09 December 2013

The Deep End

On Saturday evening we were in various states of repose in front of the TV, recovering from a couple of hard-charging days at  Targhee, when Paul's buddy over the pass invited him for a big day of backcountry in Grand Teton National Park. Tyler and I quietly included ourselves in the invite and packed up our gear.

In the morning as we drove over there in the previous night's light snow, Paul got a text (a warning?) that one of the guys on the trip had experience guiding in AK and was a strict group leader.

"Oh shit," I said and sunk lower in my seat and gripped my coffee mug. My ability level and inexperience could easily be seen as a liability and a group leader would be justified in shutting me out in order to preserve the safety of everyone. Tyler and Paul knew it too and nervous silence carried us into the parking lot.

But there were no interrogations or sideways glances, just genial greetings and introductions, so we got suited up and hit the skin track.

Once we started climbing my inner naysayer quieted and I was soothed by the squeak-clunk of AT bindings meeting skis. I can go uphill, by god. And up, and up. We climbed from the parking lot at 6000ft to almost the summit of Shadow Peak at 10700ft. It was a brutal slog and up top the wind gusted and it couldn't have been warmer than five below. The two guys with extensive experience and snow knowledge dug a pit and examined the layers and tried to make the column fail, but not only was there an obscene amount of snow (170cm, as tall as my skis), it was also comfortingly stable. They decided to shoot for the original, most optimistic plan, a pair of secret couloirs with long fluffy run-outs.

On top of each, we peered down the dizzying slope, communicated a game plan, and proceeded one by one out of sight. My heart hammered and my legs shook but I made it down each obstacle, scraping over rock and pausing to quell the lactic acid in my limbs, but surviving and joyfully making turns in the fresh at the bottom.
No pictures of me exist, per usual, but here's Paul getting the fluffiest of turns.
Pic courtesy of Ian

Then we picked our way through a field of huge pillow lines, whooping up and over boulders and hoping our tips didn't get caught under rocks or hung up on saplings. The exit was a skin over a snow-covered lake and this had me gasping in more secret terror than either couloir. The threat of being submerged under opaque ice hurried me to the far bank, where everyone else seemed unfazed.

The last couple of miles were a relentless shuffle in the haze of major bonkage. When I finally made it back to the car, wet and frustrated and a little tearful, I recovered and hugged Tyler and took a swig from the growler and looked back at where we went, up the rough-hewn cleavage of the Tetons. This landscape of abrupt, daunting lines demands respect.

The Tetons from frozen Taggart Lake

03 December 2013

Ski Wydaho, Where the Cows Outnumber the People!

Having spent almost a month in the Teton Valley, I am absolutely shocked that it isn't being billed as the new Jackson or Tahoe or Summit County. Sure, every single person you come in contact with is a settler from the midwest or south or northeast who came here to live out the ski-bum dream of manifest destiny, but the valley is still cheap, quiet, and slow-moving. And oh lord, the snow!
Relentless snow in November
I have eleven ski days already and only four at resorts. The backcountry possibilities are exciting and endless, and the community is very welcoming. Paul was in town for a while and on weekdays when Tyler worked Paul and I called upon casual acquaintances or friends-of-friends to take us out and show us stashes. I've learned so much about all kinds of snow and about safety and how to go uphill and sort of go downhill and how to keep wallowing to a minimum. Hopefully in time I'll even get to be a pretty good skier.

Obligatory summit shot on Oliver Peak
I thought Tahoe had spoiled me, but this place will absolutely ruin me. Reports indicate that the quantity and quality are almost unmatched in the country. And here I've found the indescribable bliss of initial turns on fresh powder, a high so intense that people who taste it go on to chase it their whole lives.

Back By Popular Demand

Apologies for the dead air. Our sanctimonious neighbor cut off our internet access a couple weeks ago and I've been reeling from the loss. I've developed quite a dependence on connectivity, who knew?

I have yet to find gainful employment, in large part because of the extreme half-assedness of my search. I am also crippled by the fact that I stubbornly do not want to drive to work, and if I do have to drive to work I DO NOT want to commute over the avalanche-prone pass or on the treacherous road up to the resort.

I'm being a princess. I don't care.

Being unemployed means mind-numbing boredom and loneliness, a miserable contrast to the communal excess of camp, and it also means unprecedented freedom and flexibility. When I'm not skiing the sands pass through the hourglass a single grain at a time. When I am skiing--well, that merits a whole separate post. But unemployment also permitted an impromptu trip to Salt Lake City, where I got to spend some quality girl time with Joh, and then relive the Cruisedays of fall by adventuring with a couple of camp friends.

On the same day as my return from SLC Tyler and I took off for Thanksgiving in Boise, where we did family stuff and he showed me his old haunts and we went mountain biking in the foothills a stone's throw from his neighborhood. It was great. Boise is a really cool and unpretentious city.

We were gone during a dry spell but arrived back in Victor on the eve of another storm, and now everything is coated in white again.

12 November 2013

Insert John Muir Quote

The last few weeks of camp were, as expected, bittersweet. As one of the final hurrahs before departure we at long last made it down to Yosemite. It is as awe-inspiring and magnificent as promised. But even in November, to my annoyance (and yes, I am spoiled rotten), there were hundreds of people scurrying around the Valley floor like supplicants at the feet of their false idols. Lines of hikers plodded up and down the worn rockwork of the Yosemite Falls trail, and cars packed the scenic pull-outs and the Mariposa Grove parking lot.
But lord, was it beautiful
With that essential California experience checked off the list and the season over, I headed east. Halfway through Nevada, I was struck by a frightening and exhilarating revelation. Everything I owned was in my car and I had no obligations before or behind me. I could take any exit, go any direction, settle anywhere. I've never felt so untethered. But Victor seemed as good a place as any, and there was someone waiting for me there, so I stayed the course.

Then I made it into Idaho. The roads between Pocatello and Idaho Falls were long and lonely and it seemed like I could hear each slow breath of the great interior expanse of land. The sun set as I crossed through Swan Valley and over Pine Creek Pass, and my heart rose in anticipation. It's so different from California. Teton Valley reminds me of nothing so much as Etowah; a patchwork of farm plots, worked over by tractors and cows, latticed by dirt roads and creeks, ringed with trees, and grass (that rarest of commodities in Tahoe) everywhere. But then, unlike the countryside of WNC, the valley is buttressed by snow-choked mountain ranges: the Tetons, of course, but also the Snake River, the Big Hole, the Palisades, the Caribou.

The potential is overwhelming.

Who is this lucky asshole who got to see Half Dome and the Grand Teton in one week??

31 October 2013

Snow Days

Much to my delight, my weekend brought with it a solid eight inches of early season snow and all the absurd activities it entails: a stroll through the wonderland; spontaneous and heated friendly fire; a polar bear plunge; a pedal boat redneck yacht club in sub-freezing temps, complete with bloody marys.

Stupid? Fantastic
Redneck yacht club
The next morning the Adventure Team headed out for a challenging snowshoe into Desolation. After we crested the brutal climb of Cathedral Bowl, the novelty wore off and we trudged through deep glades to Gilmore Lake. I sometimes forgot to look around at the crazy beauty because I was distracted by the heavy-breathing monotony of pushing through a foot of powder. The trees on top of the ridge were rimed with ice and the sky cast a somber light on the half-obscured Crystal range. Duffy and I were dressed in a lightweight athletic manner that felt great and fleet-footed on the move but did not permit a pause of any more than a minute. I'm still figuring out winter wear, which is essential when I want to be able to go uphill and downhill in comfort.
The flingage factor is high with snowshoes

Today it was back to shorts and a t-shirt as I ran a quick out-and-back in the disappearing slush. The only sounds were the plash of snow melting and the distant buzz of sawyers amassing their winter reserves. Along with the smell of baking pine needles and the crunch of bike tires on decomposed granite, the ethereal combination of snow and warm sunshine is a California feeling that will linger long after I leave.

16 October 2013

Broken Record

Do I have to say this ad nauseam? Sammie insists that I blog again but I have nothing new to report: I live in an amazing, beautiful place with a bunch of incredible people. As excited as I am about the upcoming transition to a more "grown-up" life of partnership and stability (and permanence?), at the same time I want the passage of days to slow so I can exist in this little space for as long as possible.

Fitness has fallen by the wayside because I'm too busy carpe-ing the diem. It doesn't result purely from laziness; escaping the tyranny of nonstop exercise fixation means spending time with a wider array of people, doing things that don't necessarily burn calories or leave me joyfully exhausted and sore, but still satiate some hunger within, the hunger for lingering experiences and a sense of togetherness. Sure, railing tacky berms before work is still the rush it always has been. And the other day we set out for a run on a rainy cold morning and were rewarded after only 500 feet of elevation gain by soft snowfall on autumn foliage, and we luxuriated in the western cliche of radiant yellow aspens in a white-dusted landscape.
Twelve miles of heartbreaking beauty
But piling out of a caravan of cars and behaving typically touristy with a huge gang of coworkers in an old mining town in Nevada, or in the apple orchards of the Sierra foothills? 
Camp escapees, Apple Hill tourists
Taking a casual bike ride down the road to see the kokanee salmon spawn and die by the thousands? 
Poking dead salmon with sticks (I never outgrew it)
Watching the sun sink over a shelf of rolling granite from our campsite next to the cascading pools of the American River? These are feelings I won't relinquish any time soon. What did I do to deserve this lush technicolor life?

29 September 2013

Special Places

This spring I bemoaned my own jadedness and assumed camp would never hold the same magic for me as it did last fall. 

I have been eating my words with gusto all month. 

This fall has been even better than last. I feel really close to so many people at camp and now, not only do I say yes with regularity, I also instigate once in a while. In September I've found myself in so many special places with special people. 

Doing a relay triathlon with two girls who got to experience the undeniable rush of the podium for the first time.

Riding up and down snow-dappled mountains with my favorite fellow masochist.

Partying with people who will get dressed up at the drop of a hat.

Celebrating a stunning eastern Sierras vista.

Enjoying an omelet on top of Tallac at sunrise.

Cruising to the hot springs in the most majestic of seasons.

11 September 2013

Comings and Goings

So the folks came to town, and Tyler left town.

Tyler got a job at Grand Teton Brewing Company, the most ideal of situations but rather more abrupt than I'd hoped, so he packed up and hightailed it to Victor, ID. I have two months of his absence to contend with before I too make the trek. He is already in love with the place. 

Meanwhile Mom and Dad spent a week at camp and embraced wholeheartedly all the best parts. Faculty lectures, kayaking, wine on the deck at sunset, Bill merrily identifying each exciting new kind of flora and fauna he encountered, Deb announcing she wanted to hike Tallac ASAP and accomplishing the feat with aplomb. Their presence and bright-eyed enjoyment of this lovely little place renewed some of my own wonderment, in remission for the past months and slightly soured. It was great having them here, and when I left them to their own devices and they traipsed around seeking adventures and playing outside, it was quite apparent where I get it from.
Taking on Tallac


Camp has several long-established institutions, some benign (floating the Truckee River), some hedonistic (initiation parties), and one so noble and ambitious I couldn't help but be intrigued: Penta or Heptapeak, in which an intrepid gang climbs five or seven of the 9700ft+ peaks clustered in Desolation. (To be fair, the first is a gentle 9200ft, but the rest more than make up for it.)

I thought I wouldn't have a chance but a week before everyone departed, Amelia (athletic, crazy) approached me about it. I said without hesitation, unequivocally, yes.

Now, the day after, I feel pummeled. What was previously just a head cold has solidified and congealed deep in my chest, my feet are wrecked, and at breakfast everyone was full of admiration.

Heptapeak was an experience that is impossible to verbalize. I have only vignettes. The sun rising over our shoulders and turning a nearby lake into a brilliant colored mirror as we trucked it up the initial climb. Leaving the trail at the top of peak one, not realizing we wouldn't encounter smooth ground again until the parking lot. Dying so many deaths as I dragged my pitiful body up yet another boulder field, while ahead my companions played an endless game of "would you rather?". The inexpressible joy of each summit, shockingly beautiful, the mountains and lakes spread infinitely below us in every direction, our conquests always visible behind us and our goals daunting before us. The gasping terror of downclimbs and timid footholds so far above the ground on knife ridges and granite monoliths, where wind and exhaustion and uncertainty dogged my every step.

Contemplating the first really stupid ridge
The overpowering sense of pride and accomplishment at the top of Tallac as the sun kissed each of the six other peaks (so tall, so distant) before taking its leave in a glowing pink fireshow.
Here's a partial record of it: http://www.strava.com/activities/81719225. After the Garmin died we probably climbed another 3500 feet and traveled maybe 25 miles total. Eighteen hours. Ralston-Pyramid-Agassiz-Price-Jacks-Dicks-Tallac. The incredible fortitude of the human body.

29 August 2013

Environmental Factors

Western fires are no joke
A chunk of land northwest of Yosemite is ablaze and in the past week the conflagration has crept into the record books--right now it's the 6th largest CA wildfire in recorded history.

A haze has inhabited Tahoe for a week, obscuring mountains, sprinkling ash on windshields, infusing the evening breeze with the smell of campfire, turning the sun neon pink and the moon blood red. At the end of the busy season, the fire has summarily staunched the flow of tourist dollars and left the service industry to wallow in the slowdown of autumn. My parents are arriving on Saturday, hopefully to more ideal circumstances, although the Heavenly trail run was just canceled, to our dismay.

Ignoring respiratory warnings, I've continued as usual, mountain biking, hiking Mt Ralston, climbing Tallac under the full moon and sleeping up there. (The magnificent sunrise made up for the bitter cold, blustery night.) These exertions did cause noticeable discomfort--burning eyes, lingering cough, and a weird feeling of excessive fatigue. I can only imagine how people with asthma, people coming from sea level, toddlers, and old people feel. And more pressingly, how the people whose homes and histories are threatened feel. Our dining room assistant manager is from that part of the state and her parents' house is sitting two miles from the fire in the territory of her tribe. Her family and home is safe so far but her fear is palpable. Sobering stuff. When guests are complaining that they can't see Cathedral Peak while waterskiing on the lake, we remind them that there are worse things.

21 July 2013

Dispatches from the Western Front

Monday was Tyler's birthday and he pulled some strings at work and got us a party boat. Ten of us piled on and doused ourselves in sunscreen and blasted "Blurred Lines" on repeat and set to work on the mimosas and Torpedoes in the cooler. When it got really hot we jumped in and climbed up to the Tea House, the quaintly named rock edifice in the middle of Emerald Bay. Paul drove donuts at the mouth of the marina before we headed back in with the setting sun. It was the most fun I've had in a long, long time. Clearly the best place to enjoy Tahoe is from the middle of it.
The Tea House

Too. Damn. Good.
(Pic from Katie)
After a surprisingly successful return to "competitive" running (a firecracker 5k barely merits the title), the bug has bitten. Again. Sigh. In September I will have the great pleasure of running up the mountain I skied down all winter, and with my padre nonetheless! Riding in the Graeagle area last week got me thinking about the Lost Sierra Endurance Run and I've actually managed to get my ducks in a row for that as well. I even did a long run yesterday, a long, hot, flattish run that ended as usual with a plunge in Fallen Leaf, and that made me feel pretty good about a 30k* in two months.

*Not 50k because I'm not insane
Office run
(Pic from Merril)
And I got a new pair of fatty fat skis for my powder-centric future plans.

So sexy
Every Friday night at camp the musically endowed counselors set up on the deck and perform for an hour, and every Friday night I stand at the huge window overlooking the lake, in my palatial office, and watch the show, and every Friday night the musicians finish with a rousing rendition of "American Pie", and every Friday night everyone dances and sings along, staff and toddlers and grandfathers and surly teenagers and tipsy soccer moms, and every Friday night, despite the disturbing sense of deja vu, the communal happiness and wistfulness at the week's end is palpable, even from the second floor. And then the sun sets and every Friday night, it's the most beautiful thing ever.

The view from work
(Pic from Nichole)

07 July 2013

So This Is Summer

Going into the fourth week of camp, I feel I can adequately express what it's like. Every week's schedule and menu are exactly the same and so all of us staffers have settled into the sometimes deadening monotony of Groundhog Week. For diplomacy's sake, let's pretend I've never mentioned the actual name of my place of employment...so I can now safely discuss the alum of a place called...Treeland University. They are scary wealthy; they are deeply entitled; a lot of them represent a caste I'd never encountered before, "west coast preppy"; they are incredibly wasteful (in my shift alone we go through hundreds of paper cups, napkins, lids, and cocoa packets each night--imagine how I love that); and as a whole they are overwhelmingly generous and kind, although it sometimes feels like they are leaning down to pat your head from the top of their pedestal.

Meanwhile the undergrads who represent the bulk of the staff (or "staph", their preferred nomenclature), are enthusiastic, starry-eyed, exhaustively creative, and often very inexperienced when it comes to actual work. We "permies" (permanent staff) have to forgive them that because while they play hard, they work hard too.

The biggest difference between camp and conference is the sheer number of people constantly milling around. Instead of the maximum 150 or so guests we accommodate during conference, during summer we play host to about 270 people on our little plot of paradise. Children are loud, adults are loud, staph are loud. Fortunately my little cabin is one of the most isolated ones, tucked back in the trees next to the volleyball court. It stays quiet and super cool, even in the "heat waves" Tahoe keeps experiencing (90 degrees is laughable when the humidity hovers at a comfortable 15%). And then on my weekends I scurry back to blessed real life in town, to ride bikes and hang out with friends who don't want to talk about camp.

30 June 2013

Slow Stairs

The other morning in an effort to crush a lingering hangover I did a quick hike/run out the back door of camp, up a dusty manzanita-choked slope to Cathedral Lake. I encountered a couple of camp guests resting on a rock halfway up, and we chatted a bit and I gave them an (incorrect) estimate on how much farther they had to slog before they reached the lake. As I set off I heard the wife wheeze, "Oh, to be young again."

They were probably in their early forties and clearly very challenged by the steep terrain. But some of the most athletic, energetic people I know are around the same age, if not older. It's not about age, it's about lifestyle.

I see it at work all the time. There are lots of stairs in the lodge, and since camp is always, always packed with people, the stairways often get clogged with bovine types. Folks in the prime of life, wearing athletic shoes and Camelbaks, gingerly pick their way down the flights, death-gripping the banister. We lose a lot of productivity because of lag time on the stairs. Staffers pass each other, eyes rolled to the skies, as they await the never-ending descent or ascent.

I don't ever want to be the kind of person who takes stairs slowly.

14 June 2013


It seems odd that I had nothing to say after a trip that I'd so eagerly awaited for five months. But then, after all, it was Brevard. Lush and green and unbearably full of memories and so special and so mundane, where I was overjoyed to see everyone I knew and grew up with, and with whom I proceeded to have the exact same conversations and went on the same bike rides as always.

I was so, so happy to visit, and quite content to leave. I want to continue becoming the person I will end up as, although lord only knows who that may be.

Most cliche Pisgah pic ever
One of the best parts of the trip was dragging Tyler around and forcing him to experience my home as I always have. Riding bikes, riding more bikes, hiking John's Rock, posting up in the bakery drinking free coffee, wandering around town, having brews in the backyard and watching the fireflies, eating mediocre Mexican with the best possible group of people, popping into the Red House without invitation, sweating in the forgotten humidity, shooting the shit with the family at the dinner table. Perhaps it was a result of the constant arm-twisting, but he admitted to really enjoying Brevard.

And then the dragging continued, as my little sis joined us on the return trip. We were all cranky from prolonged travel and gross overpriced food and whatnot, but as we drove up into the basin I loved watching her eyes pop. Snowcapped peaks in June, the deep blue of the lake, the jagged span of horizon; it was fun to appreciate the drastically different western scenery all over again. Despite my schedule we found time to do all that important stuff: sunny kayaking, scramble-hiking, bagel shop gossiping, beach sitting, shopping, camping.
The Chute can't really be called hiking.
I foresee a lifetime of friendship with this one.
Now she's going to be a college girl and I'm going to be...a camp girl. The first summer camp guests arrive tomorrow and if all reports are correct, I'll come up for air at the beginning of September. Here we go.

24 May 2013

Pavement Time

The other day Deutschbike and I went out riding. The fella was out of town so on my day off I had the luxury of pummeling myself into oblivion at my leisure. My knees, ass, and hands may beg to differ but my heart said, best road ride ever.

Better than riding around the lake even, because of the incredibly diverse scenery. Soft pedal out of camp along my own little lake, cut through picturesque neighborhoods, climb up out of Christmas Valley, a glade of the sharpest greens and most bountiful wildflowers with the tranquil Upper Truckee River running through it, over Luther Pass and down into Hope Valley where the craggy glory of the Sierras swallows me. Then a long and windy stretch through cow-town, the flats of Nevada with the Sierras on one side and the Pinenuts on the other. When I stop to eat a Pop Tart a big hawk peers down at me with disgruntlement and then moves down to the next telephone pole. Then a long, exposed climb through the sandstone canyons above Gardnerville, nothing to protect me from the sun and seemingly nothing holding the sand to the cliffs. Finally I made it to Daggett Pass and took the shortest route back to camp, through South Lake Trashhole, land of never ending road construction, and yet...generous shoulders, glorious weather, drivers who notice bikes. The final stretch was the hardest of the day, with a little baby climb up Tahoe Mountain and then the bone chattering road around the lake in all its pot-holed, pavement-rippled glory.

Not as long as my last big ride, but way harder: http://app.strava.com/activities/55419760
The ride resembles the Assault in a lot of ways. Big climbs at the start and finish, flatlands in the middle (in a different state, even!) Crazy beautiful, crazy tough, definitely want to do it again.

17 May 2013

Meanwhile, In the Here and Now

My favorite pre-work run, out the door of the cabin:
The dusty trail, a lung-busting climb up granite ledges and switchbacks, through snowmelt and bark debris

The views emerge quickly on the ascent
To one side of Angora Ridge, lush lakefront;
to the other side, lingering skeletons of the '09 burn
I dawdle at the fire lookout every time

The fleeing storm parks itself over Desolation
In the other direction Freel and company loom above
the Meyers valley

This time of year sees more blooming than I'd expected
Fast downhill, each footfall threatened by loose surface
or manzanita bottleneck

And back home (upstairs)
Sweet digs, perfect size 
My own little nook 

New Season

Angora Peak
spring in tahoe is pretty sweet. toasty warm days bookended by the occasional chilly drizzle that sharpens and clarifies all the new greens, so different from the darker everpresent pine green. a neon dust of pollen covers every surface and the birdsong is incessant. when the warmth returns the smell of baking pine needles floats in all the sunny spots; it has already made a permanent home in my olfactory memory bank.
Hikin (it's like running, just slower)
Just two girls dreaming of the east coast
i feel at home here and all is good in the world, but i can't wait for the smell of loam and the constant shade of canopy. i want to run over root baskets and stream beds again and ride up some gravel road, clinging to the wheel of whoever is in front of me and praying that the climb will end soon. i want to sit in the bakery and greet every single person who walks through the door. i want to hug my family. (is that weird?) in ten days i'll be flying over the blue ridge with my forehead and nose smudging the window, and i can't wait to be back.

20 April 2013

Back to Camp

I finished off the season with one last magical powder day at Kirkwood, with a group of six wonderful friends, a posse that despite its size never grew unwieldy or sluggish.

And now after a lightning fast winter, I'm settled back in at SSC, with a new cabin and a new title and, oddly, a new sense of detachment. Because this time around I have a life in town, not to mention a set schedule of forty evening hours a week, I haven't and probably won't wholeheartedly embrace the scene that is camp. It's a little bittersweet that I'll never again be a new arrival wide-eyed with wonder (like Eric, who I suspect is in heaven), but instead I can build on friendships I made last season, get to better know the full time staffers, and make some attempt to do my job well (which doesn't come as naturally to me as food service, but what doesn't kill you, etcetera).

Of course the best aspect of camp remains the same: infinite opportunity for outdoor play. The mountains and the waterfront beckon. The trails shook themselves free of snow very early this year, and Rebecca and I have been on a couple of extremely satisfying bikes rides (made all the better by several months of abstinence). On one of those days I had the quintessentially Californian experience of mountain biking and skiing in the same day. And this sunshine doesn't look like it's going anywhere.

23 March 2013

Life In Flux

On the drive back from Utah I received two important communiques: an official job offer from SSC after a winter spent on tenterhooks, and an urgent text saying, "Our house has been foreclosed on."
Further conversations revealed that rather than a cause for panic, this news was an unexpected boon. Fannie Mae is permitting us to squat in the house until the end of March, our security deposit was returned posthaste, and to aid in relocation costs we will be cut a generous check on move out day. I'll be crashing at my "other house" (and living in sin for the first time in my life) until moving to camp. Meanwhile the boys bought an RV to start their new life as gypsies.
This is what it looks like when young people retire. 
Snow showers have been sparse and bookended by sixty degree glory days. I have had the chance to get in a couple good powder days at Kwood and the Heave, free snowmobiling thanks to the power of craigslist, some good road rides, and one unforgettable trip to the infamous Squaw Valley. Early in the day Tyler and I went a'hiking up to the looming Palisades. I took the easiest chute while he dropped in on the dumbest iciest chute...
...and emerged scathed. Dripping blood and ashen-faced, he somehow skied down to the clinic, where we learned he'd broken his hand and lacerated his favorite finger. He's spent the last week doped up, stitched, splinted, and not thrilled. Sports injuries are sobering stuff and this one has reaffirmed my intense fear of being laid up, antsy as hell, and unable to play.

Won't be doing that for a while.
Meanwhile work has ground nearly to a halt as the season comes to an end (how did that happen?), the house is emptying of furniture (aforementioned craigslist bartering), I can't stop watching mountain bike videos, and I'm counting down the weeks until my trip back to the south. 

03 March 2013

Lest I Forget My Roots

It refuses to snow in South Lake so upon my return I brought the Deutschbike out of hiding, cleaned off the filth of a cross ride two months past, unearthed chamois and road shoes, and disembarked warily. Turns out, to express the most painfully obvious truism, it is just like riding a bike. For the first hour nonstop I enjoyed what could only be called a full body high. Climbed to Luther Summit and remembered that going uphill was, of course, my first love. Bombed the descent, meandered back into town. There is no finer mode of self-propulsion.

01 March 2013

The Siren Song of Deseret

So we went to Utah because I heard they might have pretty good snow or something, forgetting that the last time I came through I almost didn't leave. It's a dangerous place, Utah. It's so easy to dismiss it because of the chokehold LDS has on every level of government, to scoff at the solemn silence of the big city on a Sunday, to be annoyed by the absurd and arbitrary rules hampering alcohol production and sale. We went to a tasting room without taps (no kegs allowed), had to purchase an entree each (no drinks without a meal), and could only have two tasters in front of us at any time. At the liquor store you can't buy "real beer" refrigerated or in six packs, and the walls are papered with morality literature.

And yet.

The Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons saw some light snowfall before we arrived but the locals bemoaned the conditions; at Snowbird, where Tyler's brother scored us cheap tickets, there's no chance of beating the powderhounds who ruthlessly track out every inch of the mountain with their fat plush skis.

And yet.

Best day of skiing yet. Ever. Words cannot express. Chasing Tyler and Ben all over a mountain that was all steeps, cliffs, trees, and all of it cloaked in deep, light snow that had me wallowing and falling and grinning. I was a better skier by the end of the day. Another day we went to Canyons, a massive Park City resort with practically none of the terrain or snow that made Snowbird so sublime. We rolled with a posse this time, having joined forces with Joh and Jamie, as well as a friend of the Nelson boys. Instead of pushing and progressing, we had a more chill day of bopping around, doing some sidecountry, ducking ropes, roasting groomers, and being generally pretty obnoxious.
Doing some light hiking with the JTs

And now on the drive home, as much as it makes me cringe to say, we've hashed out a plan to move to Utah next winter, because it's really hard driving back west without some intention of returning.