Monday, September 22, 2008

And by the way...

While we were hiking BYU was pummeling Wyoming.

Go Cougs!
¿Puede decir usted BCS Bowl?

A Timp-ical weekend in Provo...

Since people only want pictures anyway...I'll keep the story telling brief.

After six years in Provo hiking Mt. Timpanogos is something I have needed to do! Earlier this year I decided that I would do it in September. With the hiking season drawing to a close I thought it might not happen. Largely due to my own neglect to plan the hike. Thanks to my friend Mark's I got my chance afterall!

This is how the beautiful morning started (Circa 6:30am).

Fall colors!


There were mountain goats everywhere! We first saw a small group of five. Then once we got higher there were herds! Just after this photo above there was a brief hale storm. While I was hiking along there was this overcasty haze with the glow of the sun coming through one side. Through the sheets of hale I could see the mountain face in the distance with a family of mountain goats galluping up to try and find some cover. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. A picture wouldn't do it justice, words can't suffice, it was just amazing. After hiking for another little while you could see two different grazing groups on the face to the left and the face to the right. The goats above let us get pretty close. They love the camera.

The Timptastic 8
Isaac, Anika, Logan, Sara, Me (w/rod of authority), Carl, Mark, Annie (Emmie).

My baby, Mt. Baldy (Alta), in the background.

AF Canyon, Backside of Alta/Snowbird, Mineral Basin.

Anika, Me, and Utah County.

From the top-shack (Circa 1pm).

Me, Sara, Annie.

7/8 of the Timptastic 8 at the summit.

Top left: Summit shack.
Ridge line trail to glacier.

After we left the summit the whole group went down the way we came. Curiosity got the best of me and I ran along the trail headed north so that I could come down the glacier. I saw two guys from another group ahead of me quite a ways, but I though I could catch them so I wasn't alone at 11k ft. I was able to get to them by the time we were at the top of the glacier. Can't remember their names, but they were both from Atlanta and definitely showed me some southern hospitality by letting me join them for the trip down the glacier. As you can see in later pictures the glacier is a lot better if you have pants, gloves, and maybe an ice pick or two... I did ok with my Asics and a couple sharp rocks. However, the snow did get the best of my right leg. It looks worse than it is. It was a really cool going down the glacier, see the views from that side of the mountain, and also exploring the area where the glacier had melted.

Free the heel, free the mind.

Here is a view of the glacier from the bottom up. On my way down the rock slides after the glacier I crossed paths with a couple really cool guys from SLC (two specs on the left), along with thier golden lab. They had their Tele's strapped to their backs and were on their way to get some turns in. It's awsome out here... Once the fall air hits the valley it just makes you want to strap on some planks!

Some goats bidding us farewell on our way back down.

All in all it was a beautiful day and an awesome hike. It's so amazing that this is right in my back yard here in Provo. It's approx. 14 miles and 10 hours (with breaks and photo opps) round trip if you go the Aspen Grove route. It takes a little work, a lot of water, and some powerbars, but it's totally worth it!

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On the map.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

LA-bor Day

The Tuesday before Labor Day I was in the mood to travel. I realized a few people had trips planned for the long weekend and I wanted one too! So I searched the weekend specials and two bills later I had a trip to LA planned. What sealed the deal was when I sent my friend down there, Dane, a text that said, "Hey, so I'm thinking I might head down to LA this weekend. Room on your floor?" His response... "Duh, come!" I went.

I got in early on Saturday morning and chatted with Dave and Dane's new roomie John over a bowl of cereal. Dave got home from surfing a little later and went down to the beach and played beach volleyball for a couple hours. Afterward we ate at Patrick's Roadhouse in Santa Monica, overlooking the beach. Had me a great burger and some live blues for lunch. The place is rumored to either be owned or was owned by Patrick Swayze himself. We didn't dance. And on a side note, two v two beach volleyball is really hard. I thought I was decent at volleyball, but this sure showed me what's up. Props USA!

That Saturday afternoon I went over to a friends house to swim and catch up. Then later that night our buddy Josh came up from Orange County. We went down to the 3rd St. Promenade area and ate at T's Thai. Recommend it. We then wandered the promenade for a while and watched the street performers. The highlight being a 9 year old covering No One by Alicia Keys. It was pretty impressive! Except for the creepy guy running the AV equipment in the background. It was reminiscent of Robin Williams character in August Rush. Josh and I got the crowd clapping and we tipped a buck. After that we made a Pinkberry run, Mmmmm, and called it a night. However, the night was still young.

After what felt like the worst nap ever (way too short, way too groggy) Dane, Kristen, and I woke up at 4 am to hike the Hollywood sign. Now many a tale is told of suicide, vandalism, and trespassing up, on, and around the sign. So for these reasons we decided to go late enough and early enough that Hollywood was calm, and also so we wouldn't get busted. I didn't want to come back from LA with a record. Dane had done this a few weeks previous and made it out unscathed. In his blog report he said if anyone ever wanted to do it, he would do it again. He is a man of his word... So, between Dane's memory and Kristin's GPS we found the trail head and started on our way.

Yep, its beeping at us.

The Darkness

It was pitch black when we started. So along a groomed trail you have to keep a close eye out for the single track that leads up to the sign. One of the group, who will remain nameless, spooked themselves by remembering ghost stories taking place up there, so I got the priviledge of leading the way. Yeah, put the tourist in front! We would take periodic breaks to take in the view, take pictures, and take a moment to survey the brush with both eyes and ears. We didn't want to see anyone else up there...dead or alive! Nor did we want any critters paying us any attention. I think I got a mosquito bite on my left arm. Almost ruined the whole hike for me. We paused for a while just below the sign so that the camera's didn't pick us up and so we could be up there with a little daylight. When we got up to the sign we did see quite a few camera's and motion detectors. We trod lightly and took everything in. It was a beautiful misty morning. As we walked westward from the D to the H we could hear the camera's clicking on as the motion detector's picked us up. At the H there was this white little box that started to beep. After a little while we confirmed that there was a correlation between our presence and the amount of beeps. The LA county SWAT didn't rap down from a helicopter so we took our time. Although it was early I really do recommend doing the hike at this time. You can see the city lights at night and the sunrise and the valley in the morning. Very beautiful.

Dane and Matt

Matt and Kristen
(She wears Underarmour. Don't mess.)


Misty mornings.

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We accomplished our mission and made our way back to the car. On the drive back we did something I hate to admit. Well, maybe not since I was the one that reminded Dane to show us... So, right off the drive to and from the Hollywood sign is the street that the girls of The Hills live in. Most famous is the beautiful LC. I don't watch the show much, but it was kind of exciting cruising by their bachelorette pad at 7 am on a Sunday morning. Didn't see anyone. In fact, I even felt weird looking, so I just looked out of the corner of my eye a couple times.

We got home and slept until church that afternoon. Then went down to Palos Verdes to Dave's parents for dinner. We ate some of the best steaks I had eaten in a while. We then drove down to Kristen's parents in Cota de Caza (Orange County) and spent the night. Monday morning we woke up and got some breakfast at Pipe's. We intended on meeting Josh there but he went to the one in Newport and we went to the one in San Clemente...oops! Nevertheless, we met up in Laguna and drove to Corona del Mar to hit up Jump Rock. It was a blast. See full report in the preceding post.

After jumping we had a bbq at our buddy Syd's place. This cozy little abode will become the Syd and Shea McGee residence in just one month. Congrats! That day though we had a chill bbq and watch the British version of The Office. Very funny, very British.

The weekend came to a close as we grabbed dinner and hung out at the pier at Venice Beach. After that I hopped back in the rental car, b-lined it back to the airport. I made it with enough time to print my eticket, get through security, hop on the plane, and take off. Just the way I like it!

All in all it was a fabulous weekend with just the right about of playing and relaxing. A special thanks to my wonderful hosts... Dane, Dave, John, Stacy, Kristen, The Galerath's (Dave's fam), The Hill's (Kristen's fam), J-bu, Syd, and the many many locals.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On Jumping...

When I was five, we lived in Virginia. That year my Kindergarten class was doing a presentation of some sort. Before our grand performance started my classmates and I were all lined up on stage. Not a single one of us was standing still. Of course, we were five! However, I was not distracted by my classmates. In fact, neither they nor the audience had any idea who was in their presence. See that night I had slipped a AA battery in my pocket. The more I fiddled with it the more strength I gained. With that power I turned into Battery Man, and had the power peform many feats...the greatest being jumping from the stage! I rubbed as much power as I could from the battery through my little hand and into my being, and proceeded to the edge. I extended my arm, battery in hand, and blurted, "Battery Man...!" With my declaration came my leap and successful landing. I looked up and realized that no one was really watching. Now those of you who know me might think I was disappointed that I didn't instantly become the center of attention. I do enjoy the center of attention and feel like I handle it well, but I do not need it... In this case it was more exciting to me that I had all of this power and the ability to jump from a four foot (taller than me at the time) stage...and no one knew it! I was free to unleash my powers over and over again without kids getting in the way, trying to do the same thing (which clearly they deficient the power to do so), or parent/teachers putting the kaibash on my fun. As my memory recalls I jumped a few more times, each as exciting as the first. Eventually the real show had to go on and I found my place again on the stage. I don't have any recollection of what the performance was for or what it was about. But I did keep that battery tight fisted in my pocket the remainder of the evening.

This story is the first of many that involve me jumping off of things. Ask most boys and they could probably tell you about 90% of the things they jumped off of in their lives. All of which should have made their lives a lot shorter.

To site a few more... I remember having an increased awareness of my own mortality around age 10-11. We used to occationally go to the public pool in Bloomington, Minnesota. They had a 25 foot platform. I stared at it like Squints at Wendy Peffercorn. Unfortunately, Bloomington didn't have the same beauty of a life guard. The good news is that I didn't need her, nor was I jumping to impress anyone. I finally got the gumption and made the jump. Scared all 50 lbs of me, but I did it!

In my teenage year we used to drive to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. There's a section of the Minnesota River called Taylor's Falls lined with cliffs. We made our way along the 20-30 footers jumping away. We then found some 40-50 footers. Scared, but did it. All the while we had our trusty test dummy, Benjamin Lawrence Kacher. Bless him. He lives to tell the same story, when maybe he shouldn't have! There were never any near death moments we know. But that section of river was used by loggers to transport lumber. We were told that occasionally old logs that were lodged underwater will come loose and float down river under the surface. Any way... We found the mother of all the cliffs, a 70-footer on the Wisonsin side of the river. Which is good news since it's technically illegal in the Minnesota side. My friends spent most of the afternoon jumping this cliff. I couldn't get the guts to do it though. Finally, all of my friends packed up and we started to hike back down the backside and leave for the day. As I walked away in defeat I turned back towards the cliff, dropped my things, took off my shirt, and marched back... Someone yelled, "Matt's gonna do it!" So they all followed. I got right to the edge and I went for it! I surfaced to cheers and knew I had conquered yet another fearful leap!

My senior year of high school the Snow Core tour came through Fargo, ND. Bands included Soul Coughing, Redman (Sans Meth), and Everclear. The show was great, as far as I recollect... Time has shown otherwise for these bands. At one point Everclear had the entire Fargodome (yes, its real as Fargo itself) jumping in time. Art Alexakis then told people from the crowd to get up on stage and dance. For a moment I was disappointed that although I was on the floor I was too far away to get up to the stage in time. Then a moment of genius, crowd surf! I've never trust the hands of so many strangers at once. Nor had I ever been more glad I wasn't a girl. I made it to the front and was about to hop on stage when security tried to stop me. I yelled, "Everclear said it was ok," and I point to Alex. He gave the nod and security obeyed. So after dancing around a bit and pocketing a guitar pick I found on stage the song ended and we were directed off the stage. In my 18 years I had developed a strong desire to stage dive. I think probably from watching Pearl Jam video's in the early 90's. Thanks Eddie. So when I saw a break in between two guards I went for it. I ran, I leaped, and I'm pretty sure I kicked a couple unexpecting fans since I kind of came out of nowhere. The good news is that they did break my fall and I ran back to my friends totally stoked (That's what we were in the 90's)! About four years later I was at an A New Found Glory show and managed to get on stage and relive the dream!

Those are just a few of the many jumps that should have led to more serious consequences. Lately though I did something that I think tops them all! Jump Rock in Orange County, CA.

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We didn't have camera's so this is as good as I could do.

Jump Rock is just off of Corona Del Mar beach. You have to walk down the shore and shimmy some cliffs to get to the point where you swim out. Just a portion of the group made it the whole way (Syd, Josh, Kristin, and myself). It was high tide, so we had to time our moves along the cliffs with the sets coming in. It was pretty gnarly! Swimming out to the rock was a trip since you were still negotiating the sets, but now they were breaking around the rock and coming in from two directions. This little North Dakota boy has come a long way! As you look at the map above... We started jumping on the right side. Its about 25-30 feet high and has a clear and deep landing. In the middle there is a natural arch. We jumped off the front which was pretty cool. We also jumped off the back, called the back door. You have to place yourself just right so you don't get jacked by rocks on either side. Also, you have to time your jump with the waved so that the water is high, but that you don't get pulled into the rocks by a wave. This place was so fun! If you ever have the chance, find a local and go! You'll love it.

Heights have scared me most of my life. But to bring this post to a close might I submit that we all find something high. Something so high, lofty, or out of reach that is scares you... Don't just reach for it. Don't just reach it's summit. Jump off of it! That's when you've really conquered.