February 28, 2006

February 27, 2006


Ashley and I are officially going to visit Keith and Melanie in Korea! We will be leaving on May 18 and returning on June 4. As a result, I must begin working to pay for the ticket I already purchased. I start on Wednesday this week. Playtime's over. Expect this site to become noticeably less exciting in the very near future.

Serious Desert Recreating

I spent the past week in Utah playing in slot canyons, backpacking, and mountain biking. Dane, Phil, and Phil's roommate Evan came along for the slot canyon adventure, and Dane joined me for the backpacking trip. When they all had to return to work, I mountain biked at a few locations on the way home. Both canyon trips were in remote parts of Utah, approximately 50 miles from the nearest paved road. To view all my pictures from this trip, go to http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/elliojos/album?.dir=/dac9&.src=ph&.tok=phlUfeEBMZuEQ4an and make sure to read the captions.

Part I - Bluejohn Canyon
On Feb. 22, we set out to descend 15 miles through Bluejohn Canyon, ending up in Horseshoe Canyon, which is part of Canyonlands National Park. What starts out as a mellow hike down a shallow ravine abruptly turns into a tight, steep slot canyon. There intriguing slots were the highlight of the whole trip. For the most part, the canyon walls were about shoulder width, allowing one to perform a very effective body jam, weather intentionally or unintentionally. To make things even more interesting, the tightest parts also tended to be the steepest and the darkest. There were a couple times when the darkness resembled a cavelike atmosphere. At perhaps the coolest location on the planet, we emerged from the darkness into a section of canyon that appeared to be glowing from the light shining in from around the corner. As you are drawn towards the light, similar to what some imagine death to be like, you emerge onto a small, sunny platform. If you were to continue walking, you would fall over a 70 foot cliff. You are now unmistakably at the Big Drop rappel. With a prebuilt, 3-bolt, well-equalized anchor, the four of us rappelled to the bottom of a broad box canyon before hiking the 7 miles back to the car we had left at the other end of Horseshoe Canyon. Luckily, the fun wasn't over. There were several bouldering opportunities on the way down Horseshoe, and a collection of the best Native American Pictographs known. According to the National Park Service, these are over 2000 years old. Phil posted his pictures of this trip at http://www.flickr.com/photos/phillipkast/.

Part II - Robber's Roost Canyon
This was a non-technical hike into a very remote canyon. We didn't see a single footprint other than our own on this entire hike. The day after the Bluejohn trip, Dane and I hiked down into the canyon formed by the Dirty Devil River. Just past a faint cluster of Pictographs, we crossed the river and headed into a side canyon by the name of Robber's Roost, named after the Butch Cassidy gang as this was apparently one of their hideouts. The river was so muddy, we couldn't tell how deep it was. We thought we might have to hold our packs over our heads to avoid getting all of our gear wet. As it turned out, the water barely made it up to our knees. Good thing too, because it was bloody cold. After a strenuous bout of sunning our feet to warm up, we continued up the canyon for several miles before finding a place to camp. Of course, we stopped at a few places to boulder amongst the rocks. The view from our campsite was incredible. I think we managed to burn an entire dead tree that night in our campfire. Every night the temperatures dropped below freezing, but during the day hiking in shorts and a teeshirt seemed reasonable. The next day we hiked further up the canyon, which gradually narrowed as we went along. We saw four mule deer along the way, and pushed them up the canyon in front of us along the way. As the canyon narrowed, we noticed one of them slip by us and run back down the canyon. The other three disappeared - cleaver critters. The rest of this trip consisted of hiking back to camp, packing up, and hiking back out across the Dirty Devil and up to our car parked on the canyon rim.

Part III - Mountain Biking
No pictures here, but I rode the Slickrock Trail in Moab on Saturday. This is perhaps the most popular mountain biking trail in the world, and for a good reason. The entire ride is up and down rolling sandstone, with a few sand traps. Super fun, and about the most strenuous 10 mile ride imaginable. On Sunday I rode a few trails in the Fruita, Colorado area. More precisely, I rode just south of Loma on Mary's trail, Horsethief Bench, and part of the Kokopelli Trail. Both the riding and the trails were excellent, and I'd like to go back there again as there are an infinite number of trial options yet to explore.

February 18, 2006

Random Stuff

Here's a clip of me skiing some crusty snow up at Mt. Baldy, across from Breckenridge. The dog in the video followed us for a few hours, but we have no idea who it belonged to.

On Thursday morning, Dane and I ended up skiing at Loveland Pass. We skied down across the switchback on the highway, and would hitch a ride back up and repeat. Apparently this is a popular thing to do at this area. I felt lazy, but we got some good turns in. Yesterday I moved out of my office at Lyman Henn, where I worked last summer and off and on during the school year. For dinner, Joon-Yong took my friend Antonio and me out for Korean BBQ. According to our Korean friend, this place was authentic, with grills installed in the middle of the tables. They bring the thinly sliced, highly marinated meat to you and let you cook it yourself. The food was great and I'm improving my chopstick skills.

I'm still waiting on Ashley to ask her boss for the days off so we can go to Korea. As soon as she does this, we'll book a flight to visit Keith and Melanie.

February 15, 2006

Summit County

I drove up to Summit County on Monday. Skied Vail on Monday, went backcountry skiing at Freemont Pass on Monday night under the full moon, backcountry on Vail Pass on Tuesday, backcountry at Mt. Baldy with Dane on Wednesday, and backcountry destination TBD on Thursday. The pictures below are from Mt. Baldy. Not much new snow, but the skiing has still been quite fun and I'm getting better and skiing crusty and variable conditions.

On Monday I called Golder Associates and accepted their job offer. I'll stop being a skibum on March 1.

February 10, 2006

Clear Creek Climbing

Went climbing in Clear Creek Canyon yesterday with Dane and two of his friends from Golden, Daniel and Darren. Apparently Darren is working on writing a better guide book for the area. Anyway, it was fun climbing with guys who are better than me and top roping hard 10's and easy 11's. The two climbing pictures are ones I took of Dane. The scenic shot was taken from the climbing area looking downstream from the west side of Tunnel 2.

February 07, 2006


The weather and snow reports sounded ideal, so I went back up to the mountains on Monday. I have a friend, Kate, who is a ski instructor at Vail, and she can get $30 passes for friends. Turns out I chose the best possible day to take advantage of the offer. Monday was the day after a multiple foot storm the lasted several days. The wind was almost nonexistent, the skies bluebird, and the temperatures cold to preserve the powder. Vail has an unbelievable amount of skiable powder terrain - so much so that one could get fresh tracks for two days after a storm if one were so inclined. Vail acknowledges this prime powder terrain by failing to groom any paths in their back bowls. It was one of those perfect ski days that most people only dream about.

The next day, Kate and I went on a short backcountry trip up on Vail Pass. We skied a mellow ridge of untracked, well-preserved snow, sinking knee-deep on every turn. As the kids would say these days, it was totally sick.

February 05, 2006

Skiing and Job Offers

Early last week I received two job offers. I'm currently in negotiations with Golder Associates and Tetra Tech RMC. Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have made a decision and I'll update my site with more details then. In either case, I'd begin March 1st.

I finished the rewrite of my thesis on Thursday. My thesis committee will be reading it this week, and I'm hoping to get it bound and signed off sometime next week. I finished just in time to catch the tail end of a good snow storm in the mountains. Skied lots of pow up at Eldora on Friday, and went up to Copper Mountain on Saturday. Good conditions around most of the state, and a good month to have free.

We stayed up in the mountains on Saturday after skiing. It's nice having Dane at his parents vacation home up there and him so willing to share his space. Met up with Walt, a friend who graduated last year in my program, at Copper. He's now living and working in Chicago, but he's made it to Colorado for 6 ski weekends so far this winter. We went out to dinner at the Mint. The Mint has no menu. When you are ready to order, they take you to the meat counter where they have about a dozen selections of cuts ranging from $60 down to $15. Once you've selected your steak of choice, they set it on a plate and hand it to you. There are two large open grills in the restaurant, and it is the purchasers job to then cook the steak as desired. This was the second time I've been to the Mint, and both times the final product has been exquisite. I highly recommend this fine dining establishment to all non-vegetarians. Oh yea, Walt graciously picked up the bill for our party of 8.