Not Quite A Summit

Yesterday morning, my roommate, Amy and I decided to head up into the La Sal Mountains so we could soak in the beautiful fall colors, get a little loopy from the altitude, and get our butts off the couch in the house. We planned a hike up Mann’s Peak, the fifth highest peak in the La Sals, at 12,272 feet. We packed a few maps, some snacks, plenty of warm layers and coffee and headed up the road.

Snow-covered Mann’s Peak

 

Not only are the aspen trees gorgeous at this time of year up there, buts its been snowing a little bit the past few nights, and once we got up into the spruce forest, the dusting of snow on the ground was just additional eye candy. The drive was a bit long, but not bad, and luckily we were driving a 4WD truck.

The road, with Mt. Mellanthin in the background.

Once we parked the truck, we had a beautiful view of Mann’s peak, and to our delight, it was covered in snow. There seemed to be some clouds rolling in, so we got on the trail as quickly as we could. There were tons of mountain bikers we had to share it with, as a 25 mile ride called the Whole Enchilada happens to start at the same place. We set a pretty casual pace, and made it to about 500 feet below the summit when we decided to turn around. This seems to be a theme thats recently developed on my hiking adventures. There was some weather moving in, the clouds had been building fast, the temperature was dropping, and we were slightly unprepared to hike on snow-covered talus the rest of the way up. It turned out to be a good decision, as two minutes later, when I turned around to take a picture of the peak, it was completely covered in clouds.

Although we didn’t summit, we now know that it wouldn’t take that long to make it up there (our total hiking time clocked in at about two hours and fifteen minutes), we decided that next time we would drive up the night before, camp out in the back of the truck and get a really early start, when the mountains tend to be clearest.

Amy scopes out the clouds

Clouds move in to cover Mann’s

What Will The Weather Do Next?

My one course of the fall started this afternoon in the La Sal Mountains, just southeast of Moab. It was a beautiful day in the mountains, the aspens are the richest yellow. The students were wonderful. It hailed, it snowed and it was sunny and clear all in a short five hour span. Despite the unpredictable and sudden changes in temperature and precipitation the students and field staff seemed in high spirits and excited to get on the trail. 

Weekend Warriors (Part II)



This past weekend capped off my current adventures as a weekend warrior. I have to say, even though the Monday-Friday schedule didn’t last long, it went out with a bang. A few weeks ago, I realized that I hadn’t left Moab for non work related reasons all summer. Obviously, that made me completely stir crazy here. So, after work on Friday, I immediately headed east to Durango, Colorado for two days. Two of co-workers are pseudo-living there right now, one moving in, the other moving out.

Durango, is, as I was to discover, a pretty great small city. Its nestled in a valley amongst the San Juan Mountains, and the Animas River runs right through town. Biking around is very easy, there is great food and beer, and almost every outdoor activity you can think of is right out your backdoor year round. Friday night was spent casually eating delicious take-out Thai food and drinking good beer that we actually bought cold (in Utah, you can only buy beer with an alcohol percentage higher than 3.2 at the state liquor store, where it is warm and quite expensive).

On Saturday, we headed down to the Durango Farmers’ Market via bicycle. I experienced quite an epic crash on the way there, but luckily I got away with a small scratch on my knee and a bruised chin. Much bigger than the Moab farmers’ market, the one in Durango was a bit overwhelming at first. Prior to tackling the produce, however, we got free coffee and a delicious blackberry cornbread muffin from a local bakery called Bread. Eventually, we purchased spinach, arugula, garlic, tomatoes and snow peas that were absolutely to die for. Next stop: Durango Coffee Company, also known as the coffee club. Between two of us, we may or may not have purchased over 5lbs. of delicious coffee. Perfect Saturday morning: check.

The afternoon’s activities started out calm and steadily got more aggressive. My friends, Zak, Kim and I decided to hike up Engineer Peak¬†, a classic Durango day hike that registers just below 13,000 feet. We fueled up on burritos and peaches (at $.079/lb, they were the deal of the weekend) and headed up to the trailhead. It was perfect weather, sunny, not too hot and a nice breeze. The trail was pretty leisurely for the majority of the way, until we were well above tree line and it got incredibly steep incredibly fast. We stopped with about 500 feet left to the top and did a quick safety assessment: some weather was blowing in, Kim wasn’t wearing socks, my knee was hurting badly and Zak was dressed like a grandpa, and we had a highly exposed Class III (lots of scrambling) hike to the summit. Obviously, we decided to go for it. Just kidding. We turned around and headed back down, satisfied with what we had already accomplished for the day. Tired and sore, we hit up some local hot springs, which turned out to be just what my knee and aching muscles needed.


To complete the weekend, we had a lazy Sunday, walking down to DoughWorks, coffee in hand, to pick up delectable everything bagels for breakfast. Afterward, we biked back downtown and picked up a Sunday New York Times at the local Starbucks. Naturally, we proceeded to spend the rest of the morning lounging by the Animas River reading the paper and attempting to tackle the Sunday Crossword. The grand finale to my weekend adventure was a delicious sushi lunch with my friends.

Well, the weekend warrior thing was fun while it lasted, but I”m glad to get back on an irregular schedule. I’m sending out our Mountains/Canyon/River course starting on Saturday and its a pretty all-star cast of staff, if I do say so myself. Fall in Moab is well underway, and I’m sure there will be many more adventures to come, weekend or not.

 

 

Weekend Warriors (Part I)

The past two weeks have been a bit out of character for me because I’ve worked in the warehouse Monday through Friday. Throughout the summer, I pretty much worked Wednesday through Sunday, so all of the sudden being thrown into a ‘normal’ schedule seemed odd. Thus, I have become a weekend warrior for the past two weekends. It seems a bit weird to be having free time when everyone else has free time, and I will be glad to return to a somewhat wackier schedule starting this week.

Two weekends ago, I hit up the Moab weekend scene by heading down to the farmer’s market. The Moab market is the smallest I have ever been to, which is great in a lot of ways. Since there aren’t very many vendors, its easy to choose who you want to buy from. However, that means sometimes you have limited produce choices since everyone is carrying almost the same thing. I bought some kale, peaches, peppers and pesto from the Youth Garden Project’s stand. Eating produce purchased at a farmers’ market always makes me wonder why people ever eat any other kind of produce, because the stuff you get from the grocery is tasteless compared to the farmer’s market stuff. Afterwards, I headed to the public library, grabbed three books and proceeded to spend the rest of my day in the hammock on the back porch reading and eating peaches.

On Sunday, some friends and I headed out on adventures. One of the instructors and I did a short canyon about a ten minute drive from home called Entrajo. Its a great canyon because its short, easily accessible and there is not a point of no return. I messed up the approach a little bit, and we ended up hiking a lot more than we should have in the heat of the day, but it was fine. There are two easy rappels in that canyon, both of which end up in some very cold water.

After Entrajo, we met up with two other logistics coordinators and headed up into the La Sal Mountains to do another short canyon up there called Pleiades. Usually Pleiades has a ton of water flowing through it and the six rappels are essentially down waterfalls, which makes it absolutely freezing. I had beta from a few other folks who said there was no water in it at the time, which is the main reason we headed up there. There wasn’t exactly no water in the canyon, but it was tolerable for sure. It is a beautiful canyon and different from most other ones I’ve done because its in the mountains, making it more green and mossy. Having gone on a canyon skills training a few weeks earlier, I felt really confident in both canyons setting the rappels up on the anchors that were already there, which is something that I haven’t been able to do before.

It was certainly a fun weekend of relaxation and adventure, always a good mix in my opinion. But, as most people in the working world know, Monday comes all too soon and the longing for more adventure come Friday seems to make the week stretch into a year.