Sunday, January 15, 2012

Skiing and My 50-Mile-Long Nature Essay

     I attend Timpview High School and I'm sure that you've heard me bashing on it before.  Well it is a strange place.  Among the many oddities exists that of the terms (quarters).  You would think that the second term would end the day before Christmas Break but, unfortunately, this is not the case.  In fact, there lie two weeks of second term after Christmas Break.  This is nice because it leaves an end-of-term crunch to look forward to (sarcasm intended).  This finally brings me to my point.  Sorry about the delay, but my life has been even more crazy than usual these past few weeks.

     The good news is that I am here giving the update, the absence of which has kept you tossing and turning in your beds at night for weeks.  First off, I officially have the skiing bug.  I went for my first time this season two days ago with Suspence and the kids.  Then I went for my second time yesterday with Meg.  The skis, bindings, poles, and pass work together like clockwork.  As I was riding up the lift yesterday, we went through a darker stretch of trees.  I looked down and saw this:

My skis... GLOWING IN THE DARK!!! (I tried to take a picture but it's too dim for my camera).

Cool!  Who knew right!?

      I've also been singing in the ward choir lately which has been a lot of fun.  There is something to be said for actually taking part in good music rather than just listening to it.

     And now the main attraction:  My Nature Essay.  It's actually rather good.  Also, all of my writing has a principle or something to learn behind it (it's not just a fun little story about me) so keep your eyes open.  I am, of course, open to criticism and/or praise so... comment!  Writing Below:

King's Peak
     An ant crawled across the rock. Then my boot landed, squishing the little invertebrate and ending his rather miniscule and unimportant life. I was doing it. I was undertaking a fifty-mile trek through the Uinta Mountains to King's Peak, the tallest mountain in Utah. The plan was to leave base camp and hike for two days until we reached the base of the peak. On the third day we would conquer the mighty stone spearhead and summit at its glittering tip around midday. The two remaining days would be used for the return journey making it a five-day trek.
     As I walked along, I felt the weight of my 35 pound pack on my shoulders and hips. It was a good backpack. We had haggled with the salesman until he gave it to us at a very low price. Those salesmen will do anything to sell if you are strong and firm enough. It was an internal frame, pretty water-tight and quite comfortable too. Yes, it was a good backpack.

     I felt great. At home we are used to large meals and relaxing evenings. On the trail the trekker barely feels hunger. He is glad of food, but almost rises above the need for much of it. The second morning I felt strong and ready to go, and after a quick packet of instant oatmeal we headed out of camp for another day of hiking.

      I thought back to the first morning of the trek. As we headed out in my white Astro Van we laughed and talked amongst ourselves, excited for this new challenge. Outside it was very hot, but that was little problem for us. We simply turned on the air conditioning and the radio and soon the van was filled with cool air and rock music.

      I absentmindedly ripped a leaf from its branch and began shredding it into little pieces and tossing them to the wind. We were making a good pace and were right on schedule. Up ahead the trail wasn't marked except with little stacks of stones. This line of markers extended up a ridge just ahead and my companions and I headed on up the trail. It was hard work and hot sweat rolled down my back but I knew that I was easily up to the challenge.

      I hiked up the last stretch and looked down into the valley below. I saw tiny, insignificant pine trees. I had bested the ridge. I smelled the cool clean air and laughed in triumph as an impotent mountain butterfly flitted past.

 And then I looked up.

     I saw great, jagged peaks tipped with blindingly white snow. They towered over me like enormous guardians of some forgotten realm. I shielded my eyes from the light, less confident in my victory. A few gray clouds floating lazily in the midst of a blue sky caught my attention. The clouds had seemed small to me at first, but as I watched they started to grow. They grew to blot out the sun. They grew to cover the sky. They grew to hide the summits of the peaks so that I could no longer make out the white snow caps. They became a gigantic veil between me and heaven that rumbled like an angry beast from some long forgotten age. A flash of lightening caught me off guard and left jagged red lines searing in the backs of my eyelids. I felt rock-hard hail pounding my head, neck, and back. I was caught between a hammer of ice and an anvil of stone. It dawned on me that if I didn't get off of the subject of my ill- judged victory, I would soon be cooked by the bursts of lightening that lit up the sky all around me.

     I scrambled down the side of the ridge into the forest of massive pine trees and huddled beneath one for shelter from the wrath of the sky. I gazed up through the great branches of my protector into the power, majesty, and sheer terror of a Uinta Mountain summer storm that darkened the sky and sent all living things frantically scrambling for cover.
     Within a few minutes of the beginning of the storm, it was over. The sky cleared, the hail stopped, the lines on my eyelids faded, and the ancient mountains stood as timeless and immovable as ever. I slept soundly that night.
     Our party, because of the deceptions of the mountains and our own human error, did not reach the summit of King's Peak. In fact we did not so much as set foot on it. We headed home early, tired, and hungry. Toward the end of the journey home our spirits rose at the prospect of comfortable sleeping arrangements, rock 'n roll, and all-American cheeseburgers. Upon arriving at base camp we piled into my gloriously cool Astro Van and headed for the nearest Burger King. I'm sure we smelled terrible and looked the same, but we didn't care. There is one moment I won't forget, though. As we drove away from the wilderness and back to civilization I looked back and saw King's Peak in all of its glory. It was lit in evening light and was clothed in a deep purple robe with a shimmering golden crown of ice. As I looked back upon the stone that had proved too great to conquer, the music that filled the car faded from my mind and I believe that King's Peak, that great and majestic mountain, was laughing at me with ancient laughter born of bygone days in sun and snow and of watching the butterflies and ants and people around it live their lives and fade into memory. And in my heart, I laughed, too.