The New Year found us freezing our faces off in Canyonlands. We found a sweet deal on lodging in Moab, Utah, and decided it would be an adventure. We had never been to Moab in winter and thought it was going to be warmer than winter anywhere else because, well, it was Moab. I usually am dying from heat in early spring or fall, so I was quite surprised to find that it was the coldest we have been all winter.
After arriving one late evening and early morning church the next day with some really friendly people, we started our adventure in the Needles District. We checked out a roadside ruin, a natural spring and a cowboy camp. Not too extreme, but it was beautiful to see red rock covered in snow and with no one around, it was just nature and us. The road led us to explore the Elephant Hill area. Hope was a little hesitant to take our car on a snowy dirt road but I assured her that our little Subaru would be fine.
New Year’s Eve found us exploring Island in the Sky. We were not as secluded as we were at Needles but it was not too bothersome to have others around. On the short but icy trail to Mesa Arch, I slipped like a classic feet-in-the-air cartoon and thought I broke a bone in my arm, judging by the sound it made when I hit the ground. Thankfully nothing was broken and we were able to enjoy the mystical view from the window of the arch. The mists were all around us as we continued to Grand View Point. It truly felt like heaven, an island floating in a sea of clouds. Every now and then we caught a glimpse of the Colorado River below, and it truly was a blessing.
This summer I became disillusioned by summer school and I decided I needed to work towards something other than my Masters degree. I never had the desire to run a marathon before, but I decided it was time to give it a shot. I registered for a race, found a training plan to use, and committed that I would at least run the long runs. As summer ended Joe got a new job and had to work on Saturdays. This worked out perfectly for my training and I spent hours on Saturday mornings and afternoons running further than I had ever run before.
The morning of the race Joe and I woke up before dawn and drove to the bus pick up. Joe dropped me off and I boarded the bus with all the other runners. The drive felt long and followed the route of the race pretty closely. I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into. I kept reminding myself that as soon as I began running those feelings would fade, and they did.
The beginning of the race felt like a dream. The starting line was on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. It was dark and the full moon had just sunk behind the island, the only light came from the twinkling of the city miles away. As I ran I watched the sunrise and the landscape around me was brought to life. The sun sparkled and danced on the water as the sky became brighter and brighter. The sage brush and rolling hills of the island were familiar and I thought of all the memories I have made there.
Once I started running on the causeway to leave the island things became harder. The landscape wasn’t as beautiful and the stink of the salt water became more apparent. I began to gradually slow down. I started seeing Joe driving around in our car, cheering me on. I was very tempted to catch a ride and just be done with it all. I kept running and as I ran I began to get discouraged as I realized that my goal time was probably no longer attainable, and I ran slower. My legs hurt, I was tired, and I was getting really hungry.
My parents then joined Joe and all of them ran with me for a while. This was encouraging and I reminded myself that this was the longest I had ever ran in my life, I was in uncharted territories. My dad and Joe ran with me the last stretch of the race just before the finish line, and I made it. My time wasn’t what I wanted, but I finished and I’m proud of that.
I learned a lot from this race that will help me if I ever decide to run another marathon. Next time I will try to not be in graduate school so I can get in more runs during the week and not just the long runs on the weekend. I will get someone to train with in order to help push me at the end of long runs and give me more motivation to get out and run. Next time I will have a personal record to beat, which I feel confident I could do with better training.
For our two-year anniversary we planned a trip months in advance to hike the Narrows in Zion National Park. Due to unexpected changes in scheduling and changes in jobs, we almost thought we were not going to make it for our long awaited get away. Luckily Joe’s new employers are considerate and I was able to find some very reluctant people to cover my shifts and we were able to go.
We started our trip by driving to St. George and enjoying some time at the LDS temple there.
The next day we drove to the National Park, got our permit to hike the Narrows as a two-day trip and then caught our shuttle outside of the Park. The drive to the trailhead took about an hour and a half. The last 30 minutes of the drive were on a bumpy dirt road. After the drive we decided it was well worth it to pay for a shuttle rather than set up a shuttle with friends (which we had originally planned on, but fell through). It also saved at least three hours of driving time.
The first part of the hike was through Chamberlains Ranch. It was pretty boring; we saw some cows and a lot of fire hydrants. Though it did give us some time to get used to carrying our packs before we hiked through the rocky river.
Once we entered the Narrows the hike just kept getting more and more beautiful as we went along. July-September is monsoon season in the area so we were constantly on alert for a flash flood. This also meant that the water was very murky and made our hiking more difficult as we stumbled over rocks that we could not see. We were glad that we rented some walking sticks for the trip.
A few hours into our hike we got rained on. It started as a light sprinkle and we kept hiking while keeping an even more cautious eye on the water. We also kept an eye out for higher ground to climb to in case of flooding. The rain got heavier for about twenty minutes and we decided to stay on high ground. Luckily there was no flooding and we continued our trek.
About eight hours into our hike we arrived at our campsite. We were thrilled and exhausted. Neither of us had backpacked in years and we did not anticipate the rocks in the river to be quite the obstacle that they were. We set up camp quickly and stripped off our wet clothes and hung them up to dry on a dead tree that was conveniently located above the ground.
The next day we woke up early after not sleeping well on the hard ground. We hiked for several hours before we saw anyone. Sometimes we wondered if might be in the wrong canyon. The canyon continued to narrow and get even more majestic. The water we were trekking through also got deeper. At one point we waded in water chest deep. Then we started seeing people, and then more and more people, and then the people just kept coming. We realized that we had liked feeling as though we were the only ones in the canyon. The people we ran into were all doing the one-day hike in the Narrows, which does not go the entire length of the canyon as the two day hike that we did does. Many of them assumed we were doing the same hike as them and asked why were carrying so much stuff.
We made it to the bottom of the canyon and we felt out of place. We were dirty, wet, smelly, and elated to see a park shuttle waiting at the end of the trail. People looked at us as though we were crazy, but we were happy to have done something that has been a goal for so long. And it was worth it.
Yesterday I celebrated another birthday. As has been typical of our life lately, all of the plans we made in advance fell through. Luckily Joe is resourceful and our Plan B was in all likelihood more fun than what he had originally planned. The day started by sleeping in, which is something we have not enjoyed for quite a while with our busy schedule. Then we met up with my former roommate, Kara, and headed out to Jordanelle.
Joe rented us some inflatable kayaks and we spent the afternoon paddling and jumping in and out of the water.
It was relaxing and peaceful. We left the reservoir just as an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.
After debating about where to go for dinner and driving around for a while we finally decided to try out a place we had never been, Outback Steakhouse. Unfortunately we did not know where one was and we are too cheap to have smartphones so once again we had to be resourceful. Joe decided to use his phone to actually call someone, and my younger brother answered the call and was able to look up directions for us. Luckily we were close by and found the restaurant.
I ordered the first steak I have ever had at a restaurant and we enjoyed reminiscing on the highlights of the last year. The waiters even sang me happy birthday Australian style, which was very brief. All in all it was a great day.
A week ago today Hope and I attended a couples retreat held at CLAS Ropes in Provo, Utah. To our surprise, it was an effective program that caused me to rethink some things about our marriage. Do not worry though, it was all positive. The challenges we partook in ranged from building a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows, to blindfold tag; from classic challenge course activities to canoeing. I will brag that our spaghetti tower we built at the beginning of the retreat was the only tower to stay standing throughout the entire day.
The first thing I learned during the retreat was the value and importance of communication. There were several activities that required us to really talk about how we were going to accomplish the task. Because I work on challenge courses I went about working without telling Hope what she needed to do. I guess I expected her to read my mind. It should not be surprising that we struggled at first. Once we took the time to sit and strategize together, we became a force to be reckoned with.
The second thing and probably the take home for me was to celebrate success with my partner. For me it has become routine to accomplish difficult tasks such as walking across a cable leaning on someone, or jumping from a platform to a bar suspended in mid-air, or suspending myself thirty feet in the air. I casually get through it and am not super excited, because the thrill was spent on my first time. It is different for Hope. Some of those things were very difficult for her, and she needed my love and support to get her through it. And when she accomplished those tasks, I needed to celebrate with her. Actually I was reminded of my first times when I became excited for her, and all of those emotions came back to me. It brought us together when we celebrated together, and that made a huge difference in our relationship.
When we were looking for things to do this summer Joe found an article about sea kayaking on the Great Salt Lake. We instantly wanted to try it out, but it took us a few months before we actually did it. We finally had a full day off together for the Fourth of July and we decided to take advantage of it. We rented some sea kayaks, primitively strapped them to our car, and brought some friends along.
We drove out to the marina by Saltair and got our boats into the water. Once we paddled past the bugs it was quite enjoyable. What I enjoyed most was the peaceful tranquility of the water, and getting past the bugs.
We even jumped in to get the full experience of being submerged in salt water. Later when we dried off we had salt patterns all over our arms and legs and our clothes felt as though they had been starched.
We paused for a midday picnic and then paddled out some more. By the end of the hours we spent there we were tired, but also felt restored from the beautiful views.
Exploring our state’s natural resources was a great way to celebrate the birth of our country.
I conquered my first real peak of the summer today. Standing at about 11,050 feet, Sugarloaf Mountain is part of the Wasatch 11ers, a list I am attempting to accomplish. It was not easy due to certain variables. Allergies, unexpected snow on the trail, lack of adequate sleep, being out of shape, and not having sharp thought processes made the summit difficult to attain. Additionally, I did not have a partner to rely on this time.
Due to conflicting work schedules, Hope could not come with me, and I decided to go without her because this type of situation where we cannot align our schedules has been occurring a lot lately. I did miss her more than I thought I would. The howling wind was enough to make me feel all alone and desirous to to turn back. I tried to rely on God to comfort my lonely and weary soul. I was given the drive to make it to the top despite my weak physical condition.
With long breaks included, it took about three hours and ten minutes to summit Sugarloaf Mountain. Because of snow, I slid down in less than an hour.
Since graduation things have not settled down, they have gotten busier. Our available time to go out and do fun things together has diminished to Saturday. Perhaps someday we can be like normal people and go on vacations and go out on Friday night, but for now we will just have to enjoy our occasional Saturday.
One of our most recent adventures took us to dangerous territory, Utah county. We took a tour of Timpanogos Cave. The cave itself was fascinating, our group members not so much though their behaviors gave us excellent suggestions of what not to do when we are parents someday.
Today we went on another adventure, this time in more comfortable territory in the Salt Lake area. Our hike up to Grandeur Peak became even more interesting with the threat of rain on the way up to the peak. We only spent a few moments at the top in anticipation of thunder and lightning that might come with the rain. As we trekked down the rain started lightly and got heavier and heavier until it started hailing. We ran most of the way down and even though we planned for the weather, our water resistant clothes were soaked by the time we made it back to our car.
For the past few years around springtime I have been noticing pictures of my friends covered in bright colors on Facebook. I did not know where they were or what exactly they were doing but it looked really fun. I finally found out there was this Krishna temple down in Spanish Fork, Utah and that they have a Festival of Colors every year. After I found that out I still missed it for another year. Finally, I decided that I wanted to be cool. And so Hope and I finally went, and it was a blast.
As a group we threw colors every two hours. It became a cloud of color and we could not see or even breath for a couple of minutes. We could only handle two before we decided to leave. They were expecting about eighty thousand people this year, and I was glad we came early because traffic was terrible when we left. I feel all cool now that I have Festival of Colors pictures on Facebook. That was such a great experience and I recommend it to everyone.
I did it. I finally received my certification as a Wilderness First Responder. That means I can administer first aid to others in a wilderness setting. So feel free to invite me on your next adventure, I would not mind at all. Having my wilderness first responder, or WFR for short, has given me the skills, and with the skills comes confidence in the sometimes wacky adventures I choose to pursue. Those of you who know me can name some sketchy situations, such as the avalanche incident Teewinot. Therefore, being a WFR is a huge milestone for me.
Some things I learned this past week during class that were important for me personally:
There is not much you can do about snakebites in the wilderness. Just clean the wound and evacuate. Only about 15% of people who are bitten by snakes actually die. That was sort of a relief.
Carbon monoxide from using personal cooking stoves inside an enclosed space, such as a tent, is a high cause of death in mountaineers. I used my stove in my car once…
Dehydration can cause muscle spasms which could possibly explain why my knees cramped up towards the end of my marathons.
The most important thing I learned was how to deliver a baby in the wilderness, no joke. Hopefully I will never have to be in that situation, but if I am, I will know what to do!