24 March 2017


Three hundred blog posts.

My first post, written over eight years ago, was really dumb.

This is how old I was when I started blogging.
It took me years to get a better handle on my tone.

When I started posting, everyone had a blog. Writing grammatically dubious race reports. Spewing inside jokes. Referring to friends by their dumb nicknames.

All those blogs are now mouldering in Blogspot limbo. You can still find them if you try. Most of them were last updated circa 2010.

This blog has been a casual project for so long. I never expected it to land me a job. The editor at the paper is a friend of mine, so he saw when I occasionally posted blog updates on Facebook. He knew I could write and even used my material once. When he asked for a couple quotes about the high school mountain bike team, I was casting around for a new pursuit. I asked, "Are you hiring?"

By some serendipity (or lots of turnover at the paper), he was looking for a reporter. I had no experience or education, so I scored the job merely by dint of knowing lots of people in Teton Valley, and by promising I could discard blogginess and replace it with AP Style.

I never wanted to be a journalist, but I've really enjoyed moments of it. I'm scared of interviews but I love it when people get on a roll, running off at the mouth about something they're really passionate about, and then apologizing that they've been inarticulate. Never apologize about that. Only apologize about being monosyllabic.

I love being edited, even though I sometimes take poorly to criticism. When the other reporter debates my grammar and syntax it raises my hackles, but talking through a piece with the editor is exciting and revelatory. He's great at taking something I've already given up on and shuffling my words around so that I no longer hate it. And I'm better at ruthlessly cutting out flab and passive voices and anguished phrases now. (But I can still do whatever I want in my blog, so there.)

I also think local journalism is more important than I, as someone who never used to pay attention to news, ever realized. It's about cutesy stories and repetitive event previews, but it's also about holding local politicians accountable. Informing people of decisions that were made at meetings they couldn't attend because their kid had hockey practice. Attempting to present all sides of an argument in an atmosphere that has turned so vindictive and polarizing.

My trajectory towards adulty mileposts like marriage was recently interrupted, but working at the paper is a huge step towards doing what I Want To Do When I Grow Up. And that happened because I started a blog. Because all the bike racers were doing it. Life is funny.

07 March 2017

Running Away

I've been wrestling with how to write this trip report.

My first yurt trip wasn’t a rosy experience. Last week's yurt trip was a massive improvement over that, even though the distinct taste of pure snowmelt still reminds me a little of ralphing for twelve hours.

I didn’t have a group, a gameplan, or any idea of what life would look like five months down the road, but in October I booked two March nights at Baldy Yurt.  They were a couple of the last nights available for the year.

My life did change in the intervening time. Tyler and I broke up last month. I am embarrassed to give the reasons because they look trivial and selfish on paper, but it happened. I moved out. I gave up my dog except for occasional custody.

I’ve been staying so busy that my new room is still full of unpacked boxes, and mounds of clothes have sprouted up on the floor because I haven’t had the time to deal with them…or I’m just avoiding facing the reality of life right now.

I had been looking forward to the yurt trip forever, but began to dread it. I couldn’t find enough people to fill the roster. I felt disorganized. I’m not a great trip leader. Should we plan meals? Was I going to end up footing the whole bill? Was the guiding outfit ever going to get back to me or could we just waltz up there with no confirmation?
A damn good crew
Pics courtesy of Cy
I pieced together the group with the only people in the valley who gave me a firm yes: a fellow Julia, new roommate Pat, frequent accomplice Cy, and all-around rad person Amanda.

Pieps and Pat, getting ready for a big day out
It seemed like an incongruous group and I was nervous about how the personalities would mesh, but it ended up being the most perfect union. Everyone was well-informed, decisive but not pushy, communicative, and happy to do yurt chores. I don’t want to say everything went smoothly because the chicks outnumbered the dudes but…that didn’t hurt.

Oh yeah, it was really deep
Picking those two nights five months ago proved to be serendipitous. In the week before our trip, it dumped but conditions stayed stable. On our ingress we broke trail through deep, light snow and took turns shlepping the heavy sled of food and beer. Visibility was poor as snow continued to fall.
Oh yeah, it was really pretty
The sun came out the next day. Everything we could see was our playground. Big bowls, long steep runs, mini cliff lines tucked into trees, all untracked.  We were on the same page—open to walking a lot, stoked on skiing but not interested in tempting fate. Each lap yielded whoops of delight. 
Disco ball: essential yurt accessory
Footsore on the third morning, we cleaned and packed, and skied some more. The return track was fast and playful, the snow just on the cusp of turning to garbage. We drank beers on the tailgate of the Subaru. Everyone else’s smart phones were flooded with little dings and beeps from stale notifications. My phone stayed silent. It stresses me out to get messages after a hiatus from service, so I was glad no one missed me while I hid in the woods for a couple days.

I dragged my feet on reacclimatizing to real life, preferring to stay in my cocoon of post-yurt good vibes. Monday was tough, trying to crank out four days' of content and talking on the phone with recalcitrant interviewees.

I still think it's worth the comedown to have these perfect experiences. Strengthen friendships, explore the backyard, run away from sadness, and ski deep powder? Yeah, I'll take that.