Elder Lucas and I sat on a bench that had been taken from a van and set in a dirt field in Rubidoux, California. Brian, the owner of the bench, sat in dirty, white plastic lawn chair. We watched cars pass on I-15 on the far side of the field and drank tap water from glasses with no ice.
The California Sun set prematurely behind mountains of smog as Brian told us that this dirt field had been purchased but was in escrow. At 19 years old I didn’t know what escrow meant, but I still wondered why anyone would want to buy this god-forsaken dirt lot. I enjoyed sitting there though, even if it wasn’t beautiful.
Brian took a sip from his drink. Also tap water, also with no ice. “Why would you choose to do a mission here?” he asked.
“We didn’t choose. We just got sent here,” I told him.
“Oh,” he said, like he understood.
My compulsion to record things literally started when I was forced to keep a journal for a boy scout merit badge when I was 14. This is the most enjoyable aspect of my mormon guilt. I never did earn that eagle scout though. Enjoy these pictures from the last few months that appear in no particular order.
Ryan and I left SLC around 2:30 am, Sunday.
Later, we ate McDonald’s in Elko, NV while we waited for the sun to rise. Fueled by trans-fat and bad coffee, we drove to the trailhead and started the short approach to Terminal Cancer just a few minutes before a party of two guys who slept at the trailhead.
Soon after leaving trailhead, before we even had the chance to get tired or regret our decision to drive all night, the couloir came in to view from behind a ridge. Even in our sleep-deprived and real-food-deprived state, we were stoked.
The approach was easy and we were in the couloir proper 15 minutes later. We could hear the other party behind us and I made a goal to reach to top before they caught up. Unfortunately, the snow was just soft enough to make breaking trail a chore, and they caught up with me 100 meters from the top. They were, however, nice enough to let me go first for the last twenty meters and soon we were standing at the top of the most aesthetic couloir I’ve ever seen.
We took our time on top. We ate and took pictures and tried to stay warm before we switched our boots and skis and boards to “ski mode” and dropped in.
The snow was tracked out by the time I dropped in, and the first 15 meters were riddled with sharp rocks. There was no serious fall potential, but there was a lot of potential to ruin your skis, so we went carefully and sidestepped over rocks. Then the snow was soft and the setting inspiring. We took turns taking pictures and tried to savor the experience. As it is with backcountry skiing, we were soon battling unruly bushes and then skating down a mostly-snow covered road and then taking our boots off and drinking a beer and laughing. After much planning, driving, caffeine, climbing, and sweating, the only thing left to do was drive back through Elko and merge on to the 80 towards SLC.
Time in the mountains is ephemeral. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem real. It’s hard to really remember the joy or the fear or the fatigue you felt on your last trip while sitting at a desk. Sometimes it’s hard to even relate to your own past experiences. I think this keeps those places a mystery, separated from us not only by distance, but also by time. And that mystery compels us to return some other time, some other place.
Loving winter: looking forward to summer.
Here’s some pics from the past few weeks of walking in the hills.
Suicide Chute, Mt. Superior, from Little Cottonwood Canyon. With Ryan N. and Impromptu Stranger.
Argento/Greaseball Couloir, Kessler Peak, from Big Cottonwood Canyon. With Spence W.
God’s Lawnmower, Kessler Peak, from Big Cottonwood Canyon. With Spence W., Court P., and Steve L.