Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice Canoeing on The Bear River

Andy and I took a canoe trip down The Bear River for the Summer Solstice with a group from the Nature Conservancy. We put in at Bear Bottoms and took out right at sunset by Sugar Park 10 miles down river.They fed us dinner and pointed out all kinds of birds. The mosquitoes were out so we ate in our canoes and it was nice that way. We preferred to be in the front so I think we missed the majority of the bird identification, but in exchange got to paddle in silence down the slow glassy river and saw a few big beavers and some pelicans on the water before the rest of the group came up behind and they flew away. A lot of the pictures look the similar, but you only have so many options when you're sitting in a canoe.
(Andy were you doing that on purpose...funny)
It was supposed to be me and Heathyr but she had to cancel when her husband went on a business trip. I don't think Andy minded so much filling in for her. It was kind of like old family vacations and trips to Vasona, except we didn't have to help lift the canoe on top of the Oldsmobile after and tie it down with bungee cords.
It was a nice way to spend the longest day of the year.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The West Slabs of Mt. Olympus

New Years Resolutions #6 is now checked off. I didn't hike to the top of Mt. Olympus, I climbed. It was a little more than I expected. People kept saying, oh it's so easy, it's only 5.5, you could solo it (no rope) and yeah, I totally could have, and yeah it was really easy as far as climbing goes (not nearly as steep as it looks), but you're still going to the summit of a big mountain and so it's still a really long day. 13 hours to be exact from trailhead to trailhead. The route is called The West Slabs. It starts with hiking up a nice semi steep trail, then turns to a bouldery scrambly dry river bed that gets increasingly steep and ending, for us at this time of year, at a thousand feet of steep hard snow. I hear it's a lot harder to make that last thousand feet when the snow isn't there, but one good slip on snow and you'd be starting that thousand feet over. At the top of the snow you rope up and climb 2000 feet to the North Summit but just because you're at the top doesn't mean you're done. Now you have to get down. I was in a group of 12 people and we rappelled the route so though it was technically easy, it took awhile. Then you're back on the snow. I didn't have an ice ax to properly glissade down on my butt, though I did my best with a trekking pole, reaching the bottom frozen, soaked to the bone and looking ridiculous, but at least the seat of my pants was still intact after sliding down on it. One guy in our party lost control at the top of the snow and it was scary to watch him bounce and flip off rocks before stopping. Luckily he wasn't injured so badly we had to carry him down, but it did take him an extra hour and a half to get to the bottom of the snow. We reached the cars at the trailhead just at sunset. Nothing about the day was exceptionally difficult, but when it was all combined it wipped me out and I slept for 11 hours that night.
The top of the snow and ready to start climbing. You can see that it's not terribly steep by the way the rope is laying limply on the rock instead of hanging down. Looking down after a few hundred feetIn the picture below I'm looking down at Stan as he climbs. He was in our group and was only 60 years old. I say only 60 because for most the day I thought he must be in his 80's. I guess that's what a life outdoors does to you eventually. Plus he was missing 3 front teeth, that didn't help him look any younger. He was cool though. He climbs harder stuff than me and he was the first one up the snow to help the guy who lost control, cutting him steps in the snow all the way down with an ice ax. Halfway up, looking out on to the Great Salt Lake and the city. Looking East at the mountains deeper in the Wasatch.
At the top!!!
On the North Summit you could see to the other side of the valley and the mountains South of us. In my opinion it's a much prettier view than looking North. This video is standing on the North Summit looking South toward Twin Peaks and panning over the valley to the view North. You can see Antelope Island in the lake in the distance.
After lunch, all of us gearing back up to start the rappel.Waiting my turn, looking down the route as two climbers rappel Back at the trailhead. It starts at the end of a cul-de-sac in some ritzy neighborhood and even though the lady driving out of her driveway that morning shook her head at us in annoyance, they have made the flowers along the beginning of the trail especially nice.
This is my version of helmet hair. I wear that bandanna thing to control my chicken hair under my helmet but I've never gotten these wing things before. It looks more like a chicken then the chicken hair does.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back to our regularly scheduled climbing

I think it's about time for a rock climbing post again. It's been raining, I hurt my finger, and I've let myself be distracted by cake baking for the past while, but I'm back to regular climbing finally. Yesterday after work Mark and I went to do a few climbs at the Challenge Buttress in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I'm still out of sorts and was falling on stuff I knew I could have done a month ago but where I lack skill and strength I have determination and always make it to the top eventually. I'll be back to normal in no time. It was a good evening of climbing and we squeezed in as much as we could climbing till the sun set. Mark's friend Mark came along, as well as Ben. Ben even did his first ever lead climb outside. He's still pretty new to climbing on ropes and he was pretty excited which led to a few good laughs at his expense. The first time he was about to start his climb I had to point out to him he was still wearing his Chacos. Then when he fixed that problem he started climbing without even being tied to the rope! After that it was smooth sailing for him up this 5.10R climb. He may climb harder than me already but at least I remember to put on my shoes and tie in every time so I've still got something on him.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Birthday Cake Birthday Party

Alicia asked me to make her a birthday cake this year. Of course I said yes but then later remembered this was going to be a milestone birthday for her. Milestones deserve something out of the ordinary to celebrate. It ended up being a birthday cake party. I spent all day Saturday baking cakes for her, spread them all out on the table and covered them with a total of 30 candles. It was so fun to bake them all, I ended up with 8 and everything was from scratch except for one which was a very modified partychip cake. It was fun to have everyone over and it was especially fun to try all those cakes at once. If you didn't like it, you could just toss your piece away and get a piece of something else, it was great. And everyone went home with plenty of left overs.
Cakes in Progress:
This was after I went shopping the night before. I actually only used half the butter but more than the eggs here.
The yellow cake turned out to be a little dry and looking at the pictures I took of my kitchen throughout the day, I think it was because I let it sit out on the counter uncovered for too long.I realized while making these cakes, I hate frosting cakes. I made two three layer cakes and they were such a pain. Delicious, but a pain. This is the chocolate peanut butter cake half assembled.
MaryAnne cake fresh out of the oven Chiffon Cake. I flipped it over and left a hand print on the top it was so squishy. It was flavored with this.Dulce de Leche layers cooling. (can you see the balls of flour in them still. I apparently need to work on my "folding" skill for sponge cakes)
Other things I learned while doing this:
  • I wish I had more than one bowl for my mixer.
  • When my kitchen gets too dirty, I can't function and have to clean it and start over.
  • Making cakes that require different size pans help when making 8 at a time
  • You need to cook lemon curd a long time or it'll be too runny
  • Whole wheat doesn't belong in cake (that one ended up in the freezer, not at the party)
  • I think I could own a bakery. I liked the baking part more than the eating part.
The finished cakes:
Yellow Layer Cake with Fudge Frosting
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and Peanut Butter Ganache. (3 layers and weighing in at about half a ton)
MaryAnne Butter Cake with Lemon Curd Cream and Raspberries
Chocolate Angel Food Cake with local farmers' market strawberries
Lavender Lemon Chiffon Cake
with Lavender Flavored Whipped Cream
Planters Punch Cocktail Cake
Dulce de Leche 3 layer Sponge Cake
The square Brown Sugar Coconut Cake sadly got left out of my picture taking. It was actually my favorite of all of them.
James, Alicia's husband, lighting the candles
After we ate as much as we could there was still a lot left!After they all went home with leftovers, there was still a lot left(Besides all those cakes, the rest of the party was pretty fun too.)

Happy Birthday Alicia!

(Some of the time I wish you'd been there to bake all those cakes with me with our cute aprons, but it was fun to do it on my own too. I'm ready for tamales.)