Monday, January 29, 2007

Community Speak-Out on War

Finally, I got the gumption, after years of war and tens of thousands of deaths, to take some small "action" against the war: My wife and I attended an event at the SLC library this past Saturday put on by the "We the people for peace and justice." While I don't feel any more hopeful about the war situation or my long-term potential as an activitst, I'm still glad we went.

There were several speakers. The first was Kyle Wulle, from the United Steelworkers union, who was, as a friend remarked, quite angry: "unwrap the flag from around our heads." Still, he did the good ole union thang.

Dee Rowland, a social/economic activist (or at least that's what it says on the flyer), read a Catholic statment against the war; one line called out Bush for his lack of diplomacy: "we need a surge of diplomacy not an escalation of troops." In trying to find the exact speeech, it seems my Google results tell me many people have used this line. Unfortunately it doesn't seem Bush could pair together "surge" and "diplomacy."

Theresa Martinez, U of U sociology professor, spoke about her brothers who served in Vietnam and niece and nephew serving in Iraq. Her speech was surprisingly emotional as she read from a letter she wrote to her nephew whose unit was going to Iraq.

Kim Spangrude, of Utah Military Families Speak Out, spoke of her anger that Bush would even dare to speak of the "sacrifice" we must make; how can he speak of sacrifice, she repeated, when he knows nothing about it. In a letter to Bush she wrote: "our sons are not your sacrificial lambs and you are no King David." And that's, IMHO, for damn sure.

Rick Miller, Veterans of Peace, a Vietnam Vet, said, "I pulled the trigger and that separates me from most of you." He then retold how he took the wallet from the first man he killed; he still apologizes to it, to him, every single day. His comments made me wonder how my father feels about the men, probably boys, he killed in Vietnam. I'd sure like that part of my father back, the part he lost or covered up after the war.

Two Iraq veterans spoke. One had been a military reporter and was quite articulate as he compared Bush's use of the military to someone who uses a multipurpose tool in all situations rather than considering other kinds of tools; the other veteran was not so articulate but recounted a harrowing story. During the attack on (I'm forgetting the city's name) he was placed on a roof top. He described how at first they debated, they peered, they tried their best to decifer if the runner was an enemy or civilian. But eventually, as they realized some combatants were getting away and/or to a better defensed position, they began to fire indescriminantly. This innocent young man's face blarred regret and hurt: "I have to live with that decision. I don't want anyone else to have to face it."

The main event, one may say, was still to come: Terry Tempest Williams and a film. We were unable to stay and that's ok. I left with the young soldier's words and image in my mind rather than the well-practiced observer and activist TTW.

Equally important, I left with an image of all the different kinds individuals who are against this war, older men and women, young teens with nose piercings, conservatively dressed 30 somethings, head covered Muslims, women, as in this image, who remind me of my grandmother. That's heartening.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Frozen Waterfall

I’ve been meaning to blog for a few days; I have at least four posts I’ve written in my head, but now reality has set in (Sunday night) and I better just get something down rather than waiting till I have time (never) to sculpt four posts.

Continuing with my goal of cataloguing all Davis County hikes this winter, I traversed a trail which starts just as the paved road ends up Farmington canyon. Like all the trails in DC I've been up this one several times but it took me several years of running before I discovered it and I still don't even know its name. I do know that the trail eventually turns to the North and heads up to Sunset Campground. Last weekend I learned that it's beatiful in the winter.

There are a few strangely rickety (Eagle Scout projects?) railings, both ill-placed as there is no big danger here and literally duct tapped together. All the same, nicely quaint.

Here's a prominent rock formation about half way up and the view looking toward the Great Salt Lake.

An unexpected bonus on this hike are the several old cars which have presumably rolled down from the steep switchbacked Farmington road. These cars are great distractions for tired little hikers. Reminds me of the time when I was running down the Farmington Canyon road in the winter (it's kept plowed year round as they have to maintain the radar towers--big white balls above Lagoon) only to find an old station wagon half way off the road. Maybe that's how it happened with this poor car.

Saving the best for last, the hike takes you to an enormous waterfall. Not higher than Adam's Canyon, which is to the north, a waterfall I still need to photograph this winter, but much more water volume.

Here's my first shot taken through the trees which gives some perspective on its bigness. The bluish tint is the completely frozen waterfall.

In order to get a better look, I descended this fairly treacherous descent--the photo doesn't do it justice.

And finally my shot supremo of the 60 foot fall:

I considered crossing the white abyss in front of the fall (a full-flowing river in the summer) but decide against it. Somehow falling through ice and being trapped underneath ice and snow didn't seem appealing. In fact the image haunted me all the way down the mountain.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bair Canyon

In the spirit of cataloguing other wonder winterlands in Davis County, here are some photos from Bair Canyon. BC is just above Fruit Heights, trailhead starting out by a big water tank. Trail eventually takes you to the Radar towers (aka Paul Bunyon's golf balls if in polite company, seen from I-15 and Lagoon). Trail is where the famous Bair Gutsman gutbuster race (14 miles of punishing uphill and pounding downhill) is held each August.

Last Saturday I hiked up to the 2nd river crossing with my wife; on Monday we all (three kids and one friend) hiked to the first bridge. I was hell bent on getting the kids out over the long weekend so we finally, after much debate, went for it even though it was about 20 degrees or so.

We made it to the first bridge with kids in tow and then had chilli and chips in a bag.
The ice never ceased to amaze me:
And I was able to convince my five year old son that it was pretty nifty:
But my 11 year old son going on 16 was not persuaded, "This has got to be the stupidest thing we've ever done." Strange that oldest son was cold only clothed in a light jacket, no gloves, no hat. Seems I can't persuade him of anything much at all lately. But if freezing his ass off is his most dangerous move towards independence, I'm all for it.
Enjoy the snow and ice without the cost and complexities of ski resorts and gear--it's my motto this year.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Racing with camera

The Adam's Canyon trail contains many memories reaching back to the summer of 1995 when we moved to Layton, long before the connecting Bonnevile Shoreline Trails were built. I’ve literally spent hours stretching right here amongst the rocks up the trail on the left; more significant these rocks mark the top of a long set of sandy, hot (in the summer) switchbacks, my finishing spot for punishing 4-5 minute hill repeats. At the end of the trail, several miles behind the hill in the background, is a wonderfully high waterfall—24 minutes is my fastest ascent. On this day though I’m not checking my watch, in fact I don’t even have one on; I’m gauging success by slower means.

As you can tell, I took a camera with me, something I’ve never done in the 100 or so times I’ve been up this trail. So many ascents but often they are hurried, they have had “purpose.” Instead, today I begin by noticing the ice.

Ice is quite amazing, the crystal patterns, the dark shapes darting just under the surface, the rippled textures--seemingly manufacture yet too natural to have come from our hands.

Next, I hit one of my favorite parts of the trail. For a few hundred yards the trail skirts through a clump of evergreen trees before the first bridge. I’ve always looked forward to passing this particular grand conifer.

It's a magnificent tree which always briings me some comfort, brief shade in the summer, assurance and firmness in every season. Speeding up the trail, hoping for a new record, I’ve rarely stopped here; generally just a quick glance out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes, if not going for a record, the hike only a detour on a longer day of training, I may stop for a minute or so, stretching my hip or achilles; I might pat the tree as if it were a dog. It’s been a long love affair between me and this coniferous fellow. Several times I’ve brought my children to the upper falls; when passing the tree I’ve encouraged them to touch it, look up in its branches.

Often I’ve wanted to climb it, sure if I could just pull myself up on the first branch, I could climb forever. Even on a new-experience day like today, it’s a bit out of my reach, a bit too dangerous.

But I do risk something, I do take the road less travelled even while on familiar terrain. I wrap my arms around the hulking tree, and lean and feel, sensing its essence, realizing and not caring how silly I might look. A tree-hugger. Until this moment I’d never thought about the term literally. Today, I think about it. I wonder about the original usage of tree-hugger, having recently finished The Professor and the Madman about a man in an asylum who turned in over 10,000 citations for the first edition of the OED. It tells me its "depreciative" as in the first usage: "1965 Appleton (Wisconsin) Post Crescent 10 Sept. 1/4 The battle was between the *tree huggers and the city. The city won, 100-0" or "literal" as in a person who hugs a tree in order to save it from being felled.

Neither of these quite work for my situation. Clearly I don't see my tree hugging as a negative thing, yet I'm not making any political statement. I fashion myself more a tree-hugger in the sense of Salamanca Tree Hiddle in Walk Two Moons who offers, "Have you ever been overcome with a desire to hug a tree?" Now that's about right.


I don’t regret the full tilt, air-gasping sprints up this trail. They were impressive and fun, gawking hikers incredulous that I was running through this steepness in 95 degree weather; several upward battles with my old running buddy Jim. But today I travel as if on a new trail, full of wonders I’d noted, witnessed but never fully engaged. Maybe its my age (I just turned 38), maybe it’s the humility brought on by the bulging disk in my back or my NSAID eaten stomach. Whatever it is I’ve finally committed to a love affair held until now at arm's length.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ramen Noodle XI

I was just reading a chapter out of Charlotte's Web to my 5 year old son. We got started on it after we went to the movie over the Christmas break. It's been fun because looking for the book and then starting it has opened up a whole new world of reading books for my son--we grabbed up Paulsen's Hatchet, a Roald Dahl, and The Indian in the Cupboard. Reading a book to my son is the epitome of what fatherhood is all about for me. Tonight I got an extra laugh as we finished up chapter X. At first I wasn't sure what he was saying,

"What Ramen noodle is that?"
"Well, Templeton just ate a noodle out of Wilbur's slops."
"No, which Ramen noodle is that?" as he pointed at the next chapter.
"Ah, Roman numeral you mean?"

Doesn't get any better than that.