Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Some times you write about life, and some times you live it"

There's been a lot of living happening around my part of town. Here are a few things I've gotten myself into since my last post:

-You've heard about people riding their bikes to work? My friend Ava and I rode our bikes 60 miles one afternoon to get to our work. Beat that. Actually, a couple of co-workers are planning on one-upping us by RUNNING to work!
-Kayaking the Provo river (much more intense than you might think-we almost died).
-My family and I took a cruise to Alaska. Being a tourist sucks.
-Neon Canyon! Navigating this Southern-Utah slot canyon involves the most beautiful rappel. Ever. The floor of the narrow canyon drops away, and you rappel through the roof of a sandstone overhang that encloses a green fern-lined pool some 80 ft below. A real oasis in the desert.
-I joined the BYU sailing club. I've only been able to sail once so far.
-About 50 or so more days and nights on trail with Aspiro. I worked with the girls group all summer!
-Rappelling Corona Arch! Corona is a 150-ish foot high sandstone arch near Moab, UT. After we were done rappelling, we RUINED our two climbing ropes by using them for the most intense rope swing I have ever encountered. The ropes started to fray pretty badly where they rubbed against the sandstone. It was so worth it.
-Arches National Park. Again. I love that place.
-I earned a spot with BYU Emergency Medical Services this semester. I volunteer on campus responding to 911 calls on BYU property. The city paramedics only come if we call them for backup.
-I volunteered for a bit with TERT; the Mount Timponogas Emergency Response Team. It's a group of EMTs, radio geeks, and outdoorsy-types who camp on Mt. Timponogas on the weekends during the summer to provide emergency care to injured or sick hikers. I spent three days on the mountain and didn't treat so much as a blister.
-I've started playing water polo again. BYU has a pseudo-club/group that plays on Saturdays, and there is group that plays up in Salt Lake on Wednesday nights. Nothing feels as good getting kicked, elbowed, pushed, punched, sunk, grabbed, and run over in the water. Except doing those things to other people of course.
-Smearing myself across the pavement of the Provo Canyon bike path. Long boarding the canyon path at night is super fun, but there ARE obstacles (such as potholes!) you should know about if you're going to do it without lights. Also, it would be good to note that trying to play water polo with fresh road rash isn't the smartest idea. Still, it was all worth it.

These are just things I've come up with off of the top of my head. My summer was pretty rad. I'm back in school now. I have finished all the prereqs for my major (print journalism) and have applied to the program. I should hear back from them any time now. In the mean time, I'm spending this semester finishing the last of my GEs. With any luck I should be out of here in three more semesters. I'm looking at going to paramedic school after I finish my bachelors'.
Let the adventures keep coming!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Just a quick note to let ya'll know what I've been up to.

School ended a few weeks ago, on April 22. After spending a week doing whatever I felt like at the time, I started at Aspiro for the summer.
If you don't know what Aspiro is, you probably don't know me very well.
Aspiro is the Wilderness Adventure Therapy program where I worked for a good portion of last year. I'm back until school starts again in the fall.
My first week of work was with the young adult group. We hiked into and through Coyote Gulch, a desert canyon that feeds into the Escalante River in southern Utah.
Instead of having a week off, I spent the next week doing some guide training stuff.
From the guide training I went right back on trail, this time with the girls' group. Our itinerary took us to the Ouray area, just west of the Utah/Colorado boarder, near Grand Junction.
Ouray might just be the most beautiful place I have been with Aspiro. The canyons we hiked though would open every few miles into broad grass meadows where we often disturbed grazing herds of elk.
But the highlight the Ouray trip was when one of the girls spilled a pot of boiling water on her foot. I got to practice some of my new EMT skills (I passed my final written exam a couple of weeks ago!), and Victoria learned a lesson on the instable nature of ultralight backpacking stoves. I hiked about 18 miles to the car, drove it to Colorado for gas, and drove as close to our injured student as I could--about four miles. Victoria was able to hike out wearing her Crocs--apparently hiking boots aren't terribly confortable when you have a blister three inches long, two inches wide, and an inch and a half tall on your ankle. Go figure.
After a much needed week off (I flew home to San Jose for a week of "rest"--rock climbing and surfing), I was back on trail, this time in Saint George for a week of climbing and babysitting.
Now I'm writing at a library in Orange County. I'm spending my week off sailing with some friends who have bought a 29 ft sailboat. Their plan is to learn something about sailing so they can sail to Australia. They will be leaving in December. I've been invited to come. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

BASE jumper injured in Rock Canyon

A BASE jumper was injured in Provo's Rock Canyon last week.

Richard Walkling, 25, jumped from a 450 ft. cliff on the north side of the canyon. Rock climbers who witnessed the accident said Walkling deployed his parachute and was immediately slammed into the face of the cliff.

The impact caused Walkling's parachute to partially collapse, speeding his descent. Walking's parachute swept him into the rock twice more before he landed on a small ledge some 50 ft. above the ground. Walker tumbled the rest of the way to the ground.

Amazingly, Walkling's injuries amounted to no more than a broken ankle and superficial abrasions.

“It was surprising, really surprising,” said Eric Schmitt, one of the first to come to Walkling's aid. “I didn't expect as little as a broken ankle.”

“He probably should have been dead,” said Shawn Peterson, who was with Schmitt.

Peterson and Schmitt, both certified as wilderness first responders, provided first aid until emergency crews arrived.

Police closed the canyon for about two hours while emergency crews brought Walkling down the hillside to a waiting ambulance.

A rescue helicopter landed in the canyon, but was not used in the rescue.

A friend (Kevin You) and I drove to Rock Canyon to climb last Tuesday. We found the police blocking the road. We followed the lead of other climbers and snuck around the police and emergency crews by hiking through the bushes on the south side of the canyon. We found my friends Shawn and Eric climbing with the students at the Aspiro wilderness/adventure program (where I used to work). We learned that they were the first ones to reach the injured jumper and had helped carry him down the hillside. I put my point-and-shoot camera on video mode and had them tell their story.

Here Eric talks about his experience.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Milestones in Human Evolution

Today I found a video that leads me to believe mankind has reached the pinnacle of human achievement. All the scientists can now hang up their lab coats and go home, because I don't see any possible way anything cooler than this could ever be discovered, invented, or even thought of without heads exploding.

Now that we have reached our evolutionary ceiling, the human race will now begin to de-evolve until we are dominated by talking apes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Squaw Peak

A little more than four years have gone by since I was in the Missionary Training Center getting ready to head Mexico.

With the exceptions of a walk to the temple each week, and the brief walks between buildings, I spent the entire nine weeks inside.

I don't know how I didn't go crazy.

From my classroom window I could look up Squaw Peak, a limestone prow that rises nearly 3300 feet above the city of Provo to 7862 feet above sea level.

I spent more time than I probably should have just staring at that peak. It represented adventure, excitement, and freedom. And it stared back down, daring me to tear off my tie and run, run, run until I collapsed in a sweaty, satisfied heap on the mountainside.

Like I said, spending nine straight weeks indoors was hard for me.

I vowed that when I finished my mission, I would climb that stupid mountain, stand on its summit, and yell like a wild man.

This Thursday I did just that.

I set out from my apartment just before 9 a.m. and rode my bike to the parking lot at the mouth of Rock Canyon. A trail leads through the canyon and up the back side of the mountain to the summit. But I wanted to climb my own route, not the trail.

From the parking lot I traversed about a hundred yards north and started right up the mountain. I followed an indistinct, narrow trail as it rose steeply toward the peak. 45 minutes later, I estimated I was about halfway to the top. My legs and lungs felt like they were on fire, and the trail came to an end.

From the valley floor, it had looked like patches of snow dotted the upper sections of the mountain. Now, standing halfway up the mountain, I saw I had been mistaken--the snow lay not in patches, but in fact fully blanketed the mountain.

As I continued upward, the snow grew deeper and the slope grew steeper. My feet would slip easily on the snow-covered gravel and scree. My hike turned into a scramble, and then into a climb.

When the grew deep enough, I picked up a two-foot juniper stick to help me climb. Over and over, I plunged the stick into the snow on the slope above me and used it to keep from slipping or tumbling backwards while I kicked steps into the snow for my feet.

In this way, I inched upwards. As I neared the top the ground gradually sloped back until it flattening out at the summit. I reached the summit exactly two hours from when I started.

15 minutes, one banana, several photos, and one barbaric scream later, I started down again, plunge-stepping my way down the snow-covered back of the mountain until I reached the main trail of the canyon that brought me back to the road and my bicycle.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aron Ralston Strikes Back!

Remember Aron Ralston? The guy who cut off his own arm a while back after spending the better part of a week in a slot canyon with his arm pinned under a rock? Well, it's been almost six years since his "accident," and he's still around.

The New York Times did an article on him yesterday, complete with a five-minute video feature (you can't get that in the print version--maybe that's why nobody is reading papers anymore).

You can find it here.

As fascinating as it was to hear about a guy cutting off his own arm, it's even more interesting to see how that, plus the celebrity that has followed, has affected the guy over the years.

Corona Arch

These are from a trip down to Moab with some friends over thanksgiving break.