Margaux Rhymes with Fargo

Mirthful Musings, Ridiculous Ramblings, and Comical Codswallop

That time I climbed Half Dome and never blogged about it

And by “climbed”, I mean with ropes and stuff. Back in May, my high school friend and her dad invited me along to climb Snake Dike, a technically easy but absolutely beautiful  climbing route up the side of Half Dome in Yosemite. It’s not quite the vertical section of the face (though I’ll admit I’m dreaming about that one…), but I still felt super legit scaling a part of the dome that many people don’t get to see.

As a bonus, before we started climbing we also scrambled a little past the base of the route over to the area where Ansel Adams took that iconic picture of the face of Half Dome (scroll to the bottom to see our recreation of said photo). Definitely worth the extra time and effort.


The casual mid-pitch photo op

The trip involved a few firsts for me:

  • camping in Yosemite (I know, I know, I’ve been there a few times before but it’s always been in a hotel or glamping)
  • getting absolutely soaked from the waterfall on the Mist Trail (I’ve been up this trail twice before but never with the water running this high. There was so much water and mist that I could have shampooed my hair and it would have all washed out no problem. In hindsidght, considering how sweaty and smelly I was, I probably should have done that.)
  • rock scrambling in the dark without my headlamp because I’m an idiot and forgot where I put it (I found it the next morning, much to my chagrin)
  • sleeping under the stars (wedged between some rocks on a mountainside)
  • climbing a multi-pitch route (i.e. a climbing route with more than one pitch, this one had eight) (I definitely didn’t need that explanation but this bullet point felt naked without it)
  • carrying two giant backpacks down the Half Dome cables – mine with all my climbing and camping gear on my back as well as another guy’s pack on my front, because he was injured and struggling to descend – and sliding/crashing/falling into multiple people (sorry everyone)

So. Much. Water.   And this is before the wet part.
Can you tell this is before a full (read: exhausting) day of climbing and hiking?
If I’m just chillin at the anchors, what else am I supposed to do besides take a selfie and almost drop my phone 2000 ft?
Ansel, how’d we do?

Soccer is not a photogenic sport

I play pickup soccer (almost) every day at lunchtime at the SLAC gym, and a couple of weeks ago one of our regulars left SLAC, so we took a group picture and some action shots of the game. Usually we have a bigger crew, but it was an ungodly temperature outside that day.

Turns out I look pretty silly in action. On the bright side, my socks match my shirt and I’m proud of it. Anyways, I’m just gonna leave these here for your enjoyment.

I’m looking very intense while everyone is super chill. 
Just smilin’ and squattin’
Again all smiles, but only an inch off the ground, if that. I missed the ball, in case you can’t quite tell.
One more leg in there should do the trick.
I’m not quite sure why I spend so much time bent in half, looking at the ground. It’s apparently a recurring thing.
Pretty sure I’m not supposed to be folded over so far. Weird habits indeed.

More fridge shenanigans

I just discovered in our work fridge a jar of strawberry preserves that expired in 2011 and I felt the need to share this fact with the world. SIX YEARS AGO PEOPLE. It is now in the hazardous waste bin.

This is worse than the Doritos incident, which was just weird, not gross.

My building is shared by engineers and theoretical physicists, and I know who I’m lookin at…

Mount Whitney by the numbers

We made it to the top!

Not gonna lie, the ice axe made me feel pretty badass the whole time, when it wasn’t busy saving my life.  Photo credit: Marco Lobato. He lugged his camera up 6100 ft. for this celebratory shot. What a hero. 
Not this mountain, the higher one behind it, waaaaayyyy in the back. Turns out Mount Whitney is freakin’ tall. Photo credit: Marla McPherson. She also took the sweet shot of the moon at the top of this post.


Total number of hours on the mountain: 18.5

Round-trip mileage: 22

Feet of elevation gain: 6100

Highest elevation, in feet: 14,505

Number of (non life-threatening) self-arrests: 1

Depth of snow I accidentally stepped/fell into about a hundred times, in feet: 2.5

Percent of the hike for which crampons and an ice axe were needed: 60

Number of times we referenced this joke from The Oatmeal: 25 (give or take a few)

Temperature of mountain stream water in which I rinsed my feet after the hike: absolutely freakin freezing

Mickey-mouse-shaped coconut pancakes devoured the next morning: 4

Hours without a shower: 68

Aggregate hours of sleep Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights: 16.5

Number out of ten would do it again: 10

Rest assured I was nowhere near this smiley on the way down. Photo credit: Marla McPherson
Handstand at 14505 ft, because, why not? Although to be honest, this took every last bit of strength I had. Going back down was super rough.  Photo credit: Marco Lobato
Fun fact: snow is super reflective and will burn to a crisp the delicate skin on underside of your chin that’s never ever seen the sun before. You’ve been warned.  Photo credit: Lorenz Haghenbeck

Slacker of the month

Or should I say SLAC-er?

Anyways, the gym here on SLAC’s campus is ARCAS, or the Arrillaga Recreation Center at SLAC, and I got interviewed as the member of the month for May 2017, so I figured I’d share it here. As a side note, acronyms-within-acronyms should not be a thing, ever.

ARCAS: What is your favorite exercise?

MARGAUX: While some people enjoy running for fun (which I’ll never understand but let’s move on before we fall deep into that rabbit hole), I need the motivation of chasing something. Or someone. Like a soccer ball. Or the guy that’s gonna score if I don’t get my butt back on defense fast enough. Having your whole team grumble at you is seriously motivating.

ARCAS: What other activities do you enjoy?

MARGAUX: When I’m not out on the SLAC soccer field shooting soccer balls over the net, or hitting the posts, or really just kicking the ball anywhere but in the goal, I enjoy missing serves on the sand volleyball court as well as lifting heavy things over and over in the weight room in an attempt to justify all the homemade chocolate zucchini bread that I bake and eat. 

ARCAS: How has being at SLAC helped you on your fitness journey?

MARGAUX: I was mostly kidding about the teammate-grumbling thing. The soccer group as well as the other people I’ve met at the SLAC gym are pretty awesome possums. They keep me accountable when I miss a few days, secretly switch out my weights for heavier ones during workouts , and never let me slow down or get complacent on the soccer field (because then I get run over or nutmegged and it’s all bad).

As yet another side note, yes, that adorable picture of Little Margaux is now hanging in the lobby at the SLAC gym. You’re welcome, everyone.

Wardrobe Fail

#ThatMomentWhen you don’t realize until you get to work that your pants are black and not navy blue as you originally thought and now your shoes don’t match, but it doesn’t matter because the engineers at work probably won’t notice anyways.

Remind me why I wake up before the sun?!

Who is this chick, anyways?

I am going to be part of a new ambassador program at work, which is a fancy way of saying that I’ll get paired with one or two newbies and help them understand the various non-work-related opportunities available on SLAC’s campus. I was asked to write a bio in order to give a prospective new hire some information about myself. So, here goes.

Born in 1994, Margaux is millennial who shamelessly orders shampoo and toothpaste (and sometimes groceries) from Amazon instead of driving all the way to the store. She started her career at SLAC in October 2015 as a mechanical engineer, fresh out of school and ready to do all the grunt work. At SLAC, she works on the LSST Camera, a 3.2 gigapixel camera being built for a telescope down in Chile. Margaux makes up a solid 20% of the Integration and Test engineering team, developing tools to assemble the delicate camera as well as verify that all high-level requirements have been met. Theoretically she’ll eventually get to go to Chile and help to actually install the camera. Fingers crossed.

Margaux holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Fleming Hovse). She purposefully chose the opposite side of the country for college and has told her parents that she’s never coming home to Delaware, unless Christmas cookies or Mom’s famous ratatouille are involved.

Before coming to SLAC, Margaux spent almost a year teaching robotics to elementary and middle school students through after-school programs and summer camps. If she’s being honest, she was mostly having fun with Legos and taking a break from the stresses of engineering while getting paid. Her continued passion for STEM education has led her to volunteer with outreach groups at SLAC that aim to encourage local youth to pursue STEM careers, including SLAC Kid’s Night and the Greene Scholar’s Program. She’s also currently pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at San Jose State part-time, in addition to full-time work at SLAC, which might or might not have been a good life decision.

When she’s not wearing a bunny suit and overseeing the assembly of camera hardware in the LSST Clean Room, Margaux can be found at the SLAC gym scoring goals on the soccer pitch, completely missing serves on the sand volleyball court, and lifting heavy things over and over in the weight room in an attempt to justify all the homemade chocolate zucchini bread that she bakes and eats. She takes frequent trips to Yosemite and Tahoe and hopes to one day convince the bigwigs at SLAC to relocate the whole lab to the mountains. A girl can dream.


Eleven Month Anniversary Present

In honor of my 11 month anniversary at SLAC, I finally got a mailbox. No mail yet, but I anticipate that the junkmail will start rolling in soon.

As long as the mailman can find me with all those extra vowels…



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