Monday, August 6, 2012

Knitting in the mountains.

For some time now, I've been asking Bandit if we could take a day trip into the mountains, and yesterday we finally got the chance.

Now, I just want to make one thing clear. Having spent my childhood in North Dakota and then grown up on the Eastern seaboard, for most of my life I regarded mountains as just another kind of geographical feature, much like a lake or an ocean. I knew that you can drive a while out to see a lake or an ocean, and it's kind of pretty, and your parents take entirely too many pictures for what the sight actually warrants. If you, like me, have never lived anywhere with mountains, you might assume that this is what mountains are like too. It's not. I learned this when I moved out west for grad school. Mountains... impose. They're always there, grand and majestic and comforting. You don't need to drive out to see them. They're a part of your everyday life. (You can also use them to quickly and easily determine the cardinal directions, which is an unspeakable blessing if you've grown up with parents who seem to have compasses in their heads. Compasses calibrated slightly differently.)

You learn to love your mountains, love them dearly. These are my mountains, and I'm very proud of them. The mountains where Bandit used to live, in my opinion, are not quite so impressive. The mountains where he lives now, I initially wrote off as not all that impressive either, but after living here for some time (rather closer to the mountain range than where that picture was taken) I had to admit that they were quite something.

Mountains make for excellent day trips. Everything changes so quickly as you drive into passes and under sheer cliff faces and over shallow sunrippling streams. We drove through Big Cottonwood Canyon, and even though I'd brought my knitting, I barely even touched it for half an hour as I just stared out and around at the mountains. We parked at Solitude, which in the winter is a ski resort and in the summer is... apparently the site of a premiere culinary event and fundraiser to help fight hunger. Though we acknowledged it was a fine cause, the tickets were a bit pricey for us and our impromptu day trip. So we rode the chairlift up to the top of the peak instead.

Chairlifts are fun. It was very quiet as we swayed our gentle way up, and Bandit told me stories about all the ski trips he'd ever been on where someone he knew dropped a pole or got hit from behind by a chair. We lamented the fact that neither of us had thought to bring a camera more advanced than a smartphone, and I wondered aloud whether I could get some sort of achievement for knitting on a chairlift. He dissuaded me by pointing out the heartbreak that would inevitably result if I dropped my yarn.

The view from the top was magnificent. It was difficult to try to capture it with a phone picture, especially as the sun was so bright that the screen was barely visible.

We discovered several hiking trails, and picked one that promised to lead us towards a lake.

It was a short but surprisingly challenging hike, especially when we got to a slope that must have been at least at a 30-degree incline. We rested often and drank plenty of water. When we finally got to the lake, it was a little disappointing - just a little green pond, with a patch of long grasses growing at the center. But we rested for a long time there and watched the groundhogs and chipmunks. We were there so long that a chipmunk actually jumped onto Bandit's leg. (He got an achievement for this, I'm sure.)

The chairlift ride down was just as relaxing, if somewhat less tranquil because of the sun, which had come out in full force (I have a sunburn on one shoulder now), and the distant megaphone din of the auction that was going on in the event tents below. We got some ice cream and ate it slowly, cooling down, then drove home talking about how this had been a good idea and how, perhaps, in the winter we'd come back and go skiing. I managed to get a little bit of knitting done at last.

Then we got home and played Warcraft 3.

(Since we're both huge Blizzard dorks fans, there were plenty of the obligatory "IN THE MOUNTAINS!" shoutouts throughout the day. It's mandatory. Trust me.)

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