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Hike

Dropping into Born Lakes For A Visit

born Lakes 01

One of the Born Lakes with Lonesome Peak in the background.

A hike to Fourth of July and Washington Lakes in the White Cloud Mountains is a relatively short and easy excursion.  It is only 1.75 miles to Fourth of July Lake from the trailhead with minimal elevation gain – a great hike for those that want to wean into trekking in the area.  Beyond and above these lakes lies Antz Basin and Born Lakes – situated in the newly designated Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness Area.  The Born Lakes are just a tick short of 4 miles from the trailhead.  The ascent from Fourth of July Lake junction (9,360 ft.) to the ridge-line (9,970 ft) is short and moderately strenuous.  The trail-bed is of high quality.  The descent into Antz Basin and Born Lakes is shorter and steeper – dropping 587 vertical feet rather quickly. Once in the basin it is a level trip to the lakes.  On this day clouds would gather in increasing levels of darkness but no measurable rain would occur and occasionally the sun would break through for dramatic effect.

Ants Basin Born Lakes 2048

Antz Basin, Born Lakes and the headwaters of Warm Springs Creek in the Boulder White Cloud Wilderness – from the near the ridge-line at 9,970 feet elevation.

Lonesome Peak towers above the lakes to the north and east.  Lonesome lake sits just below the peak and is the last in the magnificent chain of 12 that start with Frog Lake.  The USFS staff says that about four people or less reach Lonesome Lake in any given year with even fewer attempting the Class 3 rock scramble to the summit.  Linda and I are in this small group of people.

Linda and I started the trip alone. However we came upon a gentleman who was part of what would ultimately become a team of volunteers from the Idaho Trails Association that planned on improving the trail in the basin over the next week.  The gentleman’s name is Steve Weston; who is also known as the In The Wild Chef.  Steve’s role was to rehab the trail and also prepare gourmet meals.  Steve’s book [In The Wild Chef: Recipes from Base Camp to Summit] has sold almost 60,000 copies.  We left Steve with the task of having to make Swedish Meatballs (from scratch) for 10 people.  Eight pack mules had already freighted in a good portion of the outfitting.  The 2nd set of mules were about an hour behind with the remainder of gear lead by Executive Director Jeff Halligan and another lead.

Steve Weston & Linda Lubeck Born Lakes Antz Basin DSC00758

Steve Weston & Linda Lubeck

Ridgeline Born Lake Ants Basin DSC00861

Top of the Ridge and Wilderness Border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pack on Ridge DSC00827

Off the top of the ridge and into the basin. Can you spot Linda Lubeck anywhere in this photo? Where is Linda Lubeck?

pack arrives DSC00830

Passing by on the way to the lake. Shae dog (off camera) greets the mules and horses.

 

pack leaves DSC00832

First pack on its way.

Jeff H and Horse DSC00842 1

Jeff Halligan with his horse and the 2nd pack.

Born Lakes Hike

The route

Events, Wildfire

Fire Near The Cabin in Stanley

Park Creek Elk Meadow West of Stanley DSC00751

The Dry Creek Fire west of Stanley, Idaho as it crosses State Highway 21 – © Copyright Jeffrey H. Lubeck

While driving from our house in the Wood River Valley to our cabin in the Sawtooth Valley I noticed a large plume of smoke appear near the cabin. As I approached Stanley the plume of smoke got bigger and darker.  Angle and distance can always prove to be deceiving but the fire looked to be extremely close to where we live. As I turned left onto state highway 21 in Stanley a state trooper zoomed past me towards the fire.  I followed the patrol car directly.

The fire now looked to be only a couple of drainages from our cabin.  The patrol car – with me right behind – came upon the fire.  US Forest Service staff were running away from the fire towards patrol car.  It was a wild few minutes.  Our stopping point was a road that leads to my friend Gary O’Malley’s home.  Gary soon approached with everything he could collect from his home as the fire was moving swiftly in his direction.

The next few minutes, hours and days would prove to be hectic.  The story as it appears in the Idaho Mountain Express is located [here].

Reads

A Boost from Government or Other Institutions? I don’t need no stinking government or other institutions, I need dignity and freedom to create Betterment!!!

BE

So you think jobs creation by government, closely held capital available for investment, the grace of benevolent institutions or a single person who states they will serve you well is what makes the world a great place?  No so says Deidre Nansen McCloskey the conservative economist – a key person in the Milton Freeman Chicago School of Economics way of thinking – in her book Bourgeois Equality.

You can read the 650 pages of text and 137 pages of notes in the third installment by McCloskey in this line of thinking – like I did.  However, the bottom-line is that McCloskey proffers that if people are afforded basic human dignity (which has been the norm since 1840-ish) their insatiable appetite to better things (i.e., Betterment) is what has led to a 30-100 times improvement in quality of life.  It is the desire to improve (i.e., quicker, better, faster) that has allowed us to live a life with a remarkable standard of living (and also to take virtually everything that is part of our daily life for granted).

McCloskey is bold and brash. She is willing to critique (often harshly) the hypothesis posited by every well known economist and theorist.  I would pat McCloskey on the back but her hand is already there.  None-the-less Bourgeois Equality is great reading for a geek like me.

My only question for McCloskey?  Then why haven’t the Cub won the World Series since 1906?

 

Movies

All The Way – Or Very Close To It

All The Way

All the Way – Home Box Office’s version of the Tony Award winning stage play – is a rewarding watch.

Starring Bryan Cranston (AAN Trumbo, Argo) Written by Robert Schenkkan (from his play) and Directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo, Meet The Parents, Austin Powers) All The Way tells the story of the 36th President of the United States; Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) during his years as Chief Commander.

All The Way overcomes – for the most part – two major constraints.  The ground that needs or could be covered in a Biopic and all of the characters and story lines are from an age that print media, radio, and television existed and presented to the public.  All The Way succeeds by focusing on the battleground of politics and civil rights.  All The Way succeeds because Cranston’s performance as LBJ is uncanny.  Whereas Cranston’s 2015 Academy Award Nominated performance as Dalton Trumbo felt like a wonderful caricature of the real man, he feels to be the real LBJ in All The Way.

If All The Way falls short in any manner it is that it portrays some major historical characters essentially as prop pieces in areas where in real life they were a key or principle character. For example, Anthony Mackie as Reverend Martin Luther King is good in his role. However the screenplay, while not inaccurate, is not forthcoming about King’s leading role in civil rights or the relationship and interaction between the two men.  This is a small complaint, as with any Biopic the center of the universe is the main character and the story is about them.

All The Way is highly worthy of your time.

Movies

Money Monster – Not Quite Either

Money monster

A movie with George Clooney and Julia Roberts as the principle actors is certain to please on some basic front.  Clooney and Roberts star in Money Monster and they deliver with a natural chemistry that would be expected given they have been friends outside of work for 15 years, and have worked together successfully on four films (Oceans series and Confessions of A Dangerous Mind).

Combine Clooney, Roberts and an interesting premise and you have Money Monster in a nutshell.  Move past 30 minutes of viewing and Money Monster – while not failing – starts to move from being categorized as a clever film with a good cast to an okay film with a good cast.

Roberts and Clooney are spot on in good roles – highly believable. Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) playing the bad-guy and victim is additive to the good performance in a good role status for Money Monster.

As for the rest of Money Monster; good actors playing pretty typical roles working with a substandard script. You will easily recognize Dominic West (Hannibal Rising, 300, 28 Days), Caitriona Balfe (Super 8, Outlander), Giancarlo Esposito (Fresh, The Usual Suspects) and Christopher Denham (Argo, Shutter Island).  These are good actors. Unfortunately their actions and lines feel as if screenwriters used something such as AutoPilotScript for the the iPhone to complete the remainder of the screenplay.

Money Monster is not certain money or a monster film.  However it is a decent feature film, and if you have a scheduled date night or the extra time will be worth a trip to the movie theater.

Stage

What to do when the Opportunity Presents Itself: Lean and Hungry

New Voices

Is there an opportunity being presented?  If so, should it be acted upon?  And if acted upon, what will be the implication?

Roger Lubeck’s One Act Play – Lean and Hungry – currently showing at the Sixth Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, California is a Tac sharp offering. The combination of dialog, staging and acting successfully draw the viewer right into the the middle of the situation.

A man (Rusty Thompson as He) and a woman (Crystal Carpenter as She) who are connected through a third-party (the woman’s boyfriend) have shared a week of interaction together with the boyfriend away on travel.  Lean and Hungry has us join the interaction on the night before the boyfriend’s return.  He and She are attempting to establish answers to the first two questions.  The combination of natural dialog, body language and eye movement makes Lean and Hungry an engaging if not totally engrossing endeavor.

He and She work each other and the situation as if they are seasoned politicians or professional boxers – saying things that can easily be interpreted as meaning something or nothing at all.

While watching Leaning and Hungry I wanted to blurt out a number of things to He and She as expert advise.  Phrases such as “you two are playing with fire”, “there is Trouble in River City get out while you are alive”, “stop right now this is going to end badly”, “go for it right now and who cares about the boyfriend I bet he is a jerk.”

While He and She are circling around the first two questions (through some obviously good direction from Beulah Vega), I occasionally move to and from thoughts about answers to the third question.  It was exciting and exhausting just like Lean and Hungry.  And then just as in life – poof – all gone.  Wait… what did they really decide to do? Was that real or just in my mind?

Lean and Hungry leaves the answers to the three questions up to the viewer and their imagination or does it?  Perfect!

Lean and Hungry

Roger C. Lubeck, Author

Sleeping Bag, Matt

Crystal Carpenter, She

Rusty Thompson, He

Director, Beulah Vega

Festival Director, Lennie Dean

Executive Artistic Director, Craig Miller

Executive Director, Jared Sakren

Redwood Writers Play Contest Chair, Linda Loveland Reid

Movies

Criminal Is Almost A Perfect Title

criminal

Surely, a film with the poorest of screenplays and direction can be overcome and saved by a male cast of Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kostner, Gary Oldmann, and Ryan Reynolds and bookend by Gal Godot and Antje Traue as the female leads.  Surely!

Well… no they cannot and don’t call me Shirley.

Criminal is as bad a (professionally funded mainstream) movie as has been put into distribution in recent memory.  The title of the film is highly appropriate but for unintended reasons – for what it forces the viewer to endure.  There is almost nothing in Criminal that is worthy of our time and dollars – except the child.  And we should all feel bad for little Lara DeCaro as she will have to live the rest of her life knowing people can tie her back to acting in this film.

Another title for this film could have been Bad Derivative.  Criminal utilizes (to new lows) the lamest components from the worst of the poorly produced Hollywood Knockoff films. For example, the good ole’ Operation Room: it is filled with 6.47 million high definition screens and the same number of staff who are led every view minutes by Gary Oldman’s character walking in and shouting “Okay people listen up.”  As you have come to expect, the 6.47 million high definition screens and staff are able to track everything real-time – I mean everything.  I swear that on one of the screens The Bad Guy is throwing out the Opening Day pitch for The Chicago Cubs before returning to his secret lair.  Oh, wait a moment, I have to stand corrected. The screens and the trackers always seem to miss things of actual importance – not because the technology and people fail – but because of the huge gap in the plot that is so obvious it can be seen from outer-space.

Backcountry Skiing, Photography

Persistence, Patience & Voila

Have you ever had an expectation for an event, and despite best laid plans the result is simply not of which you had hoped?

I could list all of mine, but that would entail about 58 volumes of narrative.  In this case it involves my friend, partner, associate and son – Kyle.

Kyle proposes that we climb/skin on skis to the top and then ski down from the peak overlooking Headquarters Canyon and the Wood River River Valley just north of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area main offices  He suggests that due to the recent warm weather we make the attempt on Saturday morning just after sunrise, ascend while the snow is firm and then descend to the valley floor on a bed of soft corn-like snow as the day warms.  A perfect plan if ever there has been one.

Big Ski Boulders

Headquarters Peak – Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho

Will Mother Nature abide and follow the directive?

As the sun rises on Saturday morning the temperature at the trailhead is 23 degrees.  A weather system producing snow and somewhat cooler temperatures predicted to pass-through the night before is delayed and is starting to materialize as we begin our ascent.  The contrasting colors and light are pretty cool.  Although the avalanche danger is pretty low we bring and check all aspects (beacon, snow measurement, shovel, breathing apparatus, probes and SPOT)  The trip is projected to entail 2,672 vertical feet of gain in 1.70 miles. Off we go and right on schedule.

About 10 minutes in my AT bindings are malfunctioning. Without intention they are moving from unlocked to locked mode.  This forces me to take my ski off and reset the binding each time.  This task on a steep slope and with heavy pack (that includes avalanche and camera gear) is less than fun. After about the fifth time in the first 30 minutes it is time to establish a fix. First we try a gerry-rigged approach – think Three Stooges.  Before we even test the method, Kyle and I determine it will fail.  We both I identify and discuss a possible new solution.  It works and will so for the remainder of the uphill part of the trip.

HQPeak

Although about 3-6 hours late, the weather front makes its full appearance.  The implication is the slope is very icy and the skins on our skis are not holding in the steeper terrain.  At about 6,900 feet elevation Kyle looks at me and says something to the effect – I know I am all about the uphill, but was hoping for a lot better than this!

Both of us have shared a treasure trove of great back-country experiences; many where every aspect of the trip falls perfectly into place.  However, it starting to look like this is not one of them.

At 7,200 feet elevation a fairly steep section is encountered and will ensue for good period of time.  The icy terrain exacerbates the situation.  We both agree it is time to put on our crampons. Hey that is the ticket! The steepest portions require us to side-step up the mountain. However, both of us determine there is nowhere near the need to move to boot-pack mode (skis in pack and climb on all fours with crampons).

At 8,000 feet elevation the pitch of the ascent starts to become very straight forward.  However, the weather front is producing material snowfall and near zero visibility conditions.  We climb for another 750 vertical feet in this setting.  Kyle and I both agree that we do not feel the situation is particularly dangerous – just not much fun.  We both agree that we can comfortably head back down the we came up – keeping the skins and crampons on until we reach the valley floor.

We climb for another 100 vertical and I have determined I have made a mistake and it will turn out to be a big one if a correction is not made.  Although I am about to turn 59 (June) I regularly make these kinds of ascents (with heavy pack) without the need for a full break. Despite being super close to the top (100-200 vertical feet) – I need a full break.  Kyle and I agree to stop for 5-10 minutes; get water and share some food.  Wow… what a difference.

Kyle starts back up first and within a couple of minutes establishes the summit – which has a 5-10 foot cornice top. He locates a level spot about 10-15 yards to its right.  Kyle reaches the level spot and confirms success.

As we sit at the top, the visibility has not improved.  We agree to sit and rest for a few minutes and see if the weather conditions improve.  And as if on queue, the clouds start to part.  The peaks around us and the Wood River Valley make an appearance.  Snow flurries continue for about 10 minutes, but it is obvious the storm is breaking up – for a while at-least.

The bowl we originally intend to ski sit directly below our skis.  Kyle suggests we change our gear into downhill mode and seize the moment.  We do.

Before we leave, I decide I need to get a shot with the snow flurries and breaking sun.  Of course the lens cap escapes me and rolls away.  Luckily the cap stays above the ridgeline.  Kyle skis down to the cap and reclaims it.  I take the shot just as he lifts his head.

As we start down the sun comes out in full force – with the clouds becoming puffy pillows on the horizon.  The fall line is long and at a superb pitch.  I secure my heavy pack and off the cornice I go.  The snow condition for the first quarter of the descent is quite good.  The middle half of the descent provides the snow condition we desire – soft corn-like that is perfect to ski on a warming day.  During the last quarter of the descent the snow becomes heavier.  We navigate carefully through the trees just above the valley floor down the the bottom.  What a run!

Kyle and I head back to the Jeep, take off and secure our gear.  Our next destination – The Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum to replenish our body’s with the appropriate fluids and a full (not partial) burger with all the trappings.

Kyle on Top Big Ski Boulders

Kyle Lubeck, Lens Cap at the top of Headquarters Peak, The Sawtooth Recreation Area, Idaho

 

Movies

Expert Power Overcoming Position Power but at Great Expense: Trumbo

Trumbo

Many times people and organizations penalize others to the point of breaking (or even worse) solely because they have position power and want to use it (e.g., do so because I say so, and I am the boss of you). Often it is utilized regardless of whether they have (or do not have) expert power (e.g., do so because it will be appreciated by our customers and only requires a little extra effort by all of us including you and me).

The film Trumbo and its storyline could be described as one about the about the application of expert power taken by one party ultimately overcoming the position power used by another – displaying many of the positive and negatives consequences for all parties involved during the telling.

If hard and fast, black and white positions on politics and history, and their implications are put to the side for about two hours – Trumbo proves to be an exceptionally entertaining movie that also provides a masterful performance by its lead – Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo. While outwitting his adversary’s (and even himself) Trumbo the man uncovers there is black, white and all kinds of shades of gray to life.

Uncategorized

Saluting The Cohen Brothers Return to Comedy: Hail Caesar

Hail Caesar

Mentioning the Cohen Brothers (Blood Simple, Fargo, No Country for Old Men) and their film work usually generates one of three responses; I hate it/them, I do not understand it/them. I love it/them.

My opinion of the Cohen Brothers is the last of the three with occasional consideration for including the second statement. However, if you do not like the work of Cohen Brothers, their new film Hail Caesar will not change your mind.

Hail Caesar is a comedy that is pin point accurate in its depiction of people or the subject it is spoofing. Hail Caesar is goofy but not goof-ball.  It is a movie that is clever, smart and funny, but does not generate continuous laugh-out loud guffaws.

The beauty of most Cohen Brother films is that they feel like a presentation being made by someone or some team of people with expert knowledge and first hand experience on the subject matter who happen to include wonderful sight gags and funny lines.

Many of the Cohen Brothers Reparatory Theatre Players join the fun in Hail Caesar (John Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand) as well as newcomers who are presently movie industry top-billing actors (Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johannson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill).  All perform their roles to the level you would expect. Alden Ehrenteich (Blue Jasmine) as Hobie Doyle is superb.

The Cohen Brothers Reparatory Theatre A Team on the production side also signed up for Hail Caesar; Tim Bevan – Producer, Cater Burwell – Music, Roger Deakins – Cinematography, Nancy Haigh – Set Decoration and Mary Zophres – Costumes).  The work from this list of people is reason enough for me to go see a film.