Salt Lake City Weekend

For the long MLK weekend, Matt and I bid adieu to Laramie and headed for Salt Lake City, where fellow UNC graduates and friends Kyle, Tallie, Sara, and Dan now reside. Both Dan and Kyle are in graduate school at the University of Utah there. It took a little under six hours for us to get there, but it’s fairly easy driving across wide open Wyoming plains. Of course, this is easy for me to say, as I did zero driving and 100% passenger-ing.

Coming into Salt Lake City, the highway cuts through Echo Canyon before descending through the ski areas and surrounding mountains into the valley. There was actual traffic, which was unnerving.

We arrived late Friday night and had some beer with our leftover birthday cake (Matt turned 26 on January 15, me 24 on the 13th). I can’t resist sharing my little birthday cake photo collage with you all. So proud.

Matt delves into the first slice

Matt delves into the first slice

I followed the recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by the letter to make this red wine velvet cake with whipped mascarpone cheese. Lots of butter, cocoa, and pinot noir were involved. Yum!

Kyle and Tallie were kind to host us in their apartment on the upper edge of the valley. Their street dead-ends into an amazing view of the city sprawl.

Saturday we went bouldering in Joe’s Valley a couple hours outside of the city.

Carrying crash pads up the trail

Carrying crash pads up the trail

Bouldering is a type of rock climbing where, well, you climb boulders. Because the routes are much shorter than routes on a rock wall or up a mountain, the routes tend to be more difficult, and ropes aren’t used. Instead, boulderers use crash pads, which you can see in the picture above. Climbers unfold the crash pads beneath a route they want to try and overlay them so you don’t hit the ground when you fall.

Matt on a boulder problem

Matt on a boulder problem

Because of the way most boulders are shaped, boulder problems (routes on a boulder) tend to involve an overhanging section, and then a top-out, where the climber makes their way up over a ledge to the top of the boulder, as you can see Matt doing above.

Kyle and the blue, blue sky

Kyle and the blue, blue sky

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. In the sun, with zero wind, you could easily strip down to a t-shirt. Occasionally.

Unfortunately I managed to injure myself on the second problem I tried. On the way off a dynamic move, one in which the climber has to jump, my left shoulder popped out of its joint briefly, then went back in. Ouch! I chalk it up to a combination of not climbing enough and doing too much yoga, thereby having unusually loose joints and weaker upper body muscles.

I therefore spent most of the remaining afternoon hanging out, spotting friends (standing nearby with arms out to catch their head and push them onto the crash pad in case they should fall), petting the dog, and making Matt take pictures with me.

Squinty in the sun

Squinty in the sun

You can see how pretty Utah is in the background!

On Sunday we went up to Snowbird to ski and snowboard. Only later via some Googling did Matt and I learn that Snowbird is not a good place for beginners like us. As Tallie said, when she and Kyle bought season passes this year, they figured they would have to get good FAST.

I’m starting to learn how snow conditions really affect the way you ski and how skiing feels. Fresh powder is nice, but deep fresh powder can cause some problems if you’re me, on skis. Ice makes a very distinct sound under your skis and inhibits control.

Riding a lift at Snowbird

Riding a lift at Snowbird

The Salt Lake City-area hadn’t seen any snow in a while, so conditions were icier than any of us would have liked, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying the view and the sun!

Sara took this picture of us on the lift! L to R: Matt, me, Tallie, Sara

Sara took this picture of us on the lift! L to R: Matt, me, Tallie, Sara

It was so warm in the sun that I wore just one long-sleeve shirt under my rain shell. Defeated after a couple unsuccessful attempts on Tallie’s skis, I went to the rental shop and got some shorter skis and gave Tallie hers back.

Photo credit to Sara for this panorama shot of me & Tallie. MOUNTAINS!

Photo credit to Sara for this panorama shot of me & Tallie. MOUNTAINS!

Sunday night we finished off the cake while Matt picked up our friend Jon from the Salt Lake airport, who was flying in from Durham, NC to represent Mammut at the Outdoor Retailer show, and also to ski.

Sunday morning we went out for brunch at a cute, busy place called Eggs in the City.

Yummy breakfast scramble

Yummy breakfast scramble

Afterwards, we stopped by Trader Joe’s so I could stock up on delicious things like almond croissants and jalapeno cilantro hummus before heading back across Wyoming toward Laramie.

Because Matt is attending school full-time and I’m working full-time, I feel grateful to have the opportunity to go on these fun weekend adventures and outdoor getaways. Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah make up a beautiful, wild part of this country, and we are lucky to be here, especially when it’s not too cold!

Love to all.

Snow Sport Adventures

I took a little break from the blog while traveling for Christmas, and I’m sure you all are as excited about this first post of 2014 as I am. LOOK, I REALLY CAN KEEP A BLOG!

Since I last wrote, I’ve been skiing several times up at Snowy Range Ski Area in Medicine Bow National Forest, which Matt informed me is one of the highest-elevation ski areas in the nation. As you can imagine, they have gotten quite a bit of snow up there recently. When we went on New Years Day, there was a couple feet of fresh powder.

Driving up to the ski area

Driving up to the ski area

As you swish by on skis through the trees up on a mountain, everything becomes quiet. This is, in part, what I enjoy about climbing and yoga too – all you hear, all you experience in that moment is your breath and your movement.

Rental skis, boots, and poles

Rental skis, boots, and poles

The last time we were there, Matt and I got on a few blue runs, which are a step up in difficulty from the introductory-level green. Though I’d never been skiing on the east coast before, apparently the blue runs in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah are way more legitimate, also known as scary. There was a lot of squealing involved, and some falling. I basically zig-zagged as slowly as possible across the wider runs and occasionally tried to pull some sweet-looking, fast-braking maneuvers to no avail. At least now I can turn relatively confidently.

Matt enjoying the bunny slopes

Matt enjoying the bunny slopes

Look at all the snow in between the trees!

One thing I hadn’t mentally prepared for was the sketchy ski lifts. Why is it so easy to lose your skis and/or poles just as you’re getting on the lift? Why is there no bar a la roller-coasters to keep you from tumbling out onto the snow thirty feet below your toes? What do parents with small children do?!

Speaking of which, there are some seriously adorable toddlers hitting these slopes, HARD. Like, kids who are barely old enough to wear pants as a separate thing from a shirt. Their skis are maybe up to my knee. It’s impressive.

More snow! More trees!

More snow! More trees! (Instagrammed)

My least favorite part has to be riding up those ski lifts, mostly because you are forced to sit for five minutes in cold, snowy, windy weather with weighted feet. Also because there is no bar to keep you from falling to your cold, untimely death, but I have a feeling I may have already mentioned that.

One of my favorite parts might be sipping on a hot chocolate smothered in whipped cream and sprinkles while the feeling slowly, tingly, and painfully comes back into my toes. Another potential favorite is the fact that Snowy Range Ski Area has their own brewery on site. Already plenty afraid of my skiing skills while sober, I haven’t ventured into the bar as of yet.

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Snowy and overcast Medicine Bow National Forest

Next time I’ll force Matt to take some photos of me on my skis, or of me drinking hot chocolate – whichever ends up being the more prevalent winter activity.

Best New Year wishes to you all!