My eyelashes were freezing. It had to be zero or lower. Add in the wind chill. Brrr. Alta Guard showed 5 degrees at the base this morning.
I really wanted to get up to the mountains and see how the snow is coming along and didn’t really have a chance until this morning. As always the hardest thing about a 4:30 wakeup call is making the feet hit the floor. Setting foot to floor really is the crux. SLC seems too far away on workdays, so Farmington Canyon/Bountiful Peak is usually on tap for midweek jaunts.
The Watcher says he likes to watch the world wake up. After many mornings of starting out with a black sky then seeing the eastern horizon pink up, then the sun creeping over the distant ridgelines, I agree. The mornings are beautiful and a great time to be out. Today was no exception. Beautiful, clear morning. And I didn’t see any mountain lions. Maybe I’m alone on this, but when I’m skinning in the woods by headlamp by myself, I think “What if I see a mountain lion?” I’m terrified of coming upon a cat, or even worse, a cat coming upon me from behind. Irrational? I don’t know. I’ve never seen one but they still haunt me—I know they are out there somewhere. I go through scenarios and what I would do in my head. Then, after scaring myself nice & good, I throw on my earphones and forget about the cougars.
The coverage is coming along nicely. There was a lot of windjacked snow and exposed rocks & bushes, but there are some pockets of really good snow also. The difficult part is avoiding what lies beneath-- toothy rocks and stumps waiting to end your ski season prematurely. I don’t want to have a early end to the season before it even really gets started, so I’m trying to take it easy until we get a bit more snow. Today was mostly an exercise day with a tiny bit (600 ft?) of good turns. Oh, and some R&D for my Regallo wing (NPW) kite.
That kite pulls like a mother! The wind was perfect this morning. I may need an assistant (any volunteers?) to attempt it with the control bar & skis. I just flew it on handles today and had to plant my gluteus in the snow to avoid being pulled down and losing my kite.
I'm going to traverse the ridge all the way to Thurston Peak this winter then ski into Mountain Green. Who's in?
Wind Jack on the leeward side.
I took Trenton to the ski hill for his first time of the year. Big improvement from last year. Pretty soon, he'll be shredding all on his own.
Non-action shot of the kite. Too hard to take one during flight.
I really wanted to get out and skin & ski some today, but didn’t want to do the drive to Alta again. From my bedroom window, I can see a smallish north-facing ridge that runs off of Bountiful Peak. I’ve looked up at that ridge so many times in the last two weeks. It has to be one of the only places that holds significant snow. Time to go check it out!
After I woke up a bit late, stopped at Smith’s for some moleskin to cover my blister from Monday (Dang boots. Any solutions to prevent blistering on my heels anyone? Kieth?) and fussing around with chains for our “truck” (read: mini-van complete with kid car seats) it wasn’t exactly early any more. I made it to the parking area at around 6:00. It was obvious I wasn’t going to make it far that morning on skis, and further, there wasn’t much snow, so I decided to run up to that ridge instead for some reconnaissance for the future.
Running in the dark with the wind blowing through the trees is a little eerie at first, but then it starts to sound like music after a while. The constant rhythm of shoes touching ground, the breathing, the wind through the trees—I like it. I had my ipod but couldn’t bring myself to turn it on. I don’t get to hear nothing very often and sometimes it is rather nice. No mountain lion sighting either, so that is nice.
I followed the Bountiful Peak road up to Farmington Lake, then bushwhacked up to the top of the ridge.
Looking down from the top of the bushwack.
Then I ate some snow. I didn’t bring any water. On the descent, I had first tracks almost the whole way down. Totals: 8.5 miles 2,500 vertical gain & loss. A little different than what I planned to do, but it turned out nice anyways. I really hope we get some more snow soon. Sounds like we will this weekend
Not much snow there!
Paul Bunyan's golf balls in alpenglow.
It looks like the valley is in its first inversion of the winter and the air looks so dirty from up high.
Redneck shooting target. In a no parking zone no less.
Initially, I decided to wait until we got a little more coverage to take the skis out. Well, we got a little bit more (7”?) on Saturday, so I decided to go up to Alta this morning and check it out. The crux of any early ski morning is putting foot to floor when the alarm goes off. Usually this is easier to do when you are meeting someone, but today was a solo trip – no takers yet. Then the stoke starts to take hold and the rest of the morning is really fun. I was skinning by 5:45. The road winds a lot more than just going straight up, but as I’m not super familiar with the area, and knowing that the snowpack is still meager, I took the road. Is that the long way to Catherine’s area? It seemed like I gained hardly any elevation on the meandering road until I was looking up at my run.
After getting to the ridgeline, it was clear that when I was in church yesterday, it was game on up on the mountain. Alot had been tracked out already on Greely, High Rustler, etc. It was fairly tracked out where I went, but I was able to spoon some other tracks and ski some pretty good snow. Not bad for mid-November. All that hiking and only had time for one run. Arrg. I was back at work in K-ville by 9 though, so there wasn’t a ton of time this morning.
3 seconds before turning on rocks with a little bit of snow.
. It felt great to get out and stretch the legs a bit. BTW, my new Dynafits are awesome on the uptrack! Garmont MegaRide/Dynafit combo is apparently way nicer for locomotion than Naxo/Nordica Beast combo I had last winter. Who would have guessed?
From the bottom of “So Long” it was tenuous at best to get back to the trail. With all the rocks and stumps I was skiing over, I decided I wanted to end the morning in one piece so I took the road back down to base. There really isn’t much snow up there. Apparently, they are opening this Friday, but I’m sure it will be limited to a few runs.
In other news, one of our adventurous little girls got the first stitches in the family. We had 4 people restraining a two-year-old. She was not a happy camper. My Bro. sewed her up good though. Thanks Steve!
The 5 x 1 walking formation. Don't mind me ladies, I'm just pulling into my driveway.
“Light. Space. Light and space without time, I think, for this is a country with only the slightest traces of human history. In the doctrine of the geologists with their scheme of ages, eons and epochs all is flux, as Heraclitus taught, but from the mortally human point of view the landscape of the Colorado is like a section of eternity—timeless." -Edward Abbey
My phone pics don't do it justice. What a way to spend a birthday--cruising around the desert looking at this scenery. Good friends, good scenery, good everything.
I don't really consider myself a great carpenter, so mounting my own ski bindings without a jig is a big deal for me. I have to go pretty slow because there are many potential errors The process reminds me of Tom Hanks building that fire in Castaway--he is so pumped and proud of himself for making fire while watching that bonfire. "I... have made fire!" When I'm done, everything is right and works how it should, I think to myself, "I...have made skis!" Not really a big deal, but it still feels pretty cool to be able to do. Thanks wildsnow.com for your resources. I couldn't have done it without you. That is all.
After I sewed my kite a month ago, I haven't had time to string it up and get it flying. Until today at least. I've got it ready to rock. I'm still working on my homemade kite bar. I'll have it going by winter, so I'll just be flying it on 2 lines for a bit to get the feel of the kite. Should be good times.
Sometimes we get the wrong guy. I, for the record, voted for McCain. He's got some great ideas.
They posted some info about the first ski mountaineering race (for westerners at least) the other day at ussma.org. No teams this year (bummer!) and they have a heavy metal category as well for less serious racers or those that don't have f1's and low tech bindings. I'm in!
Jami ran the St. George Marathon yesterday. She set a PR with a time of 2:57:48. Nice one Jami!
We woke up at 4:30 so I could drop her off at the race shuttle. With about 4-4.5 hours to kill, I wondered "What to do?" The bouldering guidebook for Moe's Valley says a "4x4 is sometimes necessary & at a minimum, a high clearance 2WD. Don't even attempt this in a passenger car." My corolla thinks it is a truck, so off we went in search of some house sized boulders in the desert. BTW, the road is better than advertised--I made it just fine albeit with a couple of teeth-grinding-i-hope-i-don't-high-center nervous moments.
I had to wait for about an hour for the sky to lighten a little (sun still wasn't up). Even though you can see the city from where I was, it felt nice and tranquil.
Power lines add to the ambiance of the area.
I was the only person out and had the place all to myself--hence no pictures of myself. When my weak-sauce hands started opening up, it was time to go, and I still was able to see the Mrs. running the last 6 miles of the race. Bikes at running races are awesome--so fast & easy to get around.
I spent a few late nights building this guy this week:
It's about 2.7 square meters. I made some mistakes but learned alot. Notice that I didn't take any closeups, there are some rough spots that didn't quite come out how they were supposed to, but it was my first time building something like this, so I deserve a pass on some of the details, right? I still need to do the bridle & rigging, but the kite itself is pretty much done. I can't wait to try it out with skis or a snowboard this winter.
Yeah, I probably should have spent more time moving into our house, fixing the girls' dresser, or any other number of things, but it was a fun project.
I reconnected with some old friends and went to Wild Iris, WY this weekend. One of my favorite spots on earth for sure. It is just outside of Lander, WY, and if you're not a climber, there isn't really much of a reason to go, but for climbers it's shangri-la. With names like the Lord loves a hangin', the devil wears spurs, and when I was a young girl I had me a cowboy you can get a sense of the wild west feel of the area.
We got a late start on Friday and rolled into our campsite at about 1:30 a.m. The stars were so spectacular and bright that I had to sit and look at them for a while before nodding off. Getting out to places like these make life so good. Next time I'll have to bring the kids.
Hard race today as evidenced by the 19 who dropped out and 6 who missed the time cut. A total of 112 riders finished the stage today and 159 began the prologue on Monday. Current rate of attrition - 29.5%.
I was hanging out near the Lisa Falls pullout cheering the guys on. It was cool to see Burke hammering in front of Paco & the chase group. Hawes must have made his move right before they got to where we were on the rode because he only had a 15 second or so gap on the chasers. Amazing ride by him to stay away to the top. When I saw Nate, everyone around him was wearing the mask of pain, but Nate was pretty much breathing through his nose looking relaxed the whole time. Next year, I think Nate takes the Utah's best jersey back. Right, Nate? At any rate, awesome job this week and it's been fun watching you mix it up with the group.
From the back end of the race,Osvaldo "Ozzie" Olmos finished 110 of 112 today just inside of the time cut. For the GC, he is an hour and 31 minutes adrift of Mancebo, and 16 minutes behind the second to last racer. Tomorrow should just be a formality, as he is solidly in last place. You have to be good to finish last at the end of a stage race. ESPECIALLY a race that has 30k feet of climbing in basically 3 stages (1,2,4). I saw him come by at the end and was planning on giving him a little push up the hill for a minute, but decided against it. I see the crazies do that in the TdF, but after they busted 11 guys for hanging on cars a couple days ago, I didn't want to get anyone in trouble. Anyways, chapeau Ozzie. Way to grind it out.
During the tour this year, I was inspired by Kenny Van Hummel, the dutch rider who was in last place for several days of the tour de france. Then Kenny crashed and was forced to abandon. I decided to highlight this year's last place rider of the T of U. Before I start I should mention that I'm sure I could never hang onto his wheel during a race, so this isn't derogatory in any way, simply showing how good even the last place guy is.
Our man Osvaldo Olmos-currently bringing up the rear.
Osvaldo Olmos from California Giant Berry Farms is currently the last place rider ("Lanterne Rouge") of the Tour of Utah 56 minutes adrift of race leader Paco Mancebo. The next closest competitor is just over 45 minutes behind, so Osvaldo is solidly in last, but a brutal hard stage with alot of climbing awaits on Saturday so alot could happen between now and the end of the stage Saturday. Some info about Osvaldo: He has been racing for 10 years, is from San Luis Obispo (not far from my former home of San Jose) likes to eat strawberries straight up, and would like to visit Italy. Read more about Osvaldo here.
The race began with 159 riders for Monday's prologue and 20 riders have dropped out or have been DQ'd so far, leaving 139 to start the time trial Friday--an attrition rate of 12.5%. Several of the DQ's happened when riders were hanging on team cars up the mountain--but not Osvaldo. To still be standing at this point of the race is commendable. Good luck during the rest of the race.
Having the Tour of Utah this week has been really cool with guys like this racing this year:
Watching the euro races on TV has totally spoiled me. It's frustrating that the Tour of Utah doesn't have more media coverage. It sounds like it has been a great race so far, but it is hard to tell in the 30 seconds that I've seen of it. Maybe next year that will change.
Q: "Hey, where was Peter the apostle buried?" A: "Probably somewhere in Germany. (laughter) I thought you were talking about ____'s Blog" (He's supposedly buried in Rome, but he could still be in Jerusalem)
Statement: " I could totally be a nudist. I feel so comfortable with no clothes."
I took a long lunch break (without lunch) to see the Tour of Utah roll through my neck of the woods. Jami and the kids met me up there and we found a neat little spot on the road to watch next to some awesome guys who gave our kids drinks and chatted us up. After seeing mountain biker after mountain biker roll up the road giving us false alarms that they were the race, the group came around the bend and were flying up the hill.
They came by so fast it was all a blur, but I could pick out Burke Swindlehurst and Floyd Landis in the group. Neither Jami nor I saw Nate until we looked at the pics that she snapped. Nate was front and center in many of them and pushing the pace. Chapeau Nate.
I believe in aliens. I admit it. Is that strange? I dunno.
There are approximately 200 to 400 billion stars in our galaxy. Only in the last few years have scientists been able to see planets "tugging" on their star. This is the only way other planets have been discovered as they typically don't have luminance that someone could see 200 million light years away. Also, the planets that are large enough to tug on their star are planets like Jupiter which have the mass of about 318 earths. In my mind, I'd say that the chances of pretty sky-high that there is another rocky, watery planet like ours somewhere where people hang out at the ocean, and go sightseeing, and eat burgers and fries and maybe even catch a sports game now and again. Or at least their version of all that stuff.
Other interesting factoids about space:
Astronomers estimate that there are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. (Could even be more than that!)
The sun is 35,000 light years away from the galactic bulge at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
We are on the Orion arm of our spiral galaxy.
The sun's revolution around the galaxy, or a galactic year is approximately 225 million years. That means our sun has only orbited the galaxy 20-25 times in its lifetime. Humans have been on earth for about 100,000 years or so or about .0004 galactic years. I know I'm a nerd, but this is really cool stuff to me.
Last week I went to Zion National Park. I used to always say Zion's. Anyways, the church boys were having a superactivity down there and I was designated as "the guide" since I have experience with ropes, etc.
Ben on the Hoodoo summit of Angel's Landing.
I have never done any canyoneering so I was kind of excited to check it out. Before I go any further let me say that I've always viewed rappelling as a mode of transportation for getting around places while climbing and have never sought out rappels for the sake of rappelling. Sidenote: That place in August is sweaty! Yikes it was hot. We did two canyons: Orderville and Pine Creek. The way the permits worked out everyone in the group did the Subway except for me & my bro-in-law Ben. We did Orderville and it was cool. Orderville isn't a very narrow slot canyon so it was mostly just fast hiking with a few obstacles along the way like short raps, wading through poo errrr stagnant pools. Ben resorted to the adult diaper method of wading so as not get get his shorts wet with stink water.
Ben using the adult diaper technique through the quagmire.
We covered about 10 miles and then Orderville emptied into the Narrows where the virgin river is and ran into about a 1,000 people. I heard every language there except english. Ich liebe Zion.
Mini falls in Orderville.
The next day we did Pine Creek. The canyon itself is only a mile or two long, but there are alot of obstacles & swims to do along the way. It went pretty uneventfully except for when the rope sunk in an 8 foot deep lake, when I bruised my right butt check falling onto a log, when several kids nearly got hypothermia from being wet in a cold canyon--thank goodness I brought wetsuits for them, and several people tried (unsuccessfully) to remove themselves from the gene pool. Just kidding. It went pretty good but all that stuff did happen. Back to the rope sinking - I was sending some kids down the rap line into the big cathedral lake while Ben went bobbing for ropes in between dry heaves down below us. After 4 or 5 tries he finally got it and there was much rejoicing. I was rejoicing because I wasn't going to have to bob for ropes with Ben. Everyone else was rejoicing because they were happy.
Last rap out of pine creek
We ended up making it through the canyon in pretty good time and had plenty of time to enjoy the swimming holes on the hike back to the road. I love swimming in rivers.