Sunday, July 31, 2016

So this is what it's like being good...

I've been watching the series, Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix . It's bloody, brutal, gory, and has some bad language. The characters are rough, compelling, and often heroic. Over the past few episodes, I've watched as Daredevil's character has interacted with another character, named Elektra. Elektra is a martial artist who has really been sort of amoral through the entire time that she's been on the show. In the most recent episode I watched, Daredevil says that he needs to rescue some innocent hostages, rather than going after the evil guy Nobu, as Elektra wants to do.
She refuses to accompany him so he sets about trying to rescue the hostages from their Ninja captors alone. A few minutes after he begins the fight, Elektra shows up to join him. "I was getting bored," she says.
They rescue the hostages and send them out of the building, but more Ninjas have gathered. The two fight, side by side. As the battle nears completion, Elektra is stabbed by Nobu, mortally wounded. The fight stops as she drops to the ground and Daredevil, who has had a romantic relationship with her in his alter-ego, Matt Murdoch. Holds her close.
"So this is what it's like to be good," she says. "Does it always hurt so much?"
Matt pauses, then says, " does."

I thought about that in life we are often called upon to do the good, and sometimes doing the good instead of what seems to be the most pleasant, really can hurt. In the long run though, it's worth it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sharing the sunrise

God always blesses us with another sunrise. I just thought I'd share it with you.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Like a Sad Song, by John Denver

This is one of John Denver's best songs, in my opinion, and like many Denver songs, captures my mood perfectly at times. Sometimes, I feel like a sad song. I hope you like it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mt. Raymond hike: the fourth time's the charm

As I began thinking about the hikes I wanted to do this summer, first and foremost I added Mt. Raymond to the list. Mt. Raymond has been my nemesis. Not because it's a particularly hard peak to bag--it isn't. But because for whatever reason, I had been up there three times previously only to be thwarted in my attempts to reach the top. The first time I went, was way too early and there was still a huge amount of snow along the ridge. I stopped about a quarter mile from the top. The second time I went with my son Ben and we got up near the top, to where you have to do a bit of scrambling, and his tread-less shoes stopped him from proceeding. I didn't want to go on without him, so I turned around at that point too. The third time I went with my brother Mike. He stopped at the saddle between Mt. Raymond and Gobblers Knob and told me he was happy to wait. That time, there was snow up the ridge, but I had a couple of guys up ahead of me breaking the trail, so I followed them. Within about 400 feet of the top, they stopped and gave up. They were much younger than me and I wasn't about to try and prove my manhood by breaking the trail the rest of the way myself. I turned around too.
This time, I made sure I was going late enough in the season that snow wouldn't be a problem. Let me begin at the trailhead.
There are several ways to get to Mt. Raymond. For those who don't know, Mt Raymond is located in the Wasatch Mountains, basically behind Mt. Olympus, which nearly everyone who lives along the Wasatch Front is familiar with. Anyway, it can be reached from either Millcreek Canyon, or Big Cottonwood, and I suppose from Park City if you wanted to walk that far. Many of the trails in the Wasatch are interconnected.The routes most people choose are either Bowman Fork from the Millcreek side, or Butler Fork from the Big Cottonwood side. Though I have been up to Gobblers Knob from Bowman Fork, all of my recent attempts at Mt. Raymond have been from the Butler Fork trail. This one was no exception.
The Butler Fork trail begins rather innocuously about 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon. After about 100 yards, there is a stream crossing and right after that, the trail gets amazingly steep. Large portions of this trail are in the 30 to 45 degree angle range, and a lot of that is early on. In fact, since I already knew this, I nearly changed my hiking plans because I have been having trouble with my legs feeling like lead lately.
The early going on the steepest section (steepest until the final ascent up Raymond's ridge) was rough, but I just took it slow and kept going, resting for a few seconds when necessary, then soldiering on. After about a half hour, I came to a fork in the trail. The right fork leads to Dog Lake, and the left fork goes to Mill A Basin. That's the way to go to get to Mt. Raymond. Soon after the fork, the trail goes up through a kind of meadowy area, with scattered clumps of quakies. The undergrowth is very lush and there are some biting flies in this area. There were wildflowers in abundance here and I especially noted the Queen Anne's Lace and made a mental note to get a picture of it on the way back.
Queen Anne's Lace was in abundance on the lower portions of the trail.
Wildflowers were everywhere and this is my one "accidental" good picture of them close up.
After the meadow area, the trail switchbacks a few times to get to the top of the ridge. As I neared the top of the ridge, I heard some "huffing" behind me. Thinking that it might be a black bear, I increased my pace trying to keep up above and ahead of whatever it was making the noise. A few seconds later, I looked back to see a runner huffing up the trail. We talked for a few seconds, then he went on ahead of me. Just as he was about twenty feet in front of me he said, "there's a bear!"
He kept moving toward whatever he saw. "Don't get too close," I warned him.
"There's a bear down in here, a black bear," he said. I caught a glimpse of something then and it wasn't a bear. "Oh, it's a moose," he said.
He said he'd never seen any moose along this trail I told him that I had. Then he continued on. I was left to reflect as to why he would continue moving closer, especially when he thought it was a bear. Maybe it's because he felt unafraid with me nearby in my Captain America shirt and Indiana Jones hat. I have no other answer.
As the trail joins the ridge, there is a faint un-marked trail to the left that goes to Circle All Peak, which offers a rather nice view of Big Cottonwood Canyon. A great destination for a shorter hike. I had never taken this trail, but I promised myself if I had time I'd do it on the way down. The trail isn't as steep at this point and follows the ridge for a short distance before working its way around a mountain, then up through some quakies to the saddle between Mt. Raymond and Gobblers Knob. This time I made it to the saddle in about two hours. Oddly, the runner was the only person who passed me on my way up. It's usually a fairly popular trail and I was surprised at the low number of people I saw hiking it.
Mount Raymond as seen on the way up.
This little fella landed on me and I took it's picture.
My next step was to follow the ridge to the top. This was the same ridge that had stopped me before when it had snow on it. There wasn't any snow this time. It was go time. My legs had held out this far, and I knew I wasn't going to let them stop me from reaching my goal this particular day. It took me about an hour or so, but I made it to the top. Along the way I passed a couple that were perhaps in their sixties, coming down with two dogs. I asked them if the dogs had made it all the way to the top. "Yes," the man said."They are surprisingly sure-footed". I was petting the one nearest to me, a border collie. They told me to be safe and I told them to do likewise and they headed down.
The south side of Big Cottonwood Canyon is very prominent from the ridge. Here, you are looking toward Sun Dial Peak and the Lake Blanche area.
Some scenic dead trees along the route to the top.
Some of the best flowers were right up on the final ridge.
A few minutes later I was really surprised that the dogs had made it. There was a bit of scrambling and I remembered my younger days when I had taken my dog up Mt. Olympus and had to turn back after reaching the last stretch because the dog couldn't do it. This scrambling wasn't quite as difficult as the Oly scrambling, but it was enough that I was impressed with the dogs.
About 15-20 minutes later, I was up on top, soon joined by another older man. He sat down as I did and he said, "nice of the clouds to protect us a bit from the sun."
Cannister used for writing logs, such as "Wasatch Rebel was here - 7-22-2016" There was no pen in the thing so I didn't write that.
I agreed, stating that as long as I wasn't seeing any lightning, I was good with it too. I asked him if he'd ever been up there before. He told me he had, and I told him that I had been thwarted in my previous attempts.
I ate my lunch and eventually the guy left and I was up there myself. I took several pics with my wife's camera. It's a Nikon Coolpix S6200, and I'm not familiar with it at all. I found myself unable to take any clear close-ups of flowers, except once, by accident. I had left my trusty Canon behind because I didn't want to pack the weight. It's always a trade-off. I know how to use the Canon though, so the quality of my pics would have been a bit easier for me to control. I had figured that since I had been up this trail numerous times, I had already taken most of the pics I would take this time. Of course, it always looks different, so that was just a way to reason myself out of carrying the heavy thing.

Just to prove I was up there.
I looked across the canyon and saw Cardiff Fork, a destination to add to
my bucket list.
Spectacular views of the Wasatch above the timberline
After taking the pics, I headed down, and just before I got to the part where I'd need to do a lot of scrambling, I sat for a while and contemplated my situation.

Wildflowers lined the edge of the ridge, just before I went down the face
The saddle between Raymond and Gobblers Knob
Down below, off the face of the mountain, was a trail that headed over to the Mill B trailhead. If i went down the face instead of the ridge, I might be able to save some time, cut that trail and take it back to the Butler Fork trail. I decided that's what I would do. I found out very soon that it wasn't going to be easy, and a little while longer I found out it wasn't much of a shortcut. The going was steep with loose rock everywhere, and I had to carefully place each footstep to avoid slipping in a cascade of rock. It took me longer than it would've to go down the ridge, though I think I saved a bit in distance doing it that way. At any rate, it was an adventure and once I was five minutes into it, there was no way I was going back up to the trail. I eventually made it to the Mill B trail I had seen from above, certain that I had found no shortcut, but just as certain that I had explored where few had gone before me. There's always a trade-off.
This is where I came down.
And from further away you can see how steep it is, but not how loose
the rocks are beneath the vegetation.

The meadow at the base of Mount Raymond is stunning.
Once on the trail I headed down. It was pretty uneventful until I got to the ridge just above where the guy had seen the "bear". The moose had moved up on top and another one was with it and I spooked them as I walked down the ridge. I tried to be careful as a female moose with a baby can be very protective. I wanted to make sure that wasn't the situation. It appeared that there were two adult females together. Still, I was wary as they were ahead of me, near the trail. I talked softly to them and took some pics, before gradually easing my way past.
This moose had a wound of some kind on its hind quarters.

Another picture of the same moose. Its companion was a little more
camera shy.
Just past the two moose was the spur trail to Circle All Peak. I took it as I had promised myself. It is very short and took me about five minutes to get to the peak where I could peer into the canyon.
I finished the hike about 45 minutes later, tired, but exhilarated. The beauty of the Wasatch never fails to amaze me. And, I had accomplished my main hiking goal of the summer--finally summiting Mount Raymond.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Moonlight hike to Cecret Lake: Trip Report

Last night, my son Sam and I went on a hike to Cecret Lake, in Albion Basin, high in Utah's Wasatch Mountains. The point of the hike was to hike by the light of the full moon. We got to the trailhead just as it was getting dark. The moon hadn't yet risen. I was hoping to get some good pics of it, so I brought my zoom lens and my tripod.
We started up the trail. It's about a mile to the lake, so we took our time, glancing up at the eastern horizon for the imminent rise of the moon. The first indication that the moon was getting close to appearing was a touch of light on the undersides of some clouds. As the moon made its way into the clouds, it was beautiful. I tried taking some pics of the clouds with the moonlight streaming through them, but they were hand held as I didn't want to get out the tripod at this point, and they ended up being blurry.
Once the moon came out from behind the clouds, I took a hand held shot of it. It looked like this:

That was likely my best shot of the night. We made our way up to the lake and I got out the tripod. I have my camera set up so that I'm looking through the little viewfinder to focus the camera, instead of the screen. I do that to save battery power, however, I wish I'd have switched to viewing in on the screen, something I would need to look in my instruction book to figure out how to do it has been so long since I changed it. Looking through the viewfinder, it was very hard to tell if I had it accurately focused. I actually didn't as you can see from this pic:

I don't know if my eyes are just bad, or what happened. I just couldn't see for sure if it was in focus. The photography, though disappointing, was a learning experience. As for the rest of the hike, it was amazing. The object of the hike was to hike by the light of the full moon, and that we did. I will definitely do it again sometime, and hopefully it will give me another opportunity to figure out what I'm doing wrong when I take my moon pics. I know I've got the settings pretty close on the camera, it's just the focus issue and I'm thinking that looking at it on the screen should take care of that. If not, then I'm just not going to get any real good shots of the moon. I'm not prepared to concede that. The bottom line is that it was a great adventure and I'm always looking forward to more of that.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I am a wolf. I am a sheep.

 I see myself as a wolf, but also as a sheep. A couple of times, I have posted this meme on Facebook.

Which actually isn't true. While it is true that I consider myself a wolf, when it comes to defending liberty and resisting tyranny, I also consider myself a sheep, when it comes to being led by the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. The thoughts are not mutually contradictory. One can fight valiantly for liberty and our God-given rights--being a wolf, if you will--and at the same time follow God. In fact, since those rights are God-given, not government given, I consider it my duty. In my case, often I am the lost sheep who sometimes strays, but I still recognize Him as my shepherd. Much too often, I don the guise of wolf and forget about who my shepherd really is and that I need Him much more than I need to rend with slavering jaws.
Not that there isn't a time and a place to rend. Sometimes there is, but those of us who are believers must sometimes put aside the urge to tear down the evil, and just follow the One. It is something I have a challenging time remembering to do. Ultimately though, He will pull through for us. In the meantime, it does us good to remember the 23rd Psalm and these words:

There is a time to tear down evil with the ruthlessness of a wolf. But I pray I don't become the evil in order to do so. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Woe isn't me: How I stop feeling sorry for myself

Sometimes I wonder out loud why I can't just live a normal life. I see other people's lives and watch them as they go camping, fishing, traveling--even activities out in the yard--and I get a little homesick for the days when that was my life.
I can get away fairly frequently for a few hours or a day, but being a caregiver requires its sacrifices. And that means if I camp, I need to find a friend who can go, or go alone. And going alone means leaving Ann alone. Ann had a scary episode two summers ago on our family campout, and is terrified of trying it again. And I don't blame her.
Even around home, in the yard, life is not normal, nor what it used to be.
But that, my friends, is part of life. We aren't put here on this earth just to have a good time. I have the option of feeling sorry for myself, or realizing that I still have it very good. I may have to try a lot harder to find ways to travel, like finding lodgings that have recliners, but at least I have that. And at least I still have the company of my companion for the past 36 years. A lot of people can't say that. I am truly grateful for that.
Life can be hard. It can be a challenge to wake up every morning and wonder how you're going to deal with your day, how you're going to make it through. When I look at my load of work, after I get home from my job for the day, it sometimes seems overwhelming. But I'm glad God has given me the health and strength to do it. Just last weekend, I got sick and it was amazing how much that made things worse. So I'm very grateful for a sound body. Now a sound mind would be nice too, but we  can't have everything.
So, if you're feeling overwhelmed, or down in the dumps, just remember, you've got a lot of blessings too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Red Pine Trail with the grandkids

Nothing gives me more joy than spending time in the outdoors with those I love, and my grandkids are some of the finest reasons for being out there. I love being able to share the outdoors experience with them. My love of the outdoors is one of the things I'd really like to pass on to all my children and grandchildren.
Jude getting ready to go.

Yesterday, my son Ben and I took his kids and three of my other four grandkids up the Red Pine Trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was great! Ben packed little Jude on his back, and eventually, ended up carrying Mimi for significant portions of the trail. A couple of the other kids were getting tired and the breaks just weren't cutting it for getting them rejuvenated (and at least one of them needed to go potty really bad and couldn't be talked into doing it in the woods), so we ended up turning back before making it to the lake, but we still had a lot of fun.
Early on in the hike. The kids were loving it.
We began hiking right at 9:00 and decided after a few minutes that we'd need to probably stop at around 11:30 to head back. It was a little cool at first and at least one of the kids put on her jacket. It's a shady trail for the most part, which is great on a hot summer day. The kids were enamored with the ground squirrels (potguts), chipmunks, and butterflies that were in profusion.
These little critters were everywhere.

Not as many wildflowers as Albion Basin maybe, but there is beauty everywhere you look.
After about a mile and a half, a guy passed us and said that we only had two miles left to the lake and I knew that we weren't going to make it. About a quarter mile later, I took Taggart and Gillian up the trail to look for a good place to eat lunch, while the others waited,  but we weren't going to find that either, at least not in a short enough distance for those who were too tired to continue.
White Pine Creek, where we ate lunch.
We decided to go back down and eat by White Pine Creek that we had crossed about a half mile previously. All the kids had a good time hanging around the rocks and playing near the stream. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
One final shot of all of us, the hike completed.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wait a Million Years by the Grass Roots an all-time classic

This is truly one of my favorite songs of all time, and it's a truly great tune. Dig it!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Another great song--Billy Ocean's "Suddenly"

One thing I've found is that my voice range matches Billy Ocean's nearly exactly on this song. So while Billy Ocean I'm not, singing this song, I do. It's a great love song. I hope you enjoy it.