Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Thoughts

Happy Monday morning!

Notes from this weekend:

Reminder: Any driver (not on a race course) who doesn't use their turn signal is BY DEFAULT a bad driver. It's not that hard to do, people.

Caution: I should not go into a PetSmart (or probably a humane society) unless I am prepared to either a.) have my heart wrenched our by the homeless kitties there, or b.) walk out having adopted at least one cat. There were probably ten cats at the PetSmart near where we climb and I wanted to adopt them all. Honestly, they were all beautiful, healthy, and friendly, chirping and nuzzling against the bars of their kennel. They just wanted some love and I wanted to give it to them!

In other news, we have Duane and Shauna here for a few days! A good soak in the hot tub last night with them, Brandon's soccer game tonight, and dinner tomorrow!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Comic Con and Nebo Half

Hello from the late middle of September! Sorry it's been a few weeks since I've written.

Things have been pretty uneventful here the last few weeks, but we did a few fun things the weekend after King's Peak.

So, I obtained a multiday pass and a Thursday pass for Comic Con in the week preceding the event. Premise set. Brandon and I headed over to Comic Con that Thursday around 5:00. As we crossed the street to get to the Salt Palace, we saw an enormous line. After inquiring I discovered that was, in fact, simply the registration/entrance line. We proceeded to follow this line to the end of it, about three quarters of the way South on the West side of the building. The line from there wrapped around the entire two block complex to registration entrance on the South side. So, we're looking at at least three quarters of a mile of slow moving line. We eventually made it around to the registration doors, only to discover an equal size line inside the room. We got there around 5:00 and we were a little more than halfway through the inside line at 8:00, the official closing time of ComicCon. It was in no way clear whether that was the closing time of the entry doors, the expo floor, or the entire event. We figured since they were still letting people into the registration hall up until 8:00 that it was the just the doors that closed at 8:00. Turns out it was the first two of those. At 8:00 they made announcement that ComicCon was "closed" for the night and to seek the nearest entrance. They also turned out about half the lights in the room we were in. Up until that point we'd been waiting in neat lines indicated by the tape on the ground. However, when the lights turned out, chaos erupted and the the entire waiting crowd rushed towards the registration desks - lines forgotten. Had there been physical barriers, this would not have happened. So, we're now crushed in a crowd with everyone elbowing their way to the front. We're annoyed. For several reasons:

1.) The complete lack of organization to handle the capacity of people who have arrived at this event (120,000 that day?), even just to get them in the door.
2.) The complete lack of communication from the staff to the guests. (What happens at 8:00? Why would you make us wait in line for hours only to have the event close before we even get in the door?)
3.) The apparent waste of time for Brandon and his Thursday pass, useless now that the day is over and the event closed.

Finally someone yells from the sidelines that the registration will still be open until everyone gets through and gets their bracelets so they can get in without waiting in line Friday or Saturday, but while that solves one problem (why we'd been waiting in line for that long), it didn't solve the other problem of Brandon's Thursday pass. When we finally got to the front (after being followed by THE most annoying group of high schoolers who were attempting to make as obnoxious and loud of a ruckus as they could) we asked about the Thursday pass and they informed us that we could switch it for a Friday or Saturday pass. Now, after more than three hours of frustration, a small, but significant reparation. So, Saturday for Brandon! As awful as those hours in line were, if we'd been able to pick a day to go together, Saturday would have been the day.

Completely spent and tired from waiting in line (we were driving away around 9:00), we grabbed some Cheesey-Pull-A-Part bread (or whatever it is called) from The Pie and headed back to Brandon's to watch some America Ninja Warrior and unwind. Evening done. Not quite what we expected, but not entirely terrible either.

Massive event. So many people!
So, Friday I went on my own to a few panels and wandered the expo and Saturday Brandon and I went together into the horde of people. Both Friday and Saturday we were able to walk right in, no line, no wait. There were way too many people there Saturday, but it was still enjoyable. We made it to a few more panels, wandered the expo, saw lots of cool costumes, and played some games with a few friends we met up with (Thomas!).

All in all, a good experience, but the Salt Lake Comic Con organizers definitely have some reorganizing to do to handle the massive interest and participation in their event. They need to get the entry details right and they need to expand to other venues. But, this was their second year, so I'm willing to cut them a little slack. ;)

Grant Imahara from Mythbusters.

Lego Iron Man

Azog from The Hobbit.


Trolls from the Hobbit!

Trolls from the Hobbit!

Trolls from the Hobbit!

Trolls from the Hobbit!

Saturday morning, just to make things interesting, I got up at 4:00, made my oatmeal, and headed down to Payson to catch the bus up the Canyon towards Mount Nebo so I could run the Nebo half. They had a bonfire at the top to help us stay warm. It was a good race, all downhill and not too eventful. I was able to keep a pretty strong pace the first half and a moderate pace the second half, finally accomplishing a half marathon in less than two hours. Spending the rest of my day standing at ComicCon was a little tough, but still worth it.

Fire to keep us warm!

I think I'm ready!

At the start line. 

Let the race begin!

Before with one of my coworkers!

Classic running selfie.

Done and done!

I had a small epiphany regarding my Marathon last year. I'd assumed that I hurt after the marathon for a while simply because of the mileage. However, following Nebo everyone I'd known who'd done it hurt for days. I have no interest in running another Marathon simply because the training is long and awful, but, hypothetically, if I were to choose another one which wasn't entirely downhill, it's likely that it wouldn't be as awful afterwards. Good to know, not that it will change anything. ;)

And as a last add, I had another coworker who ran the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon the following weekend. In preparation for that we both decided to volunteer on the Thursday before the race. Hard work, but kind of cool to see the inside of the process.

An uncommon sight of all the mile markers together.
Those poor souls. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Top of Utah

We did it! This past weekend we climbed to the top of King's Peak and to the top of Utah! Highest peak in Utah at 13,528 feet!

Friday morning Brandon headed in for a few hours of work and then came home and we finished packing just in time for Zach to meet us at Brandon's house. We got some sandwiches at Subway and then headed out! It was about a three hour drive along I-80 and then the forest road that lead South from I-80 towards the Henry's Fork Trailhead. Beautiful drive, particularly the last bit towards the mountain. The landscape changed quickly from rolling plains to pine forests to mountains.

Ready to head out on the trail!

We arrived at the trailhead, found a place to park (the parking lot was packed!) and then headed out around 4:00 in the afternoon. Hiking in wasn't bad at all (just a little bit of rain at one point). It was about eight miles in to our camping spot and it took us about four hours, getting us to where we wanted to be with just enough time find a spot and gather some wood for a fire. We'd originally planned on camping at Dollar Lake (which, by the way, is not visible at any point from the trail - it's entirely hidden by the trees), but when we got close to the lake we saw a sign that said if we camped on the West side of the trail (Dollar Lake is on the East side) we could build a campfire. So West side it was, right in the midst of the trees. After setting up our tent and gathering wood we got our stove going to boil water for our dehydrated meals and then tried to build a fire. Fire building did not go particularly well. Everything was damp from the recent light rain, and between that and the darkness setting in, we struggled to get even a weak fire going. We did eventually make it happen, but it was the kind of fire you had to watch constantly, rather than the kind that was solidly going. A little time by the fire, warm dinners, and it was off to bed!

Heading into the mountains.

Rain ponchos for our packs (and us).

Beautiful trail!

King's Peak is the little point right in the middle. 

Saturday morning we woke up fairly early, made some hot breakfast, and replenished our water, taking our time and enjoying the morning. Around 9:25 we headed back on the trail, this time with our day packs rather than our hiking packs with all of our gear. The first part of the hike Saturday morning was South through the valley slowly rising towards Gunsight Pass. A very pretty part of the trail. All along the way (throughout the entire three days), there was a constant variety of colors. The rocks were sometimes striped and always covered in neon lichen of some kind. Wild flowers were everywhere. Perhaps it was just the right time of the year, but even the grass was a wide variety of greens and reds.

Heading up the traverse just pass Gunsight.

Once we reached Gunsight Pass we headed up the traverse to the upper valley. The traverse was a shortcut that would take us directly up the side of the mountain rather than down into another valley before taking us up again. Definitely the better route to take, in my opinion. Once up the traverse the hard part of the hike started.

The mileage for each day was slightly longer than we'd anticipated, but Saturdays hike up the mountain was particularly long (closer to 14 miles round trip that day). Once up the traverse, we crossed what seemed to be an endless valley of awkwardly shaped rocks. We knew generally where we were going (towards the base of the last part of King's Peak), and had the slight assistance of frequently placed cairns, but it still took us a lot longer than we'd anticipated. Near the base of the last part of the peak, we finally ran into the greater part of the snow. By then I wasn't sure if I really needed to summit or just call it good where we were. Frequently through the last slope we took breaks just to try and muster the energy and will power to keep going up. I think our loss of ambition might have been partly due to the terrible wind and cold (not to mention that it was snowing), but also that the air simply didn't have as much oxygen as we were used to so it took almost no time for us to be winded between breaks.

One of many cairns. 

The view backwards over the valley of rocks. 

The view onwards towards the summit!

At the summit! We made it!

Incredible view from the mountain.

But on we pressed (Zach was a trooper - I swear he wasn't touched by the altitude at all!), and we made it! All the way to the top! And you know, we were there for maybe five minutes before the sun broke out and the weather entirely shifted. Gorgeous views all the way back down. We'd played switch off all day with a man and his son (Mike and Enoch - 50 and 17 respectively), and we did this all the way to the top, arriving just before them. On our way back down we passed two people just below the summit, but then the path was almost completely empty all the way back down. This was odd, as we'd had lots of company up until the base of the last part of the summit, but it turns out that most of our previous fellow travelers had been turned off by the weather and turned back. We met a number of them back along the trail. I'll admit, this made me feel a lot better about our moments of wanting to turn back. But still glad that we'd gone on, particularly with how the weather had turned once we were up there.

Just heading down from the summit.

Sunlit view!

This was the "trail" for a good portion of the hike. 

Better trails in the valley where we camped.

The way back down seemed to go much smoother and faster, though it still took awhile. We filled back up on water on our way back and gathered a little bit of firewood. However, as we arrived back in camp with a fair amount of light left, we had plenty of time to seek out the dryer branches rather than the plethora of wet wood available to us. Between the still not-super-dry wood we had and the addition of a steady wind, I'd say that making the fire the second night might have actually been harder, even with our additional preparations. However, the efforts finally paid off and we had a strong fire with plenty of fuel to let us relax. So warm. It took Brandon and I two shots to get dinner right, as the first meal we'd made (white chilly) was too spicy for us. When you're super hungry and just need to fill your stomach, it isn't the time for your food to be too spicy to eat. But the second meal worked fine. It rained more that night after we'd all climbed into our tent, but not enough to keep us from sleeping.

Sunday morning we woke up not too early and gathered our things together, had some breakfast (freeze dried granola with blueberries - yum!) and then headed out. It was probably the coolest morning/day aside from up at the summit, but once we got moving we were able to warm up. It took us closer to three and a half hours to get back to the car, but we were so happy once we got there. Brandon had hurt the lower part of his leg a bit (perhaps a high ankle sprain) on Saturday, so he was probably the most happy to finally be off his feet. And we had the pleasure to be of assistance to some fellow hikers who'd returned to their vehicle to discover the battery dead. Hooray for Zach's dad keeping a jumper cables in their truck that we borrowed! There really couldn't be much of a worse location to have car troubles than down there.

Done and done! Back at the parking lot!

The drive back to Salt Lake was wonderful and quick. And then naps and rest dominated most of the rest of the day. But we did it! Made it there and back! And while it was difficult (30+ miles), it was very worthwhile.

A quick turn around, I have the Nebo Half marathon this Saturday and in and around the half we've got ComicCon here this weekend! I got some last minute inexpensive/free tickets so we'll be making some stops there over the weekend!

Note: As usual, there are a plethora more pictures on Facebook.