Please join the Cathedral Choir and Cathedral Choristers for our traditional service of Lessons and Carols. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a service celebrating the birth of Jesus, which is traditionally followed at Christmas. The story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus is told in nine short Bible readings, interspersed with the singing of carols, anthems, and hymns. The service was originally designed by the Reverend Eric Milner-White, and has become known worldwide through the broadcasts from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England.
Once in Royal David’s City – Arranged David Willcocks
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day – John Gardner
Adam lay ybounden – Boris Ord
An Advent Procession (Veni Redemptor) – Donald Pearson
A Spotless Rose – Herbert Howells
I Sing of a Maiden – Patrick Hadley
This Little Babe – Benjamin Britten (Cathedral Choristers)
Sleeps Judea Fair – Hugh MacKinnon
O Magnum Mysterium – Tomas Luis de Victoria
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing – Arranged David Willcocks
A freewill offering will be taken for the River City Food Bank
About fifteen years ago, I purchased a couple of hiking guidebooks to the Trinity Alps region of California. I had heard so much about this wonderful area, and was eager to explore it. But somehow, I always ended up in the Sierra or the Cascades, and never made it to the Trinities.
This year, after being frustrated by wilderness permit quotas and hassles, I decided it was time to go for it. I bought an up-do-date guidebook, and settled on an overnight hike up the steep Stoney Ridge trail, over Stonewall Pass, and camping at Echo Lake. I drove out to the ranger station in Weaverville, and issued myself a wilderness permit, with no hassles.
I spent the first night camped at the Tannery Gulch campground, the closest open developed campsite to the trailhead. I enjoyed happy hour and a nice pasta meal, before turning in for the night. I got up early in the morning for coffee and breakfast, and to get packed up for the hike. The drive up to the trailhead is a steep narrow six mile drive on a dirt road, and reminded me why I drive a Subaru!
When I arrived at the trailhead, it was already warm at only 9 am, so I got going in a hurry. This steep trail is a toughie… it gains four-thousand vertical feet in five miles up to Stonewall Pass. And as a result, it is almost guaranteed solitude. I met only four other people on the trail during my two days in the backcountry.
The early part of the trail is in relatively shady forest, but as it climbs, shade becomes a rare commodity. By 11 am, I had drunk all of a liter bottle of water, and was well into the second liter. I nursed the bottle all the way to the pass, and hoped to see an opportunity to refill before too long. The trail was in generally good condition, though there were a number of blowdowns (fallen trees) across the trail… one of which I fell over trying to negotiate, resulting in a spectacular cut on my left calf.
The climb up to the pass is spectacular. The red peridotite rock which dominates the area, gives it a really different feel. The trail switchbacked steeply through meadows and alpine flower gardens, until I finally made it to Stonewall Pass (7400′). And wow… what a view. Many of the high granite peaks and ridges in the Alps lay before me, as I rested from the long climb. The view was only marred by the poor air quality of the day.
Following was a steep, rocky descent into Van Metre Meadow. Fortunately, I came across a lovely spring, and was able to replenish my water bottles. The day was hot, and I was getting a little dehydrated. After another mile-and-a-half of hiking, both downhill, then uphill again, I came to the unmarked spur trail to Echo Lake. I was pretty tired at this point, and my attention was lagging, and about a thousand feet before the lake, I tripped on a rock. The thing about carrying a twenty-five pound pack on your back is, that it throws your center of gravity off, and makes it much more difficult to stop a fall. I hit my right knee and elbow, and cursed loudly, as I sat there being mad. After hauling myself back up, I made my way into the rocky bowl surrounding Echo Lake. What a spectacular spot!
I sat by the shoreline and rested, taking in much needed water, while I contemplated where to set up camp. I finally settled on a rocky shelf just above the lake, and settled in. Unfortunately, I had developed a “nice” heel blister on my left foot on the climb up to the pass, and it was pretty painful by this point. I was not looking forward to the climb back to the pass the next day.
Echo Lake has a deserved reputation for the finest sunsets in the Alps. There is a nice notch cut in the bowl, which faces directly west, giving an unobstructed view of the setting sun. I thought the red rock cliffs around the lake would provide a fantastic alpenglow show as well, and it did not disappoint. Just wow! After the sun went down, I snuggled into my sleeping bag under the stars, exhausted, and sleep came quickly.
I woke to an early sunrise, which was almost as spectacular as the sunset, and made some coffee to warm up a little from a chilly night. I wanted to get going early while it was still cool, so got dressed and packed quickly, and was on the trail by 8 am. The climb back up to the pass was much more pleasant in the cool morning, despite my aching heel blister. The air quality was much better that morning, so the views from Stonewall Pass were even more spectacular.
But I still had five miles of (mostly) downhill to go, before I was finished. It was late morning, and was sunny and warm, and I was just ready to be done. But the scenery was spectacular, and helped me to ignore my sore feet. I met a young solo female backpacker on the way down, and shared my experience at Echo Lake, which was her destination.
By mid-afternoon, I was back at the trailhead, happy to be finished, and ready to head home for a hot shower and real bed. And my sweetie, of course.
So my first adventure to the Trinity Alps was successful, but much more difficult than I had anticipated. I guess when the guidebooks say that it is steep and hard, I shouldn’t ignore that! But the scenery was utterly spectacular, and the solitude was just what I needed. I will be back!
Stats: 14 miles round trip, with 4000′ of vertical elevation gain & loss.
So here I am, having finished NorCal AIDS Cycle for the seventh year in a row. This year promised a showdown between Snoopy and The Red Baron. To clarify, Snoopy is the bicycle belonging to my River City Roadies teammate Gayle Monroe, and The Red Baron is my bicycle.
During the 2016 edition of NCAC, I was nursing a painful shoulder injury from a crash in January. It was a difficult time, and I only rode about two-thirds of the ride. So I was looking forward to testing myself against the new route in good health.
Day One – West Sacramento to Auburn: 135 km/+2,000′ We started early in the morning on April 11th at “The Barn” in West Sacramento. After photos and yacking, we were quickly off heading north along the Sacramento River to our first rest stop at quirky Stingrayz Marina in Knight’s Landing. We continued north on highway 113, then did a short part of highway 99, before heading east towards our lunch stop in Lincoln. After lunch we started to ride up into the Sierra Foothills to our base camp in Auburn. This was the first test of my climbing legs, and though it was challenging, I felt good all the way into our camp.
After I got my tent set up, it was time for a shower, and a massage from our wonderful Cycle Massage crew. This is a real bonus after a long day in the saddle! We had a delicious dinner, a short evening program, and off to bed. I was fast asleep before 9:30 pm.
Day Two – Mountain Day/Auburn to Colfax loop: 69 km/+3800′ Our second day was the shortest of the ride, but had a lot of climbing involved. I had some anxiety about this day, as in the 2017 ride I was only able to ride less than half of the day because of my shoulder pain. The day starts with some climbing right at the start, and doesn’t let up. We made our way north through the communities of Clipper Gap and Weimar. Just outside of Colfax, there is a short stretch of road approaching a 20% grade. I started up the climb, and it became clear that there was no way I was going to make it on two wheels, so ended up walking the short distance up the hill. Pulling into old town Colfax, we enjoyed lunch at the historic Colfax rail station.
For most of the day, I rode with a new NCAC rider, Judy, and we did all of the return trip together. Some of the route markings were a little sketchy, and there was some concern about getting lost. Fortunately, frequently referring to our route sheet, we managed to stay on course. Near the end of the day, we stopped at the ‘1/2 way’ point for a quick photo. There were some thrilling fast downhill sections, and more steep uphill sections, but soon we found ourselves back in Auburn for our evening at base camp. I was very happy about having completed this day, as I really didn’t have any idea how I would fare on the climbs. Most of my training is done on the Sacramento River Delta, so I am very good at riding flat roads with wind! The usual routine followed… shower/massage/dinner/progam/sleep. Our next day promised a long route with significant climbing, and I needed rest!
Day Three – The return of Clubber Lang: 125 km/+3,300′
There is a scene in Rocky 3, where Clubber Lang (played by Mr T) is preparing to fight Rocky Balboa. A reporter asks Clubber his prediction for the fight. His answer… “Pain!” Clubber would be joining me on today’s ride.
This was the long one… a loop which ran through Newcastle, Granite Bay, Roseville, Loomis, Lincoln (again!), Camp Far West, and that climb back up to Auburn. The route begins in the morning with a brisk descent to Granite Bay, and then lots of rolling up and down through most of the day. Towards the middle of the afternoon, I started to feel very tired and run down. And on top of it, the battery in my GPS computer ran out of juice! The hills were really taking it out of me, and despite my best efforts, my body was in pain, and I knew that the last hill was not possible. So was able to hitch a SAG ride for the last two miles to camp. I was a little disappointed, but knew that I wanted to save my energy for our last day, the return to Sacramento.
That evening was “Family and Friends” night, so Sharene was able to join me for dinner and our evening program. After a delicious meal, we gathered outside for a short candlelight vigil, to remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS. This is profoundly moving, as people say out the names of those we remember, putting a person to this disease which can seem a little distant at times. I shared the name of Ken Piercy, in whose memory I ride, and a couple of others who have been lost to friends of mine. It was lovely to have Sharene with me that evening, and I looked forward to being home on Sunday. Sleep came quickly, once again.
Day Four – Auburn to Sacramento: 87 km/+960′ Sunday morning came early, though frankly, I am usually up pretty early on Sunday anyway. We packed up all of our gear, and got ready for our journey to Sacramento. Our last day took us out of Auburn (one more climb!), followed by a long fast down hill on Auburn-Folsom Road, to our first rest stop at Beals Point on Folsom Lake. Most of the rest of the route took us on the American River Bike Trail, a route which is familiar to most of us. However, due to the closure of Discovery Park from winter flooding, there was a somewhat convoluted route to our finish in William Land Park. Unfortunately, some key points in this part of the route were poorly marked, or not marked at all, and some inaccuracies in the route sheet created confusion. But I found myself sailing into Land Park at exactly 11:30 am, the designated time for our arrival.
After a quick lunch, we all lined up for the parade into the amphitheater in the park. This is always an emotional moment for me, and even after seven years, I still find it to be so. After a few speeches and awards, we rejoined our families and headed back to our homes, happy with what we accomplished, both from a cycling and fund-raising standpoint.
So what of Snoopy and The Red Baron?? On this occasion, a truce was made, and both of them flew through the four days with flying colors!
I want to give my deepest thanks to my NCAC friends… those with whom I rode, and those who supported us as crew. These friendships are deep and one of the reasons I return year after year. I also want to thank the River City Food banks for sponsoring our small-but-mighty team. And especially a big thank you to all of those who supported my fund-raising with their dollars. This is the real point, after all! I have surpassed my fund-raising goal of $6,000 for this year, but still want to raise as much money as possible. If you haven’t yet made your contribution for 2017, we can accept donations for the next month. Just click here to make that easy tax-deductible donation! https://www.classy.org/fundraise?fcid=696466
It has been said (often), that cycling is a sport where one must enjoy suffering to excel. Much like mountaineering or marathon running, getting to the end or the top often requires herculean efforts, and the ability to tolerate a great deal of discomfort.
My training for NorCal AIDS Cycle has been in full swing this past week, and after riding 232 kilometers over the last four days, I hurt all over. My legs, shoulders, arms, neck all hurt… and I don’t think I can ever put my tender butt on a bike seat again. When riding against a stiff headwind, or up a steep climb, the suffering can make me wonder what the heck I am doing! But at the end, I finally make it, and after a shower and something to eat, that suffering all goes into the distant past.
But thinking about someone who has an illness for which there is no cure, the suffering may be all of the time. In addition to physical discomfort, there may be side effects to medication, dietary issues, frequent medical appointments, and things I can’t even imagine.
So for me to suffer a little bit on the bike, is a small price to pay to help alleviate the suffering of someone with HIV/AIDS. This is why I have said “yes” to participating in NCAC for seven years in a row. Because maybe my temporary pain will benefit someone down the road, who has it much harder than I do.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me with your donations this year. It really makes a difference, and inspires me to stay on track with my riding. If you have not donated yet, the ride is now less than three weeks away, and I am only a few hundred dollars away from reaching my fund-raising goal! So please click the link below to make a quick and easy tax-deductible donation.
Note: NorCal AIDS Cycle is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization
With only seven weeks to go before NorCal AIDS Cycle begins, my fundraising and training have kicked into high gear.
The weather has been much better in the last couple of weeks, so I am finally getting some miles under my legs. Long rides out on the Delta and near the airport are getting me used to being in the saddle again. But hills must be in my future, if I am going to get through the three hundred miles of NCAC!
My benefit organ concert a few weeks ago netted around $1,800 for the cause. A huge thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed the music, and donated to the fund. I am now about two-thirds of the way to my goal of raising six-thousand dollars for 2017.
If you have not had a chance to support NorCal AIDS Cycle for 2017, there is still time to contribute. Just click this link to make a quick and easy contribution of any size: Donate to NorCal AIDS Cycle here!
As always, I am truly grateful to everyone for your support in this endeavor. It is truly appreciated, and makes a real difference in our community!