Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kings Peak!

For my birthday, Billy gave me "tickets" for  Kings Peak hike sometime in September or Oct 2014. So for Billy's birthday/our anniversary, we hiked it! 

Kings Peak is the highest point in Utah at 13,529 ft or something like that. So not has high as Pikes Peak, but it's a much longer hike so we were backpacking it! (actually, it's not that much longer up and down. We couldn't get a definite number, but it's either 23 or 28 or 30 miles round trip, and Pikes Peak is 26. But Kings I think is harder to summit, so that's why we backpacked.) 

Anyway, it was joyous!

On the drive up we discovered we just barely missed the leaves. Too bad. 
We had to drive through Wyoming to get there! And our first glimpse of the mountains showed us there was snow on top and I got even more anxious. haha. We were not prepared for snow. 

At the trailhead

Before picture haha

The first several miles was this cool lodgepole pine forest. A lot of them have died because of a beetle something or other that Billy knows about, but it was so cool! 

This was our first glimpse of Kings, it's the pointy triangle in between the other snowy mountains far, far away. 

Dead trees. Sad but kind of pretty. 

Cool bridge

I told Billy that he had to hold on so of course he didn't. 

Hiking towards Kings. The second half of the first day was all through this huge basin. It was really marshy--there's TONS of water up there and tons of sweet lakes! It was really cool and really pretty. And coldish!

Kings is the one growing out of my head. 

In some places they had these cool boardwalks just balanced precariously on random rocks here and there. It reminded us of Yellowstone. We were the only people up there. We saw one person our whole first day and he was a mountain man so he doesn't really count. It was so awesome feeling like we were the only people in the world in the middle of nowhere. 

We made it to this point around 3 in the afternoon (Kings is hiding behind the mountain on the left). The rest of the hike was basically the final ascent and we figured it would take us at least 4 hours to get up and then 3 to get down, so we didn't want to change the plan and try and summit that night, but then we also had tons of hours to do nothing but set up camp and explore around. It was so weird. We felt like we were in an alternate universe--no humans or anything really and just tons of time to just sit around in the wilderness. 

We explored some cool rocks. It was so so cold. We couldn't carry a ton of gear since we were trying to go as light as possible, so it was windy and cold. But so cool. We could see the whole basin we had just hiked through and it was crazy. 

Eventually we fired up some soup in our handy backpacking stove and hid in the tent from the wind. 

It was a weird night for sure. We went to bed at 6! haha accidentally. So then we woke up again at 8, talked until 10 then finally fell asleep for real for the night. 

It was just a few days after the full moon so it was a BEAUTIFUL night. and not too cold. It was just amazing to see the whole basin of a huge mountain in the middle of nowhere completely lit up with moonlight. It was so pretty, i wish such things could be photographed. 

When we woke up in the morning, the last thing we wanted to do was get out of the tent. It was cold! And we knew we weren't going anywhere warm by heading towards a blustery, snowy summit before the sun even came up! But we finally braved it and got out of the tent and started moving. It wasn't so bad and the sun eventually did come out. 

This is Gunsight Pass. Kind of the "now you are going to go up the summit" mark. 

After Gunsight we dipped down into another beautiful basin. Even more lakes and so many more mountains. I kept saying, "Where are we!?" Because we were just literally in the middle of a mountain range. Still hadn't seen any other people. We were the only ones out there. 

These are other peaks to the ....west? of Kings? Southwest probably. Mountain Man told us there's a bunch of peaks in this wilderness that are higher than 12,500. Crazy. Tons of mountains higher than Timp. 

The pictures just don't do it justice. No one could ever capture this place. 

Summit was so scary! There's no path and there was enough snow for me to just be cold and scared. And it is just a precipice, so you just scramble up all of these snowy boulders and hope you're going the right way.  THis picture doesn't really show it very well, but the summit is kind of right in the middle of this crest.  
Billy did so good fearlessly (but very cautiously) leading us to the summit. It was crazy! We felt so hard core! The only people in the world and climbing up a snowy mountain. They say there's no danger of avalanches or rock slides (I mean, I guess anything could happen) but just the whole mountain isn't a mountain, it's just a huge pile of rocks. So. Crazy. Scary but still safe. 

This picture is looking the other way, so the summit is behind us. 

Balancing across the top of the world. I started hiking with two pairs of socks on, and when my feet warmed up my hands were still freezing so I wore one pair of socks as gloves. 

Then finally we made it!  

Mountains, mountains, everywhere! We were the highest people in Utah! 

We made it from our campsite to the top in 4 hours, about what we planned. But we're glad we didn't have the downhill to do in the dark, like we would've the night before. 

Traditional outfits. Go figure. In our future, we won't be able to tell what picture is which summit because we are always wearing the same clothes haha. 

This doesn't show how scary the ridge was that we were hiking on. But it was pretty scary. To me anyway. Billy was fine. 

We made it all the way down the main summit before we actually ran into some people. It was 3 accounting boys from BYU. They had started from further down the mountain earlier that morning. The night before they had been stalked by a cougar for a mile becuase they had a dog with them!! Scary!!! They left the dog behind with their other friend. Good friends, eh? Don't worry, we saw them on our way down and dog and friend were doing fine. 

They were pretty funny and cool--one of them was further behind the other two so we had been talking about routes up the summit for a little before their third came up and they asked him about how his hurt muscle was or something and he's all, "Dude, if you're peakin, I'm peakin." haha but me and Billy heard, "If you're peeking, i'm peekin" and were like....what are you guys peeking at? 

haha anyway. Humans on the mountain. It was weird. 

They did point us in a better direction down, which was faster than the way we took up. For any random people who, like me, googled everything they could about Kings Peak and ended up reading random people's blogs who had done it, I will tell you that at Gunsight, look immediately right for the path up the rocky slope instead of dropping down into Painter's! There's tons of carins that will help you make it around the bend. We added like 2 extra miles by going down Painter's when we could've cut straight across to Anderson Pass. Worth it, cus it was pretty, but a great time saver if that's your goal. 

It was just as rocky on the way back in the new route, but less snowy. 

Then we just had to do from our campsite down. You can see the little orange spot where we had our tent set up. Pretty good spot. It was so pretty. 

And yeah. Somehow this is the last picture we took of our adventure haha. Way up the mountain. But the way down was long and hard and tiring and we were just trudgin haha. The last 2 miles or so felt like an eternity of endless hiking with a huge pack on, but we did make it. 

Such a good celebration hike! We sure did have fun and the next day we were limping around like we just ran a marathon or something. I'd do it again in a heartbeat--maybe in the summer so everything would be green instead of yellow and white, but it was cool to be the only people up there most the time. 

For the random people looking for tips: 
- We packed (and therefore carried) twice as much food as we needed to 
- After our camelbaks ran out, we used a lifestraw for water. There's water everywhere you can purify
- Apparently there's cougars! Leave your dogs at home!
- We did it in 2 days (most people do 3) and had plenty of time to spare. If you're looking to hike at Dollar Lake or right before Gunsight Pass, you don't really have to start hiking until like noon. If you wanna summit the first day, you need to leave pretty early in the morning
- The drive from Provo was about 3.5 hrs
- Bring those delicious individually wrapped fruit pie things! So filling and so good and so cheap!
- For the split at Elkhorn Crossing, pretty sure either way would look exactly the same, so just decide if you want to go more miles or not. The lakes are hidden or pretty much come out of nowhere. We didn't even seen Dollar on our way up! 
- Don't take The Chute. That's just foolish. 
- You may be tempted to go straight up the summit--believe me, it's worth it to go all the around to the north (?) ridge and climb from Anderson's Pass. 
- From Gunsight, it was a 6.5 hour round trip up and down the summit
-Realize you'll be disappointed with your pictures! Nothing can capture that place!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Just thinking

This is going to be a generally frank blog post. Just FYI.

So it’s been a year since brave Zoey was here. And I’ve been thinking, but even my little writer brain can’t really think of a good way to present these thoughts, but I still feel like you, my faithful readers and friends, deserve and might even benefit from some of these thoughts, so I’ll just list them as they are:

1.       I literally cannot believe it has already been a year. I am still trying to figure out how I have a year’s worth of very vivid and poignant (sometimes too poignant) memories, conversations, incidences, events, etc., concerning Zoey when I swear she was just here last week.

2.       Worst year of my life, by the way

3.       But mostly I’m just saying that because it’s my first reaction. It really has been an incredible year; for nearly every second of heartbreaking pain (there’s been about 31,536,000 of them), we’ve experienced a lot of amazing realizations and revelations. A lot of confirmations that this is not all for naught.

4.       I would be nothing, nothing, without Billy. He has saved me every single day.

5.       The night before Zoey’s birthday felt like the night before the Pikes Peak Ascent or the Boston Marathon; I was hardly able to believe that the big day was already the next morning, just hours away, and I could look back on all the amazing training runs I’d done, all the conversations with veterans I’d had, all the mental breakthroughs I had and where I was when I had them, and on and on and already the big day was just the next day!? All the work, all those experiences, and it would all be put to test the next day.

6.       The day after Zoey’s birthday was the worst. I did not consciously make this thought process, but somehow my subconscious must have related the reaching of a milestone to a physical, visible progression and it actually tricked me into thinking that somehow the day after the year mark would be new or different, or, even better, old and the way things used to be. You can only imagine that when I woke up and I was still without Zoey and had still had to go to my job and still had a heavy heart and was still just tired and weary and worn down and still grappling with emotions I haven’t figured out yet, that it was a very hard morning to wake up on. Needless to say, I cried a lot and I didn’t go to work.

7.       SO MANY PEOPLE are made of charity in this world. We were blown away by the people who remembered, the ones that knocked on our door at exactly the right moment, and had good words to say. We are so grateful to be surrounded by so many loving, supportive and Christlike people.

8.       Everything felt so much the same. That was/is very hard to endure. The temperature today was the same temperature it was this day last year, this day last year when I had to wrap my chest tight in a huge ace bandage because my body was ready to feed a baby that wasn’t there, this day last year when I went to my daughter’s funeral, this day last year when I couldn’t run in the mountains, this day last year when I wondered what was going to happen. Everything is still so much the same.

9.        Some things have changed. I know Billy a thousand times better than I used to. I am not as bitter as I was in the months following Zoey’s death. I am better at having conversations with people that used to make me bawl my eyes out. When I am still not so good at that, I am better at pretending so they don’t have to know (which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing, but hey.) My hair is longer.

10.   I wonder if years from now I will look back at this entry and these thoughts and think, “What a pathetic little mourner I was. Things weren’t really all that bad. Were they?”

11.   (They were)

12.   I have made so many dear friends that I would not have made if it were not for Zoey. My heart is more tender, more open to conversations, more open to mourn with people. The gospel is all lined up just right, you guys. We covenant to mourn with each other. When we mourn with each other, we become unified. When we are unified, of one heart (a mourning heart, even), we become a Zion people. When we become a Zion people, the Savoir can bring to pass his work and his glory, to help us gain immortality and eternal life. I’ve seen it work this year.

13.   Death, no matter what kind, sets my whole body into “oh man” mode.

14.   Remember how I said I couldn’t believe it’s been a year? Well, now that a few days have passed and I’ve been very contemplative about this whole business (not a new trend, by the way) I find it equally as hard to believe this whole thing didn’t start at least a million years ago. I feel like I’ve been living through this forever.  

15.   I really apologize for not really talking to anyone except Billy and maybe Mom about everything. It’s way harder than you think, but I hope you all know I’m not not talking to you because I don’t want you to know. On the contrary, if there was any way I could show you some of the things we’ve learned and spare you the actual experience, I would do it. But I think it takes time, so thank you for just being patient and tender with me. 

16.   Several times this year I have thought and even said out loud to people that I didn’t think the gospel was that swell of a crutch or I didn’t really feel like Heavenly Father was really helping me or things like that. Now that I’ve made it to the year mark and I can look back on everything, I can testify that Heavenly Father has been with me every step of the way, and we would not have made it even this far without his constant watch and love. So silly and prideful of me to think otherwise, but you’d be surprised the thoughts you can have when you are just in the depths.

17.   I know a year isn’t very long. These are just my thoughts today and right now. Who knows what happens from here? Mom does, I guess. She is a champ.

18.   Bottom line, you guys, we miss Zoey. We never loved anyone so much! We are so sad. Having her here was so great, even though it was a time wrought with fear and anxiety and wonderings and fatigue. We miss that little girl more than anything and pray for her all the time.

And that’s all for today. Onward, I suppose. I’m not the same Krista I used to be, but it’s ok. I married a different Billy than the Billy I dated because grief and loss changes a person, but we are making it and we are grateful for the gospel.  Thanks for reading a tiny portion of the frankness of my soul. 

Some Randy's

Here's some stuff I've photographed since the last time I blogged. 

We've had so many meals made almost entirely out of stuff from my own garden! Deliciousness and proudness. 

You may know that our freezer struggled for awhile because Billy would put in his ice trays every morning and water would leak everywhere so everything was just an ice kingdom. Which you know is bad news for me cus i HATE HATE ice.  
But i wanted to surprise Billy by cleaning it out so I was brave and got out a knife to chip it away. Good news! When i started chipping, the whole thing lifted up!

I had to wear gloves! I was scared!

We went to CJ's cross country meet in Payson. IT WAS PURE JOY! CJ looks awesome and is totally rocking the coaching thing. 

Billy had to make a bug collection but since he started so late, we were worried about finding all the bugs. I of course considered it a tender mercy when this little guy showed up on my computer screen at my usually bug-less work building. 

We caught a bunch but were always too scared to open up our existing containers in case the bug got out, so every new bug got a new container. 

I was sad when he had to kill all the bugs. But he caught enough and turned it in! So it was good. 

Heaven came to my grocery store. I bought myself and Jamie a bag and ate both of them. Sorry, Jame. 

Looks like that's about it. Obviously not too thrilling of a time haha, but that's what we're doing! I'm just trying to get used to making dinner before 9:30 because Billy actually comes home at like 6 these days instead of almost bed time! It's crazy! 

Mud Pit Endurocross!

The man who really brought Billy into the dirt biking world put on an endurocross last week and so of course Billy rode in it! It was as fun and nerve racking as ever, but this time it was even crazier because it rained the whole day and so the whole course was just on giant mud pit. 

After Billy's practice round he was so tired. The course was really hard, but they had built in places where you could get around the hard parts. Since the course was so slick, nearly everyone skipped the hard parts. 

They had a little pee wee division and it was awesome and adorable! I can't believe those kids! Many of them were better riders than Billy haha. The only problem was that their bikes weren't tall enough to be out of the 7 inches of mud, so many of them would get stuck then just fall right over into the mud. It was precious and amazing, they'd just get right back on their bikes after someone helped them up. 

You can see Billy on the hill in the back behind a person. 

There he is again, going down on the huge tire mud hill.

Loading back up. Billy's bike lost a part in the qualifier round, so he didn't get to ride in the final race, which was fine because I was soaking and freezing! It was the craziest weather, but we had so much fun. And I couldn't help but think of all the moms just sitting in the bleachers of a thousand track meets for years on end, just soaking and freezing. 

Worth it! it was so fun, and I was so glad Billy got to do it, even though he was so tired and the weather wasp poor so the course wasn't as cool. We will definitely go back next year. Come watch!