Sunday, 9 May 2010

Last 9 a nutshell....


I havn't written on here since my last night in the U.S.A, nine months ago. Quite a lot has happened since then...

I had the opportunity to organise and participate in a sponsored hike of the whole length of Hadrians Wall, which fallows the boarder of England and Scotland. It was great fun (even if the other 10 participants tell you otherwise...) We raised over £8,000 for 'Help for Heroes' and all had great fun. It was hard, and I experience one of the most miserable and horrible nights of my life; I woke up at about 2am, and noticed that Alex (who was lying on the edge of the tent) was violently shivering and making weird noises as he was so cold. I had to switch places with him so he could get warm as he was obviously getting hypothermic. I soon found out why he was sold cold... It wasn't long before water started seeping in through my sleeping bag, and I realised he had been lying in about 2 inches of freezing icy water which had seeped in from the heavy sleet which was coming down outside. I lay awake, shivering violently till we had to get up in the morning, but I was bigger, older and more used to this that Alex, so I had to take it. I must have got about2 or 3 hours sleep that night, having just hiked 14 miles, and having to hike another 14 miles (both through deep snow, up and down big hills and in very cold conditions) I got up, (soaked though) and gelped make breakfast for everyone so I could warm myself up my moving around...that night and morning, was so uncomfortable I cant actually describe it haha, but it was OK because as soon as I started hiking, my body heat warmed up the water that was soaking my thermals so it soon turned to warm water and was all OK!

If you would like to read a longer and more detailed account about this really cool (in more than one way) hike that we did go to

I have done a lot of travelling, I visited Norway for a day, me and my cousin Zak went to Sardinia for a week which was amazing. We simply camped out on a beach for a week, we had the whole place to ourself, the sea was clear, weather was hot and it was very fun! But that was way back in September so I wont go on about it too much. This is where I experienced another of the worst nights of my life...It was more humid than I have ever felt, me and Zak could not sleep, there were about 1,000,000,000,000,000 mosquito's in the air, and I was lying on the floor, with no mat, on huge bumps and it was horrible.

The last 'bad night' was when me and Zak though it would be a good idea to do a 'Bear Grylls' and camp up Wye Downs in Mid-Winter with only a very thing sleeping bag. We both nearly froze. I woke up in the middle of the night, my hands and feet were numb with cold, and my whole body & chest was violently shivering. So was zaks. Good times haha.

Those nights are not fun at all. Good to look back on though.

I also visited Poland with my Father. We went there hoping to go Snowboarding, but we go there the weekend before all the ski-parks opened, even though there was loads of snow! Oh well. It was still a cool place. We stayed in the darkest, most dreary, vampiric place I have ever stayed in. A small hostel called the 'Stara Polana Hostel'. That was crazy. However, I would love to go back and visit one time. Zakopane in Poland is a really nice place. I did a bungee jump there as well!

More recently, I have finally received my mission call! I al going to be going to the Alpine German-Speaking Mission! Exactly what I wanted! Brilliant! I am SO excited!! I leave 3 weeks from 2 days ago (so 2 weeks and 5 days). I will be flying out to the MTC in Provo to learn German. Should be pretty fun, but also quite hard I imagine! I have been working alot with the missionaries in Ashford ward (as I am assistant to the Ward Mission Leader). I am so excited I cant describe it!

So I will write again before I leave!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Last Post From America....

Well...I guess this is the moment where I get all sobre, emotional, thoughtful, philosophical and what have you. To be honest, I dont know how many people actually follow this blog. I write it for myself, so I can look back on the great experiences, as well as for everyone else.

As I lie here in my bed, about to have my last night's sleep in America for what could a number of years, I think about all the fantastic and amazing things we have seen and done and the memories I will have... Lewis peak, Southern Utah, Arches, Devils Garden, Fiery Furnace, Moab, The Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch, the rattlesnakes, camping on picnic tables, Californian Condors, Golden Eagles, Laying in a stream to cool of in 112 degree heat, Monument Valley, Mexican Hat, Page, the Indians, Zion National Park, Angels Landing, The Tetons, The bear, Dissappointment Peak, The Chute, Jenny's Lake, Hidden Falls, Yellowstone, seeing moose, Bison, Elk, Old Faithful Bison and Elk burgers, the thermal pools, all the weird and wonderful bugs, Tony Grove, The boy drowning, the huge cave, Naomi Peak, Antelope Island, another snake, The old farmhouse, Gateway, Temple Square, so much camping, The great camping food, the mountains around utah, the Great Salt Lake, Bear Lake, Logan, This Is The Place Monument, The fast food places, Rock Band, going to see MLS All-Stars and Real Salt Lake games, The big SUV's, Mexicans, The whole Taylor family, Ben Lomond Peak, the bees, Pine View Dam, mountain goats, the accent, District 9, how great everyone has been to me, thousands of lizards, white water rafting, swimming in the lakes, wheeler canyon, Idependance Day, Wal-Mart, pelicans, the gold course, Oquirre Mountain Temple, and playing football with the name a few.

So you can see.... We've certainly had quite a few cool, exciting, exhileration and rare experience's, that most people dont ever have and I hope I will be able to do them again.

I am really going to miss Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Arizona. In fact Ill miss just being here and the people here. It is SUCH a wonderful place that I love so much. I am without a doubt coming to University here and I may even move here some day if I can.

I am not really looking foreward to my flight back tommorow, although Nathan and Britney gave me these special tablets that help you sleep so that should make it easier. It will be cool to fly trans-atlantic by myself though. It will be nice to playe football again properly.

I hope you have enjoyed what I write about being here. I am not really a good writer but I have at least portreyed a basic discription of things here. I'm am sure I will be telling lots of stories to people who ask and who don't when I get back, so if you want me to expand on anything I have written, just ask.

So althought my stint in the United States is over, there is still plenty more to come. I have still got Norway, The North Down's Way 130 mile hike, Northern Ireland, Snowdonia, Denmark, Sardinia and Scotland to write about. Along with many more exciteing things that I do in Ashford (Although I wont bore you with everyday stuff, after all, this is supposed to be for travelling and the more exciting things).

So don't worry, you definately havn't heard the last of me...

Match Day...

Yesteday we got up and went to see a movie called 'District 9'. It was ablosutly amazing. The while thing was so good. I reccomend it to everyone. had ALOT of swearing in it.....

We then went to eat at happy sumo, where I got a very nice Vegas Roll, and we went on to watch the Real Salt Lake Vs Houston Dynamo match.

It was a good match. The final score was 0 - 0 but lots of players got booked and 2 got sent off which made it interesting. Wayne came with me, Nathan and Britney and we met Carver there and his friend Aubrey. So good all in all.

On the way back we went to Carl's Jr's for one last time before I go. Im gona miss those burgers...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Ben Lomond Peak, Pine View Dam E.C.T

Hello all.

Well, my big trip to America is sadly drawing to an end. I'll only have a few more post before I leave to go bac
k home.

My time here has been absolutely amazing, but I'll leave the final speech till the end shall I? Haha.

The last few days have been very exciting and fun.

On Tuesday we climbed Ben Lomond Peak. This is a
mountain that is Just north of Ogden. It is 2,960 meters high, and is the mountain used for the mountain on the Paramount Pictures logo.

Early Scottish Settlers came here and like the mountain, so they named it after the the mountain "Ben Lomond" in Scotland. (Which I hope I can climb when I go to Scotland in October, as I would Like to Climb both).

Anyway, back to the story, we parked at the North Ogden Divide to get to the trailhead. The trail to get to The peak was 8.2 miles long, so we were in for a 16.4 mile hike. We started along the trail. The trail was a nice one. It was full of wildflowers and many different types of wildlife. Half way up we found a cockroach/beetle thing and we picked it up to have a look at it. I dared Nathan to eat it and I told
Him that if he did I would buy him a Liverpool shirt. He almost did, but didnt because he didnt know if it was edible or not.

So we carried on walking up the trail, until we passd through a big large area of wild flowers. It was very pretty and we hadn't had a resrt for a while so we sat down for a rest. I ate an apple to give me a little more energy. Apples are so much better than cereal bars energy and taste wise. So we were just stadning there (well, Britney was sitting) and I was talking to nathan. He had his back to the next part of the trail that was towards the peak, and I was talking to him so I had my back towards the part of the trail we had just come from, so we had just come uphill. As I was talking to Nathan, I heard this lound engine-like humming noise. I looked above and behind him and I saw THE MOST ENOURMOUS SWARM OF BEES I CAN IMAGINE (I wont say 'that I have ever seen as I have never seen a swarm before this) It - Was - HUGE!. And it was coming straight for us. I looked with wide eyes and just said "Oh my goodness" and then turned and bolted. Britneyh didn't even look at the bees she just ran, and Nathan turned, took one look at the bees and then scarpered as well. As he ran he could hear the bees following us. We ran about 1/3 of a mile back down the trail before we dared to stop and see if the bees were still chasing us. but for some reason, they had stopped. We were luckly. If those bees had really wanted us, we would have been dead. I would rather face a bear than be attacked by a huge swarm or bee's like that as at least with a bear you can attampt to run or fight or climb a tree or shoot it. With bee's you can do nothing. So yeah...that was scary..but it was still fun and a cool experience!

We reached the top of the peak in fairly good time. The view was amazing! We could see the Whole of Salt Lake and the surrounding area, we could see The Great Salt Lake, Willard Bay, Antelope Island and loads more. There was a metal box on top wth a book where we could write our names and sign it.

So that was nice. We went back down the trail really quickly so that we could go to Maddox. Maddox is an AMAZING steakhouse. It served me the best steak I have ever had. It was a 32oz...yes thats right 32oz porterhouse!!!! SO SO SO GOOD! haha. That was cool.

The next day was a more relaxing day. We got up around 11am and went to The Oaks just below Pine View Dam. Its a nice riverside, outdoor restaurant that sells nice sandwiches and things. I had this pulled pork sandwich. But..more imporantly I found a snake there. It was so cool, in fact I found 2 snakes, but I only picked up one of the because the other one (the smaller one) was too fast to catch. I did get a photo of both of them though.

Next we hit Pine view Reservoir. It was nice. The weather was really hot so we swam in the lake (which is better than the sea as its freshwater, except there are no waves which isnt as good), and we lay on the beach in the hot sun. It was a nice relaxing day after the Ben Lomond Hike.

Yesterday I didnt really do that much exept go on a 5k run and then do 60 push up which was hard. 5k at this altitude kills me too. Hopefully when I get back I suddenly find that I am fitter and a lower altitude.

Tommorow we are going to lagoon and to see Real Salt Lake play Houston Dynamo. :D

Ill keep you updated.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Tony Grove & Bear Lake

Last week we went to a camping ground up in the mountain of Northern Utah called Tony Grove. It was a nice relaxing campground and it was set to be a nice relaxing week (but not too relaxing, we certainly made sure of that), which would be nice after having so much energetic stuff all the time (which is great by the way).

We arrive early on Monday morning so we could book our campsites and get set up early. The campsite was nice and high up and was a great place to camp, it the midst of a large pine forest, about 2,300 meter elevation, thick mose and mountain lion country, with an amazing and beautifully clear lake right next to it where you could swim, fish, boat or hike around.

On the camp also came Reed, John and Kary and their kids, Wayne and Kristie and their kids, Nate and Cathy and their kids, Cade and Brianna and Kids, and of course Nathan & Britters. Jocelyn and her mother came for a few days as did Karrisa &Kids (Brandons wife). (All the husbands are Britneys brothers except for Reed who is her dad and Nathan (not 'Nate') who is her husband). The first full day we had (Tuesday) we spent just hanging arounf camp, doing short walks, relaxing and swimming in the lake. It was nice. On some of the days there we did an 800m swi in the lake with wet suits on (Me, Wayne, John and Cade). That was fun. During this swim and at the halfway point we would swim in the clear water with the trout. This was really cool as there were rainbow trout, brook trout and browns. The next day we were swimming in the lake and a boy drowned as I was rowing across the lake with the kids (I didnt know he had drowned until after he was dead). I dropped the kids at the shore and me and Cade had to row around Wayne and John and Nate who were looking for his body to make sure they were ok if they got tired. Scary stuff.

The next day we went to Bear Lake this was very fun and almost like the sea except fresh water. We rowed out in the dingy, and had gladiator wars. Me, Nate, Nathan, Britney, Cade, John and Wayne then played kick ups in the water for ages.

The next day we climbed Mt Naomi. It was just over 3,200m. High! It was a very fun climb and had an amazing view!! Excellent.

We had t pack up all our stuff in the rain which was very cold but it was so nice when Kristie made us all hot cholocate/hot cider with chees on toast from her trailer.

So yeah...great week! One thing I forgot to mention is that I love the fact that everyone here is like "Oh..I love your accent!"

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Grand Canyon!

Well, this trip certainly was eventful. Im going to describe it now, because I missed it out before but it is actually part of the southern Utah trip which was before theTetons and Yellowstone.
Well, we got to the Grand Canyon and decided that we were up for a challange. We decided that it would be fun to hike all the way down to the Colorado River and back up again in the same day. This totals to 16 miles. 16 miles...doesn't sound too bad right? Well...add 44.4 degree celcius heat (112 Farenheit) and that makes it a little harder. Also, it is really really steep going down so that when you get down there, your knees and ankles are painful and THEN you have to go back up the extremely steep acent back to the top. Sounds like fun! Well everywhere we looked there were signs saying (DO NOT HIKE TO THE RIVER AND BACK IN ONE DAY) and then going on to say that we will get dehydrated/heat stroke/we will die/blah bla blah. Anyway we figured that if the National Park Service was going to give a reccomendation, they would HAVE to tell people not to do it otherwise the amount of people that they would have to pull out would be huge due the the level of obesity in america, and people who had NO experience in hiking, would just think "I can do that" and then they would get into trouble whilst down there. Anyway, so we went to a expert to ask for tips and she said that she had to tell us not to do it on the parks behalf, but she persoanlly thought that with the right water/food we looked like we were up to the task. She told us that yes you have to drink alot, but you also have to eat LOADS as well. The reason why most people get stuck is that they dont eat enough and do not have enough energy even though the drink alot. (and let me tell you now, that heat drains your energy fast!) So I took with me about triple the amount of food I would normall take and 6 litres of water. I figured 6 litres would be enough to get me down there to Phantom Ranch where there was a refill point and there were regular refil points on the way up. Our plan was to take the South Kaibob trail to Phantom ranch at the bottom the other side of the Colorado, and the take the Bright Angel Trail bck up to the top, passing Indian Gardens (a back-country camp site half way up the trail where we could refil) and a few other refil points/reshouses on the last and hardest part of the trail near the top! We had everything figured out, we were going to walk 45 mins and then rest for 15 so to let the lactic acid come, and then go again. We were going to eat somthing evey time we rested. I took loads of apples with me, peanut butter sandwiches, peanut cereal bars, peanuts, chips (crisps), and loads of oter stuff.

So we started off down the trail, it was very hot but BRILLIANT! We left at 4:30 am to watch the sun rise and to miss the heat in the middle of the day (11am - 4pm) It was such a fun trail! The views were amazing!!!! We hand fed squirels on the way down which was cool aswell. There were no refil points on the way down. But that was fine. i got through my 6 litres easily. And we kept to all of our rules. We got down there fairly easily although we were tired at the bottom. We arrived there are about 10:30am. There was a small places where you could buy drinks and stuff at the bottom so we all bought lemonade and sent postcards to family which said "carried by mule from the bottom of the grand canyon - Phantom Ranch." so that was cool! We sat outside in the shade for a while and it was so so so hot. 44.4 degree C!!!!!!! Also it was humid because of the Colorado River. So that was unbearable. The energy was drained out of you just by sitting there! We waited at phantom ranch till 4pm (6 hours) till we left as we didnt want to hike in the main heat (thats what we were told to do, and it is DEFINATELY the right descision). We Went to the Colorado so we could say we went to the VERY bottom and we got ourselves wet with the river water. I bought a rock from the colorado back up with me which is cool. We also jumped in a stream and lay ander the water to cool off.

The Acent - the acent was hot and tough, but fun. It didnt feel too bad. We would keep on having to stop and eat to get energy and we all were drinking regulary as we had camelbacks. (little water pouches that go in your bag with a long straw that you can drink out of whilst you walk) so they helped alot. We passed indian gardens and re-filled all of our water. It started getting dark, infact it got very dark and the moon wasnt up yet so there was only starlight. Our torch had broken so all we had no light, but none of us were really worried about that. We carried on about 1.5 miles up the trail. This is where the fun REALLY begins haha. Un-known to me and Nathan, Britney had been pushing herself extra hard to increase her pace so we could get out of the cayon quickly. So her heart beat was at a higher rate. As we were walking along, she was in front whilst me and Nathan were just behind here talking and not really worrying about anything. Suddenly Britney jumped back and shouted RATTLESNAKE!! just we heard the loud and scary sound of a rattlesnake right on the path infront of us!!! Nathan grabbed Brintye and yanked her back whilst I jumped back myself, Brintye then said, "Its coming this way" so Nathan yanked her again! Whilst I as scared as it was dark and I couldn't see the snake, onces we knew it had slithered off to the side, I was fine, and so was Nathan. Britney on the other hand had gone into shock, was shaking, and feel like she was about to pass out. She couldn't stand and we had to sit her down on a rock with her legs elevated and calm her down. We the talked about what we were going to do. On the one hand, we could go up to the top which was still 3 miles and the hardest part of the trail, or we could go back down to Indian Gardens which was 1 mile down hill and stay overnight. Either way we had no light and Britney was finding it hard to stand. We called 911 and spoke to the Canyon rangers thingy. We wanted to see if they could send a ranger up from Indian Gardens to help get us down with Britney. 911 proved to be not very helpful as after much conversation, they said, "you can either go up or go down" which we knew. So we stopped speaking to them. We decided to go down to the ranger station, however we needed a light. Just at that moment a lone hiker came along the trail. He had a torch. We told him our situation and he offered us his torch. We refused, saying it would leave him in too much danger from snakes as they come out at night. He agreed and said he would come down to Indian Gardens with us and stay the night. He was about 22, and was a kinda hippy guy. He was hitch-hiking the U.S and so had no real commitments so it would be fine for him to come down. We thanked him and went down the trail. On the way down we saw another snake, I dont know what it was but it was black and white and looked cool.

When we spoke to the ranger, the first thing he asked was how much we had drank. When I told him I had drank 15 litres and Nathan and Britney said somthing similar, he asked how much we had eaten, again we said ALOT and he asked if we had been going to the toilet and we all said yes. (he was asking me and nathan to, although we didnt really feel bad, we probably could have carried on up to the top but with Britney in that condiditon we couldnt) In the end he put it down to physical exhaustion and and already high heart-rate which induced the shock at the sight of the snake. We ended up camping overnight at the station on picknik tables with out ANY sleeping equipment apart from hard thin foam mats (rollmats) and Britney had a sleeping bag. But that was fine with me I still slept 6 hours or so.

The next day it was very cool to wake up in the grand canyon! We walked up to the top without too much trouble. Britney was still feeling weak so me and the person who hd the torch went ahead so I could pack up our tent as we had to check out of camp by 11am. We definately make the right descision to go back down the trail the night before, the last 3 miles were the steepest and hardest. Getting to the top was a nice feeling. Think that we had gone all the way and and back up again. even if we didnt do it in one day, I know that I COULD have but we had to go down due to the circumstances.

That was probably the best hike I have ever been on! even though it wasn't a moutnain (although it was much harder than any mountain I have ever done, includeing the 3,541m one I did the other day). I enjoyed every single second of the hike and I got to see and do stuff most people NEVER get the chance to. It is a very extreme and harsh enviroment and you have to be equiped/prepared and fit enough. I would definately do it again. And I would recomment it to anyone who is able bodied enough to do it...but it is VERY the mid-summer it is anyway. We all felt very proud with ourself and happy to have done it. I cant wait to do it again!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Tetons and Yellowstone!

Well, I have just returned from another successful trip. This time the Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone national park. Both of which were stunning!

Day 1 - Having spent a long time stuck in traffic, we finally arrived at Flag Ranch which is situated between Yellowstone and Grand Teton. We sety up our tents, made dinner, and went to bed. That night I didnt sleep well. This was because we were in real bear country and bear regualry were caught going in and out of campsites! I didnt know this at the time but a woman was paid to patrol the campsite in a pickup to detur and bear that may be found wondering....she had to scare off a big grizzly only 2 weeks ago! Elk, moose, cayotes and bison also regulaly wondering into the camp, but they do not pos such a threat. Anyway, I eventually did get to sleep but woke up throughout the night and eveytime I heard anything I started freaking out. So I listened to my Ipod and that helped.

Day 2 - We decided to go on a hike to 'Hidded Falls' in the Tetons. We met up with John and Kary an their family (John is Britney's brother) and we hiked around Jenny's Lake, to Hidden Falls and then up to Cascade Canyon. It was about a 5 or 6 mile round trip, so not too long which was nice as I hadn't slept well the night before. Hidden Falls was really beautiful. They were these really high and powerful waterfalls flowing with glacial meltwater. Nice. We sat and ate our lunch (a cooked chicken we had packed) by the falls and then split off from John and Kary so carry on further down to Cascade Canyon. When we got back we went back to the campsite and made pasta and took showers which was nice. :D I slept better than night for some reason, I think it was because of my Ipod again.

Day 3 - Today we went to yellowstone. It was very nice, but becuase it was so big it meant that we had to spend alot of time in the car to get to all of the different places. We went and visited old faithful and some nice hot thermal pools. We also drove throught a massive Bison heard and saw lots of nice rivers and woods. Old Faithful was very crowded and busy, but it was still nice. The thermal pools was also really nice. You can always check my facebook for more pictures.

Day 4 - Today we climbed dissapointment peak. It is 3,541 meters high. That is very high. This was the highest mountain I had ever climbed. On the way up we ran into a mother black bear in a berry patch. This was a very scary but also really really cool. Bears get very protective of their cubs and also of their food so it is very lucky that she didnt seem to mind us too much. We were all very shaken up afer that.We took some photos of it which are also on my facebook. We hiked up to ampitheatre lake which was covered in ice. Me and Nathan left Reid and Britney there whilst we did the final few step and scary miles up to the top. We had to climb up this chute through a tiny narrow gap after having kick-steped up icy snow with a drop at the bottom. We then climbed up a route meant only for rock climbing. It had a big overhang with a 90 foot drop underneath us onto jagged rocks. But we did it without ropes and carried on along the long steep scramble to the top. When we hit the top the view was amazing. We were 3,541m up looking out over the flat valley floor and we could look out at all the other rugged mountains and the grand Teton which was just across a huge raviene. That was really nice. I have loads of photos of the on my facebook if you wana have a look! :D It was cool as we came down as we ran out of drinking wwa ter and we had to fill up from river and purify it which was fun.

Day 5 - Tday we wetn white water rafting! It was SO SO SO SO fun. The waves were huge and we were on the boat for about 90 mins which was cool. On the biggest rapid (The Big Kahuna) Nathan and Reid fell out! We struggled to get them back in before the next big rapid which was coming up soon and that would NOT have been good if they had swam that one. We also saw LOADS of Bald Eagles and Ospreys which was really cool!!! I will put up some river rafting photos and video soon as we are getting them sent to us by a company which took some as we went down.