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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Mount Humphrey Ridge

Mount Humphrey and the Super Sayin’

Mount Humphrey

Requesting days off at work now is nearly impossible with the influx of more tourists who want to look at the stupid Canyon. I got off Valentine’s Day weekend recently, and spent a few romantic nights with my Kelly. We spent some of our time with the little doggy, but to my surprise, Kelly wanted to roam around Phoenix and Scottsdale just to get out of the house. I wanted to be a couch bum and cuddle staying in all day, but we hit the road for Papago Park instead. The hole in the rock intrigued many visitors all around the city, mostly fat people and children since it involved minimal walking, but the views on top of the rock overlooked the zoo and a lake, where a bunch of Mexicans grilled out with their families drinking their typical cerveza of choice, Corona.

Although the park agitated me from the noise and the people I enjoyed spending time with my fiancé. Since I moved to the Canyon it is hard to find time to see her due to the distance, our schedules and money, but we make it work. Adjusting between the Canyon and Phoenix always hits me hard due to the temperature change, long drive and acclimation. For February, Phoenix is hot. A dry 80 degrees makes it feel like I’m a melting snowman in direct sunlight, which is why I enjoy the cool breeze of the Grand Canyon.

Mount Humphrey

We found the trail for Mount Humphrey’s Peak

We walked around Papago Park for a brief period until Kelly decided to check out the distance of Cosanti from our location. I completely forgot about this place, but if you remember my previous blog post about Arcosanti, they have similarities in structure. Paolo Soleri lived in Cosanti and started much of his sustainable work for arcology here. Cosanti is home to his family along with his bell production, which generated enough revenue to start constructing his ideas from paper and models to actual architecture. This established Arcosanti. Cosanti is a store next to Scottsdale that strictly sells bells and pots made using similar techniques implemented by Paolo Soleri, who died a few years ago at the age of 93. Both Arcosanti and Cosanti give the hippie vibe, but the principle behind their self-sustainable society is to preserve the Earth through green building. The idea that less is more is evident when you step foot into Cosanti. Though most of the embellished bells and ornate pots are quite expensive, I saw one priced at $18,000, the revenue goes to making Soleri’s dream a reality. What better place to do it than Scottsdale?

Mount Humphrey

Plane debris from a wreck on Mount Humphrey

Our original plans after visiting Cosanti and Papago Park took us to a packed parking lot full of couples texting on their phones in an agitated state outside of The Cheesecake Factory. Immediately we turned around in the opposite direction releasing fumes of frustration until we stumbled upon the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, a small Chinese restaurant in Sun City. They served us immediately with platters stuffed full of tofu, egg rolls, egg drop soup and Kung Pao chicken. We ate until our stomachs drooped over our waistbands. I needed to unbutton my pants because of my bloated state from over-eating. Kelly indulged in a few drinks and we ended our weekend of bliss with cuddling to Cabin in the Woods.

Mount Humphrey

She dropped me off in Flagstaff to catch the shuttle back to the Grand Canyon, but luckily, Graeme got time off of work and hung out in Flagstaff to hike Mount Humphrey with his friend Weston. I heard adventure and joined without any question. We roamed around Flagstaff waiting for Weston to get off of work and my mind wandered off about the wedding, my wedding ring and hopping freight trains. After fitting my ring size in the mall I noticed a crew change spot in Flagstaff so I am looking forward to catching out next time I am wandering about in Flagstaff after my job ends in April.

7 PM rolled around and we grabbed the typical hiking food from the grocery store, sardines, anchovies, tuna fish, peanut butter, etc. We decided to rent snowshoes and boards from Peace Outlets for $30 to board down the peak once reaching the summit. My adrenaline and stoke-meter flew off the Richter scale as I calmed myself down for a night of sleeping on the floor of a tiny apartment.

Mount Humphrey Ridge

A beautiful view from the ridge-line overlooking the other mountains around Mount Humphrey

We awoke early at 7 AM to hit the mountain. Starting from Agassiz Lodge we learned a backcountry permit was necessary to hike Mount Humphrey or a day pass to Snowbowl, which we had neither. We arrived sandwiched between a liftie meeting at the Agassiz Lodge and bolted for the adjacent woods behind the parking lot. The map seemed useless since it did not have Snowbowl trail names on it, but nonetheless we hiked in the general direction of the Peak. After strapping into our snowshoes we jogged across the mountain to the woods to hide in the shadows of the tree-line from ski patrol. The snow felt stiff, pact and granular unlike fresh fluffy powder. Weston lead the pack while we followed footprints cast throughout the snow, heading north up the mountain, towards the peak. Surprisingly we found signage with a log book stating, “Mount Humphrey Trail.” We kept rolling lucky 7’s as we trekked up the mountain on its many switchbacks. In many instances the trail outlined a route from other day hikers making it easy to follow until footprints scattered off in multiple directions diverting from the assigned route on the map. We took matters into our own hands heading north to the peak eliminating multiple switchbacks, which in turn made us gain altitude much faster and tired our legs out to Jello. Coming from Goodyear the day prior I felt extremely exhausted with the acclimation. My calf muscles tired as I marched up the steep grade following Weston and Graeme, but my shortness of breath astonished me, since the last month all I have done is hike or walk everywhere.

Because we took the less common route we stumbled upon a plane wreck and memorial for 8 men who died in a military mission in the year 1944. Some of the debris from the crash site still scattered across the mountain as we saw bits and pieces glistening in the afternoon sunlight. When we made it to the top after a half day of trudging through the unfavorable conditions our self doubt banished and replaced with a feeling of perseverance, excitement and accomplishment. Suddenly my shortness of breath, wobbly legs, and sun-burnt face, disappeared with a smile of happiness as Graeme yelled out a huge growl from the summit. He looked like Goku going Super Saiyan atop Arizona’s highest peak. We roamed down to an open area of snow and boarded through the glades. I missed out on Graeme and Weston falling through the woods, skidding down on their butts and hands, but I was not much better. I zigzagged through the trees trying to maintain a rhythm. The same rhythm I learned a few years back when living in Breckenridge, CO slowly came back to me after much falling on my ass, knees, and hands. By the time I finally picked snowboarding back up my ass felt frost bitten and my gloves turned a soppy mess. We all reached the bottom as Snowbowl closed for the day looking up at Mount Humphrey’s Peak amazed at its vastness overlooking the city.

Mount Humphrey

At the summit of Mount Humphrey

Skiing Breckenridge

Snowboarding Breckenridge

Snowboarding Breckenridge

I took out a snowboard for the first time yesterday. Snowboarding Breckenridge Mountain was definitely an interesting experience.  I made it down one run before I decided to throw in the towel and call it a day.  I picked up carving toe side relatively easy, but heel side appeared to be impossible.  Instead of carving heel side I just switched from goofy to regular and continued snowboarding Breckenridge Mountain.  I ended up falling multiple times hitting my thumbs, wrists, head, ass and ribs against the hard snow.  After catching an edge that made me plunge forward in the air I hit my rib cage and jammed my thumb into the hard icy snow. I scrambled over to the side of the trail and rested for a half hour to regain my composure. I think I bruised a rib and sprained my thumb, but I’ll be alright.

After that I decided to call it a day and headed back to Blue River Sports where I took out a beginner board.  Despite hating insurance I gave in to our socialist system the other day and signed up for a basic health insurance plan through my work.  I’m not really sure why I did that because I am not going to use it anyway, but I did not want to sign something under oath and lie about it.  Obamacare is bullshit and we should have a say on whether or not we want health insurance, but the United States will most likely decay as a nation within the next 20 to 30 years anyway so it does not really matter.

The downfall of our nation is one of the many reasons I have leaned more towards minimalism.  I own under 100 items at the moment and will continue to live like this for the time being until I decide to buy a tiny home somewhere in the country.  Less stress, less to worry about and more money to spend on traveling than luxury. Snowboarding Breckenridge is just a temporary situation for the winter. Between that being a ski bum and working at Blue River Sports I should be able to save enough to fund my future travels to Seattle and Alaska.

Ski Technician

Ski Technician

I finally started work at Blue River Sports this past Wednesday.  Everyone seems really cool.  I fitted a customer for a ski package, but other than that we have just started training for snowboard boot fitting, ski boot fitting, snowboard bindings for silver and gold packages, ski binding packages and next week we will learn more about tuning and waxing.  They also went over their packages, recreation, deluxe, performance, specialty for skiing and silver, gold and titanium for boarding.  There is a lot of material to remember since in the past few years inserts have changed the world of skiing and boarding and made everything more awesome for those on the mountain and more confusing for ski technicians.  After a little more practice I am sure I’ll be fine.  We also learned about the different types of boards and skis.  Wider boards are meant for people wearing at least an 11.5 snowboard boot.  Boards that are rockered are meant for beginnings and are more forgiving when falling.  Boards that are rockered in the center, cambered under foot and rockered at the tips are more intermediate/advanced boards.  There are a wide variety of boards in between meant for switch, half pipe, etc.  We also learned about the different types of skis.  Skis that are more narrow are easier to turn.  Skis that are wider are generally meant more for powder, but can be skied on groomed terrain.  Skis with twin tips are more of a terrain park ski meant for tricks.

I’ll go over more in this thread later when I look over my ski technician book.  This information is really just for any traveler interested in getting a job in the ski technician field.  You’ll have a one up on others that you are interviewing against for a ski technician job even if you have never done any of the physical work.  Just knowing about skis and snowboards will set you apart.


Aside from that I took the bus on a long epic journey to Silverthorne on Thursday for the Pre-Thanksgiving party at Tiffany’s house.  Chip and Rachel were there along with her son Eli, and a few other people I just met.  We ate a ton of turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, cookies, and indulged in a lot of beer.  I ended up staying pretty late and almost missed the bus back home.  We talked about punk music, drugs, Colorado and they introduced me to Left, Right, Center which is a game with 3 die that takes forever to win.  I wound up giving my chips away at the end because I just wanted to leave.

I might hit up the mountain Sunday with another ski technician, Ryan, to see how Breckenridge is for the first time this season.  He’s going to take me boarding next week on Wednesday while I demo a board from work.  That’s the great thing about being a ski technician.  Not only are the people you work with mad cool, but Blue River Sports pays for my pass, and they let ski technician’s demo boards and skis before the season gets busy.  All in all, the week couldn’t be any better.  I look forward to tutoring and working at Blue River Sports next week.

Thrift Store

Picked up some Billabong pants at the local thrift store down the street for ten bucks. That is the only other pair of clothes I own here beside sweatpants.

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