An inclusive description of a mountain might include the antonyms related to impossible, or possibly its aggressive nature and overall resemblance to the word death; the literal embodiment of what is and isn’t possible for the human body to endure is laughing at you.
The single most transformative thing that happened in my life happened in the seventh grade, and despite what you might think, it had nothing to do with a squeaking voice or a damn near uncontrollable testosterone boost. The teacher, with half enthusiasm, let spring-loaded orders float out the corners of her mouth, as they fell on deaf ears. Loading up the paddy wagon, to which it took us to the local hill, formerly known as Ski Gull (which recently tacked on the ironic Mount to its namesake) and take part in the event we knew as skiing.
Continue reading Heads or Tails
I would have told you why I stopped years from now. I would have told you why I started years before then. I would’ve made excuses; I have made excuses. I continue to make excuses but to my surprise, this season has been paying the cranial rent since last it was taken by the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis.
I think about how my body hates me for it. How it hates me for every slam, concussion, and broken bone. It hates me for loving this sport. And yet, my mind still plays hooky with the idea. Snowboarding’s a squeaky wheel; snowboarding’s the whoring mistress that makes the wallet light; snowboarding’s the death on a sunny day. Its birth on a cloudy one.
But the truth is this, it’s got a hold on me as tight as the devil’s stare. Its wretched tail, black as oil stained sheets, curls up my leg until the lies of pleasing euphoria set in—too late it is then. I’ve no longer prescribed to rationale and custom. But I’ve got a hold on it. So long as the grip remains tight, a part of me will always pay homage to the ritual; I’ll always pay the piper; I’ll always please the season.
July 2nd, 2018- I woke up this morning to what sounded like a large rock rolling down the mountain. Lots of knocking on trees and earthy sounds, and I wasn’t quite sure what it was. The longer I listened, the more concerned I got. There was no way a rock the size of a car could tumble all the way down the side of the mountain without getting stopped by a grove of trees. Then the noises abruptly silenced, and the sound of large, heavy feet bounded towards our tent. I completely froze, and with every second, the creature inched closer. It was so loud, I was convinced it was something larger than a person. I truly was so scared that I couldn’t even breathe. The ground was shaking underneath me as the creature ran by while I sat quiet as a mouse, waiting to become a snack for whatever was ten feet away from the tent. People say that the Pacific Northwest is the ultimate Sasquatch breeding grounds, and after that encounter, I was 110% convinced that some kind of large creature does exist out there.
Once I could finally breathe again, I woke Kian up so we could get ready for our first day on hill. We got into the Focus and made it to the top of the mountain, and the realization of actually being on Mt. Hood had finally hit me. After getting “kitted” up at the car, we aimlessly walked around Timberline trying to figure out where we buy lift tickets. We had no clue what we were doing, but we eventually made it to the chairlift where the lift tickets were sold. It was a glorious sunny day, but still quite brisk outside. I didn’t think anything about the weather on hill, as I was wearing my snow pants and typical Midwest winter clothing. I thought it was normal to be cold on the mountain, but Kian was in a windbreaker and track pants, the perfect combo for a summer sesh. That’s what I get for not being a local though, right? As soon as we walked up to the lift, the ticket checker immediately knew we were not frequent summer riders. He asked our names and where we were from, and then told us the conditions up top were not good. High winds and cool temps resulted in some hard packed snow, and our new friend said that it might not be worth our money. The kind man made us a deal. He would give us one ride up the mountain to see if we could brave the conditions and stay. If we wanted to stay, we would come back down and buy a ticket. However, if we got to the top and realized we didn’t find any enjoyment from one run down the mountain, we would come back down to the chair and meet him to let him know we were leaving. A truly one of a kind guy who was just trying to help out a couple of broke kids. We were both so thankful for this man. Obviously we were there to ride the mountain so we took him up on his deal and got on the lift; without the exchange of any money. Once we made it up to the top of the mountain, we immediately knew we would not be staying. The winds were so strong that we could barely hear each other talk, and Kian only had his windbreaker on. It was not worth it at all. We flew down the hill and settled up with our friend at the lift, and went back to the parking lot to regroup. Now what? Once we got to the parking lot, we had discovered that a few homies (Alex, Pete, and Nick ?) had just flown in from Minnesota! How insane! We met them down in Govy and made some plans for the rest of our night. The boys had rented a condo/cabin right in Govy that had a hot tub, so we went over and chilled with the boys in the hot tub until Kian and I came up with something else to do. After some time relaxing in the hot tub, we realized we wanted some things for our campsite, like chairs, and a hammock. So we decided to run into town to the nearest Walmart (which was over an hour away) to get some more last minute things. We’d catch up with the boys later on. As we journeyed down the mountain in the Focus, we noticed that the homeless man with the shopping cart was sleeping underneath “Silent Rock.” There are many superstitious things associated with the rock, and sleeping under it was probably the most disrespectful thing you could do. If you know, you know. Once we finally made it to Walmart, we found our hammock, some cheap chairs and some s’mores supplies. I hadn’t had s’mores in ages, so it was definitely necessary.
As we were walking through the grocery aisles, Kian got the craving for steaks, so we bought some to cook over the fire that night. Of course we didn’t have anything to eat steaks on, so we headed to the local Goodwill to get some super cheap fine china. We found a set of two yellow plates, and a nice pan to cook our steaks in; along with a warmer hoodie for Kian to wear on the mountain the next day.
Kian set up our campsite after we got back. The hammock was fantastic; I’d never been in a real hammock before! It was so nice to just hang out and relax and breathe that crisp Oregon air.
Eventually we got hungry, so Kian cooked our steaks over the fire and they turned out great. I will remember that as long as I live. After we finished eating, we walked down to the lake and washed our dishes. Pure bliss. I’m sure you know as well as I do; after a busy day and a good meal, the next thing on the list is a nice long sleep. As the sun slowly set over the mountain, I put on my fuzzy pajama pants and nestled myself into our little tent to get ready for bed.
The excitement for lacing up and strapping in the next morning filled my heart with jot, and shortly after, I was sound asleep with butterflies and switch carves in my dreams.
July 1st, 2018- When someone says the words “Camping” and “July,” the word “Cold” doesn’t usually fit with the theme. Thank goodness I had packed the Focus full of blankets. I completely forgot that we were going to a place where it would be so cold at night! After accepting the fact that we had indeed reached our destination, we took our time getting moving and enjoyed the brisk morning air and the sunshine we had been blessed with. Because of the weather and the darkness from our late evening arrival, we never got the chance to really see Mt. Hood, so we hopped in the Focus again and did some adventuring. As we came around the corner to the main view from Lake Trillium, we finally saw the top of the mountain for the first time. Once again, I almost burst into tears. It was so much bigger than I had pictured, and I was completely overwhelmed. I never thought I would be here, a view that I had only dreamed of from the countless ski and snowboarding edits I watched online. It was breathtaking. Anyways; once we finally made it to town we aimlessly walked around “Govy” for awhile, and then decided to spend our day searching for a shower. It had been a couple of days since both of us had showered, so it was a 100% priority. I scrolled through my phone and miraculously found a place called “Mazama Lodge” which offered showers to the public for just $5! However, at that time, a private group had rented out the entire facility, and we were told that we wouldn’t be able to shower until after 3 p.m. when the group left. The man in charge said that there was a place just down the road that might also offer showers, so we jumped back into the Focus and tried to give the place a call. After lots of frustration of talking to a computer on the other end of the line, I just headed towards the place. Our GPS said it was 25 minutes from Mazama Lodge; but for a shower, I’d drive an hour at this point. As we headed towards this new town, we passed a homeless man hiking up the mountain with a shopping cart. Although it seems to be a minor detail on this day, this man was a legend during our trip; more details to come in later blogs, I swear. Once we drove the 25 minutes to the recommended location, and walked around aimlessly yet again, we asked the kind woman behind the counter about their shower policy. Turns out, they didn’t offer showers. Heck. Without much luck searching for additional shower sources, we settled on heading back to Mazama Lodge after we did some typical tourist sight-seeing. I had never been to Oregon, but I knew a lot of the homies had been, so I hit up Tony Wagner for some ideas for hikes out in the homeland. The selected hike was “Tom Dick and Harry Mountain Trail.” This was where we would spend the rest of our afternoon on a moderate 7 mile hike to a 360 degree view of Mt. Hood. As we were walking to the trailhead from the car which was on the busy highway, some fellow ski homies had come flying around the corner. You could tell it was a group of homies because the windows were down and loud bass caught our attention. What caught our attention even more was that as the homies sped around the corner, their ski’s flew off the top of their car and into the middle of the highway. Other cars were stopping abruptly and swerving into the other lane to try to avoid them, and it was a bit terrifying, yet hilarious to watch. This wasn’t necessarily the kind of sight-seeing I had envisioned!
The hike to the top was so gorgeous. The big pines and rocky hillsides were something of a new breed; It is better in Oregon. A couple of hours went by, and we finally reached the top of the mountain. We joined a few other people at the top, and took in the breathtaking beauty from afar. After milling about and soaking up the sun, we discovered that there were some friendly chipmunks that called this place home. Let me tell you, these guys knew exactly what they were doing. Fortunately, I had some extra candy in my fanny pack, so we tried to get the little guys to come up to us. With one crinkling wrapper, the family of chipmunks multiplied, and soon the rocky mountain top was filled with chirping chippies. Fun Fact: Chipmunks love Andes Mint Candy. This encounter was easily one of the highlights of the trip in my opinion. We got done taking care of the chipmunks, and got cold at the top of the mountain, so we hiked back down the mountain and headed back towards Mazama Lodge to take showers. At Mazama Lodge, you have to take your shoes off before you enter the building, and leave them on the front porch. At first I was confused, but after taking a shower and conversing with the kind gentleman at the front desk, it just gives it that feeling of home. I felt like I was home.
However, during this trip, our home was a little two person tent that was pitched in the middle of the Oregon wilderness. We said goodbye and made our way “home” to our tent. A great starting point to an unforgettable trip, and the perfect place to drift away into a peaceful sleep.
June 30th, 2018. Arrival day in Oregon. If you know, you know.
June 29th, 2018- At 19 years old, I have learned very quickly that there are some things in life that you just shouldn’t miss out on, and if you don’t ask, nobody can say no. Asking to go on a 3,000 mile road trip out of nowhere was certainly something I wasn’t going to take a risk on.
It could have been as early as one point five million years ago that early hominids begin using fire. Then, stone tools out of Kenya. Language, bipedalism, and advancements of the cranium. Then we had art… elaborate cave paintings, jewelry, tattoos, and garments. Intelligence, as we know it, has been measured. With carefully collected data we can conceptualize just exactly how human we really are. A constant reminder to ourselves that we really do exist. A real schematic of time and space. Continue reading Nick Tietz: The Thing About Gravity II
If Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett hadn’t reached for the answers too soon, we’d have never heard such mosaic sounds. And upon his return to Earth, Syd had not found his knowledge easily translated. And soon he became A target for far away laughter. An artist’s greatest skill is not to access the unknown, but rather be accessible to it. The joke of it all is this: the burden is no longer on the shoulders of the artist but rather in the ability for their audience to translate it. Continue reading Nick Tietz: The Thing About Gravity I