Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter ~ it's ON!

Haven't blogged in a little while, so I want to catch you all up on a few things.  Mainly ~ it's finally winter!  We have gotten so much snow in the last week or so, and the mountains are shaping up nicely. Haven't been up skate skiing in Park City since our first storm cycle over a month ago, but I'm holding out for the guys at Round Valley to get some good grooming in.  Next week, I'll be up there for sure (with the pups).

I've gotten out ski touring several times in the last week.  My neighbors, Kate and Brett, have asked me to join them for weekly Dawn Patrol (starting out skiing before it's light out).  We've gotten out twice so far.  We start out in the dark with headlamps and make our way up the mountain on the skin track, and as it's getting light we transition to the downhill.  It is so gorgeous up on the mountain with the light coming up and the peaceful quiet all around.  I am calling our group of three "Roberta Street Dawn Patrol" (because we are neighbors on Roberta Street in Salt Lake City).  As an aside, when we got home this morning (at about 10:30am) the cops were at one of our neighbors' houses checking out what looked like a domestic dispute ~ ahh... Roberta Street.  Takes all kinds.  Gotta love it.

We've been hitting up an area that's relatively close to home and low-angle (not very steep) with lots of aspen trees to keep the safety factor up and the danger-level down.  I can't believe how much better it's gotten just in the past week with the snow that we've gotten.  Not much happening as far as avalanches so far this year (which is good) and we are keeping our eyes on the forecast and conditions.

Saw my brother's old friend John Carlquist up on the hill today, and hopefully I'll be able to contact him and get out with him a few times this year.  It was nice to see him, and he recognized me straight away even though we hadn't seen each other in several years.

Lots of people out today, and as we got back down to the highway after skiing, we sort of had to scurry across the road because there were so many cars going up to the resorts.  Kate, Brett, and I all rejoiced as we got to the full parking lot, with dozens of people just starting up the hill at 9:30 am and we were all done and had gotten what very likely were much fresher tracks than they will get today!  We also were so thankful that we weren't skiing in the resorts today with the holiday crowds.  We are lucky folks, indeed, that we ascend the mountain under our own power!

Christmas Eve I got up to Pocatello for a couple of days with my brother, Stefan and my sister-in-law, Abigail.  Nice thing ~ we opened presents just a little early (on the 23rd)!  Yay.  My brother totally styled me out with some nice garb from Patagonia.  We ate traditional Bavarian "brotzeit" dinner and had a great time.  Stefan and I took all the dogs for a snowy walk on Christmas Eve day before I went back to Salt Lake.  The dogs had a great time, especially Artemis and Ali (Abigail's dog) who found some dead deer bones on the hill.  Yum!

And finally, I want to share with you a video that our friend Brendan Nicholson made about Kate and her battle with breast cancer in 2010.  I still remember the call when she told me that she had been diagnosed.  I feel so fortunate to know her ~ she is such a fighter!  Ski touring can be hard, but I'm sure it must pale in comparison to the battle she fought against cancer.  She is a true survivor and a shining spirit.  I feel blessed that I got to be in the video that tells a little bit of her story.  Click here for the link to view the video.

The following photos are from Christmas Eve (dog hike), Dawn Patrol (day one, last week) and Dawn Patrol (day two, today).
It is dark at 5:30am on December 20th ~
Kate & Brett on the skin track
Morning light coming through the aspens ~
Gorgeous morning view of Mt Kessler and
the Salt Lake valley below ~
Mt Raymond (left) and Gobbler's Knob (right)
me ~ on the ridge ~
Dogs getting a Christmas treat ~
Franklin & Artemis are ready to rock the Idaho snow ~
Stefan and dogs on the Blackrock Road ~
Me and my brother, Stefan ~
Artemis loves that fresh mountain air ~
Ali girl, very tired after the hike ~
Are you beeping?  (or were you sleeping,
while we were beeping?)  Avalanche
beacon check station ~
Kate & Brett on the skin track,
Roberta Street Dawn Patrol day two ~

Feelin' the burn ~
Kate finding some nice turns ~ rippin' ~

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gray-bird days, stinky dogs, and cosmic curling

So far this winter is shaping up to be a lot like last winter ~ warm and brown.  Not my favorite combination.   If I were to think of other situations where those two things occur naturally together, it would bring me back to my ICU nursing days... yuck.

The skies have been gray and depressing, and I think the last time I was in the sunshine was over a week ago when I ran the Draper Shoreline with Ann.  That was the day that Artie rolled in deer poop and all three dogs ended up at the Dirty Johnson's Dogwash for a thorough scrubbing.  The gray-bird days are bringing my mood down and sapping my energy.  I just want to take naps and eat carbs all day!  Dang Trader Joe's coming to Salt Lake City (they opened on November 30th) and their large assortment of delicious cookies.  I'm fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder which has made me feel as though I'm on the verge of getting a cold for the last two weeks, but realizing that the only thing that really will make me feel better is exercising in the sunshine.  Maybe it's time for a trip to San Diego.

All this mild weather is bad for the skiing, but good for the running.  Hopefully at this rate, I'll be ready for the Buffalo 100 which is my next "for sure" event on March 22nd.  I hope to be able to cross train with some ski touring and cross country skate skiing for a couple of months before that.  We will see what the weather brings.  We are supposed to get a bit of a storm this weekend, but it looks right now to be a southerly flow, so likely we will not see very much snow accumulation.  Probably just a lot of wind.

I went curling at the Olympic Oval a few nights ago with a group of friends, and my brother and sister in law came down from Pocatello to join us.  What a blast we had!  Already thinking of starting up a team for leagues that will begin in January.  Public curling runs Monday nights from 8 to 10pm, and you get instruction from one of the ice-sheet staff.  Totally worth the $7 admission price, and we had 2 for 1 coupons from the website.  I highly recommend you check it out.

For now ~ some photos of the pathetic pups as they received their punishment at the dogwash. Think snow!

Vernon wondering why he hangs out with troublemakers.

Poor pathetic Franklin just wants a cookie.

Artie knows she is guilty, but is trying to look innocent.

And some photos from curling night (the cosmic lights were turned on after 9pm).

Prepping the ice.

Sue Lee throwing down a 40 pound stone.
Britta and Jeremy are ready to sweep.
Nick Francis takes his turn.

Abigail under the cosmic lights.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Summoning the Snow Gods

The first winter storm of the year was weeks ago and the weather has remained warm.  After skate skiing once in Park City, the weather turned warm again and although the highest reaches still have some snow, the trails are either dry or dotted with mud.  I hit the streets for the past couple of weeks, and this past week decided to re-institute my weekly interval running session, at least until the snow flies again.

In order to summon the Snow Gods, I have done several things ~

1)  Laid out a 4 month running training plan that includes those weekly interval sessions and a weekly mid- to long-ish run (10 to 20 miles).

2)  Committed to commuting by foot (walking 2 miles per day) and Trax train twice a week.  (I figure once the snow does fly, I won't be wanting to walk alongside a busy street with slush-water getting splashed up on me, potentially slipping on un-shoveled sidewalks, and walking said street in the dark.)

3)  Bought a new pair of touring skis.  Yes, another pair for my quiver.  I got a screamin' deal thanks to my Speedgoats Mountain Racing Team discount at Backcountry dot com.  I also did not buy a ski pass this year, which saved me upwards of $500, so I figure I just spent my ski pass money on a worthy investment, and will have a much more productive season (exercise-wise, and quality of turns) out of bounds.

By increasing my weekly running mileage and commitment, I figure by way of Murphy's Law it is bound to snow... unless by buying new skis I just negated the whole process.  We will see...

The dogs and I made it out to the West Desert yesterday to do some running on the dirt roads.  I got a bit chilled about 5 miles into it and felt down-right ill by mile 9 (of 10).  But I figure running while feeling somewhat ill can be good practice for those race days, middle to the end of a 100-miler, when you really don't feel good and want to quit, but you don't.  You tough it out.  So that's what I did yesterday (that, and I did an out and back run and I had no choice but to turn around and head back to where I started by way of the route that I had come, because I didn't know the area and there didn't appear to be any shortcuts.)

It was gorgeous running though ~ only saw one sheepherder and a couple of dogs, otherwise it was quiet except for the wind.  Gorgeous sunset when driving home, and someone was shooting off fireworks near Eagle Mountain, which was lighting up the sky.  The following pictures are from the run near the Pony Express Trail (road) near Faust, Utah.

The wind is blowing and a bit of scattered rain is starting to hit the ground.  Hopefully my efforts have been productive and we will get a real winter storm out of this ~ one that lasts ~
View to the west ~ House, Deep Creek, and Fish Springs Ranges ~

Near Red Pine Mountain ~

Dogs enjoying the view ~

Holding Vernon back from going to check out the people
shooting guns (he loves to chase the bullets) ~ Franklin
peaks through the window behind me ~

Fireworks in the desert ~

The day-after run-hangover ~