con las estrellas encima, pensamientos de la aventura y del desconocido

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.

**

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing back
one sees the path
that must never be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road—
Only wakes upon the sea.

-Antonio Machado, Campos de Castilla (1912)

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part 1: “i believe in the future / i may live in my car,” an ode to the North American summer

**A quick apology to those of you who may have received an erroneous notification from WordPress yesterday about a new Going Glacial post. Technology briefly got the best of me.

With the turning of leaves from vivid green to fiery shades of red, yellow, and orange, and the first dustings of white gracing our highest peaks in the West, I am suddenly made aware of the imminent change in seasons (and thus, of the pressing need to at last emerge from blogging hibernation). The summer of 2012 in the Salt Lake Valley proved to be a scorcher, with record-high temperatures and raging wildfires prompting steady use of air-conditioning, ample ice cream consumption, escapes on-foot and on-bike into the high-alpine enclaves of the Wasatch, and, quite often, more dramatic excursions to mountains, lakes, sea, and even to overseas snow for those changes in scenery so integral to satisfying the daily leaps and bounds of my imagination. The mountains climbed, food (as well as snow and dirt) tasted, conversation and company experienced, and languages spoken during these toasty few months have all done their part to contribute to a fulfilling and high-adrenaline, if not eclectic, summer, and to a compel a new period of hibernation for early autumn writing, picture-making, and editing…perhaps even before those fiery leaves fall to the ground and our beloved mountains welcome the graceful falling of snowflakes and make way for the delightful cold of winter.

-AK, Alta, Utah, 09.2012

**

Red rock reconnaissance on the flanks of Pikes Peak after a day of bouldering and climbing in the Pike National Forest. Near Manitou Springs, Colorado, 04.2012.
May in Half Moon Bay. Seeking opportunities for exfoliation and exploration on the Northern California coast, 05.2012.
Record “low” snowfall during the 2011-2012 ski season (a meager 400 inches), alongside rapid melting from ample spring sunshine, made way for an early show of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s riotous wildflowers in mid-July. Snowbird, 07.2012.
On an innocent Thursday night in early July, I sat with a good friend in a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Salt Lake City, devouring hummus with piping hot pita, sipping potent Armenian beer, and, inevitably, travel-plotting. Early the next morning, we hit the road, mountain bikes, comparatively uninteresting Utah beer, and a puny, single-wall tent in tow, en route to Jackson, Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park. While we initially fancied ourselves clever for dodging a grim Salt Lake City forecast, we soon found ourselves in the midst of classic, but nonetheless epic, Teton summer thunderstorms, strong enough to frighten even the bison that linger near the shores of Jackson Lake. The clouds parted for a few photogenic moments as we hit the trail with plans to complete an epic loop linking Paintbrush and Cascade Canyons. While menacing clouds ultimately turned us around near the lush shores of Holly Lake, decorated with rampant wildflowers, our quick bolt back to Jackson and a subsequent feast on bison sausage-adorned, hand spun pizza and full-strength Wyoming beer were satiating enough. Grand Teton National Park, 07.2012.
Pink petals and a burbling mountain brook lined the rigorous switchbacks up Paintbrush Canyon, providing a natural distraction from the ominous thunderheads. 07.2012.
Back in Utah, I welcomed my family for on-trail delights in the Wasatch, July 4th revelry, and a sunset trip to Jordanelle Reservoir for an evening of waterskiing with convivial conversation, retro wetsuits, and, par for the course, evening thunderstorms. Once the thunderheads had passed, I plunged into the water, skis, wetsuit, and all, ready to reinitiate a long-held tradition of summer slalom waterskiing. I lasted all of five impressive seconds before some serious muscle spasm in my hip took me down in the middle of Jordanelle, cause unknown (although weeks of mountain biking without sufficient stretching followed by a random waterskiing session seem plausible culprits). While I certainly took pleasure in watching my family glide over glassy waters as the clouds moved east and as the sun hung low over the verdant hills, I focused my reserves of energy on looking forward to a certain Johnnie Walker Red to help ease my age-inappropriate hip pain. Jordanelle Reservoir near Park City, Utah, 07.2012.
Slalom shenanigans.
You can’t claim true familiarity with the state of Utah without knowledge of Pioneer Day, an ode to the state’s Mormon heritage, an institution in the state’s cultural mythology, and a “follow-up” holiday of sorts that actually seems to eclipse our celebration of nation on July 4th. Rather than hang around a town for what local ski bums have affectionately (or perhaps offensively) dubbed “Pie and Beer Day,” a friend and I took to the road on the Friday preceding the long weekend, mountain bikes perched on the back of the car and trunk stuffed with sleeping bags, tents, helmets, and an oversized cooler bursting with exuberant quantities of hummus, avocados, salami, cheddar cheese, and Clif products of various shapes and sizes. 700 miles, several shrimp burritos, and a few too many car games later, we found ourselves in the outdoor enclave of Bend, Oregon, at the unholy hour of 3:00 a.m. After catching a few hours of much-needed shut eye in an RV parked haphazardly in a friend’s driveway there, we initiated an action-packed weekend of mountain biking, beer drinking, dirtbag camping, and spectating a rowdy criterion (a genre of road bike race). Rather than opt for a day of rest after a character-building mountain bike ride of 27 miles among the lava fields and lush vegetation that line the banks of the McKenzie River, we convinced ourselves to drive further west–both to glimpse the famous Oregon coast in the town of Newport and to feast on fish and fresh brew at the Rogue Brewery, an ode to Oregon beer heritage and the purveyor of a certain Hazelnut Nectar Brown Ale. Suffice it to say that the nectar flowing at Rogue provided ample distraction from our hefty task set for the Pioneer Day holiday–making the ~900-mile trek back to Salt Lake City in time to go to work, to seek out pie leftovers from local “pioneers,” and to place our treasured trove of fresh Oregon brew on ice. “Good to Sea,” Newport, Oregon, 07.2012.
Backyard bluebird. Despite my persistent state-hopping and travel-plotting, I reserved plenty of summer afternoons for two-wheel playtime among the craggy limestone peaks, riotous wildflowers, and high-alpine lakes of my own Little Cottonwood backyard. Alta, Utah, 07.2012.
On a whirlwind research trip to Washington, D.C., at the end of July, I explored the concrete, albeit humbling, environs of the National Mall, indeed protected and preserved by the National Park Service. I escaped the windowless confines of my research room at the Library of Congress for an early-morning stroll with all-too-potent coffee and a strange amalgam of American history tidbits and the lyrics to “Wagon Wheel” swirling in my tired head. Washington, D.C., 07.2012.
Wildflower welcome. Despite my persistent travel-plotting and state-hopping, I made haste back to Alta to catch a glimpse of Little Cottonwood’s yearly explosion of riotous wildflowers. Albion Basin in the majestic presence of Mount Superior, Alta, Utah, 07.2012.
Back in the Salt Lake City vicinity after a wild odyssey through the mountains and desert of Chile (which surely merits its own distinct post on the wonders of summer turned to South American winter), I explored some singletrack only minutes away from and a few hundred feet above the swelter and bustle of the Valley. On the Bonneville Shoreline Trail en route to the famous, adrenaline-inducing Bobsled descent, Salt Lake City, 09.2012.
A visit to the dwindling waters of Red Pine Lake, perched high among the steep walls of Little Cottonwood Canyon and patiently awaiting rehydration by imminent snowfall. 09.2012.
View from on high, from the summit of the Pfeifferhorn at 11,326 feet. Little Cottonwood Canyon, 09.2012.

Until the next…go on, get out there!

**

eleven

At long last, a few glimpses of 2011…and perhaps a word or two.

Shades of gray towards Mount Timpanogos, Alta, Utah, 01.2011.
The famous Alta precipice during a graybird May, 05.2011.
The clouds finally parted after upwards of 724 inches of fluffy powder had descended from the heavens. Faceshots were certainly in generous supply during the '10-'11 ski season in Alta, Utah, 05.2011.
A multisport May vista: gazing towards the still-snowy Wasatch Front from the salty environs of Antelope Island, north of Salt Lake City, 05.2011.
After a shotgun trip to Corsica in June (which I promise to soon report on, albeit almost a year too late), I returned to the cozy contours of Little Cottonwood Canyon in mid-July to find snow lingering at the base of Alta. Before finally stashing my skis for my trail-running shoes, I made the foolhardy decision to make my first-ever summer ski descent...solo. Needless to say, summer snowpack isn't quite like the fluffy stuff of the gods that falls from the sky during the winter months proper. I snapped this shot of stunning Mount Superior and the pristine bluebird after descending Main Chute from the summit of Mount Baldy at ~11,068 feet. There's a first time for everything. 07.2011.
By September, the snow had, indeed, melted. Soon thereafter I found myself longing for this familiar landscape to once again be shrouded in white. 09.2011.
The snow may have overstayed its welcome last spring/summer (if there is such a thing), but it certainly hydrated the Little Cottonwood landscape for a riotous show of wildflowers come summer...in early-September. 09.2011.
Just as I was starting to grow wary of graybird May, SK (ever my partner-in-crime) was forced to return to the States after the precipitous imposition of martial law in Guatemala. Rather than opt for a peaceful week of rest in snowy Alta, we rallied for a road trip down south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, complete with bottomless bagels, spreadable cheese, sausage rounds, warm beer...and scarcely sane plans to attempt an overnight assault into the steamy wilds of the Canyon from the North Rim to the Colorado River and back again (~32 miles). I would call this one a success. 05.2011.
Reveling in red rock, Zion National Park. 09.2011.
After the stunning, but crowded environs of Zion, we escaped and drove through the Dixie National Forest to Cedar Breaks National Monument, a landscape richly detailed by the beautiful juxtaposition of red rock amphitheatre, craggy hoodoos, and thousand-year-old bristlecone pine trees. The silence imposed by the ampitheatre served as a fitting bookend for a summer (and year) of high-adrenaline activity. 09.2011.
When life gives you lemons, go to Slovenia...and plunge into the Adriatic. Although SK and I were raring to hit the trail in the remote Valle di Natisone upon arriving in Trieste, Italy, last June, our exuberance was quickly deflected by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI)...and its rather eclectic conception of administrative efficiency. After all-too-proudly producing our completed applications for summer membership to CAI (which would earn us discounts at high-mountain huts in the Alps), we learned that we would be "forced" to spend an extra day in limbo as we awaited the return of the CAI official responsible for stamping our paperwork from holiday (seriously). By the time I finished moping, SK had already made plans to cross from West to East. 06.2011.
Deflected travel plans soon turned to delight as we reveled in Piran's pastels...and Slovenia's signature Radler beverage, a refreshing concoction of grapefruit and tasty brew. 06.2011.
Life on-trail in the Alps is hardly rough around the edges. I had foolishly neglected to pre-load all of the necessary GPS data onto our device (thus rendered useless), so we found ourselves crisscrossing the Italy-Slovenia border on-foot during the full extent of an all-too-humid day. 25 miles and 7,200 vertical feet later, it was time for piping hot gnocchi and a cold brew...or two. 06.2011.
With the dollar dwindling (ours and the U.S. currency, more generally), we hopped on a cruise ship-worthy ferry across the Mediterranean to the posh--and craggy--island of Corsica, where we found ourselves to be among approximately 10 Americans who visit the island each summer. Something akin to "why are you here?" became our welcome refrain. The Mediterranean was certainly alluring in its sparkling shades of deep blue, but we immediately headed into the warm (110 degrees of dry heat warm) embrace of the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse. 06.2011.
I will reserve the tale(s) of our ~130-mile-long ultra-hike across Corsica--and how it became a mad dash to compete with a troop of middle-aged, spandex-clad French ultra-runners--for a subsequent post. This vista bid SK and me goodnight as made the final preparations for a 32-mile-long, 8000 vertical feet day en route to Conca, the southern terminus of the ultra-competition. Nervous (and masochistic) laughter abounded. 06.2011.
Looking towards to the Centre George Pompidou on a blissful Parisian evening from our budget hotel room. Not too shabby. 06.2011.
It's almost always a perfect moment for an ice-cold, tasty brew. Trieste, Italy, 06.2011.
When our plans for an overnight ascent of Half Dome went awry (the September freeze hardly foreshadowed a frosty winter in the high-mountain West), we opted for a daytime stroll--and naptime--on the John Muir Trail. 10.2011.
Just a little sur. In awe at Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur, California. 10.2011.
Hiding in the hills in Portola Valley, California. 11.2011.

There’s always more.