Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Earthquake

Date: Jan. 23
Mileage: 20.2
January mileage: 371.3
Temperature upon departure: 1

I know, I know, I'm overdoing the frozen face self portraits. But I just love the frosty eyelash look. I really think it could be the next innovation in eye makeup technology - a bold and stunning statement that says, "look at me! I move freely in the subzero wastelands. I'm sassy!"

Geoff and I were playing Scrabble after Telluride MountainFilm fest part 2 when our first real Alaskan earthquake hit. It generated a terribly predictable rumble beneath our seats, followed by the shifting and falling of a few household items. It measured only 4.1 on the scale, but it was the second earthquake I've "felt" in my life. The first also was in Alaska, out on the North Slope. I was sprawled on the soft tundra in my sleeping bag when I long, lolling rumble nudged me awake. I think that was a 4.8 quake - a pleasant experience, really, as long as you're out in the open where nothing can fall on you.

MountainFilm 2 also was a rumbling good time. The best film tonight was a anthropological mockumentary about the "Lost Civilization" of Mountain Village, Colo. Geoff and I visited this upscale planned community once, on a bicycle tour that took us through the San Juan Mountains. We rode the free tram from Telluride to 9,500 feet, and arrived at a mass of elaborate log castles, stone masonry and Swiss chalets that would put Park City to shame. It was about 8 p.m. on a September evening, and we saw absolutely no one the entire hour we walked around up there. Not a soul.

So, when the film was about to start, Geoff said, "You remember Mountain Village?"

"Yeah," I said, "I remember it was deserted."

The lights dimmed, and the ensuing film shed a lot of light on that confusing experience three years ago. It turns out Mountain Village was very recently inhabited by an entire civilization of second-home-owning, upper-class yuppies. Then, all of the sudden, they vanished. The archaeologists in the film concluded that their demise was quickened by a number of factors, including wilderness conditions unsuitable to their Land's End sweaters, their tendancy to drive ledge-rolling Hummers and their alienation of the Telluride ski bums whose labors kept them alive. Now the souless ghosts of their civilazation hover over the slopes - a reminder of the perils of living an unsustainable lifestyle. Who knew?