Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's a secret...

(disclaimer: I got this image from Bree Wee's blog a while ago. I think its originally from the Post Secret website.)

Every day is a gift.  Even if that gift is an average day. In an average town, in middle america.

I need to be reminded of this.  Hourly.

Every hour that I spend commuting.  Every hour I spend in a cubicle.  Every hour that I'm not outside playing. Even if it is -6F.

'Tis the season for counting our blessings. And snot freezing right in your nose, like little frozen presents from santa.

Hey santa, you know what else I'd like for Christmas?  A workout.  I realize that might be something more of a Christmas-freaking-miracle at this point, but I used to be an athlete.  Really.  I have the water bottles rattling around in my car to prove it.  Could your reindeer please pick me up and get me to a yoga class one of these days?  Because I'm counting down the days until I head back to the mountains and I fear I will have lost any kind-of "mountain girl" cred I might once have (barely) been able to pull off.

I don't want to spend my precious (now limited, grr) mountain days chasing after my 10,000-feet-of-elevation-living hard bodied friends.  Or worse, sitting out a few runs between joe-corporate-chained-to-my-desk gaper "touron" and his buddies at the slopeside bar.  NO FUN.

But lately there do not seem to be enough hours in my day to keep up with it all.  And admittedly the first thing that goes is the workout.  Because working out is HARD in the middle of winter in middle america.  I sit at a desk all day. Its dark when I get home. I don't have a gym. We just had a blizzard that has effectively made every walkable surface a skating rink.

Should I go on?  I could.  I'm REALLY good at excuses.  But I should really get back to that "to do" list now so that maybe I can squeeze in a workout tomorrow.  Yes.  Tomorrow.  There is always tomorrow. Tomorrow will be yet another precious day not to be taken for granted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Perpetual Transition

Help!  I'm stuck in transition and I can't find my bike!  Or at least that's what it feels like in my life these days.  Like I'm running the isles of the transition area, scanning rows and rows of bikes, looking for the one that is mine.

Except I'm in a car.  Driving.  Searching for what the next piece of my life is going to look like. Its equally as frustrating, but the scenery is a little better.

About that driving thing.  Apparently there is a lot of it on these crazy road trips.  I always forget that.  I've driven over 3000 miles in two weeks.  From the sweet majestic peaks I called home, through the expanse of the desert, to coastlines and rainforest and everything in between.  Teeny, tiny nowhere towns and major metropolitan areas. No real plan, and only a general direction that could be changed at a moments notice.  Sometimes solo, sometimes with friends old and new.  Its been quite an experience so far.  A crazy, fluid, random experience.  A lesson in patience, perseverance, and living truly in the moment -- which is SO MUCH HARDER than you think.

We talk so much about living life to the fullest, but are we really doing that?  Are we really putting our heart into everything that we do when we're doing it?  Are we being true to ourselves, always?  Are we being ourselves?  Or are we creating a false reality, stifling our passions and personality?

Are we living and loving out loud?

Did I mention there's as much thinking time as driving time on this crazy adventure?  That's a lot of thinking.  And most of it has been without the welcome distraction of cell service.

That is A LOT OF THINKING people.  My brain hurts.  My knees hurt.  My back aches.  I'm more of a mess from sitting in a car than I was from my crazy "three 14ers in two days" excursion.  And yet I really, really needed this.

Transition is good.  Healthy.  Something we don't give enough attention to.  And it is never ending.  We are always transitioning.  Whether we are in control of it or outside influences are forcing it on us, we are constantly in flux.  So I guess its time to learn how to do this.  Practice.  Acknowledge.  Learn.  Grow.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Appreciate it for what it is.  Get stronger from the inside, radiate beauty outward.  Keep moving forward.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You can't screw it up

I am a big mess of emotion these days.  Big. Mess.

I procrastinated packing until the last possible minute because I am in complete denial about what is happening.  Thankfully, I am lucky enough to have friends who don't half-heartedly ask if they can help -- they just show up and say "here's what we're going to do."  Because they know my brain is already at maximum capacity with the holyhellwhatamidoingwithmylife dilemma.  And they bring wine.  Seriously.  How. Unbelievably. Awesome.  I only hope that I can repay the monumental favor someday.

So I'm packed.  Half of the half of my life that was with me in the mountains is now tucked away in multiple storage spaces around my (ya, that's right I said MY) mountain town.  The other half is half with me and half in the mail to someplace I will call home soon.  Again.  I guess.  For a while anyway.

That's a lot of halves to keep track of.  Which is why half my brain has just blown a circuit and shut-down completely.  Which is maybe for the best.  Because transition is hard.  It seems to be an excuse for my brain to question every decision I've made to that point....why are you doing this?  Why didn't you do that?  Why did you spend one of your last afternoons in town drinking at the local watering hole when you should have been organizing and packing and, I mean really, what was that all about?

You can see where that thought process goes.  Nowhere good, usually.  As I was dumping a good portion of this brain-waste on one of my friends she said "you can't screw it up."  Or something along the lines of "you're doing just what you're supposed to do, and you'll end up where you're supposed to be."  And I'm not sure if she was just grasping for something (anything!) in the moment to get me to shut up already....but I hope that there's some truth to what she said.  That maybe the road that you take to get there won't be exactly the one you thought you'd be on, but that doesn't mean the destination can't be the same.  You can still end up where you want to be.

And so, until then I'm trying to enjoy the journey.  Starting with the step in front of me.  And going from there.  Hopefully, with enough steps, it'll all come back around....it'll all make sense....and it will have a beautiful view of the mountains.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cold Weather. Hot Frogs.

Dude.  Who turned on winter around here?  Because it is cold.  Like go find your cute winter beanie and wear it around your house all day, cold.  But then, I kinda like wearing my cute little winter hats so maybe I'm just quick to rush to that.

Maybe I'm quick to rush to a lot of things lately.  Like this crazy dream.  Maybe now is not the time.  Maybe this was a teaser.  A little taste to tempt me.  To make me see how much I want it.  How much I desperately, desperately want it.  Just not enough to take big, big risks.  Or maybe....?

Someone once told me a little story that went something like this -- "if you put a frog in a pot of water and gradually turn up the heat, the frog will cook itself to death before jumping to safety.  Whereas, if you put a frog straight into a pot of boiling water it will jump out and save itself."

I think I'm about to be the frog.  The question is, will the water be boiling enough for me to jump out fast and save myself?  Or will I slide into the hot tub and wonder why it keeps getting hotter and more uncomfortable?

Only time will tell.

I want to be excited about the cold.  I'm usually excited about the cold.  I want to be excited about the new season ahead.  About another amazing winter in the mountains.  Instead all I can say is "damn, its cold."

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Do Something Worth Remembering"

What a precious gift to wake up everyday with wonder at the amazing, wild world just outside your doorstep. To take that wonder and live it every day. To share it in a way that inspires creativity in others and continues to drive you to see things differently. We should all be so lucky to truly live our passion everyday, even if it barely pays the rent, right?

"...if I only scrape a living, at least its a living worth scraping....if there's no future in it, at least its a present worth remembering...."

MPORA Action Sports >>

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cut off

It snowed this morning, and not just in the mountains....on my deck.  And my car.  And OMG this winter thing is actually coming.  I would love to show you pictures but blogger says "no more pictures, you're at your limit little missy."  So, sorry about that.  I'm hoping to rectify that situation soon.  Needless to say I went to the coffee shop instead of to the trailhead this morning.  I'm not quite acclimated to (or excited about) miserable-weather hikes just yet.

In honor of cold, dreary weather and off-season boredom I hosted a little dinner party last night.  Small, casual, mostly vegan.  Yup.  Vegan.  And it was delicious.  I would like to show you pictures of that too, but well....there's that little blogger memory problem.  Nuts.

This is the veggie chili recipe I used.  (Thank you to my sis who emailed it to me as I was en route to the grocery store!)  Two thumbs up.  Except for the peeling tomatoes part.  Because that was a pain in my #$%.  Just sayin'.  But its a GREAT party dish.  I was able to do all the prep ahead of time so that when guests showed up I had just two pots on the stove, no more work to do, and no dirty dishes laying around.  So nice.  We roasted up some acorn squash and called it a meal.  Tasty, warm, and so filling.  I do like the cooking when I actually take (err...have) the time to do it.  And even more enjoyable is cooking for others.  What I really loved about this meal was that there happened to be a guest attending who, unbeknownst to me, follows a vegan diet and was so excited that she was at a dinner party where she could actually eat the dinner.

After dinner there were pumpkins to carve, seeds to roast, and more wine to drink.  Such a fun fall night with friends.

My problem lately is that I keep having these parties to get rid of my alcohol, yet somehow I end up with just as much as I started with at the end of the night.  Not a bad problem to have such generous guests, but counterproductive to my intent.

Other than that I'm still "gathering nuts" and watching the snow line creep toward town.  Lots on the table this off-season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Day For This

Today there were no workouts.

The sky was gray and clouds hung low around the mountain tops.  Yellow aspen leaves flittered to the ground with the rain as ominous weather rolled over distant peaks.  It was the kind of day that sinks into your bones.  A day to seek coziness and fireplaces.  A day for nourishing dishes with the last fruits of the season.  The smell of cinnamon and clove and the warmth of a tea cup in your hand all afternoon.

A day to slow and savor and try to calm an unsettled mind.  The beginning of a season that reminds us to have patience and trust.  It is not the end.  The future will bring new fruits.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Adventure? No thanks.

I passed on an adventure.  Really.  Well, really tentatively.  But regardless, I said no to a last minute river-trip invitation.

I really, really want to go.  But not more than I really, really want to make some things happen in other areas of my life right now.  I really want to do it all, but I'm smart enough to know that I can't.  (I guess this crazy year has taught me something....)

So I said, "no."  And it kinda sucked.

I'm desperately trying to rationalize my decision.  I'm reminding myself that I now know "river trip" is just mountain slang for "endless raging party," and I know that I can't deal with that right now.  I would be sitting in the most beautiful middle-of-nowhere place with awesome people and just thinking about the 1001 other things I should be doing.  And that's really no fun for anyone.  I know this.  I did it last off-season when mid-trip all the members of my ragin' river trip group partied their faces off all day and had all passed out by 8PM, leaving me alone in the dark with nothing to think about but the absolute unknowns in my life (which at the time was pretty much everything).  Nothing like a little mid-river-trip breakdown to really keep things exciting?!

I love that I live someplace where I get invited on these wacky, crazy, awesome adventures.  This doesn't happen just anywhere.  But if I'm going to continue to be able to live a life of spontaneous awesomeness now is the time for me to do a little work.  (listen to me talking like a grown-up....who would have thought the land of eternal youth would be the place where I would grow up?)

It still sucks though.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Well that sucked

I'm not sure when or how I got in my head that I was going to do this hike yesterday.  I think it might have happened when I was sitting on the deck of a winery Wednesday.  Enjoying a delicious riesling, a beautiful view, and some spectacular fall weather.  And doesn't everything seem like a great idea when that's where you dream it up?

Well I rolled out of bed Friday at the crack of 9:30AM and decided I had better get moving if I was going to make this happen.  Again, I have no idea where my motivation for this came from.  Under normal circumstances waking up at 9:30AM would have meant the coffee shop was calling.  That's  really to late to embark on an epic hiking adventure.  Especially considering I was going this one alone because all my friends had this pesky thing called "work" to attend Friday.

But somehow I managed to get some oatmeal in me and get out the door.  13 miles and 3600' of elevation gain -- here I come.

Seriously, what was I thinking?

I was thinking that 13 miles is really no big deal.  I have certainly been on 13 mile runs by myself.  I just hiked three 14,000' foot peaks in two days.  I'm definitely in shape for this.  This silly little hike only tops out around 12,000' -- easy as pie.  (Where did this phrase come from anyway....easy as pie....pie is actually really hard to make....I don't actually know how to make pie....and, I guess, in that way, this hike was, in fact, like pie.)

I would like to state, for the internet record, that I pretty much rocked the uphill portion of this hike.  Why?  Because I'm in such rockin' mountain girl shape?  No, probably not.  It was mostly because I am no mountain girl at all and am terrified that something in the woods thinks I look like a tasty little snack.

No lie.  The entire hike I was obsessively paranoid about bears.  And when I wasn't worried about bears, I was worried about mountain lions. Both of which are very much present in this particular wilderness so its not like these were completely unfounded fears.  However, the bears around here are just black bears -- they're not even carnivores.  And the mountain lions have plenty of pica and other little critters to eat so they likely want nothing to do with me.  To my knowledge there have been no human - mountain lion interactions in this region.  So why exactly did I think I was going to be the first?

So yes, its crazy.  But when you are in the wilderness (and I'm not talking state park picnic table wilderness here) alone....you feel very much ALONE.  And apparently for me, alone translates to vulnerable.  Hence, thinking every little noise is something that wants to eat me for lunch.

I make it to the first basin, where I am finally above tree-line and feeling a little bit safer, (this way if something wants to eat me at least I'll see it coming) so I finally stop to take care of some basic needs.  Peeing and eating.  As I find a comfy rock on which to enjoy my Cliff bar I see two other people making their way up the other side of the basin to the ridge crossing.  OMG I have never been so happy to see people.  Even though they were well out of earshot it was such a comfort just to see other humans.  They are the only other people I will see ALL DAY.

So I make it over the ridge and its all downhill from there.  And this was THE MOST SUCKY PART.  I know.  That makes no sense.  But the downhill was miserable.  Mostly because it went on FOREVER and I just wanted to be done.

I really don't even have anything else exciting to say about this hike.  The views were spectacular and I didn't even care.  I lugged 15 pounds of camera equipment with me and took exactly 12 photos from one spot -- and I hate them all.

I don't know if my head wasn't in the right place for this hike, or if I'm just not a good solo backcountry hiker.  Maybe a little of both.  I'm still glad I did it.  But only for the workout -- and really I would rather have gone on a 13 mile run -- without my camera.  I won't be trying anything like that again anytime soon.  I'd rather have friends to push my pace than fear and paranoia.  And I guess amazing scenery just isn't as amazing without someone to share it with.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


You can't throw a rock around here without hitting a photographer these days.  You'd think sunsets on back country roads were superbowl caliber events the way the photogs line up and box out for the best shots.  Pretty comical, actually, to come over a hill in the middle of nowhere to a slew of parked cars and thousands of dollars in camera equipment pointed toward the horizon.  

Personally, I've been kind of indifferent toward the season.  The "beauty" didn't really blow me away like I thought it would.  Though looking through the pictures, I can't deny that it IS kinda pretty.....and these really aren't even the "great shots."  I've been thinking more and more about what I'm doing with my pictures these days and have been pondering a more official way to show them to the world.  So stay tuned....but in the meantime, enjoy the "rejects."  :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Just because you can

Last night was weird.  A beautiful, fun, fabulous and inspiring night that detoured somewhere along the way down a path of strangeness.  Not bad.  Just,... strange.  In that way that only random nights in little mountain towns can be.  Full of coincidence, and familiar strangers.

As I crossed the street on my walk home I stopped in the middle and paused.  Town was so still.  Not another soul around.  Just the twinkling lights of main street reflecting off shimmering black pavement.  Even the drizzle fell silently so as not to interrupt the scene.  When I continued walking I just kept a straight path right down the middle of the road and laughed to myself.  Why not?  Why not walk down the middle of the street in this sleepy little mountain fairy tale?  When else will you ever get to do this?  Just walk down the middle of the street.  In the rain.

It was the stuff of dreams.  It was beautiful.  It was all mine.  And I savored it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gathering nuts

There's no denying that change is happening when I wake up to new shades of fall every morning.  Its both comforting and unsettling to see nature prepare for the big sleep of winter when I feel even more directionless in my own life with every falling leaf.

Where will I be hibernating this winter?

The truth is, I don't know the answer.  And that's becoming less and less OK with every passing day.  So, while I'd like to do nothing more than curl up on the deck with a blanket, a steaming cup of tea and a good book while I soak up the last of the beautiful golden rays of fall sunshine, instead I'll be spending the last few weeks of fall gathering my own nuts and trying to figure out where to store them before the snow starts flying.

I'm trying not to panic as I watch the thin white blanket just lightly covering the peaks grow heavier and move toward the tree line.  My daily reminder that time keeps moving along, irrespective of how skilled I get at perfecting the unsustainable life I'm living in this little fairy-tale bubble.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Its been quite a ride

These past few weeks have been a bit of a blur.  I'm back in the mountains....even though I'm not supposed to be right now.  I'm supposed to be in Guatemala.  Its a long story.  One that I will tell when I can get caught up on life here.  Because even though I didn't go to Guatemala, its been a very long week that included not one, but two 10-hour drives across the desert.  One unexpected house guest, and two house guests who weren't expecting me to be here.

Like I said....its a long story.  In the end I believe things worked out for the best.  But right now I need to get all my "chores" done so I can go play tomorrow.  BIG hike planned.  Weather looks perfect for a few summits and many hours above tree line.  I can't wait.

Now off to be productive!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When your backyard is beautiful, you really should play in it.

There is a trail that leaves pretty much from my front porch.

I've hiked it once.

Three months ago.

That's pretty pathetic.  Really.  There's no reason I shouldn't be out running that thing every morning.  I mean, other than the obvious fact that it goes pretty much straight up and only superhuman  mountain nutzos actually run the thing.  But really.  I should be out there.  On those days when I think about going for a run, but then don't.  You know those days when you get home and you think "I should work out, but there's laundry....and I need to go to the grocery store....and what if a bear eats me on the trail...."

OK, maybe I'm the only one that worries about that last one, but you get the idea....excuses.

People use precious vacation time and hefty doses of disposable income to get to this place that I call home.  So that they can hike their sea-level lungs up this amazing trail for a glimpse from the top.  AND I'M MAKING EXCUSES?  I have to walk a couple hundred yards to be in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the United States and I'm choosing laundry over this?

What is wrong with me?

Tonight I got out there, thanks to a friend who called at just the right time.  Those precious first few moments home.  Before you have time to snack, or make other plans.  When the idea of a workout still lingers every so faintly in your mind but before the "to do" list has had time to assert its dominance.

As we were walking, and talking, and venting, and sucking wind (again, just me really) I looked around and thought "why have I not been on this trail since May?"  This beautiful aspen-lined trail, climbing up the mountainside, overlooking a babbling stream, winding through northwestern-esqe groves, with wild mushrooms dotting fairy-tale looking mossy slopes, and wildflowers blooming in open meadows toward the top where sunshine warms you as you take in the panorama of peaks.  Below us a life-sized topographic map.  To the right, yet another beautiful sunset in the making.  Amber light warmed the aspens on our decent, and just as shadows stretched across the trail we found ourselves on my front porch.  No driving.  No traffic.

This place is amazing.  A-mazing.  But if all you see is Main Street for a while its easy to forget.

So no more excuses for me.  I'm getting out there.  Even if it just the same remarkably beautiful trail every single day.  I'll be out there.  Just because I can.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I didn't really sign up for this part

You know how sometimes you register for something thinking it sounds like a good idea at the time...you know, from the comfy, climate-controlled, cushy couch cushion you're probably sitting on when you hit the button to register online?  But you have the week/month from hell leading up to the event, you're under-trained and over-tired, you manage to drag yourself there anyway because hey, you already paid....and then mother nature unleashes her fury in some form or another and you're thinking really....really, I paid for this?  This was not in the brochure.

Well I kinda feel like that right now.  I was all about this mountain town thing until this....until a bear just marched right up onto my patio, through the yard, and across the street in front of the house.

I mean, I get it.  There are bears around.  I know when I'm out hiking I'm in THEIR territory.  Its cool.  But when you are standing on your deck watching one just amble around on your patio and then head off down the rock path through your yard like he's out for a Sunday stroll...well, it just gets a mountain girl a little uneasy, you know?

(yes, fuzzy photo, but I assure you this is most definitely a bear.  on my patio.  at 8:30PM tonight.)

This was not the race I signed up for.  Nowhere did it say that on my quaint little 5 minute commute home at night I might encounter a big furry mammal who may or may not think I look like a fun little chew toy.  I've heard rumor of the potential but now I have seen the tall tale come to life.

Where's the race director for this mountain Ironman I seem to be living?  I want my money back.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fairy Tales and Rainbows

Sometimes it really does feel like a mythical place, this little town I call home.  A place where everyone is happy, and healthy and ridiculously good-looking.  Where you walk three minutes to get to work, and wave at your friends along the way.  You love your job, and at the end of the day you can be hiking alone above tree-line just 20 minutes from your front door looking down on this little playground in the valley, nestled in between 12,000' peaks.  Where every night ends with a rainbow and a magnificent sunset.

But this isn't reality.  Its all make-believe, right?

Or is it?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunny Saturday Means Summit Something

Perhaps there is something to this theme I started on the big, bad birthday a while back.  The "summit something" birthday expedition success seems to have trickled down into the year that followed it.

Let me explain.  Its been nothing but rain, rain, and more rain around here, but it looked like a dry weekend was on the horizon so a friend and I made plans for a post-work Saturday afternoon hike.  We're both trying to get out and see some new sights so we had picked a little hike that started off a pass out of town.  A pass, appropriately named, for the nearest peak.  A trail that neither of us were really that familiar with.

I thought this was just going to be a hike.  Maybe a couple hours.  And the trailhead being named for the peak was just that.  Named for the peak.  Not necessarily indicating a peak-summit trail.

I should know better.

The hike started off innocently enough, uphill (they ALL are out here) for a few hours through a pine forest.  We hiked along, chatting, checking out all the mushrooms, and wondering when we would break out above tree-line for some views.

I even debated about not bringing my camera.  THAT IS HOW UNDERWHELMING I THOUGHT THIS HIKE WOULD BE.  But at the trailhead I was reminded that people use this trail as a run-up to one of the 14ers and that meant we would probably be close to that particular mountain (not to mention the formation the trail is named after) so I decided to lug the big camera.  Um, ya.  Good move.

As the trail wandered up, and up some more, we finally popped out above tree-line into a beautiful basin.  Not as many wildflowers as I've seen elsewhere, but still stunning.  With a full view of the mountain range off to our right, a funky lookin' formation in front of us, and a couple fourteeners off to the left.  And when I say "off to the left" I mean, like right there, on our left.


We got to the base of the trail's namesake formation and decided to stop for a snack.  Notice I said snack, not lunch.  We really thought this was going to be a casual hike.  At this point I'm guessing we'd already been hiking (uphill) for three hours....but we weren't really paying attention and neither of us wears a watch (mountain girls, you know).

The trail seemed to end here, other than the well worn path to the 14er summits.  Which we joked about taking, being that it was an absolutely beautiful day and this particular 14er is known for making parties turn back because of inclimate weather (its a haul, and afternoon weather usually rolls in during peak climbing season).

Not really seeing a trail up we chatted about options.  Hike to a lake we could see in the distance down-valley?  Or maybe just get up to that next outcrop of rock to see what there was to see.

Wouldn't you know, curiosity won and up we went.  This debate repeated itself, minus the lake option.....should we keep going up?  What's over that ridge?  If we keep going up do you think we can see over that ridge?  Let's just keep going up until it gets sketchy.

So up, up the talus pile we went.  Eventually connecting with an actual trail.  To the point where we were finally so close we couldn't turn back.  A summit was inevitable.

It still makes me laugh how nonchalant we were about the whole thing.  A great pair on the trail, for sure.  Both of us later said we wouldn't have cared about reaching the summit, but little by little were willing to move toward it.

We were handsomely rewarded for our efforts.

I'm not sure if it was my first 14er summit that set the bar higher....pushed me enough out of my comfort zone that something slightly less exposed seemed like no big deal.....but I really did conquer some fears on the mountain yesterday.  I wasn't just following someone to the top....it was my idea too.  I WANTED to keep climbing.  Which is new for me.  Because I'm afraid of heights it usually takes some gentle prodding to get me over my fear and beyond where I feel comfortable, but this day it was me that was doing the encouraging -- no outside help needed.

Once at the top (or at least as close to the top as we could get without ropes), we even skirted the edge around the top formation, digging our feet into the soft shifting sand-like talus to get to a little hogback with nearly 360-degree views of the mountain ranges surrounding us --- um, and a nearly verticle drop-off on one side, the one on the other side being only slightly less steep.  I have to admit, with a huge rock formation looming overhead and drop-offs to both sides, I got a little woozy and had to sit down for a second and get my wits about me.  But for the most part, I was up there, walking around confidently, and snapping photos galore.

It may be a small victory, but it was noticeable.

Also noticeable.  Blisters.  One quarter-sized heel blister in particular, that started about an hour into the climb and made for one painful post-summit shower.  But I was motivated by a post-climb sushi and pomegranate mojito reward so I gutted it out.

What a day....6 hours of work....6.5 hours of hiking to around 13,000'....and a nice little dinner.  Whew, was I happy to climb into bed after all that!  Just another reason this place is so amazing....not many places you can bag peaks after work and still make it out for drinks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

We're going on a hike and that is final

I haven't worked out since I climbed a 14er.  That was, um, well,....a while ago.  Too long ago.  But what with trying to pay rent and the monsoon season on steroids we seem to be having, finding time to play outside has been a teeny bit challenging as of late.

But last night, even if I couldn't see a window of opportunity, I was going to make one.  And I was going to drag two unsuspecting friends along with me, whether they liked it or not.  (or, actually they came along willingly because we're all going a little nutty from nature deficit disorder lately....so whatever)

So it's a weeknight.  I have been sending out "hiking later?" texts all afternoon.  "think the weather will hold?"  "its looking promising" ....etc.

Sometime around six I made the call.  We're going.  I scheduled pick-ups.  Never mind that dark cloud hovering over yonder mountain and please ignore that thunder rumbling, it looks like a beautiful night for a hikie-poo.

Yup.  Beautiful night for a hike.

Lately I'm all about seeing new things (otherwise known as get-out-of-town-whenever-possible) so we drove to a little alpine lake and decided we'd hike from there.  Did we know if there was a trail?  No.  But we had a mission.  Get up high and hope for a good sunset.

So off we tromped, in the cold, dreary, dark, windy evening.  In search of a sunset even though the sun seemed to have already retired for the evening.

As we locked up the car and trudged across a crooked, worn out pedestrian bridge to the other side of the lake the dogs romped through the water and sprinted ahead.  The conversation gravitated toward our amazement that we could find ourselves in a remote high alpine environment like this after a full day of work.

And then the climbing started.  Which ended my involvement in the conversation.

Through the trees and over a talus pile, up a windy trail through the woods, past the top of a ski run and then up another talus covered slope and around.....

...it wasn't looking good for anything other than a few calories burned a wet walk home in the dark.  But someone in the group had patience (not me) and hope (not me) so we climbed some more, and then  waited.  Perched precariously on the side of a steep pile of talus.  We watched....

first this...beautiful, but not quite what we were hoping for.

...then, showing signs of potential....

Then it started....the good stuff....

and then everything started glowing....

and when I was tired, cold, wet, and sick of holding myself to the mountain by my toenails with camera poised....someone made me wait it out a little longer, even though it looked like it was done....

Because there were still embers left glowing on this little campfire....

And you should never turn in until the campfire is out.

However, you should remember that this means you're making your way back to the tent (or in this case, car) in the dark so REMEMBER TO PACK YOUR HEADLAMP.

We managed to get back to the car in one piece.  Watching lightning periodically light up the sky and listening to the thunder roll.  I chatted mindlessly and loudly so as to scare off any bears with my obnoxiousness.  And just as we piled the dogs into the car and climbed in -- it poured down rain.

And that, my friends, is a well-played post-work workout.  Mountain-style.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

For the moment

Yup...that's about right.  Right where I am....

....somewhere between reality and Aspen.  The real world is most certainly out there.  Somewhere.  But the view from this land of fairy tales and castles is quite lovely.  It can suck you in.  Make you forget this place called suburbia that you used to know.  Make you think that this is the only way to live.

On my commute to "work" ---

Where "work" took me today ---

Its now suburbia that seems like a faraway land.  One that weary travelers make mention of in stories of adventures, after they've returned home to this magical little corner of the world.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Tonight, there was a sunset.  

That is all.  

I return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday-night "to do" list.

(Oh, and revamped the bloggie a bit.  Change is good.)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I climbed a mountain. For real.

I'm not sure where I got the idea, but once it was in my head it stuck.  I wanted to summit something.  I was about to have one of those annual, number-changing, life-analyzing days and I wanted something to focus on beyond that stupid new number.

So I picked a different number.

14,000.  14,150 to be exact.  That's the number of feet I was above sea level.  Ask my quads.  They are well aware.

It was beautiful.  And more challenging than I expected.  And as you can imagine there is a relatively long narrative to go along with the experience....that I will hopefully get around to sharing.  In the meantime, there are, of course, pictures (more to come though....I'm saving the good stuff).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There's a Button For That -- It's Called Travel

Sometimes, don't you just need a reset button?

I get antsy if I don't get a change of scenery somewhat regularly, regardless of the spectacular beauty currently in my backyard sometimes I just need to see something different.  So a few weeks ago I got out of town for a night.  One night, that is all.  But one night that was enough to reset all my inner programming and recharge my battery.

One night in a town quite like the one I currently live in....but different.  Because it was NOT my town.  Because there were new faces.  And new mountains.  And once I arrived I took the biggest, fattest, best drool-down-your-face-and-onto-your-arm nap of the decade because there was NO CONSTRUCTION.

Once sleeping beauty awoke from her mid-day slumber...there was sushi.  Dare I say great sushi?  Better than in my little mountain town.  But then maybe travel just heightens the senses and makes everything better?  (although I'm still kinda thinking it was better...)

I was a tourist in my own town.  It was the same social scene but I didn't know ANY of the locals.  Though I got to know a few.  And they welcomed me like family.  Comparing our mountain towns.  Talking about mountain life.  Buying me sake bombs.....(ooops, how did that happen?).

Anyway, it was great.  Just what I needed.  I'm not sure why.  But I'm not questioning it.  Travel just works for me.  Even if its just up the road.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The top of the world

Every now and then, its not a bad idea to do something that makes you feel insignificant, just as a little reminder that you are pretty much a speck of nothing in this big, big world we live in.  Something that lets you see an angle on life that puts the petty stuff in perspective.

Yesterday was my day for that.  A little trip to 13,000 feet, and a little reminder that I most certainly live IN the mountains.  Because this is quite literally my backyard.  This amazing panorama of peaks.  

Not bad, huh?

The trip may have been a little more rewarding had I hiked up there of my own powers.  But it was the end of a long work week for me, so I rode in a 4x4 jeep.  An experience not entirely without some strenuous effort on my part, but with far less cardio (and free time used) than the alternative.  

The end result was the same.  Amazement.  Wonder.  And life put a little bit more in perspective.  And while I may have felt small standing there looking out at the endless mountains before me, I also felt empowered.  Because the world is a big, beautiful place of endless possibility.  Such that if you find yourself at the top of a mountain and somewhat dissatisfied with the view, well, you should remember are many more mountains out there just waiting for you to start climbing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is there more?

***yet another blog that's been waiting in draft status for a while -- this  happened last week***

We make little decisions every day that can have a profound impact on our lives.  We choose where to work and where to play, where to spend our money, who to spend our time with.  Lately I've been really trying to focus on these little decisions, and I decided (among other things) that I haven't been enjoying enough of my surroundings lately.  So last night, over tea, my roommate and I devised a plan for an early morning hike before we both retired for the evening.

The hike started with a 30-minute drive up a few rough gravel switchbacks, knocking over an hour of hiking off the day and letting us get to the "good stuff" faster.  As we entered the trail and followed the river up (not entirely sure of where we were going) I was blown away by the wildflowers.  They lined both sides of the trail in every shape and color, unlike anything I've seen before.

We continued to climb until we came to a fork in the trail.  Decisions like these are something I usually ponder and stress about for much longer than necessary (a metaphor for life, no doubt) but the roomie pulled me through with logical statements about how its not worth pondering because thinking longer will not produce more knowledge than we already have (wise words that I should remember next time I come to one of these metaphorical decision points).  So we went left....the trial continued its switchbacks upward...and we continued to ponder life and gasp for oxygen.

As the trail popped up into a high alpine basin I began to doubt that the end result would be the lake we'd been looking for.  But we persevered and were rewarded with this:

Still unsure if we had reached the lake we were trying to get to, I wondered about the potential of there being a more beautiful scene had we just taken a different route.....made a different decision at the fork in the trail.

Imagine, staring at this clear, blue water....surrounded by mountains....having just hiked through more wildflowers than you have seen in your life....and still wondering if you're missing out on something better.  It makes no sense.  And yet, this is what I do.  I doubt.  I question.  I over-think.

And so, on the decent, I worked to make myself appreciate this day for what it was -- an amazing day,  shared with a great friend, in a beautiful place that I was lucky enough to be able to experience -- even if it turned out to not be the lake we had originally set out to find, life is about the journey....and this little journey was beautiful.  The end destination is never a guarantee anyway, we might get lost, or stuck, and sometimes even when we get to where we think we want to go, its nothing like what we thought it would be.  So its best to have enjoyed the getting there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

In is better than over

This post has been waiting patiently in "draft" status for quite some time now and today is its moment to shine.  Never mind that the events herein happened nearly two weeks ago.  

Its time to play catch-up on the bloggity-blog.  And many other things in life, for that matter.  There are many emails owed, and many phone calls to be returned.  But first I played a little catch-up on sleep.  And then there were the piles of papers to be dealt with.  Piles that have been dominating and rendering useless the surface of my desk since I moved in May and wanted very much not to be moved again in October in pile form.  

I am conquering the "to-do" lists today.  The first day I've had available to do this in quite some time.  But once upon a time, many moons ago (or maybe more like half a moon and a holiday weekend ago?), I had a free day to go hiking with a friend.  

It was lovely.  And long.  Three hours long.  And while I did manage to dunk a foot in the waterfall crossing (it was a tedious balancing act of log and rock jumping), it did not damper the day in the least bit.  The sun was shining.  The views were beautiful.  And we were happy to be out enjoying it all.

The view from the start (my house) --

Getting closer.....

Crossing at the top of the waterfall.....

Standing in the waterfall enjoying the view back toward town.....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Things my dad says

So, at the moment, I have about 1001 thoughts about life and love and loss and totally lame ways to spend 40+ hours a week in a mountain town.  Ugh.  I may or may not finish percolating those thoughts into something coherent and worth delivering to the masses (all five people anyway, who I think might actually read this blog) via the interwebs.

In the meantime please enjoy this adorable email message that was sent to me today by my father:

"Heard a great one this morning, left me smiling.

I got to Panera's for my bagel.  Waiting for it to get done toasting.

2 sweet little old ladies standing there, 1 was trying to use the toaster and they were gabbing.

The one says "other places I've been, they toast it for you".

The other one says "I got a new toaster last week, I feel like a new bride"."

Sometimes isn't it just the simplest things that can make us smile.  :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Workout Music

I struggle with finding workout music because I need both depth and tempo.....a hard combo to find.  But I saw these guys in concert yesterday (amazing show!) and I think I've found a new band to accompany me on my workouts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Guess what? Another hike!

I hiked for two and a  half hours tonight.  TWO AND A HALF HOURS.  Two thirds of which was uphill.  Because that's how things work around here.  When you live in a canyon and you want to get anywhere the direction is pretty much always up.

Which, you would think would be great because well, duh...there's always the down part on the way home, right?  Yes, true.  Problem is, the down is not exactly easy around here.  You're usually coming down steep loose dirt or gravel so you need to be paying attention for sure, and then just hoping your quads can hold on until you hit flat ground.  Not easy kids.  My knees will probably never forgive me.

But tonight's hike was great.  A climb (I'd like to call it steep but it is more likely to be classified as consistent grade, or some other such wimpy sounding nonsense) out of town to the base of yet another waterfall with a friend that I haven't been able to catch up with now that I'm doing this thing called working (highly overrated if you ask me).

I'm finally starting to build a little posse of people to call on when I feel like taking off on an active endeavor.  I have really missed this.  Right now the circle that I call on is small, but I'm happy that it even exists at all.  I know I've said it before but its still true -- I miss my workout friends.  My bike-therapy buddies.  My walkers, my runners.....my lets just do something active so we don't have to feel guilty about the wine we're going to drink afterward friends.

If you were all here this place would be SO MUCH MORE AMAZING.  Because while its beautiful here, this place is just a place without beautiful people to share it with.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just an average morning hike around here

Snapped a few pics with the camera on my new phone.  I was hoping it would take better pics than my point-and-shoot (it has more megapixels) but I'm not sure it does.  Regardless, the scenery still poses pretty well around here.

Hiked for a solid hour uphill and then made quick time of the downhill because work was calling.  Only saw two mountain bikers and one 4x4 vehicle the entire 90 minutes.  Watched the town bustle with activity below.  The biggest festival of the season is this weekend and everyone's getting ready.  I even stocked up on groceries, for two reasons,

1) when the town is full of tourists the residents -- like me -- are very busy working which means not much time for grocery shopping, and

2) if the town is full of tourists the grocery store is going to be a zoo that I'd really like to avoid.  I think I'll have my fill of humanity with just my regular work week thankyouverymuch.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fat, skinny, whatever....

Its official....I don't discriminate in my love for bikes.  I adore them all.  Skinny tires, fat tires....doesn't matter.  I just love biking.

After a long "week" (my weeks are slightly different from the average office-dweller these days) I rewarded myself with a little mountain bike ride.   I started on a paved trail, heading toward a trail I knew to be pretty mellow about three miles from my house.  A few things happened along the way:

1)  The seat-post on my rented bike kept slipping down.  I didn't realize at first.  I just kept stopping, thinking no...a little higher.  Just a little bit higher.  So annoying.  Finally got it fixed though before I hit the dirt.

2)  It started raining.  Kind-of.  But it was kind-of awesome.  I had my waterproof ski shell on so it didn't phase me much.  (Its cold here -- snow on the mountain tops this morning!)

3)  I used my new Osprey Raptor hydration pack.  Totally awesome.  Most impressive was the water reservoir.  Not only is the thing easy to fill (they put a handle on it, genius), but the way it sits in the pack keeps constant pressure on the water.  Why is this important?  When you're sucking wind you don't have to suck for your water too.  The first drink I took caught me so off-guard I had to spit it out because I nearly choked.  The water quite literally flew into my mouth.

4)  I didn't find the trail I was looking for, but I think I found one much cooler.

5)  I realized that I really like mountain biking.  It does freak me out a bit at times, but I'm excited enough about it to want to get out and there and get better at it.  There's NO TRAFFIC.  The scenery is amazing.  And sometimes I have to stop and just take it all in.  Quiet little bubbling brooks.  Rolling rivers.  The wind in the trees.  The mountains.  The waterfalls.  The whole scene can be pretty spectacular.

6)  I was reminded how much I LOVE living someplace where I can hike, bike, and ski right out my front door.  NO CARS INVOLVED.  I don't even drive to work.  I have driven my car once in the past 5 weeks.  Once.  Take that BP.

7)  I was also reminded that I live at the top of a VERY BIG HILL.  The hardest part of my workout is always the last three blocks, but this is just something I'm going to have to deal with, I guess.  Because living on a hill does have its perks.  (exhibit A: The view from my deck.)

Other activities of interest (or not really, probably but I'll tell you anyway).....

I had Indian Food for dinner.  It was, delicious.  It made me realize I miss Indian food.  This little mountain town has no Indian restaurant.  Bummer.

Also, I have become mildly addicted to mochas in the morning.  This is a very slippery slope I am headed down.  But they're so good.  And I usually only have them on mornings I work (4).  Green smoothies the other day.  That's almost balanced, right?