The Cold Trail to Donut Falls

I’ve never been much for hiking, or the outdoors, or… physical activity in general. But I’ve also committed to spend more time saying “yes” to things that I would normally skip out on, which is why I spent President’s Day evening walking along a snowy winter trail to Donut Falls up Big Cottonwood Canyon.

I say we went “along” the trail, but it’s probably more accurate to say we asked several feet “above” it. As in a good foot or two of snowpack above where the trail would normally be. Oh, there was a good wide path of compressed snow, packed down by the feet of winter hikers much more enthusiastic and numerous than I’d imagine such a foolhardy population would be able to maintain before Darwin’s Law took effect. Still, if we ever took a single step to either side of the trail, we’d to sink up to our knees and sob as our socks got soggy.

We made it to the falls, after a good hour or so of wintry plodding followed by around twenty minutes of trying to scramble up the side of a slushy slope, made even more slippery by the warm holiday temperatures. We had to drop through a hole in the ground to get inside the cave, where it was now warm enough that the falls were flowing. My butt was soggy from slipping in the snow, my hands red and chapped from the cold, and my knees sore from being an old man out in the winter wilderness way past his bedtime.

Complaining aside (for the moment), we actually had a pretty good view inside the cave. We turned on our flashlights and watched the torrent of water pour through the ice. The falls were so loud we couldn’t quite hear what anyone else was saying. I mean, I could make myself heard, but I’m way louder than most people, especially my stupid adventurous soft-spoken former friends who dragged me out for this miserable excuse for a…

Bad Braddy! I said complaining aside!

All in all, it was a scenic night. The air up the canyons was much cleaner than the usually crusty brown sludge we inhale in the valley, and, every now and again, an opening would appear in the clouds and the moon would shine through. Even a measly half moon cast enough light on the trail that we could see the whole clearing around us. In the city, you almost forget how bright the moon really can be.

As we walked, I took the opportunity to try and remember some of the Robert Frost poetry I’d once memorized:

“Whose woods these are, I think I know.”

“Oh Star! The fairest one in sight.”

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”

As it turns out, I know a lot of first lines of poems.

Like a few other experiences I could mention, the hike to Donut Falls was a sodden, miserable mess, one full of discomforts, yet the sort of thing I should do more of: partially to build character, as they say, and partially because even the soggiest of experiences are wonderful when shared, even when the people you’re sharing them with wall so much faster than you, leaving you alone with your half-remembered poems in a frozen wilderness…

Aside, darn you, ASIDE!

I Guess She Looks KINDA Trustworthy…

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Another picture based on a story that I probably won’t ever actually tell.  Still, this was a lot of fun to draw.

I will never understand how anybody got anything drawn before Google Image Search became a thing.  Seriously, I had to look up “helmets,” “antlers,” and “mansions” over the course of working on this picture.  And you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve Googled “moon” over the last several years.

So since my preferred medium is pen and paper, I struggle when I need to fill in large areas of blank paper with solid black. I can sometimes fill in with a lot of hatching, but that didn’t feel appropriate on this picture. So I broke down and used a Sharpie… and I still get a high when I open my sketchbook.

Ah, Brownies… My Old Nemeses


A few years ago, I attempted to make brownies.  Not just plain chocolate brownies, though.  I’d found a recipe for Cinnamon Clove Brownies in a fancy little cookbook.  I set out to make them, and the experience was… an unmitigated disaster.

The directions say “bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.”

So I did… and, about an hour later, I had dry, inedible cocoa powder bars.

Bleagh.

So, years have passed, and I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at baking.  So I whipped up another batch, incorporating the exact right amount of fancy demerara sugar, blending everything in my high-tech food processor… and I wound up with undercooked, butter-fattened sludge.

Back in high school, chemistry was one of my best subjects, until you put me in front of a Bunsen burner.  On paper, chemistry makes a ton of sense to me, but in practice, it completely baffles me.  And baking… yeah, that’s a lot like chemistry.

Chocolate is delicious.  Cinnamon and cloves are delicious.  Butter is delicious.  Put them together, and you should get… I dunno.  Deliciousness cubed.

Curse you, brownies.  You made me believe that you would be tasty, and then you went and broke my heart.  I don’t know that I can forgive you for that.

And Here’s a Creepy Drawing of a Teenage Girl Getting Possessed

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So this was an awkward one…  Lemme tell you why.

Nowadays, whenever I get a story idea, instead of writing the first chapter or two before abandoning it (forever) in favor of reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, I tend to draw a picture of it… and then I abandon it (forever) in favor of watching Johnny Quest on DVD.  I have this story idea about a teenage girl who lives in a haunted house and gets attacked by the ghosts living there.  So I started drawing it.

As I was working on this picture, I kept getting the feeling that the image wasn’t looking quite right.  Sure, I mean, the girl had a decidedly uncomfortable look on her face, and her pose was pretty painful looking, but the picture wasn’t… pretty enough.  So I took a long time, trying to “pretty” things up a bit.  You know, making the body shapelier, trying to get a more “feminine” expression on the face, making adjustments to the wardrobe…

I probably spent a good thirty minutes sketching different ideas before I realized that I was subconsciously trying to make a teenage girl in the throes of a demonic possession “sexier.”

Frankly, I wound up a little disgusted with myself.  I decided to let the picture just be the way it was (cleaned up some of the hemlines on the dress, too, for good measure) and inked it.  The person in the picture’s not as “attractive” as I think I would have liked, but, really, attractiveness shouldn’t have ever been the goal to begin with.