Above Reno

Today was clear and cold, and I was a little apprehensive to go mountain bike riding, but it actually turned out to be quite nice despite the fact that it is now December in Nevada.

Keystone Canyon is a popular trail for Reno residents because it offers easy access to the national forest area surrounding Peavine Mountain, an 8,266 peak that creates a significant mountain chain just outside of the city.

Before it became a recreational asset to Reno, the area served Washoe and Paiute Indians, as well as Basque herders, miners and foresters. The remnants of copper mines can be seen in some places, and the landscape, devoid of but a few trees, indicates that it was heavily logged for White Fir and Jeffrey Pine.

The trail climbs steadily, and before long you are offered a nice view of downtown. I actually clambered around on these rocks for a bit before I realized that I was just above a rather large animal den; and with the city seemingly so close!

The large, fresh scat surrounding the entrance convinced me that I was dangerously close to the home of a mountain lion. I quickly retreated and blasted down some fun single track back to the car.

 The mountain chain surrounding Peavine is a great asset to the city and a perfect getaway without having to go very far at all.

There are a great deal of trails cutting across the landscape, and hopefully with some volunteer work and even some funding a little restoration can take place to further improve the area. 

WordPress Surpasses 500,000 Blogs

I love WordPress. Not only is it an incredibly powerful piece of blogging software and a fantastic content management system, it is free!

The founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg is a very cool guy. He and his crew operate with a set of principles that I think are really having an effect on technology, business, and people’s personal lives.

Not only are they empowering people to express themselves online, but they are big advocates of open source and the sharing of new ideas. Matt maintains a very busy speaking schedule, and he quite often travels internationally spreading the gospel so to speak.

The success of the business, as far as I can tell, is their genuine focus on developing and providing the environment for a continuously evolving product.  Better themes, new plugins, and more features all geared towards improving the way we communicate.

WordPress has become so robust that it is really just a matter of how the individual decides to use this tool.

In the future, I believe there will be less and less of a distinction between what constitutes a website and a blog. They will become further integrated to the point that the end user will hardly be able to distinguish between one or the other. A blog is a website, it’s just a matter of the variations in content and purpose.

With that being said, the beauty of blogging is that it pushes people to write. Writing facilitates introspection and reflection on the world around you. Even if you blog in a vacuum, it still has the potential to move you forward and hopefully make you a better person. 

Thanksgiving = Recreation in Reno + Culture in San Francisco

Started off Thanksgiving with an enjoyable mountain bike ride in Reno. Chose the well-known Galena Creek trail. Even though it was late in November, it was a beautiful day with most of the trail being fairly free of snow. I earned my turkey credits.

Did my duty as an American – consumed. Crashed in Incline Village, and then headed down to San Francisco to see my sister. Here she is doing her thang.

The highlight of the trip was definitely the de Young museum. A beautiful structure located within the Golden Gate Park, the de Young is an architectural work of art.

Because the former museum was heavily damaged by the earthquake, the new structure is quite insulated from future tremors. It sits within a bowl complete with breakaway zones. Once the ground begins to shake the de Young will happily roll around in its shock absorbing seat.

The shell of the de Young is quite extraordinary. Pocked metal panels make up the exterior of the structure, and because they are computer generated the artist was able to make each panel design unique.

As homage to the greater forces of nature, one of the first exhibits are man-made cracks or fissures that run the length of the entrance walkway. They snake their way through the bricks and continue through large stone blocks that are positioned around the atrium.

The interior is modern and cool, and the Gerhard Richter positioned just off from the main foyer immediately captures the eye. It is a representation of the atomic particle, strontium, and it is one of his larger works.

A visit to the de Young is not complete without a trip up into the tower. The views encompass much of the City and the Bay, and the only thing that detracts from the experience are the museum concessions within the floor space. My advice – confine that sort of thing to the gift shop.

The Ruth Osawa exhibit is notable. A graduate of Black Mountain University, Osawa developed a talent for creating unique shapes out of metal wire. Her hanging sculptures capture the light and cast shadows that are almost as impressive as the works of art.

Dined at Limon, Rose Pistola, and Citizen Cake for either dinner or breakfast. I would recommend each of them.

There is always something going on in San Francisco, even is unusual places. Here’s how to turn a tunnel into a very effective speaker.

Reno News & Review

This past week I appeared in the Reno News & Review along with my colleague, Josh Kenzer for an article titled, “Up all Night: It’s a brave new world called the blogosphere. Meet some of its denizens.” This photograph was taken by RNR staff member, David Roberts.

I posted about the article on the Horse Power blog, but I wanted to at least acknowledge it on my own blog because, well, it’s partially about me.

We were the lone business featured in the article, which I think says a lot about the approach we have taken with the blog.

We made a conscience decision in the very beginning NOT to make the blog a selling proposition. We try our hardest to provide information and analysis of the industry we are in without selling our business too aggressively. In other words, we hope our expertise shines through, so we do not have to go on at length about what we can do as a business. Plus, that is what the website is for, right?

Regarding the podcast, it is about local business professionals and not about Twelve Horses. Sure, it is an excuse to meet new people and put a voice to the company, but we really wanted to construct a forum that highlights interesting individuals in the community, and the fantastic work that they do.

I blog for business, but I also enjoy having a personal blog. I guess I could take up knitting or whittle a stick, but instead I choose to have a blog. It gives me a chance to express myself outside of my profession, and it introduces me to people that I doubt I would have otherwise known existed.

If you want to read the perspectives of some other bloggers that were featured in the same article, check out Reno and Its Discontents post about it. People get fired up about why they blog and how it effects them internally, as well as the external world around them.

In the end, it is the resulting actions that take place because of what is said or written. The rest is an exercise. The problem is you never know the end result until after the fact. So, you use your judgment, which hopefully consists of solid values and ethics, and then you forge ahead. But you have to be constructive in your approach, or eventually no one will listen to you.

When you blog about someone else, do it as if you were standing directly in front of them looking straight in their eyes. And, right before you do a blog post or comment about a topic, think about the fact that it is has been recorded, and can be forever attached to people’s perceptions of you. Hopefully that will keep you honest and fair.

What is my Header Graphic?

I have been asked by several people to explain what my header graphic is. One reader even emailed and told me it made her skin crawl. Yikes! I guess it is does have some reptilian and big cat characteristics.

 The image is in fact a photograph I took on the East Fork of the Chattooga not far from Cashiers, North Carolina. It is just downstream from one of my favorite places – a mountain house my family has shared with 9 other Charleston, South Carolina families since my birth.

The Chattooga is famous for the movie, Deliverance, as well as the fact that it was one of the first rivers in the United States to be designated Wild & Scenic. Its headwaters start at the base of Whiteside Mountain, which is considered by geologists to be one of the oldest mountains in the world. Whiteside is about 30 minutes from the mountain house.

The house and accompanying property used to be a fishing camp. It has a trout pond, and to this day the entire length of the river that runs through the property is still stocked with Rainbow Trout.

From an architectural and environmental standpoint, the house is perched over the East Fork, which under present day law would no longer be allowed.  Most of the riverside portion of the house is glass, so it creates a very dynamic relationship with the river. Open the windows and doors, and you are immediately greeted with the rushing sound of water over rock.

Needless to say, the Chattooga watershed and our mountain house hold many fond memories for me. It has played a significant role in shaping me into who I am today.

When I look at the photograph that makes up my header image I think about the Chattooga and the mountain house, as well as my youth, my family, my time so far on this earth, and how fast it is all flowing by.

Happy Halloween

The pumpkin did not ask for all the attention it receives each year. Nonetheless, it gets it every October 31st.

It gets carved by artists, smashed by restless teenagers, cooked by mothers, and eaten by all of us. Yet, it keeps coming back.

Filled with water, seeds, and stringy guts, the pumpkin has been cast into a spell of bizarre human history.

We take its natural shape and conform it into an expression of evil and unusual because it is orange, round, and possesses a hard outer shell.

Poor pumpkin. Did you ever guess that your existence would be perpetuated by our fascination for death, evil, and the desire to portray something else?

North Fork of the Feather

On Sunday, I headed over to the North Fork of the Feather with some friends to take advantage of what is basically the last of any boatable flows until the rain and snow begin.

From Reno, we headed north on 395 to Hallelujah Junction and then took 70 west through Quincy to the Belden area. Be advised: we got pulled over for speeding on 395 because it is patrolled by aircraft. Needless to say, when we pulled off at the Junction, a patrolman was waiting.

The North Fork of the Feather is a roadside run that is the result of a deal that the American Whitewater organization negotiated with PG&E. The deal guarantees flows on the last weekend of each month, June – October from 10am-4pm. I have been a member of AW for quite some time, and if you are a whitewater enthusiast I recommend that you join and support them.

The run itself is class III-V with most of the difficulty crammed into about approximately a 1 mile stretch. Our group was able to run it 3 times because of the ease of access and the relatively short shuttle.

This season has been slim for me as far as kayaking; in fact, worst season on record since I started kayaking 10 years ago.  I bought a brand new Jefe in the spring and never had a chance to take it out because of extensive house projects. Aside from the Rogue last weekend, where I boated a Kingpin, I had not been paddling at all.

My maiden voyage in the Jefe had me excited. I had heard many good things about this creek boat, but had never experienced them myself. I had also been warned that there is a break in period, and some of my friends had actually swam because of its nuances.

Well, swim I did. One the second run, I got pushed up against a boulder, flipped, and could not roll the damn thing. I tried several times to no avail. Eventually, I pulled my skirt and swam the most difficult section of the river. I couldn’t believe it! I used to paddle this very exact run in a playboat. It’s amazing how fast someone like myself can quickly get out of shape and out of his element.

After my Jefe disappeared for a while behind a big house sized boulder, it eventually emerged fairly unscathed. My friends pulled it to the side of the river and, after catching my breathe, I continued on. In fact, I went back for a third run to cure any psychological hiccups.

On the same disastrous second run, we came upon a group that had  unfortunately experienced a vertical pin. Apparently, the paddler had to cut his kevlar skirt to get out. While the NF of the Feather is not remote or considered to be difficult class V, it has the ability to throw some surprises at the unexpected paddler.

There are numerous undercuts and sieves, and because of its ease of access and popularity there are significant possibilities for future incidents, injuries and even deaths. I hope that never happens.

Regardless, I am pleased with AW’s efforts, and it represents the opportunity to get on a fun fall run when little else is flowing.

Update: A recent post on boof.com details the pin, as well as provides some shocking pictures of the sieve that the paddler was stuck in. Check out these Flickr Photos –



The Rogue River

This past weekend I journeyed northward for a long overdue trip down the Rogue River. A Tahoe contingency combined with an Oregonian posse to fly fish and float the Wild & Scenic section that starts just down the road from Galice at Grave Creek. We were fortunate to have 3 days of sunny weather complemented by beautiful fall foliage and a flow of 1250 cfs. Much bourbon was consumed, an excessive amount of shit was talked, and few fish were caught.

The Rogue is one of those classic rivers in Oregon that I have frankly always put off because there is so much to paddle in California. It is not a challenging run in terms of difficult whitewater, but it is a wonderful experience for any river enthusiast because it is filled with impressive scenery, abundant wildlife, and rich history.

If I recollect correctly, there are basically three distinct canyons with the first and third containing the only noteworthy rapids of any distinction. The first one is Rainey Falls. It contains a rather stompy hole on river left, which can easily be avoided. The second is Blossom Bar, which is generally run on the left.

I was paddling a Dagger Kingpin, which allowed me the freedom to explore interesting lines in both of these rapids. The rest of the time I sought out any play I could find.

We saw several bald eagles and deer over the course of the trip, and I had a river otter paddle by me just a few feet away. On the first day, there was an abundant amount of salmon spawning up the river, and it was fantastic to watch them leap clear out of the water around almost every bend.

The second night we camped just down from the Rogue River Ranch. It is a neat place with an old museum and several other interesting structures that were sold to the Bureau of Land Management under the Wild and Scenic Act. You can read more about it here. Suffice to say, it contains over 8,000 years of history involving both Indians and white pioneers. You may feel like a discoverer making your way down the Rogue River corridor, but the fact is many people have come before you. The Rogue has been used as source of sustenance, travel, protection, mining, and recreation for a long time.

As one who appreciates the incredible force of rivers, I will not forget the black and white photograph inside the museum that showed the Rogue at a tremendous level back in 1964. We were a great distance above the natural banks of the river, say, 100ft or more; yet, a grainy photograph showed the river coursing over the very ground we were standing on. When nature decides to kick ass, get out of the way. 

The Rogue is another example of what proper resource management can accomplish. It could be buried under a dam project or polluted to the point of no return. Instead, it is a source of revenue for local outfitters and businesses, and it allows for visitors and locals alike to experience wilderness and history unabated in a unique and preserved wilderness setting.

We must continue to preserve our rich natural heritage.

Snow in the Sierra

This past week we received some snow, with much of it visibly sticking to the ground in the upper elevations around Lake Tahoe. Coupled with beautiful fall foliage and the smell of winter in the air, I am definitely getting the itch for some Sierra skiing.

This is a picture I took a couple of years ago doing some backcountry above Emerald Bay on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. 

Kauai & The Na Pali Coast


I am no slouch. I hike, run, bike, kayak, ski, and when I am idle, mentally pace about thinking about what I am going to do next. I say this because, despite all of my activities, backpacking the Na Pali Coast was a significant challenge of which I will not repeat.

Kauai is the northern most developed island in the Hawaiian chain. It is mountainous and beautiful and famous for its rugged landscape.

Hanalei and Haena are the two primary towns on the north side, and they are close to the trailhead for the Na Pali Coast. While they are my recommended places to stay, keep in mind that it does rain here more often. If you are the type that prefers golf, resorts, and sun bathing you might like the south side more.

For the trip, I was joined by my wife, Julia, my stepbrother, Winslow and his wife, Katharine. We were all in shape and confident that we could tackle the 11 mile hike, which would lead us to the desired campsite situated at the base of fluted cliffs, ribbons of waterfalls, and the type of tropical scenery that one dreams about.

Continue reading Kauai & The Na Pali Coast

Robert Payne

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