The most engaging life I've ever had

exciting, fun, a little intimidating, definitely worth it.


Day 4

Got up at 4am and after a quick brekky and cleanup we struck out for the highest point in Utah, known as King's Peak. After a half-hour detour due to some shepherds making their own stinking trail next to the real one, we went the right direction through Gunsight Pass and into a bowl between King and Dome peaks.
(at the top of Gunsight pass)
(next to a cairn just getting into the bowl)
(South King's Peak)
(King's Peak)
(and the trail to Anderson's Pass with Fortress Peak straight ahead and Dome Peak on the right)

It was a pretty steep boulder climb from the pass up to the bowl. I saw my first marmot on the way up. Also saw a couple pikas. The trek across the bowl was pretty tough. Even though it was level it was entirely large boulders with great ankle-twisting gaps between them. We made it alright across that, and reached Anderson's Pass in pretty good time.
(The top of Andersen's Pass~Pretty similar downward view from the top of the Cliffs of Insanity)
(Pretty steep mountains huh?)
We took a wary look at some clouds that had been building up and readied for the final 800' elevation gain. (We started at 10,800' and were climbing up to 13,528') We made it up to a false summit about a quarter of a mile and 400'short of the real summit about 45 minutes of boulder climbing later. (It turned out to be closer to 300' short from my guess of where we were on my updated map.)
(Is that the real summit?)
We were the ridge of the mountain for that whole stretch, and when we could finally see west again, we found that the clouds had developed quite ominously. Since it looked like it was going to take another 45 minutes to reach the summit and then an hour and a half longer (at least) to just get back to Anderson's Pass again, we decided to bolt like a pair of scairt bunnies right then and there.
("Bad clouds! No! Bad!")
(overlooking our campsite)
Back in the bowl (which offered no protection whatsoever) it looked like we might have a little time, so we went over and looked at a chute that was offered to us as a shortcut (both up and down) by quite a few sources. We opted to take the long way up, but looking down from the top Dave declared it to be safe, so I followed him into what I will hereafter call "The Cliffs of Insanity." From the top we could see down about 100' and then there was a big gap of nothing all the way to the valley floor some 1000' below.
(Looking up the Cliffs)
(Looking down the Cliffs)
(Views on the way down)

Dave was walking down it like a true mountaineer, but I was doing a cliff-hugging Gollum climb as a regular noob. One of us knocked loose a good sized rock (12"-15'' d) and it bounced all the way to the bottom, and taking some other rocks with it. Even though they were making enough noise on their own, Dave yelled "ROCK!" and we both hoped that there was no one to hear. After it all quieted down again Dave looked up at me and said "Well that was sobering, wasn't it?" And I started planning what I would yell when I followed the rock. Depending on the amount of time I maintained the ability to yell, I decided it would go something like this: "Thanks Dave, it was a great trip, tell everyone I love them, HUUUUUUMAAAAANNNNN!" And though I was fully prepared to use it, and at several times was spreading my body weight across four boulders, all of which were moving, God was good to me and decided to let me make it all the way down without bouncing off the cliff or having the cliff bounce off me!

Just as we got to the first bluff at the bottom of the cliff it really started to lightning and sprinkle, which soon turned into a regular downpour. (Boy were we glad we turned around when we did!) We were running across some boulders and down some giant washes to get to a stand of trees before we got fried. Made it to the trees just as it started to hail, but we couldn't take shelter from it without worrying about getting fried. Fortunately the hail was really small so we just sat with our backs to it, listening to it patter off of our plastic rain jackets until the worst of the storm blew over. After the lightning stopped we went under the trees and ate some lunch. Yay for Applets and Cotlets!
(Hail on the cliffs)
The sun mostly came out while we were eating, so we trekked back to our camp and crawled into our tent like a pair of soaked...nevermind. After a refreshing nap we came back into the world and discovered that we had a neighbor. Some forest service guy named Deems Burton from CA was on his 13th day out with his little Jack-Russel Terrier. Deems came over and visited with us for a while. Sounded like he hadn't had a decent conversation in a while. He thought my (well Dad's) backpack was a pretty amazing relic and took a couple pictures of it. He came back later that evening and offered us a lemon drink/rum concoction of his own invention. Went to bed early and slept really well.


Day 3

Back to the Uintas!

Got up early and tried fishing again. Didn't get a single bite. Didn't lose any flies though! Huzzah for small victories.

After a great brekky of pancakes (hotcakes) and fish we had a short devotional time and wandered about the basin to try fishing some different lakes.

I got a bite (but no fish) before lunch and then a few more bites after lunch. And THEN, you'll never believe it, but I actually caught a fish! It was a very large Eastern Brook Trout. We were letting all our catches go (Dave had already gotten quite a few by then), and as I was taking mine off the hook he broke the line and got off with my best fly! AARG! Oh well, it was worth the 87 cents just to reel in one.

Broke the hook on another fly after getting a bite on it and then we headed back to camp.

Got some more spectacular views on the way back. I think we decided not to go up towards Anderson's pass tomorrow, but to take the long way around. Yay for staying alive! We might use it to come down, but we'll look at it from the top and decide then. Went to bed early.

P.S. Saw an owl tonight as we were hanging our food. Dave said it was the closest he's ever been to one in the wild! It was so cool and quiet. If I hadn't been looking up at the right time I never would have seen it. You couldn't hear it land or take off or anything. It stared down at us for a while with its gigantic eyes, then flew off to new intrests. I love owls.


Well guys...

I was going to do the next installment of my trip today, but I went and left my written story at home so I have nothing to copy.

Since it still fits with my unchanged username.....AwKwaRD!



Just wow.

God's timing and sovereignty in my life is AWESOME!

I'm learning more about it every day.

I'll get back to my backpacking trip soon, so to keep you interested, here is a map of our hike:


Skillet Conversations

"Hello beautiful. I just wanted you to know that you made some delicious eggs this morning."

Yep. You know you need roommates or more friends or SOMETHING when you start addressing your skillet. Out loud.

On the good side of my brain, (I hope) I was pondering on my drive from Columbus to Indianapolis how great it is that we live in such a peaceful society that our city boundaries are determined by highway loops and not fortress walls.


This post was written in a Purdue computer lab! It's pretty great to be back here for a couple days. Especially considering the company available. :)


Day 2

Got up at dawn.

Tore down camp and ate oatmeal for brekky. Went about 5mi to Henry Forks Lake with a nice stop at Dollar lake for some cheese'n'crackers for lunch. Pretty worn out by the end of this trail. hope I can make it all the way up King's.

We are right in one of the major basins of the Uintas Mountains now. Truly breathtaking scenercy! Or maybe that's the altitude...IDK.

The ascent up to Anderson's pass looks pretty treacherous. I hope my fear of heights doesn't come back to haunt me. Oh yeah! We think we might have seen signs of bear on the way in. Might spot a couple out here. (If they don't eat me first.)

Tried fly fishing this evening. Lost three flies on my back cast. Dave caught his limit in less than an hour. Mostly got the hang of casting by the end of the day.

We sat out on a 15' cliff over the lake for a long time after dark to watch the stars come out. Didn't see a whole lot because the moon was bright enough to cast some pretty sharp shadows.


Day 1

Rose about 7 (9 my time!) and had a time of worship complete with a live deaconal Psalm explanation and a sermon from Ted Donnely!

Drove to the trailhead, worried about bridge, and started out after a spot of lunch.

2.5 miles today to Alligator Lake.

Set up camp, started a nice fire and ate Mac&Cheese with bacon pieces for dinner.

Yay lighter pack! Slept well.

>>>After the fact:
On the drive in we were worried about not being able to do our trip at all because there were a lot of signs warning of bridge removal and road closure that was to take place right in the middle of our week. Fortunately we did not cross any bridges and saw the one that was doomed right by our trailhead.

The drive in was really pretty, with lots of pine and aspen trees all around. I was very striking to see all the Lodge Pole Pine being killed by it's beetle. About 40-60% of the forests all around were dead.

Our camp was really nice, and we had a cool anti-bear-getting-in-the-food-system.


Day 0

Here is the transposition +spelling corrections of what I wrote on my trip. It is mostly unedited from what I wrote at 10,000' after long days. We'll see if that did anything good to my brain. (Cause we all know it can't get much worse) Anyway, here we go:

Got up freakishly early and flew to Salt Lake City. The United guys in Columbus were great! Saved me $20 on my connection to Denver. It was really great flying in over the mountains, hadn't done that in a long time.

As opposed to the Columbus guys (or anybody else for that matter) the United people in Denver were 1st class jerks (as usual). I really don't knowwhat's up with them over there. I guess they never got the memo that they were out West and were suppoed to be laid back. Oh well.

GORGEOUS (no pun intended) ride down to Salt Lake City. I stared out my window the whole time. (Partly to spot good zombie fortresses) Saw a ginormous strip mine just outside of SLC and saw the great salt lake fir the first time.

Dave picked me up, and after changing out of my uniform and a quick bite to eat, we started out.
Went to REI's and bought a shirt. Then we went down to Cabella's for flies and a fishing license. On the way we hit a traffic jam of rubberneckers because a semi had flipped on the opposite side of the highway and blocked all it's lanes.

Made it up to Wyoming to sleep in a KOA mini barn (NOT Tool Shed) We distributed all the food and got our packs pretty evenly weighted tonight. After Dave picked me up I called him "Mr. Neel." He told me to stop because it made him feel old. I will probably take that as a cue to start calling people at church by their first names, even though I grew up calling them their proper name. If you don't like it blame Dave. :)

>>>After the fact:
The mini barn that we stayed in had a cool old-school latch, so we had to pull the string on the outside to open the door!



It turns out that the crazy man WASN'T Josh, and that he (CM) did alter Josh's papers a bit. So Josh will be putting up his real story as soon as he finishes composing it and catches up on a few more important things in life.

Maybe he will even put something out tomorrow. Maybe he will quit talking about himself in the third person then too.


This is the record of the Journal of J Bright

found in the Uintas (pronounced U-in-tas) Mountains in Utah, right about here.

August 30, 2009
Today we entered the Uintas Mountains. It was a very nice day. Saw a wild man running about with most of his hair torn out. He ran up to us and all he could say was "Must get away, Get Away, GET AWAY!" Then he moaned and slobbered a bit and ran off into the woods. What a poor man. He must have stared at the moon too much.

August 31, 2009
Slept well at Alligator Lake until the middle of the night. Then I felt odd, like some pressure growing on me. Could not sleep afterward. Hiked to Henry Forks Lake. I could feel it growing in intensity. Will try to sleep it off tonight.

September 1, 2009
Could not sleep at all.... what is going on??? There are odd sounds in the forest, like none I've ever heard before.... Ohhh the pressure. Tis almost unbearable.

September 2, 2009
AAAGGGGG! I can't stand it anymore! I must go and find the cause of this, and defeat it!

September 3, 2009
It is over. I am captive, I fear that I do not have much longer. Oh! that I had heeded my warning.

Selpembre 34m,. 20909
akjghs seiouseihjklsd qewhypoiju ;j aer,nmbvadsv akjhvmzcx/.fd[0u
a kdr 'lhnrs sdtlhjfdshkljpo[re;pl,,.nzd


Thus ends the journal. It was found in the possesion of a wild man who looked to have run about in a circle in the woods for quite some time before dying of unknown causes. The identity of the wild man has yet to be ascertained.

A camera was found a half mile away with the following pictures: