Monday, March 25, 2019

"To Thine Own Self Be True" - Bridge Mountain Utah, March 9, 2019

"This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man . . ."    William Shakespeare, from Hamlet.

I love the solitude of snowy mountains. It brings peace to my mind, it's one of the few places I can hear my own thoughts and work out the frustrations of this world, if only in my mind, something I do not get anywhere else in this world. Anywhere! I am blessed to find such peace in the mountains of winter.

I've been told that this is pure foolishness! The only place to find such peace is only in the LDS Temple. Sadly, that has never been my reality. Such pure peace is why I go to the snowy mountains as often as possible, and perhaps why I rarely go to the temple. Like gravity pulling an avalanche down a mountain, it is a power that I can not control. I can not begin to understand the inner workings of another's mind, and I hate when others presume they know mine. That idea is arrogance and narcissism . . . so here I am again, hiking up and skiing down a snowy mountain, and coming home with a satisfied heart, if only for moment or two, but it is enough to keep me going . . .  

KPF, not quite the much over-used Grizzly Gulch, but the trend is in that direction. 

That shadowed bump in the middle of the pic is the "snow-stake" rock, 100 yards east of the rocky switchback of the Mueller-North Canyon Trail. The rock is about four-feet high without snow when not covered in snow.

More precisely, 183cm(72in) at Rudy's Flat, a big snow year indeed.
"Caldwell's," a new ski run descending into the City Creek side of the ridge that is rarely deep enough to ski. Layne and company nailed it. I'm impressed with their sense of adventure and willingness to try something new that most of us just ignore because no one else is skiing there. I call it "breaking the GG (Grizzly Gulch) affect."

My old friend, the Mountain Mahogany where the summer trail tops out on the ridge when heading towards Black's Peak.

Cool cloudy formations, but soon to be sunny. A beautiful day all around.

Lower Crescent Bowl in perfect powder. 

Last time skiing up here I snagged a branch tearing my new BD pants, so I pulled a Grant Reeder (my Dad) and hand-stitched the repair with the first thread found in my wife's sewing cabinet. My Dad was always a bit flamboyant with his choice of mediums.
Some cracking but it is not due to instability. I heard and saw NO collapsing. This cracking is running vertically down a steep (39 degrees) hill and I concluded it was the sloughing of the new snow and not collapsing of unstable snow. If the cracking was shooting horizontally, across the hill, I would've quit and gone home as that would have indicated unstable snow. Vertical cracking with no audible collapsing vs.  horizontal shooting cracks tell much different stories. 
Another old friend, I've come to love all these familiar dead trees, they seem very alive to me. I feel their spirit even if no longer living in this world. 

Skin track up Rectangle North. I saw vertical cracking on the steep lower section but I never saw horizontal shooting cracks and never heard or saw any collapsing, so I judged it safe to ski. 

First run ski tracks off Crescent Peak. . . 
. . . same view but now zoomed.
Self'ies are always best when the face is hidden. . . 

 . . . and the product of your labors take the focus.

Studying my tracks down Crescent Peak, wondering how I could do better. Tracks in the snow reveal the ability of the skier and I'm always looking for improvement.

So many options and so little energy, and daylight. . . 

 . . .and, how can anyone NOT want to be here? 

Or here?

Even with the lens jacked from the frost on a passing branch, still captures the beautiful scene.
Mid-Crescent Bowl.
Center-punching Crescent Peak.

Crescent Peak, upper right, with Black's Peak the pointy peak in the middle and Session's Mountain on the left, under clouds. 

Frosted icicles along the Rectangle North skin-track.  
From the Rectangle North skin-track, Session's Mountain on the left, Crescent Bowl ski tracks framed by a frosted Douglas Fir in the middle.

View SW, from the Rectangle North skin-track, overlooking Rectangle Bowl towards Dead Tree Peak, which is the point where the horizontal ridge rolls over and drops steeply to the right.

So much fun! My tracks down The Rectangle.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Rudy's Flat, February 22, 2019

Kara and I were supposed to be in Ketchum Idaho this weekend skiing, but Kara got the flu and I have a painful muscle tear from running on an icy trail earlier this week, so we postponed the trip to Sun. Valley.

For my leg the Doctor prescribed rest and compression sleeves on my legs, but the sleeves are  a total gimmick. My leg still hurts, especially when on a steep climb, plus they cutoff the circulation to me feet, resulting in my toes getting cold way more quickly than normal. Today they went numb just 20 minutes into the skin track. Plus skiing with Jonah is not restful, at least physically. He's always a joy to ski with, always a smile and a great low-key persona, but on the skin track he charges hard and it’s tough to keep up.

Kara's Pot Farm with the saplings fully buried. The cover hasn't been this deep in  at least five years.

Jonah and Harrison. Harrison charges too but today was his very first day touring,. and he did it on totally unfamiliar gear. Those G3 tech bindings puzzling. It took me ten minutes to figure out how to lock down the brakes for skinning. But Harrison is a force. A few more days of experience and he'll disappear up the hill with Jonah while I flounder way behind.

Jonah charging! Today the forecast called for sun but it snowed lightly the whole tour, with some wind and frigid temperatures. Not the best day to try out my new compression sleeves.

The "snow stake rock" is just a foot above the surface. In the summer it is at least four feet above the mountain bike trail which runs right past the base of the rock.

Harrison (l), Jonah (r).

160cm (62in) at Rudy's Flat (7,100ft).

You know it's cold when your nasty, sweat soaked bandana is as stiff as fine china, but I wouldn't eat off that bandana.

Jonah and Harrison on the flats. This was our high point for the day due the setting sun, the collapsible wind-pillows we crossed just down the trail - not a good indicator of conditions above on the ridge -and my hurting leg and frozen toes. I couldn't skin up anything steeper than about 15 degrees without sharp pain in my left calf, but if we'd started two hours earlier everything would've been different. My pain would've disappeared and we would've skied the good stuff off the ridge above.
  I'm the designated excuse maker on the team and I'm quite skilled if I do say so. 

The setting sun brings beautiful light on this winter evening. View NW looking over the top of Kara's Pot Farm with
Davis County beyond. 

Bountiful Ridge looking deep. It was tough to walk away today but see my multifaceted excuses listed above. The nuanced complexity of my excuses is World Cup caliber. I RULE when it comes to making excuses.

On the "Traverse" from KPF to the summer mountain bike trail. KPF may not be the shortest shortcut to Rudy's but it's definitely the cleanest and most open route though a major natural barrier to access, also known as Gambler Oak.

Nice turns on lower Kara's Pot Farm,

Now, can you kind of visualize why Gamble Oak is such a  major pain-in-the ass?  My new Black Diamond soft-shell ski pants are toast, courtesy of a dead snag aimed directly at my sore calf muscle. I'm thinking Gorilla Tape and few staples will fix it. You can see my compression sleeve through the tear. Damn! I look so geriatric!

Beautiful light as the sun sets.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Forbidden Fruit: Skiing Red Butte Canyon, February 8, 2019

Skiing forbidden ground.
Cloudy at the start but the sun came out for runs two and three.

First run tracks. 

Across the canyon on Mt. Van Cott, foothills skiers everywhere during this heavy winter.

Red Butte dam and reservoir. This area is a restricted nature preserve and I unintentionally entered and skied the restricted area. It was an innocent mistake, I followed the Red Butte Gardens High Country Trail, a public trail, up to the 90-degree bend west, but instead of going west I headed east. There were no "Keep Out" signs or fences where I left the public trail, and I skinned only a quarter mile from the trail to my ski run. I only found out that I was on restricted grounds when, on my exit at the foot of the hill, I ran into a barbed wire fence, with me on the wrong side. The photo below shows where I crawled underneath to get out, and only there did I see a "No Trespassing" sign. 

Ski tracks from runs one and two. Red Butte Peak is the high point above.

Skin track through beautiful snow on a cold, sunny day.

Kind of brushy and rocky in spots. I hit ground and rocks often, but overall not too much damage.

Runs one and two from the top.

Red Butte dam from my high transition point. (skins off). 

View up from may low transition point (skins on).

Ski tracks, runs one, two and three, with cool clouds streaming overhead.

View west over the Salt Lake valley from near my high point.

I'm locked inside the nature preserve, on the wrong side of the barbed-topped fence. The thought crossed my mind to just drop into the creek and crawled under the fence here. It looked to be about a foot-and-half higher than the flowing water, but the water was about eight inches deep and running fast on a mossy concrete chute. I saw visions of me slipping and falling in to the freezing water, then sliding along on the mossy sleigh ride. Instead I opted to hike up the fence-line to the top, which I guessed was a half mile up the hill, near where I originally left the public trail.

View up the hill showing the fence-line through the trees.

Whew!! A hundred yards up the fence-line I found this hole, which was barley big enough to crawl under. The Red Butte Natural Research Area should place signage up higher on the public trail. Presumably they haven't because most folks just stay out. I'm a slow learner. 

My tracks as seen from the end of the public access on the Red Butte road. Three runs at about 450 vertical feet each. Short, but fun. My first two runs (left two) I skied like my 1970's upbringing taught me: short, quick slalom turns, but I hit ground or rocks on almost every turn. On my third run (right) I tried big, giant slalom turns, allowing the skis to float, and I then never hit ground. With about 13 inches of snow on this grassy slope, just barely enough for skiing. 

Zoomed out with the Red Butte Ridge-line seen above.