Jan. 12th, 2011

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Zion is a canyon in Utah known for its variety of soft reddish sedimentary rocks.  The composition of these rocks has allowed rivers to carve exquisitely textured yet enormous ravines into them, creating an extremely beautiful place.  However, in winter, these rocks get covered with snow, enhancing the contrast and making the grinding work of the water even easier to see.  Pictures of Zion in winter were amazing enough to convince me to drive three hours from Vegas after my conference ended to check it out.  It did not disappoint.  I spent the day hiking four major trails, taking in as much as I could.

Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter
Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter

The textures were fantastic.  The lines of snow deposited in darker and recessed areas highlighted the range of ways that the rock had been carved.

Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter
Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter

I have a lot more photos on Flickr

Also, I'm shocked that Zion is practically empty in winter.  Unless you're going canyoning, there's really not much of a reason to go in the summer. 
mattbell: (Default)

Angel's Landing is the sort of trail that would probably never get built today.  The last section of the trail goes along an extremely narrow ridge with 1000' dropoffs on both sides, with only an occasional chain to help you keep your balance.  I was last here when I was 12 or so, and was too scared to complete the trail.  Thus, there was extra significance behind my return to the trail.  The challenge bar had been set a lot higher though -- in winter this trail is snowy and often icy, and the snow is often deceptive in hiding cliffs, crevices, and other dangerous locations.  I bought some Ice Trekkers traction control devices for my feet, but they turned out to be somewhat inadequate in dealing with the worst situations -- slick icy slopes.  It's hard to get a good view from a distance of this last part of the trail, but I did manage to take a very zoomed in picture from another trail that gives a sense for it.  If you look really close, you can see a person making her way along the ridge.


 

Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter
Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter
 
Fear was my constant companion as I made my way across.  I was acutely aware of the tiniest slipping of my feet, and moved extremely carefully as I contemplated both the physics of my motions and my intuitive rock climber sense of my movement.  Having this extended exercise of constant fear let me play with how I dealt with the fear; this situation was a reasonable one in which to be fearful, but some flavors of fear are more productive than others, and I was able to analyze what generated the different types of fear. 

I met some other people with better traction control devices -- I had chosen a good all-around solution that handled all kinds of terrain, but the trail really demanded long spikes for better control on ice. 

I climbed up the tree at one of the peaks and surveyed the view.  It was a hell of a drop.  The view was fantastic though.


Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter
Zion in Winter
  Zion in Winter
Zion in Winter  Zion in Winter
 


Angel's Landing isn't the only harrowing hike in Zion.  Here's Hidden Valley:
 

Zion in Winter

You call this a trail?  Oh right, I came in winter and am doing all this at my own risk.  Self-reliance is a good trait to develop.
 
mattbell: (Default)
There are already implantable glucose monitors.  Why not create one that causes harmless pain if blood glucose rises beyond a certain level, with the amount of pain increasing commensurate with the level?  People modify their behaviors quickly to avoid pain if there's a clear and rapid connection between the pain and a pain-causing stimulus.

Devices that intentionally cause pain might be difficult to get FDA-approved, but it seems like techniques like gastric bypass essentially accomplish the same thing, with far more side effects an irreversible changes. 

I feel like I have a natural version of this glucose-pain connection; when I eat many kinds of junk food, I start to feel sick within minutes.  It's trained me to not eat junk food, even if it once tasted good at the time of eating.

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