft. Derek
Wouldn't have made it up without our friend Derek, too. He is a newbie climber that tagged along with us because he wants to get into more mountaineering in the future. Congrats on his first summit, he got the hardest one out of the way! I'm pretty sure Derek is 100% muscle. He was the caboose of our rope line but after a while, we realized he was the strongest of us all. He took the lead on the last stretch to the top and punched in snow foot holes all the way there. Much appreciated, Derek! He is also extremely mentally tough. He never showed any fear or frustration during those 19 long hours and with this being his first time out there, didn't break down during the hardest parts.

Jason dug us a snow throne hahaa
In all, we spent fours days and four nights out there. Day one was a prep day, waiting for the weather to break. We found a majestic camp spot along the river near the trailhead, explored in the rain, and made hotdogs over a smokey fire. Day two was hiking in to White Pass at 5,000 feet, about eight miles from the trailhead which would become our base camp for the trip. Day three was starting our hike at 4 am to the summit in perfect weather. Eight miles later and a total elevation gain of 8,200 feet, we made the summit. It was a push, we almost turned around because of timing but all of us were on board and we made it at 4 pm. We shotgunned a beer and celebrated, then turned around for the long eight miles back to basecamp, making it there at 11 pm. We were walking zombies. Day four, we had another early start at 6 am and hiked the remaining eight-ish miles through the forest back to the trail head. It was such a beautiful day. The weather was sunny and warm and we were hyped up from making the summit. We made it to the car at 2 pm, which was slow. I pulled something in my left knee and after a while it kind of just stopped working for me so I had to hobble it out.

There's the peak! We were somewhere on the White Chuck glacier.
Good old Coors Light shotgun at the top, why not?
There were moments on the hike where we were standing on a snowy ridge and I was pretty sure I was about to die in an avalanche. But thankfully, the snowpack this year was extremely solid and after 5pm, the sheets of snow seemed very durable. The hardest part was the trek back to camp after the summit. We didn't realize how long of a trek we still had ahead of us. I was secretly crying and walking at one point because I was so frustrated by my injured knee that and wanting give up. But if I gave up, what would I do? Just take a nap in the snow? The little voice in my head was like, "Kelley, you're so WEAK. Stop crying right now. Let's go." Because when you're crying, it's hard to enjoy glissading down a 800 foot ridge, or see the beautiful sunset over the snowy jagged peaks, or laugh at Jason falling into an icy pond, or take in the accomplishment of summiting this damn difficult mountain that not a lot of people in this world can even fathom doing. Suck it up, Kell. You're one tough human. We are a team of tough humans.

TEAM: Third Round Climbing
I think we all questioned our sanity at one point and why we choose to put our bodies through this type of hell climbing mountains. But it just shows how unstoppable humans are. I love working hard to achieve my goals. I love packing all my gear into one backpack and having everything I need to survive in it. I love seeing snowy peaks and the other booming mountains off in the distance. And I love bears and I know they're out there watching. The last mountain I have left to climb is Mt. Adams which I will try again in a couple months. I'll have to think of something fun to do at the top to celebrate finishing the Big Five. ⤲

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gone Fishin'

Those tri-city sunsets..
Wow, the beauty of the Tri-Cities really pops out when we hit the spring and summer seasons. Say hello to amazing sunsets every night off the river with temperatures in the 80's hanging on until 9pm. I'm so happy living here. I just hit my one year anniversary at KEPR Action News and I'm thinking "Oh no.. I only have one year left." I've got to make the most of it.

Bateman Island, Kennewick
I had a few fishing poles lying around my place so I picked up my fishing license a month ago and decided to tackle the Great Columbia. My goal is to catch a seven foot sturgeon, but that probably won't ever happen. I did do an interview with a bow-fisherman last summer and scored four carp off his boat with a bow and arrow. That was too fun! But what I am trying to do is some good ol' fishing off Bateman Island. My good friend Justin from work and I headed to the island one Sunday morning to see what was up. We had no idea what we were doing. Just strapped on a hook and a pink little grub and threw out our lines. There were multiple people fishing, including a nice man and his daughters and dog sitting on shore next to us. He was waist deep chucking out his line almost 30 feet further than us. His bucket had a few bass in it already.

After a lot of unsuccessful casts, I was getting bored. Fishing is lame. I'm done. Time for lunch. The nice man noticed our struggles and walked over to us. He gave both of us heavier and larger hooks so that our lines would cast out further into the river, along with fat greenish grubs and said that would do the trick. Alright sir! Let's gooo!

Nuner about to hook a fish!
Justin hooked up the lines and we were casting them out. Within five minutes Justin caught his first fish.. There is just something so exciting and so satisfying about catching a wild foreign alien thing from a hook and pole. When he pulled the bass out of the water I just couldn't believe it. It's a fish! Is this real life? This is awesome.

My turn was up, within a minute I hooked my little bass. It was smaller than Justin's but so awesome to see. I learned I have a fear of touching a live fish so Justin dealt with releasing them back into the river. Fishing is incredibly easy and accessible out here along the Columbia and I can't wait to get out there more. I've already gone a second time and hooked another one. So.. watch out all you bass fish, there's a bear out there coming' for ya.

Glacer Peak
Fishin' selfie
The next outdoor adventure is near. In just two weeks, over Memorial Day Weekend, I'll be out with a solid group of friends and mountaineers trying to summit Glacier Peak. I've been training hard with lots of cardio and lifts. My legs feel strong and I plan to do a few ruck runs up Badger Mountain before I head out. This hike will be especially long because we have about 12 miles of traversing the terrain before we hit the base of the mountain. I'm excited because I'll get to test out my land navigation skills with my new GPS. The hike in will take a night, with the entire trip taking at least two. This will hopefully be my fourth summit of the five volcanoes in Washington. Mt. Adams is the only one left which I'll do over this summer. Hoping for a good weather window over Memorial Day Weekend. Wish us luck. ⤲

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pancake Failure

Kodiak Cakes, PB2, and Walden Farm's Syrup. Theee go-to
It turns out that the awesome pancake recipe I created in a blog post below is actually a lie. And I've never been more bummed about pancakes before.. For someone who loves a good sweet bread, the recipe was spot on as a healthy alternative to a sugary and fat-filled breakfast meal. And it's all a LIE. :'(

I realized my mistake when I was getting low on protein powder. I keep a jar of it on my kitchen counter for easy access when pancake making. So I got home from the grocery store to refill my jar, and saw that something about the texture was off. Not a big deal, I thought. Moisture in the jar probably changed the texture, but I was starting to get a little nervous.. Could my Bear Pancakes be too good to be true?

The next morning I decided test the newly bought protein powder and whip up a batch of my cakes. Instantly, I knew I'd gone wrong. The cakes were extremely hard and dense. I still ate it by turning the pancakes into bread for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I cried a little while eating it. 

Still stubborn, I went back to Winco to check out the bulk section to figure out what I'd mistaken as protein powder.. and I figured it out. It was god damn almond meal. They are the same colors with similar textures. I attempted to make macarons the other week, which uses the almond meal, so it all made sense. And even my macaron cookies didn't turn out, so I must have completely switched the two. You can find a picture of them on Twitter (@hurricanekelley) to see for yourself haha. 

Jet is excited
Sigh.. some things are too good to be true. But as it turns out, Kodiak Cakes, are simply amazing. I don't know how they maintain that fluffy texture with all that protein but they will do the trick. I snuck into Costco the other day and bought another 5lb box of the pancake mix. I add egg whites to the mix when making them which brings them to almost the exact macros of my Bear Pancakes. That'll do. Kodiak Cakes for the win! But of course, my Bear Pancake recipe is still a delicious recipe and I will probably make them again.

Next up on my outdoor adventures: The weather is getting much nicer out here so my friends and I will soon take a trip out to Vantage for some good outdoor climbing. I'm now up to leading 5.9's. Also excited to climb Glacier Peak over Memorial Day Weekend with a good group of people. It'll be a long hike in and an exhausting two/three day trip. A blog on that soon to come ⤲