Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

here's to friendship, safe travels, and good times in the New Year, 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the storm approaches

Franklin waits for the storm to arrive in the high west desert.
driving back to the lonely high desert was tough this time, after a spectacular holiday weekend in Idaho with family and skiing.  all it takes is a couple of hours of being appreciated by staff and patients though, and some of the loneliness subsides.  hopefully the storm will break enough for me to drive home on friday morning and get a few ski turns in in the magical Wasatch mountains.  i'm feeling motivated for a weekend of outdoor adventure.  'til then... one more day of work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

a moment in Idaho



snow-safety and his better half

safety is no accident

Professor of Skiing

the '80s called... they want their goggles back

waiting for the road to be rendered drive-able (ie:  drinking)
Friday, Christmas Eve, i drove 6 hours to Salt Lake from Tonopah through the ice-fog to sleep in my own bed.  i did 5 loads of laundry.  the next day i woke up early and did one of my favorite runs in the foothills of Salt Lake before loading up the car and driving 2 hours up to my brother and sister-in-law's in Idaho.  we opened presents and ate brotzeit on Christmas.  we skied on Sunday.  visited with friends old and new at the ski area.  almost crashed the car off the icy road because the Sherriff was dealing with a wreck further down canyon.  drank beers in the bar and ate pizza.

tomorrow i will drive 8 hours back to the desert.  i will miss the mountains and my friends and family very much.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"You and your damn dogs"

i received an email today.  proof that what i am doing increases the happiness factor in the world.  Merry Christmas.

 I don't know if you're aware how much I enjoy seeing you with your dogs. I love it. I live vicariously through your photos, often...especially the really "playful-with-dogs" photos. They're so lucky, as are you.
I just went to the doc because a quick hug to a friend's dog last month put me pretty goddamned close to anaphylaxis, I was lucky. The allergy is getting worse. AND I wish I could have a's nothing new... lived with it since I was 4... but, now more than ever...

Anyway, happy christmas... thought you should know. I love that you love your dogs so much and apparently how much they love you. Not really jealous of it, but a big admirer.


i'm so sorry that my friend can't be close to canines, or have one of man's best friends of his own.  the love my dogs and i share is a deep and true one indeed.  i am happy though, that i am able to share my photos and stories with him and others, and that the fact that i am doing so makes a difference.

Merry Christmas ~ to all.  before heading up to Idaho today (i got into Salt Lake yesterday afternoon from Nevada), i took the dogs on one of our favorite jaunts.  just a quick four miles, but the views of the quiet, sleepy city this Christmas morning were spectacular.

on the road to Reno

Me and Frank surfing the couch at Kate's
last weekend i drove from Tonopah up to Reno to visit an old friend of mine whom i hadn't seen in twenty years!  i stayed with her and her husband (and 4 year-old and 5 month-old!) for three days, and promptly acquired a stomach flu, so i ended up surfing her couch instead of skiing the 6 feet of new snow up at Mt. Rose :( but with the high winds, the lift got knocked out, so i was thankful that i was not stranded for several hours on a broken lift like 50+ other people were.  major bummer.

Kate and little Max

after twenty years (we went to junior high and high school together) despite the fact that Kate is married with a couple of little ones and i with my two furry little ones, i feel like we really haven't changed all that much.  although we are both "grown-up professionals", our memories of childhood are so vivid, i swear we still feel like we are kids at times.  it's a really good feeling to have that you can still connect with someone after all those years.

Frank searching for spirits

on the way up to Reno, the dogs and i stopped to stretch our legs at historic Fort Churchill.  it was built in 1860 as a territorial outpost to promote peaceful relations between the western white settlers and the Paiute Native Americans.  the buildings were made of adobe brick, and the timbers and hardware were brought in from Sacramento.

Artie cruising the Fort Churchill trails

a large Inn nearby, Buckland Station, was a stage stop along the Pony Express route, which ran from 1860 to 1861 to carry mail and messages before the telegraph lines were complete.  the Fort was an eerie place to visit, out in the sage and with quiet snow falling.  i could feel the shadowy spirits and hear the whispers of ghosts as we walked among the buildings.

Buckland Station

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hidden Splendors

it's been a while since i've written anything, and part of the reason is because i haven't been motivated to do much of anything.  i got a cold about a week ago, and just when i thought i was on the mend, i got a little stomach bug which zapped me of most of my energy and had me remembering what projectile vomit is all about.

i had a great weekend (despite the stomach bug) visiting old friends in Reno whom i hadn't seen in about twenty years (since high school) and remembering why it is that i have furry kids and not the human kind.  wow.  what a lot of work and challenge those little ones are.  hats off to all of you who have the human kind of children.  i don't think i could do it.

the last few days of rest have me realizing that i need to start making a solid effort at getting ready for the 2011 event-season (aka "racing", but as a middle-of-the-packer, i hate to use that term race... ) and wondering how it is that we are almost in January already.  most event sign-ups start taking place in January, and some have already taken place.  i'm trying to figure out where i will be working this spring ~ if i will be extending my contract here in Nevada or looking north for another assignment in a similar type of practice.  the event schedule will in part be determined by where my living/working location is at any point in time this summer, and i can't say with much certainty where either of those will be... time will tell...

i was commenting on another friend's blog that i am impressed by her ability to look to the future and see where she might possibly be 5 years from now.  i'm just looking at where i might be 2 months from now, and it's hard for me to look much further ahead.  not sure why that is, but that's how my brain is functioning these days.  might be a survival tactic:  that i'm trying to enjoy the moment and not get disappointed in things that might not materialize.

for the next few days, i will be driving many miles:  first to Utah, then to Idaho, then back to Nevada.  long days in the car looking out across our Western landscape of desert is a great place to contemplate all that we have:  the hidden splendors that can show up at any time without warning, and the joys that they bring.

Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a joyous 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Sometimes I wonder if the 6-hour drive back to SLC is worth it.  I’m spending 12 hours in the car every week since I have a three-day work schedule in Tonopah followed by four days off in a row.  Then I sleep one night in my own bed and I feel like it is all worth it.  And then I think, well I’m probably spending less time in my car per week than the average Californian does on their weekly commute to and from work, so I figure I’m right on par with a large population of the nation.

The commute today was brought to you by NPR podcasts (Wait, Wait, the Sunday Puzzler, Car Talk, and The World).  I try to listen to things that are kind of engaging like Wait, Wait and the Puzzler, but honestly I usually blank out halfway through the question and wonder… what were they talking about again?  But they do keep me relatively alert on the drive.  And Car Talk just makes me laugh.

The commute today was also brought to you by:  homemade chocolate chip cookies (I made a batch last night before I left Salt Lake), Peet’s coffee, a Filet-o-Fish Value Meal in Ely, and a bag of Smartfood Popcorn.  I’m sure all of it went straight to my coronary arteries and to my hips.  Which is why when I got back to the condo in T-pah, I did not hesitate (he who hesitates is lost, or is at least caught napping…) and put my running shoes on and got out the door with the dogs to go for a four mile run on the mining roads.  Perfect timing—we finished with the run just as it was getting dark.

A month has gone by already, and I have two months left here in the sticks.  I’m looking forward to visiting my friend Kate the week before Christmas up in Reno, and probably heading up to Tahoe as well.  We haven’t seen each other since high school (twenty years ago!) so I’m sure we will have lots to talk about.  After Christmas, I will have approximately only one month left!  Time sure flies…

Thursday, November 25, 2010


(l to r) Stefan, me, and Dad enjoying some beers and laughing about life, Germany 2008
there were a lot of big events in 2010 that took place in my life, and just when i thought all of the big, bad changes in my life were behind me (how many times can one count to three, anyway?) one more event took place--the death of my father.

it's no surprise to many when i say that my dad and i didn't get along that well.  we butted heads a lot.  but even through all of the disagreements, i think both of us were thinking, "(s)he's a lot like me."  i have learned a lot about my dad in the past few weeks, from people that he was friends with and people that he worked with.  i've gotta tell you, what they said surprised me to a certain extent, but then again...

through our stubbornness, we have seen some friends come and go.  it's the friends that stick beside you through thick and thin that matter the most.  it's the friends that can look past your stubbornness and see a drive and a will like no other to get a project done or to attain a goal.  true friends realize this.  the others step aside and don't realize what they are missing.

through stubbornness there are regrets, for sure.  regrets for the relationships that couldn't stand up to a passionate energy that sometimes does not have the decency to be polite, but is instead brutally honest.

through the kind words that others have said about my father:  "He was always telling us guys what you kids were doing and how proud he was of your accomplishments.  He was the adoring father even though his sometimes gruff German manners did not let it show.  We all knew how he cared."  i've reflected a lot on what others have said about me as well.  and i've realized how much my father and i really were alike in so many ways--for good and for bad.

i'm thankful today for the friends and family who have stuck by me for good and for bad.  i'm also thankful for the people that stepped aside or walked away from me.  because what i have learned from them has been so important as well.  sometimes we learn more from failure, and sometimes failure is not that at all--it is an opening to something new and different that would have otherwise been unrealized.

i'm thankful for my father and his stubbornness to see his goals to fruition.  for his passionate drive to do what he thought was right even if others thought differently.  i'm thankful for what i learned from him, for good and for bad.  because even what seems wrong or unfair at the time, somehow always has a way of working out to be for the best in the end.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Radar Road

I’m going to use this opportunity without television and without internet (except the trusty iPhone*) to get some more ‘sploring in…  right out the backdoor is Radar Road, aptly named because it goes up to a peak where the two large golf-ball like antennas are perched.

I walked a nice 6-mile out and back with the dogs yesterday and today I turned it into a loop:  several miles on the paved road, but who cares…  the only other person out there is a lady named Annie walking her two dogs:  a Weimaraner and a Basset Hound mix.  I did put the stubborn yellow-dog on a leash for part of the loop today, because if you look away for only a couple of minutes, before you know it she is about a quarter-mile away chasing a jackrabbit through the sage- and rabbit-brush.

I have to say, the rabbit brush is in bloom and smells like cherry candy.  it is eerily peaceful to run through the high desert with the wind blowing 20 miles per hour, the temp around 30 degrees, and the brilliant sunshine glancing off of snow-covered car wreckages.  really, it’s not so bad, it’s just different.  running in the desert is a good way to kill a couple of hours and to work on this jelly-roll that has formed around my mid-section.

I foresee that this 7.5 mile loop likely becoming a favorite of mine and the dogs’ while we are out here in T-pah.

*PS:  a huge thank you to the Tonopah Public Library for providing free Wi-Fi that I accessed from my car in the parking lot in order to update my blog today (Sunday).

Friday, November 19, 2010

long weekend in T-pah

dust clouds off of the salt flats in Big Smoky Valley

Kingston Reservoir

I decided to stay in Tonopah this weekend, since I am only working Tuesday of next week before heading back to Salt Lake for Thanksgiving.  I haven’t felt all that great the last few days:  sore throat, and generally just “worn out”—probably from all of the traveling and new situation and everything…  so I didn’t feel like driving for 6 hours and then just coming back for one day of work…

but I gotta tell you, this is a really small town.  like, really small.  there’s not even a good diner to go and get breakfast and read a book for an hour or so.  the best breakfast in town is probably McDonald’s.  so I choose to stay home…  or drive.

yesterday, I drove to a trailhead 100 miles away from town to go for a 5 mile run.  since I haven’t been feeling well the last few days, 5 miles was all I could handle.  I vaguely remember reading something on the internet before leaving Salt Lake about a “Crest Trail” of some sort, so I decided to go and try to find a trailhead.

my curiosity was rewarded.  just West of the town of Kingston is the northern end of a 70-mile single-track trail.  unfortunately for me, it was covered in about 6 inches of wind-crusted snow which made the going a little difficult.  but I was able to envision what this trail might look like in May or June…  single-track loveliness winding through the sagebrush and across the peaks of the Toiyabe National Forest.

start of the Toiyabe Crest Trail
the dogs loved it too (obviously) and the 200-mile round trip killed the better part of the long day out here in this lonely little town.  a winter storm is rolling in, which will make traveling a bit more challenging, and probably force me to stay home most of the weekend.  but there are a lot of dirt double-tracks right outside the backdoor, and I went on an hour and a half walk with the dogs today and found a very nice loop.

I’ll be happy when Tuesday rolls around, so that I can work and see folks at the clinic.  ‘til then, we’ll hope the weather clears so I can get some more exploring in with the dogs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

week one in T-pah

Well, my first week “by myself” went pretty well.  I was the only provider in the clinic on Tuesday and Thursday, and Dr. S was at the clinic one hour north of here, and was available by phone.  I was forced to try to think through situations by myself, and did not allow myself to get rushed by staff (too much).  The mornings seem to start out pretty nice and steady and then as five-o’clock gets nearer, the pace starts to pick up.  This is contrary to what my body wants to do, as at 3:30pm I am longing for a cup of coffee and a little siesta.

It’s also a challenging situation on Thursday afternoons, because the only pharmacy for 100 miles closes at six-o’clock and doesn’t reopen until 10am on Monday.  So, if you’ve got a patient that needs something (like, say, antibiotics…) you’ve got to make a decision sometimes without the help of technology (like, say, a CT scan).

And so I found myself, at 5-o’clock Thursday afternoon, with a male patient with acute left-lower quadrant abdominal pain, a previous appendectomy, and a clean urinalysis…  hmmm…

So I had to do some quick thinking.  Worst case scenario—diverticulitis.  Best case scenario—constipation.  But with the pharmacy closing in less than an hour, I didn’t have time to get the CT scan of his abdomen to make a definitive decision.  So, I called in antibiotics to the pharmacy anyway (along with pain medications) and waited for the 2 hour window for my patient to drink his contrast (at home—it’s nice when the hospital is only 10 minutes away from anywhere in this town) and then proceed to get his scan done.

While waiting, I sat down for a chat with Dr. S in his office and we looked at photos and talked about his last medical mission trip to Mali, Africa (I’m invited on the next trip in October!).  Then the phone call came…  Dx:  Diverticulitis!  Woohoo!  My gut feeling was right (pardon the pun), and I did it!  Go ahead and take those antibiotics, Mr. Patient! 

There’s a lot of down-time out here too, and on Wednesday, my day off, I decided to go up to the BLM Field Office and get some maps.  I love small towns, when you can just walk into a place and instantly be friends with someone.  Steve sold me a couple of maps, and gave me another because it had not been updated in the last 10 years, and also gave me a bunch of “things to do around Tonopah” recreation maps and brochures.

So after eating lunch on Wednesday, I decided to drive 90 miles out to the Wild Burro Refuge west of town.  Lovely drive, but I wouldn’t want to break down out there.  There is nothing but mountains and sagebrush.

So I got to the Wild Burro Refuge, and realized that it is really difficult to find 85 wild burrows in 68,000 square acres of sagebrush and mountains.  The dogs had a nice time romping around in the desert and eating wild burro poop, though.  On the drive back to town I spotted some wild horses off the side of the highway, so the trip was not all for naught.  You might ask, how did Nevada end up with wild burros?  Well, it turns out they are remnants from the age of gold and silver mining, abandoned creatures when the miners abandoned their mines… a little sad, really.  But I’m sure they are much better off roaming free in the desert rather than lugging around mining implements as their ancestors did.   It was really quite a pretty spot out there in the West Desert of Nevada, with views of the Sierras and large salt marshes between the peaks. 

Apparently, (as Dr. S informed me last night) the alluvial soils of Nevada are very favorable to agriculture, if one can just tap into the large underground aquifer hundreds of feet below the surface of the Earth.  It is theorized that a large river may even run the length of the continent, stretching from Canada down to Mexico.  If a well is drilled in the correct spot, it can supply upwards of 300 gallons per minute of water to the surface (don’t close the tap…  always leave a little bit dripping… or you might have “thar’ she blows!” on your hands).  Indeed, alfalfa and potatoes are grown in abundance in Nevada:  two crops that are known for their need for adequate irrigation.
Another thing I learned from traveling out here in the West Desert is that upon my return to Utah, the Wasatch Mountains look even more magnificent when viewed from the west.  As I drive through the brilliant sunshine of the desert the Wasatch Mountains creep into view out on the eastern horizon:  blanketed in snow and clouds.  Each time I make the trip home those mountains tug at my heartstrings, making my return to and departure from Utah even a little more bittersweet.  Until next time…

Saturday, November 13, 2010


there's a place in the Utah Desert called the Upheaval Dome.  i remember visiting it years ago with some college friends when i was on a camping trip.  it must have been almost twenty years ago now.  there was something eerily moon-like about that place.  almost like a crater had formed in the Earth's surface, but in a mirror image of what it should have been.  it is some geological anomaly.

the reason i mention it, is because my emotions have been in a cycle of upheaval for the last month.  right around my birthday, a month ago today, i found out that my dad was in the hospital in Germany.  we all knew that he was ill and his prognosis was not good but for the last year or two he had been steadily plugging along.  he and his girlfriend had just been to my brother's wedding in Idaho in August and he didn't look too bad.

he left me a message on my voicemail on my birthday.  i had been out hiking with the dogs and although in a fog, he had figured out how to dial from Germany to the US to wish me a happy birthday; something he had typically failed to do in the past when he was healthier.  then several days later i was able to call him back and talk with him, but he was quite ill and confused.  he did recognize my voice though, and i could tell that he was happy that i had called.

a call came from my brother, Stefan, several days after that, that our dad was indeed doing quite poorly and  Stefan and his wife Abigail decided to fly out to Germany to see Dad.  i also booked a flight but a few days after they had gotten theirs.  we would all meet up together in Düsseldorf to be with Dad.

but life rarely goes according to plan, and as i was traveling i got a text from my brother that Dad had passed away.  Stefan had been at his bedside, and heard his last breath.  so my trip to say goodbye to my dad would be just that.  i met up with Stefan and Abigail after a difficult trip (my flight was canceled out of Denver, and i had to re-route the next day through Chicago).  Stefan had already taken care of the cremation and getting the urn transferred to Dad's hometown in Southern Germany, miles away from Düsseldorf.

to put it simply:  they do things differently in Germany than they do in the USA.  and nothing seems simple.  especially when you are trying to negotiate a delicate situation in your second-language.  we had to plan a funeral, deal with a house, and bills, and reams of old paperwork.  it's the kind of thing you really don't want to deal with ever in life, let alone when your dad has not written out a Last Will and Testament.  German bureaucratic paperwork that takes an eternity to accomplish was seeming to us like it would never be brought to completion.  and we were in the midst of a three-day holiday weekend, where everything comes to a virtual standstill.

but through all of the stress and sadness, old friends of ours and our dad's stood up to help us out.  Stefan and i reunited with our uncle, who had had a falling out with our dad years ago (they had not spoken for probably ten years...) and our uncle came to the funeral.  our mom's best friends helped us forward the mail, plan the funeral, order the flowers, and made us dinner.  their son agreed to continue to be the caretaker to our dad's house. our dad's good friend helped us get his death certificate released early so that we could close bank, pension, and phone accounts.  we really couldn't have done it without them.

and ironically, we made the time to go to some of our favorite places in the mountains of our dad's little Bavarian town to laugh and smile a bit too.  we visited with old friends and told stories about how we had traveled together when we were kids.  through the sorrow and stress we were also lifted up.

i got home Friday night, and turned around on Sunday to drive to my new job in Nevada.  a six hour drive from Salt Lake City through the desert, when all i really wanted to do was lie in bed.  but hours alone in the car (not really alone--i had the two dogs with me) gives one time to clear the head.  and after a half a day, i arrived in Tonopah, NV.

just when i thought things could not get worse, i stepped into my own little version of Hell.  the apartment that i had been set up to live in while on my three-month travel assignment turned out to be a total shit-hole.  i made an honest effort to clean it before getting "settled in", but in reality i was really glad to have my Hepatitis immunizations up to date.  i took the dogs around the back of the building for a pee-break, and was afraid i would find old hypodermic needles amongst the cigarette butts and old burned out car wrecks.  after one night in the place, my lungs burned from the 30-odd years of old, stale cigarette smoke in the place.  one of the dogs peed on the carpet, and i didn't bother to clean it up--that's how bad it was.  i had to get out. 

i went to work at the hospital, my first day, and was delighted to find that i am working with probably one of the most brilliant rural emergency and internal medicine doctors in the nation, if not in the world.  Dr. S is an Italian-American with a limitless amount of energy and determination.  i will learn so much from this man, and am so honored that he feels i am up for the task of partnering with him in his practice for the next three months.

i got set up with a much better place to live, and the dogs have the wide-open spaces of the desert right out the back door.  i take them for 6am morning strolls before heading into work.  we watch the sun come up over the peaks and i think what a lucky person i am to have this serene place to myself.

i've hardly had time to process all of these swings in emotions.  my chest feels like the Upheaval Dome--a deep emptiness lies within my chest:  an inverted crater which is being filled up with love and confidence from those around me.

we never really know what we have until something is taken away.  we never really know what our potential is until we are placed in a new environment.  like the sign in Dr. S's office says, "if you think you may have just entered hell, keep going... "  yes, it does get better.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


"Destiny rarely follows the pattern we would choose for it and the legacy of death often shapes our lives in ways we could not imagine.  Death comes to everyone in their time--to some a parting, to some a release."  --M. Wylie Blanchet

time will tell what the next few hours, days, weeks, and months will bring.  i have always thought it very unfair to keep someone alive through artificial means, merely for the comfort of someone else.  the most difficult job is to choose what the patient would want when he cannot speak for himself.  it comes down to what the patient wants; not what others want for him or what others might want for themselves.  but if the patient cannot speak for himself, we end up choosing, and hoping that we have chosen wisely and as the patient wished.

and at other times, i think to myself; if the patient is going to die anyway, does it really matter if we carry out what may seem to be a futile treatment?  maybe it will make someone else feel better; even if it does not help the patient; because the other person feels then as though they have tried.

if it were me, i would not want others to be put in the position to have to choose for me.  i would write it out; spell it out for them so that there would be no doubt.  but have i done that?  the answer, quite simply, is no.  because i think we all have some difficulty facing our own mortality, especially if we are seemingly healthy.

my mom died of a long-term illness.  my father is in the midst of one.  10 years ago, my boss and mentor died in an unforeseeable accident in the mountains.  all of them i wish i could have back, in the healthy way that i felt i knew them best.

"I never had held death in contempt, though in the course of my explorations I have oftentimes felt that to meet one's death on a noble mountain, or in the heart of a glacier, would be blessed as compared to death from disease, or some shabby lowland accident.  But the best death, quick and crystal-pure, set so glaringly open before us, is hard enough to face, even though we feel gratefully sure that we have already had enough happiness for a dozen lifetimes."  --John Muir

Friday, October 22, 2010

rough week

this week has been a rough one.  my brother and i got word at the end of last week that my dad was admitted to a hospital in northern Germany while he and his girlfriend, Elke, were visiting her family.  it sounds like he had a fall on the day of their arrival.  he had been doing better and recovering, but shortly before the weekend he took a turn for the worse. 

my dad has had some health problems for several years, but has been hanging in there until now, thanks mostly to the good care and friendship that he has received from Elke.  it has been a roller-coaster week, with Dad having good days and bad days.  today was one of the better days.

Stefan and Abigail flew over to Germany yesterday, and I am delaying my start date for work in Nevada until November 8th.  i fly out to Germany on Sunday.  needless to say, i will very much miss my pups while i am gone.  they give me so much comfort everyday, but have been especially comforting this past week.  they have known that i was upset and have hung extra close to me (if that is even possible, because they are my little shadows on a daily basis.)  thankfully, i have some really great friends who are going to take care of the pups on short notice while i am gone.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Birthday Week Continues--Timp View...

i've been wanting to get up Mount Timpanogos for a while now; probably for as long as since the the first time i hiked and ran  up and down it about 12 years ago with my buddy Karl.  it's a beautiful route to one of Utah's highest peaks, at 11,749 ft.  Timpanogos is named after a perhaps fabricated fable of a Native American Princess, lying in repose after learning of the death of her lover.  the mountain itself does resemble a sleeping Indian, with a little imagination.

last weekend i went running with my friend Sue in the foothills above Salt Lake City and we talked for quite a while about how i was going back and forth on whether or not to run the Pony Express 100 out in the west desert the next week or not.  we finally came to the conclusion that:  1) if a seed of doubt exists about whether to do a race or not, it's best not to do the race and 2) i have been feeling better with every run that i've gone on since being injured, so i'd like to continue on that positive trend, and not muck anything up by attempting another 100 right now.

so we made the plan to go up and down Timp on Friday, the day of the Pony Express 100.  we started out early, probably because i was recalling the crowds that are present during the summer and especially on weekends up on the Timpanooke trail.  but it was a Friday morning in mid-October, so there were actually fewer than a dozen cars in the parking lot and only a couple of people prepping to go up the trail.

we took a couple of obligatory trailhead photos, and i dallied inside the car against the warmth of the seats while Sue got her running shoes on (it was about 40 degrees at the trailhead at 8am).  we started up the trail and promptly passed a couple of groups of people.  wow, the weather was perfect and the light was just starting to hit the high peaks.  the hills were golden as the grasses and aspen leaves were adorned in their autumn colors.  the air was crisp and magical.  we got to the upper basin and saw several tents nestled into a cozy depression and thought to ourselves, what a perfect place to camp.

as we got up higher on the mountain, the sun started to warm us, and we made our way up to the saddle.  as we popped over the saddle, the city below that had been blocked from our view by the ascent, clearly came into view and it felt as though you could reach out and touch it; although it was a good 5,000 feet below us.  i thought to myself, if this hillside were covered in snow, what an amazing descent on skis it would be (until you reached the choke at the bottom... )  we happened upon a group of young adults who were huddled and cold on the windy pass, taking a break.  they were unsure if they would attain the summit today, and we gave them some words of encouragement that they needed to stay positive and push on to the top, because only a lucky few have been granted this opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this mountain.  (indeed, they heeded our sage advise and were headed up to the summit as we were on our way down... )

just a few more minutes of climbing up through the rocky section and we would soon be at the peak.  Sue and i chatted the entire way, and picked our way through the rocks up, and up even running for a while at 11,000 feet.  we got to the small shelter on the top, and the summit was surprisingly warm, probably about 60 degrees.  the route across the rocky spine to the snowfield descent (more like an ice patch at this time of year) suddenly did not look very appealing to me.  i had been trying to talk Sue into going the alternate route out the spine and down the snowfield, and as i gazed upon the route that might be taken, my legs got shaky and an adrenaline rush sent electrical charges through them; an affliction that i like to call "jimmy-legs".

we stood on the summit for a few minutes taking in all of the peaks and ranges around us: we were at 11,749 feet above sea level.  we commented on the fact that we were the first ones to ascend the peak that day.  then we took some pictures and a short video and resolved to go down same the way we had come up.

part-way down from the saddle, we decided to take a small diversion in the route.  there was an alternate trail that went through a scree field under the cliffs and through the upper basin.  it looked quite inviting so we decided to take it.  once we got on it, we realized that it was quite steep and after encountering another group of hikers who were coming up the trail, we both slid and landed on our butts:  me first and Sue 30 seconds later (i blame the momentary loss of concentration as i acknowledged the other hikers coming up the trail... ) i landed pretty hard on one cheek, and realized that i had put a hole in my tights.  later when i got home, i realized that i had not only put a hole in my clothing, but also gouged a good amount of skin and bruised myself pretty remarkably.

after cruising down the majority of the trail at a comfortable jog, we came across an older couple, Ralph and Annie, who had both lost their spouses several years ago, but found each other.  never having been hikers, they found this love for hiking after meeting each other.  they were unsure if they would make the summit that day, but we all agreed that hiking in the beautiful mountains in the company of a good friend was the highest reward a person could ever hope to have, and far beat out sitting in the valley and eating donuts at home.

Sue and i got back to the car, and started to head home, only stopping to get Pringles and drinks at the mega-Smith's grocery store in American Fork.  what a day, what a day...  Princess Timpanogos shared her magic with us for a day and we felt so fortunate that she had chosen to do so.

if you would like to retrace our route, click here and after the page loads, click on the "play" icon in the upper left corner of the screen.