19 January 2017

Altered Perception

I hate letting weekends get away from me, so I start texting around early in the week to get a tour going on Saturday. 

We go to GTNP. There are six of us in the parking lot. All girls. I love it. We are noisy and colorful, and somehow alone at the trailhead--everyone else in the region is on the Pass, or at the Village, or the Ghee, or elsewhere in the Park. 
So many ladies
Pics courtesy of Erin
I break trail the whole way up, probably three hours of thigh-burning work. I am as happy as a hamster in a wheel. I don't even mind that we decide to turn around before the summit. We stay together and take turns slicing through the deep, sparkly surface hoar. We go to the Bodega afterwards, mill around and drink sloshies. Make plans to go out dancing that night. The band plays Klezmer music and Greek folk songs and the cellist has his instrument slung around his neck like a guitar. It's awesome.
Stoked to be in the Park on a sunny day
The next morning Dapper Dan texts everyone at Casa del Haters. Targhee backcountry? This thought has already occurred to us, so we organize cars for a Teton Canyon shuttle. 

I hear there are some big mountains here
Pics courtesy of Dapper
The frontside of the resort is haggard so we immediately drop out-of-bounds. Skin a couple laps on Steve Baugh and defile the once-virgin bowl with huge surf turns. 

Tyler gets some air time
After beer and snacks in the sunshine, we use the atlas to find the entrance of a south-facing couloir. Alex guinea-pigs the line. He radios to us, "It's a bit committing." Radios are cool. 

It's a good reminder of what a more consequential line feels like, what imperfect snow and wedging your ski against a rock and being out of breath from fear instead of exertion feels like. It isn't a hard line but I'm out of practice. I stay upright and ski out gracelessly. 

Somewhere in Wydaho...or maybe Colorado
The snow grows more affected, punchy, variable. We whip through willow saplings and brush. I am better at this than I used to be. I find myself on top of a little cliff band and I have to huck to flat on crusty snow. At the canyon floor, everyone transitions and starts the long glide out on the groomed trail. I don't get why people cross country ski for fun. 

On Monday I walk the dog before work wearing a light puffy, because it's sunny. My nose hairs freeze but I've gotten used to that sensation. When I turn the Subi on the engine grumbles awhile before it turns over. The temperature gauge reads -9°. Ah. The new norm. 

I am happy and satisfied at work. Sunshine, loud music, sketchy ice...writing articles, editing photos, eating Twizzlers. 

It's amazing how much a big weekend outside changes my outlook. 

04 January 2017


I did a tour in GTNP a couple days ago, this tour but with a less complicated descent.

The conditions were identical: deep, light snow, single digit temps, no wind, cloudy skies.

Skinning across Taggart Lake...I love GTNP
Pic courtesy of Cy
The journey was completely different. Three years ago, I was still really new to skiing. I did fine on the uphill but the downhill was painful. I slowed down the group, I wasn’t a competent skier, and it was irresponsible for me to be out there. I think we all have to go through these deep end experiences and hopefully are able to learn from them rather than dying from them.

Now, in my fifth season of skiing and touring, I’m a different person. I’m probably more conservative than I was then, because I don’t let other people make decisions for me. I can make my own observations, do my own research, and navigate somewhat adequately. I often don’t get it right but every time is a learning experience, and I’m never a passive follower going in over my head without any knowledge. I can’t handle emergencies yet but I have the everyday systems dialed, and I’m a pretty good skier. Not pretty, and not good, but pretty good.

I like the word resolve more than the word resolution. Resolution is fluffy and aspirational; resolve is iron-spined.

 I set little goals every year. I don’t always remember them, but mostly I follow through. At the dawn of 2012, I vowed to shake up my life. In 2013, I wanted to say yes to everything. I remember talking to my dad on the phone early last January and saying that I wanted to write more. I was scared to say it out loud because then I was accountable.

My 2016 goal came true in a more definitive fashion than I could ever have predicted.

What do I resolve to do this year? Have more adventures, probably. Keep learning. Maybe get outside my comfort zone. Maintain my obsessive quest for novel experiences. I did a lot of that last year but I don’t want to lose momentum.

And now it’s in writing, so I guess I'd better do it.