Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Like February

No, I don’t have a real post. I’m just goofing around today.

IMG_4234 I’m always happy when February comes around. Part of this is probably just where it sits on the calendar. Only 2 months till April! Soon there’ll be birds and bugs and flowers and everything else. The days are longer now, and with the sun higher, the world doesn’t seem so harshly divided between glaring light and dark shadow; it’s like there are colors again. The inversions seem to ease up, and it’s not quite so cold as it was just a month ago; almost every day breaks freezing now.

Winter has finally become kind of pleasant the last week or so. The recent storms have cleaned the gunk out of the air, and put down enough snow that skiing is fun again.

Tangent: And that’s important, especially right now. Because one downside of Utah in late January and February is that, living here, you are exposed firsthand to a whole bunch of really, really, really crazy people. Oh no, I don’t mean that Utahns are crazier than folks anywhere else- every state has its share of crazies. But here in Utah, for 6 weeks every winter, we pull together several dozen of the most absolutely wacky, living-on-another-planet, bat-shit-craziest people from all over the state, put them all together in one building and then broadcast them on TV every night. We call this group the “State Legislature”, and it’s absolutely critical that you avoid watching the evening news during this period, lest you freak out, abandon your house and move out of state.

IMG_4242 Last week, someone asked me- not for the first time- if I could ever see myself moving to [THE NORTHEASTERN STATE WHERE MY NEW EMPLOYER IS HEADQUARTERED]. Whenever someone asks me that, I always think the same thing: “This person does not know anything about me or my values.” I try to explain it sometimes, but it never gets across. People just have to “get” it for themselves.

Fortunately for them, I now have a helmet-cam. Here’s what I saw yesterday morning at 8:13AM. At 2 seconds the view pans to the right and down Big Cottonwood Canyon clear out to the Salt Lake Valley. 20,000 years ago a glacier filled this canyon, and spilled about a kilometer past its mouth, where it (presumably) calved off icebergs into the ~700 – 1,000 ft deep lake that filled the valley bottom. At 8 seconds the view turns to the left, toward the sun breaking through the hoar-frosted aspens.

At 9:03AM I walked into the office. There’s no other million+ person metro area in the US where you can pull that off. That almost- almost- makes up for having Orrin Hatch as your senator.

No I’m not posting the whole ~15 minute descent. But here’s a quick 30-second stretch about 5 minutes down the mountain that gives you a feel for the terrain.

Lastly (in a lame effort to add some minimal science value to an otherwise wholly frivolous post) I’ve mentioned before about the odd lack of pines in the Wasatch, and how one really noticeable exception is the stand of planted Ponderosas directly across from the entrance to The Spruces campground/ parking area. BCC Pine Map In this clip I glide alongside them, pointing my pole up and at them as I pass by. This one’s just for tree geeks, but I thought the light through the trees was kind of pretty. I let the clip* continue down to the road so you’d know just how close to the road the stand is.

*Sorry about the herky-jerky. Goggle-strap wasn’t tight enough, and the cam bounced a bit as I skied over some stutter-bumps.

The cool thing about doing something like this before work is that even if the work-day turns out kinda-sorta-sucky*, the day is still wonderful.

*And it was.


KB said...

Hey, finally a post that a medicated post-surgical person can understand. I saw the big piece of news tucked in there, about your new employer being on the east coast. I didn't know that and I totally "get it" that you can't visualize yourself there. I grew up there but would never ever leave the west to return.

The videos wouldn't run for me right now - saving them for later!

KanyonKris said...

It seems you like February a little for what it is, but mostly for what it signals is coming. I can't say I like February - in fact, it's my least favorite month. By now I just want winter to be over and enjoy more sunshine and warmth so I can do all the non-snow activities I like.

Nice videos. They get me excited to try AT skiing. I can handle picking my way through widely spaced trees.

Why did Watcher cross the road?

Huw said...

I hate February. You can't wait for Spring to start but there's still another 6 weeks (an eternity) before it really gets going. It's full of false promises.

WheelDancer said...

Nice videos! I can understand the lure as I have a great trek through a very scenic area on my commute where I often see Eagles and other wildlife. So is there a chair lift that brings you up to a spot you can do that kind of skiing?

Watcher said...

WheelDancer- no chair. You skin up top, take off the skins, then ski down. It’s slow going up when you have to break trail. On that ski I used a previous skin-track up on which it had snowed only 3-4” the night before, so the “break” was really easy. Next time I’ll try to remember to turn the helmet cam on when I peel the skins off so you can see.

Kris- You’re probably right. Part of the appeal of February is probably a tickets-on-the-fridge thing.

Hey KB- Hurry up and get those drugs out of your system- I’ve got a cool Pigeon post in the works. Maybe even a Pigeon Week! It’s gonna be awesome!