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the Wasatch from above

I had to run to catch my flight today. The relative proximity of SLC International to my home in Cottonwood Heights made me a bit more complacent than I should have been. The good news is I made it. The bad is that now I’m sweaty.

It was a spectacular day to lift off. The airplane banked first west, into the edge of an approaching storm. Even in the gargantuan Boeing 737 I could feel the resistance of the headwind. We curved northward, over Great Salt Lake, over the sea-monster spine of Antelope Island where it arches out of the salt- and clay-stained water. 1 pm sunlight winked on and off in myriad salt  pools and marshes. The plane continued turning until its nose pointed east, toward Denver, but my window faced south. Far below sprawled the Salt Lake Valley, Utah Lake. Then we crossed the Wasatch. I challenged myself to identify each wrinkled defile cutting through the mountain range, like spokes in a great, crooked wheel centered in the midst of Sandy, or Murray. City Creek Canyon, first, directly behind the capital building. After recognizing this one, the rest are easy to pick out. South of City Creek is Emigration, then Parley’s. Interstate 80, the great gray worm, is a dead giveaway. Millcreek next, narrow, overgrown, almost hidden. Big Cottonwood Canyon. My home for the past three years. There’s Solitude Mountain Resort, wide open trails bright with the first layer of winter white. Brighton is a little harder to find, more trees, smaller runs, dwarfed by Deer Valley and Park City, just over the ridgeline in Parley’s. I send silent thanks into the quiet heart of Ten-Four-Twenty Peak before pointing my eyes farther south into Little Cottonwood. I can’t quite see Devil’s Castle, my favorite feature, or Mt. Baldy. Never did get to ski that main chute. Above all this, blocking my view of the rest of the canyons is Mt.Timpanogos. Its distinctive horizontal striations, highlighted with snow, overpower the range. The higher the airplane climbs, the larger the mountain seems, even as we move steadily east, and thin frontal clouds slide over the Wasatch like a curtain. It’s going to snow tonight, and I’m heading south.

Running to make the plane meant that I didn’t have time to get sentimental about leaving, and seeing the mountains from above is more wondrous than sad. They passed from my sight so quickly. I was reminded of how small this corner of the world is, how much more there is to see, and also how permanent these peaks are. They aren’t going anywhere. And someday I’ll travel back over them, tracing today’s flight path in reverse, coming back. Someday. After I’ve seen a bit more of the world. Someday.

1 comment to the Wasatch from above

  • Jordan James

    So sad to see you go, but so much happier for you to be chasing (and catching) your dreams! Enjoy your journey, may it be all that you have wished for and more. Safe travels, dear friend….

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