Day 90 - Tuesday
On the way to my lecture today I saw something that to me seemed very bizarre. A student was skateboarding, smoking and walking his dog at the same time, if that's not proof that men can multitask then I don't know what is. This activity typified either Americans' ingenuity or their laziness, it's up for interpretation.
During my physiology lecture we were looking at obesity (what better place to observe obesity than the US) when our lecturer showed us a map of the states and coloured coded the level of obesity. In 1994 there were no states with an obesity rate higher than 20% and by 2009 only Colorado had an obesity rate that was below 20%! Mississippi and Louisiana are really pushing the boundaries obesity-wise.
My mid term went pretty well I think, although this could have something to do with the fact that the questions for the test were written by students as a homework assignment - this laziness on the part of my professor was masqueraded as a learning exercise!
After lectures I relaxed for a while and then went to support a friend who was performing at an African dancing festival. It was really fascinating to watch, lots of colourful costumes, cool dancing and talented drummers. The only problem was that the cultural experience was slightly ruined by the embarrassing middle aged women at the front who thought they'd get up and dance along, in the most terribly awkward middle aged woman-esque fashion. They were an embarrassment to us all.
Stick to the Macarena love.
It was an early start as we had an hour and half drive to the slopes in Brian's truck. Once we got there though it was bliss, the lines were reasonably quiet and we had a couple of runs, I was surprised how quickly snowboarding technique came back to me - I mean I'm not exactly Shaun White yet but I can get down the slope with reasonable speed (although not altogether stylish). Just when things were going quiet well I managed to nearly obliterate a small child. I got a bit cocky and went down too fast, an edge dug into the snow and I flew forward landing on my stomach, I slid towards the boy from miles away and at a snail's pace - just avoiding him, don't worry there were no infants injured in the making of this blog.
At 10am was the mid-term for my 3rd year module, It didn't go great and I didn't have time to finish but I guess it could have gone worse, I'll just have to wait and see about results, I probably won't get them till after thanksgiving break.
Physiology mid term - could have been better, could have been worse.
I went to the bouldering gym after being convinced by my mate that It'd be fun and that there would be plenty of climbs for beginners. Another example of people from Boulder saying they're not good at a sport and then turning out to be great. This damn fit town! I'm about as good at bouldering as George bush is at public speaking. I am short, inflexible and heavy - a bad build for a boulderer.
Saturday - Day 104 - Beginning of the Utah trip
At 7am we gathered at the uni car park and jumped in the minivan to begin our journey. We saw much varied terrain out the window over the 8 hour trip. We started off passing through beautiful ski country. I'll be snowboarding in it on Friday and Saturday! We then found Utah towns that looked practically deserted with the only sign of life being at the many service stations along the highway. I got some good pictures and we then entered the back country with some bovine trespassers being the last animal wildlife we would see in about 3 days. We arrived at the campsite in time to set up the tents and watch the beautiful sunset as we sat around a camp fire.
Do not be fooled by these pictures - even though it was sunny it was still freezing cold.
Some of the group (not me) decided to go for a wander in the dark and were gone for so long a search party was sent out to get them - who then spent ages searching for them. This left the 3 people left at the camp fire quite concerned and scared as to where everyone had gone. I felt to lighten the mood I would write an entry in my journal.
Captain's log (yeah we all know I was the Captain Scott of the group!) Day 1
'Everyone goes missing'
As we sit here by the fire we are contemplating abandoning our fallen comrades - they have been gone a while and we have no idea what is going on - maybe they have done a Lawrence Oates. They could have got lost, got injured, or been shot by a shotgun-wielding hick. Salt Lake City is the nearest settlement about 180 miles away. I hope they get back soon.
In cheerier news we had a good day of weather and the drive to the campsite was very smooth. The campsite is pretty bare but meets all the basic needs - although the toilet is interesting. It is not often you get a draft coming up at you from inside the toilet, also I would advise people turn off headlamps to avoid seeing into the abyss of the toilet bowl, it's pretty rank. Just about to go to bed and I'm feeling pretty rough - it's depressing that this is the cleanest we're going to be until Wednesday evening.
Oh the group returned as well, we are all eager to set off tomorrow morning.
Up bright and early to have breakfast burritos prepared by our instructor Doug, this was to be the best of meals though - it was all downhill from there. We drove to the trail head and abandoned the van for the next 3 days, we would return to it on Tuesday night. We set off at a slow pace and I realised that this would be a slow trip - I have never travelled terrain this difficult, at such an altitude and had such a heavy pack.
I led the group today (we all have to take it in turns) and I we enjoyed the best weather of the trip, a tricky passage through the boulder field took us out of the first canyon and into the mouth of the next, we stopped for lunch and carried on for a mile or so. We then found a huge expanse of open land that looked great for a campsite and the majority of the group ruled we cut today's route short and camp here. Although I was initially against it, it was probably the best idea as the sun was out and there would be no better campsites further down into the canyon.
I barely slept at all this night, it was so cold.
Another great day of hiking, great weather and a walk through the swell along the river to the minivan. It was a very long walk, to make up for the early finish yesterday. An 'arctic wind' was forecast for the next morning so we decided to get as close to the highway as we could and set up camp there so we wouldn't be stranded in the middle of nowhere the next day.
A 5 30am start was actually welcomed as I was desperate to get out of the frozen tent, it had snowed overnight and I had barely slept at all. Getting on the road early was great and we got to a service station for lunch. I had a philly steak sandwich that was the most welcomed junk food I'd ever had - it was so much better than Maccaroni cheese cooked on a camping stove! I also ordered a large milkshake that turned out to be 30 oz. I can see how Americans (especially truck drivers) can get so obese!
I am so happy to be back in the dorm - although there is practically no one here. Luckily I've borrowed some speakers and am blasting out some obscure trip hop for all the remaining foreigners to enjoy.
Time for bed, thanks for reading guys.