Friday, November 30. 2007
I built a mythtv (or watched Jarom build one) back in July, and it has been nothing if not problematic. By now I am wondering what to do about it. Back when I thought about buying computer parts for a myth, I said "I want a myth, but I also want a new computer for use. Which should I get first?" Jarom said "Get the myth. That way if you decide to you can just use it as a computer".
So I bought the parts for a mythtv. This has been widely regarded by my accountant personality as a bad move. I'm not sure I've been in the black since. Though I would be if I didn't keep buying other stuff.... I digress. Anyway, it took at least a month to get a workable mythtv. It was never totally completed. Well, a few weeks ago it decided to stop being workable.
In the mean time I have become so frustrated by my desktop PC that I haven't turned it on in weeks. I simply cannot afford a new computer right now. Even if I could, I want other stuff. More? Maybe. I just don't know if I should need to make the decision.
So, should I keep the myth and make Jarom make it work, or move to the backup plan for that hardware and make it into a computer for general use? And if I decided to do the latter, who wants to buy my HDhomerun
Thursday, November 29. 2007
This trip to Moab was unlike anything else I had ever done. It was better for my sanity to do something insane I guess. It was there in the back of that blazer that I realized that this weekend was exactly what I needed. The monotony of the daily grind had been going strong in my life for months. The stress at work has been ramping up as of late. What I needed was a completely unprecedented experience. Nothing in my life would lead me to believe that I would ever end up in the back of a redneck's blazer breathing second hand smoke. It should have been miserable. Many other people would have been terrified in that situation. Why should I have found it so liberating?
I'm lead to vagabonding.
vagabonding is traveling on the cheap: Taking busses, hitchhiking, staying in hostels or camping. Doing it for an extended period of time. I find it compelling. Not that I will ever do it. Too much would prevent me from doing it. But in a little way, this was like a mini vagabonding excursion. I got to experience a little of what I would enjoy most about vagabonding. Unexpected events. Meeting random people. Letting those people and events go so readily. I have a problem with change. It has been a major problem for me. Not living in the home I lived in my whole life has started bringing me down a bit. This was probably a major factor in why I didn't serve a mission. The change was a problem. So what do I do when there is change I don't like, even change I fear? I change back. I came home from the MTC. I use the same kind of Christmas lights I used to. Were it possible, I would move back into the house I grew up in. But it's gone, the change is permanent. Is that why death is so hard? Is the change of someone being gone from this life simply too much? Change is inevitable, so I can't let it get me down.
Here is a quote by Michael Reardon while talking about vagabonding:
"Always change, it's good for the soul, and life is short, not a motto."
The last part means a lot now because he is dead. He got washed out to sea by a giant wave after free soloing a sea cliff. As for the first part, is that true? Is change good for the soul? I'd like to say that it is. But then why are we compelled to find security, to cling to the things that we know. It is human nature. Wouldn't human nature want what is best for the soul?
I haven't articulated this particularly well, and I am tired and want to sleep. So I will leave it at that. A few observations, a philosophical question. Take from it what you will.
By the way, after looking closer at Mount Peale, I discovered that we were a lot closer to making it to the top than we had thought. If we hadn't turned around to go find the others, we would definitely have made it. Oh well. I'll get it another time.
Wednesday, November 28. 2007
We were walking fast immediately. My hands were very cold, and even with the second pair of gloves they hadn't warmed up. I should swing my arms around in a circular motion to help the blood flow to my fingers. But my trekking poles are a pain to get over my gloves. My hands should warm up soon. Just warming up my core by moving fast should encourage blood flow to my hands. What will happen if it gets too cold? Could I get frostbite? How cold does it have to be? I like my fingers. Oh, you won't lose your fingers. Even if you get frostbite it will be mild. Wouldn't that be embarrassing though? 'You got frostbite on a day hike in Utah? Smooth.'
My mind was drawing funny circles in thought while I walked.
I guess my right boot had loosened. There was a lot of strain on my arch because there wasn't enough support. I really need to fix that. But my Gaiters are in the way, covering my laces. Do you even need your gaiters any more? You're on the road. Then again, they are a layer to help keep my legs warm. You are pathetic you know.
I looked up at the mountain. Is that all the farther we had walked? I guess that seems about right, but it still sucks.
We heard engine noises from behind us. Airplane. Then out of nowhere up ahead came a red S10 Blazer. Hey! People! They can give us a ride! But before they got close to us, they turned off the main road. Should we follow? No. If we went off the road, and Steph and Slade came by, we would lose our best chance to not walk out.
So we continued walking. But about 5 minutes later, the oddest thing happened. The Blazer came back down from behind us. I set aside all of my anxieties about talking to strangers and did what I thought I should do. We stood aside, and I held up my hand signaling for them so stop. They did.
In the drivers seat was an older man. Scrawny with long hair, wearing a dirty baseball cap. The passenger was the same, but heavier. They were both smoking cigarettes.
"Can you give us a ride down to the pavement?"
"Well, I don't know, we've got a bunch of s*** back there."
They paused and talked to each other for what was probably 15 seconds, though it seemed longer. I looked at Jason. His face was telling me just what I was thinking. I quietly said to him "20 minutes". He nodded in agreement.
"Well, I suppose we can move this s***"
They graciously emptied the back seat of everything except a cooler that we'd have sitting between us. I was grateful that the Blazer was a 4 door.
We got in and I tried figuring out how to avoid breathing in the smoke. It wasn't likely. Fortunately, the driver kept his window rolled down the whole time, so I got mostly fresh air. Jason was less fortunate.
We spent the first 5 minutes or so explaining what we were doing up there and why we were walking back to the car. They never did fully grasp it. We didn't care. They were up hunting elk, or rather trying to hunt elk. They never found any. Only deer and "moo cows". I could tell they hadn't yet given up. They were driving slow and constantly looking all around in the woods around us. Every now and then they talked about us and how they were impressed with us being willing to walk out. They wouldn't have been able to walk far, even in a dire situation.
My hands had warmed up, and I never figured out why. Especially since my feet got really cold at the same time. I wasn't even wearing both pairs of gloves any more. I noticed the rifle in the console between them.
"What kind of rifle is that"
"It's an aught six" the driver responded in a thick rural accent. I couldn't believe we were riding in the back of a redneck blazer. I couldn't believe I had asked him about his rifle.
Jason had taken drugs to help his knee pain so that he could make the hike. They had kicked in right about when we got in the car. Now he was struggling to stay awake.
The passenger lit up another cigarette. I looked at his waist. He had a handgun strapped to his hip, carried openly. It's odd, my reaction to that. Why should I be afraid of someone who has a gun visible on himself. So I wasn't. Not in the slightest. In fact, when I saw that, I trusted them more. Does that make me weird? Probably. As much as I wanted to ask him about the gun, I didn't.
When we reached the stream crossing that had taken Slade so long, we went through without hesitation. It was nothing to this guy. It really shouldn't be anyway. It wasn't bad at all.
For a bit I considered the cooler I was using as an armrest. What was in it? Probably some sandwiches. Even more likely was beer. How many beers are in there? Then there was the question I posed in my mind, but didn't want answered: How many more beers had there been in there this morning? I looked at the driver. Was he drunk? Who can tell? Are rednecks ever sober? Does it matter? We're going 20 miles per hour at the fastest. If we hit a tree, no harm done to us.
We turned right around a corner and headed south. We were only a few miles away from the car by now. Sunlight streamed in the passenger window lighting up the cabin, causing the ash from the cigarettes to glisten, floating in mid air. Such an odd moment. So unbelievable.
Just then, we stopped. I was sure they had seen an elk. We were now going to either wait for them to hunt, and probably end up helping bleed the animal, or we could walk the mile and a half left.
Oh, good. No elk. We backed up the car some, and sure enough there was a bobcat sitting up in the scrub oak. What a sight! Had I ever seen a bobcat before? I don't think so. I took some pictures through the dirty window of the Blazer. It didn't take long for the cat to jump out of it's perch and run off from us. Still a great sight to see.
It wasn't long back to the car. We got out, thanked them once again, and they left. For a bit we just laughed about what had just happened. We decided the cigarette smoke wasn't that bad, no worse than the smoke at a rock concert. Worth the free ride for sure.
We changed back to street cloths in the freezing cold, with the engine warming up. We spent a good half hour there between changing and just sitting, seeing if the truck would show up. Nothing. Once 5:00 rolled around, it was time to go. We played with the idea of going back up the road a little, as far as the car would go. But I didn't want to tempt fate. We'd gotten out, let's just go.
The moon was rising over Colorado as we drove away, and the sun was setting over the red desert of Utah. We were back in our car, and nothing needed to be done but drive. We got to town and ate Subway. I forgot just how good Subway is. We got a call from Steph. They weren't far behind us. We decided to meet at Wendy's. We finished up quick, and left. They actually beat us there.
They had made the summit. Apparently it gets really easy after the point where we saw them. No harm had befallen anyone. We had an interesting tale to tell. They weren't bent out of shape from our leaving, we didn't care that they had summited and we hadn't. It was a relief to be so calm.
We all left that night. I had Jason drive to Price so I could keep my mind clear. At price, we topped off the gas tank and went to Wal-Mart for a little leg stretching. I decided to buy some Christmas lights while there because our Wal-mart was out of what I wanted.
I was a little concerned that I was too tired to drive, but once I got behind the wheel the fatigue vanished. The drive went smooth, and we made it back at 11 o'clock. I was glad to be sleeping in my bed again. I was glad to be sleeping in ANY bed other than the one at the Hostel. I was also glad I wasn't dropping $50 on a hotel room. What a trip.
Tuesday, November 27. 2007
The sun was bright in the sky, not a cloud in sight. Weather would not be a problem for us. Upon looking at the peak, we saw just how much snow there was. Not much. We certainly would not need snowshoes, so I felt good about my decision to leave them home. What little snow had fallen over the past couple days were drifted and crusted by the wind even as low as 10,000 feet at the pass. Higher up, there were drifts in sheltered areas, but the faces were scoured by the wind so there was only a thin dusting of snow on the rock. Avalanches were simply out of the question. I was excited to get started. Also, standing around had me cold, especially my feet. I couldn't feel my toes.
We spent a lot of time standing around at the pass waiting for Steph and Slade to be ready. Quite honestly, it was probably close to an hour. I didn't really understand what was taking so long, but worse was that if I didn't start moving, my toes wouldn't warm up any time soon. So I spent the time pacing back and forth in front of the truck, wiggling my toes inside my boots. I applied sunscreen, paced some more, sat for a minute, then paced some more.
Finally, they were ready and we were off. The route took us up a hill that had about 4-6 inches of snow on it. We were going at a fast pace, partially because of the excitement, partially because my toes were cold. After 10 minutes it was time to stop and shed a layer. I took off my technical fleece and stuffed it into the elastics on my pack. My pack was absolutely full. We were ready to go but Steph was 200 feet behind us doing... something. So we spent another 5 minutes watching Max, Slade's dog go running back and forth over the snow, running into and out of the woods.
We started up again and moved into the forest. It was a nice forest, though it slightly hindered our sense of direction. But after not too long we were on the other side and in a good spot to keep toward our goal.
We were in a giant bowl in-between Mount Peale and Mount Tukuhnikivatz. There was a ridge spur coming down the middle of the bowl. Our goal was the chute on the right side of that ridge spur. Steph and Slade had stopped for a moment for some nature calling, but Jason and I had continued on towards the chute. We went through another forest and totally lost contact with them.
At the other end of the forest we could see the bottom of our planned ascent chute. The chute looked like a great way up, but we were separated from it by a thick avalanche debris field. It was loads of dead trees piled up inside the lower section of the chute that was deep with steep sides. The logs themselves were dusted with snow, making them a bit treacherous. But, we were confident we would make it through and so we did. It took time and the going was slow, but we entertained ourselves by pretending we were climbing our way through the khumbu icefall on the south col route of Mount Everest. Sure, it was not even close to a similar experience, but it was a fun side thought. Once across the avalance debris we moved up the chute at a solid pace.
But at this point we wondered where Steph and Slade were. We stopped every few minutes and yelled out for them. No response. We whistled mightily with the whistles built into our sternum straps. Unfortunately, whistles fade quickly in the open areas of the mountains. Toward the bottom of the chute, it turns 45 degrees to the left, going north toward the main ridge. At this point we stopped to consider our situation. We had no doubt we could continue up this chute, even though the rock quality was miserable. But we had no idea where the others were. Either they couldn't hear our yells, or we couldn't hear theirs. We decided that the most likely thing to have happened was that they chose the other side of the small ridge spur that formed the left side of our chute. So we decided to traverse out of our chute and over the ridge to see if we could find them, or yell for them.
The going got tough on the steep slopes of the ridge. The pancake-stacked talus shifted with each movement. The meticulous nature of traveling over this kind of terrain is draining mentally and physically. It wasn't very far over to the top of the ridge though. From there we yelled and whistled some more, but still heard no response. I scoured the side of the ridge with my eyes looking for any movement, then moved on to the basin below. Nothing. They must still be in the forest then. Had they gone back down? What should we do? After short deliberation we decided to go down, find their tracks in the snow and follow them.
The descent into the forest was a bit hairy due to the loose rock, but it didn't take long since we weren't too far up the ridge. After we got the the forest it didn't take long to find our tracks. They were still headed up toward the face we had assumed they had been climbing, yet couldn't locate them on. We followed the tracks until we exited the forest and looked up at the ridge. There they were, right up at the top. We waved at each other and they pressed on.
Jason and I had since given up on the summit, but seeing them within reach pushed us forward. Was it pride? Vanity? The fact that we had already failed on this peak once before? We continued on in their footsteps. The hill steepened. There was loose rock and loose dirt with sparse vegetation and a thin coat of snow. We used the rest-step to keep ourselves moving up the steep terrain and it aided us quite well. We reached a small flat on the other side of which there was a 50 degree talus slope of the loosest rock I've ever met.
In case you've never heard our definition of 'scralus', it's this: It's too big to be scree, but it moves too much to be talus. This range is the star pupil for scralus. I was amazed at how many rocks got moving. Large rocks too. Not a single piece of talus was solid under our feet. After 40 minutes, we were still at least 20 away from where we had seen them. Daylight was waning. We sat for a minute on our precarious slope.
"Does this range have particularly bad rock, or are all ranges like this and we're just spoiled by the immaculate rock of the Wasatch?" I posed.
"I think this is especially bad"
We decided to go down.
The initial descent down the scralus was painfully tedious. After 15 minutes I was down on the flat looking at the second slope. I looked back to see Jason fall. I started back toward him. He was lying there longer than usual so I hastened my pace. He was getting up by the time I got there though. No damage done, though he had hit his face on a rock.
The second slope was easier, we mainly slid down on the snow and dirt. Gravity is a harsh mistress, but when she's on your side, you might as well take advantage.
The farther we got from the mountain the more daunting it looked.
"There's no way they're going to summit"
We saw no sign of the others. We searched the faces and ridge tops for movements. Max was sure to be running back and forth like mad. But nothing could be seen. We moved through a forest and hit another opening. Still no one was visible. Were they in the forest behind us? There was no way they descended that entire face during the time it took us to get through the forest. We continued on. We followed their tracks back to where they intersected ours. We followed ours over a plain, through a gully, and across more fields. We reached that first forest we went through and upon reaching the other side, the beginning was near. By now, the sun was getting lower in the sky and the light it gave was gold.
We got back to the truck, still with no clue as to their whereabouts. Had they gone to the summit? There was no way they would make it back any time soon. My feet had long since warmed up, but with the sun setting, the cold would grow more bitter than we had seen that day. What if they had been stranded? Were we prepared to spend the night at 10,000 feet in the cold? I had several layers on my upper body but only pants and underwear for my legs. No insulating layer. My feet would not stay warm if I sat still for long, and my hands were already getting cold. We ate. We drank. I had to get something in me to get my metabolism up.
I thought of Joe Simpson of 'Touching the Void' fame. Though our situations we not close to comparable, a quote of his stuck in my mind. "You have to keep making decisions, even if they are wrong decisions".
We still had no idea where they were. We didn't know their situation. That something had happened to them was very unlikely, but not outside the realm of possibility. And if that was the case, we would be stranded. We had to keep moving. There were 10 miles of road between us and our car. If we went quickly, we could make it in a few hours. Also, moving quickly would keep our body heat up in the falling temperatures. It was the best thing we could do for ourselves.
We drew a note in the snow and some large arrows pointing down the road. Jason left some of his gear in the back of Slade's truck to lighten his load. He put his axe on the note to ensure they saw it. I threw on my second pair of gloves. I had waited way too long, and my fingers were numb from the cold.
I said we should start moving because we had a long way to go. Jason said "I plan on being rescued". I agreed, but i didn't want to count on it.
Monday, November 26. 2007
We both changed our cloths quickly, back into what we had been wearing the day before... or 6 hours before. We were quiet, even though it wasn't necessary. Vader was still off in the corner with his respirator, and COPD man was hacking away in his sleep. We went down and out to the car.
'Woah! It's freezing out here!"
It was very cold. We got our stuff in the car, and made our way back to the north end of town where I'd seen a Denny's on our way in. Sadly, my iPod had been drained by the FM transmitter we borrowed, so we were stuck with the limited CDs Jason had in his center console. By the time the car warmed up, we were parked and running into Denny's.
We don't like Denny's though. I've probably had 2 good experiences there, and a handful of bad ones. This time was part of the rule, not the exception. The french toast was alright, the Bacon tolerable. The Sausage was gross and the Eggs.. well, not so good. But the free refills on Hot Chocolate were great. We spent a good half hour sitting there before we decided to move on.
When we got back into the car, Jason said something about the coughing man and how it's a great story, and I said "It's not a story yet" still disgusted by the thought of the sounds he was making. We decided he needed a nickname along with his friend Vader. There was the COPD man that we had already come up with, and we thought "Smoking man" would be good because of the X files reference. But the winner came out of Jason's mouth: "Replicating Pod". To help that make sense, I quote a Space Ghost episode:
Space Ghost: What's this pod doing here?
Space Ghost: Replicating what?
Zorak: Uh... us.
Space Ghost: Oh no! Replicating pods! The kind that keep you up at night with their coughing!
Moltar: No, the kind that copy your DNA, kill you off, and take over while you're sleeping.
Space Ghost: With their coughing.
Moltar: Did you hear what I just said?
He was the Replicating Pod that kept us up an night with his coughing. It was great.
We were supposed to meet Steph at La Sal junction at 8:30, so now we had the morning to spend figuring out where we were going. I drove south for about 15 miles. We stopped at a rest stop because they usually have maps on the wall. Well, not this one. We ended up going back to town to try and find an atlas. After trying a few convenience stores, we gave up on that. We then tried to find a wireless access point to get the internet and look it up on summitpost. We couldn't find one, and then the battery on Jason's laptop died. So much for that.
We struck gold at the "City Market", a Smiths clone in town. There was a trail map of southeast Utah. Just what I needed. We Saw just how far we were to go.
The plan was this: Meet with Steph and Slade at La Sal junction at 8:30, drive up to La Sal pass together where we would start the hike to Mount Peale. After summiting, we would come down and drive home as we didn't want to stay another night in that hostel.
By the time we got the map we had to get going in order to meet them on time, so we took off down the road to La Sal Junction. We arrived a few minutes late, and they still weren't there. I thought "Maybe she said 'La Sal' not 'La Sal Junction'." So we drove down the road to La Sal. This is quite possibly the smallest populated town I've ever been in. There is the town of woodside along the way to Moab that takes 20-30 seconds to drive through, but I'm pretty sure no one lives there any more. We didn't see Steph there either, so we kept on driving to see what we could see. One thing of interest I saw was the San Juan mountains in Southwestern Colorado for the first time. They made me wonder why I was climbing in the La Sal mountains, a question that would cross my mind a few more times before the end.
We got to the turnoff from the road we were on toward La Sal pass. This was a dirt road with packed snow. There was no way we were going to be able to drive the 10 miles up to the pass in the prism. We turned around sure that we were going to have to give up to the peak. We had a prism and Steph was driving a Hyundai. In between La Sal and La Sal junction we passed them coming up. They were in Slade's truck. That would certainly make it up the road. So we turned around and went back to where we were.
The next 15 or 20 minutes were spent with me and Jason changing our cloths in the freezing cold snow covered parking lot at the turnoff. We all made room in Slade's truck for our gear and us, and headed on down the road. it was simple driving on well packed snow for most of it, but there was one stream crossing where we took a moment to consider what to do. He didn't want to get ice in his CV boots, so he was cautious on the crossing. We all got out to look at the ice, how deep it was, what hazards are beneath it, the usual. In the end, we made it through. and continued on down the road.
The rest of the drive was less than eventful. We got to the pass, and saw what we had ahead of us. It looked to be a fun climb, and we were sure we would make it to the top today.
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