Hola extended family. I finally decided that since I no longer show up at family functions I should stop being lazy and keep people in the loop via Birchtales. As I'm sure most of you know I moved to SLC a year and a half ago to play in the mountains, I mean, pursue a PhD in bioengineering. I've been very successful at the former but not so much at the latter. My misadventures in graduate school have gone so well in fact, that I'm dropping out of the program come May and hopefully starting a master's in education (program acceptance pending). I've always had a secret desire to be a high school math teacher, and after 7 years of trying to make myself like engineering, I've decided maybe I should give up on that and go for the less glamorous, though hopefully more rewarding (personally...not financially) career.
But boring career development issues aside Salt Lake is fantastic. There is an endless supply of local mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, fly fishing, etc... With the exception of the Great Salt Lake to the northwest, SLC is one massive valley completely surrounded by mountains. It is an outdoor lovers dream (except for the occasional winter inversions that create the nastiest smog ever). I've had several great visits from the nuclear family. Pete came out for some excellent (though mosquito ridden) alpine backpacking and fishing in the High Uintahs last July. Ellen has been out twice for local climbing and hikes. Mom and Dad made it out last May and I took them down to Bryce and Zion NPs. I also try and make frequent pilgrimages to Fruita CO, and Moab, UT for mountain biking. In general, when I could actually extricate myself from my research lab, it's been good times. I've posted a handful of pictures from random adventures below for your entertainment. Hope everyone is well and I'll try to post at least once a year (ask my mom how much I maintain my personal blog... www.brianbirchler.blogspot.com if you're bored). Adios,
Me catching the sunrise over the High Uintahs (in the distance) before hiking to the top of Mt. Timpanogos:
This hike is an excellent demonstration of why SLC is amazing. The trailhead was 45 minutes from my house. When you're on the east side of the Wasatch Crest, you become completely removed from the fact that there is a bustling metropolis usually just 30 minutes away. I drove to this trail with some friends late Saturday, hiked in, made camp, caught an early sunrise, bagged the peak, and was home Sunday for a late brunch.
A rare winter wonderland picture of the Salt Lake Valley (you can click on these for a bigger version by the way):
We get a lot of snow (hence the ski resorts), but it usually doesn't stick to the valley floor for long. Also, during the winter the air usually has a bunch of sooty smog hanging around (SLC's biggest drawback), so seeing it so fresh and clean after a big storm is always a treat.
Me hiking near Fruita, CO:
The hippie hair is gone now and I'm back to the semi-buzz look (much to my mother and sister's chagrin). I was supposed to be mountain biking this trail but my buddy broke his crank the previous day so we had to hoof it.