eleven

At long last, a few glimpses of 2011…and perhaps a word or two.

Shades of gray towards Mount Timpanogos, Alta, Utah, 01.2011.

The famous Alta precipice during a graybird May, 05.2011.

The clouds finally parted after upwards of 724 inches of fluffy powder had descended from the heavens. Faceshots were certainly in generous supply during the '10-'11 ski season in Alta, Utah, 05.2011.

A multisport May vista: gazing towards the still-snowy Wasatch Front from the salty environs of Antelope Island, north of Salt Lake City, 05.2011.

After a shotgun trip to Corsica in June (which I promise to soon report on, albeit almost a year too late), I returned to the cozy contours of Little Cottonwood Canyon in mid-July to find snow lingering at the base of Alta. Before finally stashing my skis for my trail-running shoes, I made the foolhardy decision to make my first-ever summer ski descent...solo. Needless to say, summer snowpack isn't quite like the fluffy stuff of the gods that falls from the sky during the winter months proper. I snapped this shot of stunning Mount Superior and the pristine bluebird after descending Main Chute from the summit of Mount Baldy at ~11,068 feet. There's a first time for everything. 07.2011.

By September, the snow had, indeed, melted. Soon thereafter I found myself longing for this familiar landscape to once again be shrouded in white. 09.2011.

The snow may have overstayed its welcome last spring/summer (if there is such a thing), but it certainly hydrated the Little Cottonwood landscape for a riotous show of wildflowers come summer...in early-September. 09.2011.

Just as I was starting to grow wary of graybird May, SK (ever my partner-in-crime) was forced to return to the States after the precipitous imposition of martial law in Guatemala. Rather than opt for a peaceful week of rest in snowy Alta, we rallied for a road trip down south to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, complete with bottomless bagels, spreadable cheese, sausage rounds, warm beer...and scarcely sane plans to attempt an overnight assault into the steamy wilds of the Canyon from the North Rim to the Colorado River and back again (~32 miles). I would call this one a success. 05.2011.

Reveling in red rock, Zion National Park. 09.2011.

After the stunning, but crowded environs of Zion, we escaped and drove through the Dixie National Forest to Cedar Breaks National Monument, a landscape richly detailed by the beautiful juxtaposition of red rock amphitheatre, craggy hoodoos, and thousand-year-old bristlecone pine trees. The silence imposed by the ampitheatre served as a fitting bookend for a summer (and year) of high-adrenaline activity. 09.2011.

When life gives you lemons, go to Slovenia...and plunge into the Adriatic. Although SK and I were raring to hit the trail in the remote Valle di Natisone upon arriving in Trieste, Italy, last June, our exuberance was quickly deflected by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI)...and its rather eclectic conception of administrative efficiency. After all-too-proudly producing our completed applications for summer membership to CAI (which would earn us discounts at high-mountain huts in the Alps), we learned that we would be "forced" to spend an extra day in limbo as we awaited the return of the CAI official responsible for stamping our paperwork from holiday (seriously). By the time I finished moping, SK had already made plans to cross from West to East. 06.2011.

Deflected travel plans soon turned to delight as we reveled in Piran's pastels...and Slovenia's signature Radler beverage, a refreshing concoction of grapefruit and tasty brew. 06.2011.

Life on-trail in the Alps is hardly rough around the edges. I had foolishly neglected to pre-load all of the necessary GPS data onto our device (thus rendered useless), so we found ourselves crisscrossing the Italy-Slovenia border on-foot during the full extent of an all-too-humid day. 25 miles and 7,200 vertical feet later, it was time for piping hot gnocchi and a cold brew...or two. 06.2011.

With the dollar dwindling (ours and the U.S. currency, more generally), we hopped on a cruise ship-worthy ferry across the Mediterranean to the posh--and craggy--island of Corsica, where we found ourselves to be among approximately 10 Americans who visit the island each summer. Something akin to "why are you here?" became our welcome refrain. The Mediterranean was certainly alluring in its sparkling shades of deep blue, but we immediately headed into the warm (110 degrees of dry heat warm) embrace of the Parc Naturel Regional de Corse. 06.2011.

I will reserve the tale(s) of our ~130-mile-long ultra-hike across Corsica--and how it became a mad dash to compete with a troop of middle-aged, spandex-clad French ultra-runners--for a subsequent post. This vista bid SK and me goodnight as made the final preparations for a 32-mile-long, 8000 vertical feet day en route to Conca, the southern terminus of the ultra-competition. Nervous (and masochistic) laughter abounded. 06.2011.

Looking towards to the Centre George Pompidou on a blissful Parisian evening from our budget hotel room. Not too shabby. 06.2011.

It's almost always a perfect moment for an ice-cold, tasty brew. Trieste, Italy, 06.2011.

Back in the States, we just relaxed. ...kidding! Not quite. After braving hipsters, the Hoh Rainforest (35 overnight miles which will soon/finally be recounted in a trip report), and hearty helpings of freeze-dried feed on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, we opted for some horizontal time on nondescript "Beach 1," complete with the Thermarests still glistening with dew from the torrential downpour of the night before. 08.2011.

When September finally rolled around, I found myself anxiously preparing to return to college life. I lasted a few days on campus, then bolted north into my own "backyard." 09.2011.

When our plans for an overnight ascent of Half Dome went awry (the September freeze hardly foreshadowed a frosty winter in the high-mountain West), we opted for a daytime stroll--and naptime--on the John Muir Trail. 10.2011.

Just a little sur. In awe at Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur, California. 10.2011.

Hiding in the hills in Portola Valley, California. 11.2011.

There’s always more.

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