Sunday, January 30, 2011

swinging at the Canyons

chili time!
what a great day today!  i met up with my friends Katy and Georg who were in town for the last week from New York to enjoy some skiing and fresh air.  the last time i saw them was at Deer Valley four years ago...

we had just gotten a coffee/cocoa at Snowshoe Tommy's and were cruising down the Wizard run to head back to the base area and go to lunch when *boom* out of nowhere, i was on my butt, doing a "slide for life" and could not stop.  i dug my ski edges into the ice and as they hooked up, i felt my left knee go *pop-pop*  ~ ACL tear.  Katy and Georg were pros at getting me to safety:  skis in a cross on the hill, flagged down a ski host, stopped me from sliding further down the hill and got me in a comfortable position to wait for the patrol sled.  i have to say, the staff at Deer Valley Resort is top notch.  i was transported by sled down the hill and then hooked onto a snowmobile (still in the sled) where they towed me up to the clinic.  Katy and Georg skied to the bottom to get the car and drive it back up to the mid-mountain area to take me home.

the orange bubble lift has heated seats ~ seriously!
that was then and this is now...  a beautiful day swinging turns down the groomed runs of the Canyons.  i smiled and laughed so much that my cheeks ached by the end of the day.  they are such great friends and i hope it is not another four years before we see each other again.  hopefully our schedules will match up so that we can see each other this summer in Germany ~ that would be a blast!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

some thoughts courtesy of The Alchemist

persevere through the desert wasteland

listen to your heart

believe in yourself and stay positive despite the situation or circumstances

trust others (and don't trust others)

i can survive without material wealth

there is something larger than us that speaks in omens and we will never completely understand it

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Some days I feel like the luckiest girl alive...

good friends grouped around the campfire at Luge Night.
Bryon goes for a sub-four minute lap.
i drove back to Salt Lake (from Tonopah) this weekend with several things on my "to do" list.  number one:  Luge Night.  my buddy Karl has a natural luge track built in an un-named area of an un-named canyon here in the Wasatch.  i mustered up some motivation after the 6 hour drive from Nevada, and loaded up the backpack with cheap beer, donned my Vasque running shoes and my Kahtoola microspikes (because Karl had threatened us with a race... ) and headed up to the track.  the plastic sleds were provided by our host.  some of my favorite ultra-endurance peeps were there.  there were some new faces too (although not new to the running crowd; i had never met a few of them in person).  what a great night.  we stayed out 'til after midnight, and i gave the folks from the Outdoor Retailers' show a ride back to their respective hotels downtown.

charmers on the Rail Trail ~ these two had everyone fooled!

number two:  Outdoor Retailers' trade show.  although i've lived in Salt Lake City for twenty years (!) i had never actually been to the show.  thanks to my friends at Vasque Footwear for giving me the green light to attend.  i promise, i will not let you down with my reviews of shoes this summer!  on Saturday, i met up with my friend Kyle, whom i have known since kindergarten in Michigan, but hadn't seen in about twenty years (since high school).  wow, i swear he hasn't changed a bit.  it was great to cruise around to the booths, talk with like-minded folks, and catch up with my childhood friend who has been so generous to me in getting me lined up with Vasque trail running shoes.  i returned on Sunday to bam-schmoozle a few more retailers and get some pro-deals.

beautiful afternoon in the Silver Summit valley.
number three:  get my skate on with the dogs.  since i spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday at the trade show, i was running out of time to go for a skate ski with the dogs.  never fear!  although the Rail Trail had not been groomed since the recent snow and wind, i rallied again and got the dogs out for a 6-mile skate.  i must admit, my balance and technique have improved over the years.  parts of the trail were icy and other parts pock-marked with dog prints.  heck, there was even a section that was covered in wood chips (fyi ~ skate skis do not like to *glide* over wood chips).  but we powered through!  the afternoon views of the Silver Summit valley were beautiful.

we were all smiles today ~ lucky.
with days like these, i feel as though i'm just about the luckiest girl alive.  i even got to eat breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants (the Park Cafe on 6th East and 1300 South) with one of my best girlfriends and the Salt Lake Fire Department Engine 8 crew was there (one of our favorite crews.  sorry, guys, i'd say "favorite" but you are in close running with Station 2, and a girl cannot be expected to choose between the likes of two spectacular crews such as yourselves... )

tomorrow i will cruise back to Tonopah for another 3 days of work at the hospital.  i'll probably try to stop by Ward Mountain in Ely on the way, weather permitting (last time it was actually too warm to skate ski there and i post-holed for all of 5 minutes before calling the dogs back to the car).  next weekend i have good friends in town from New York (state) for skiing at Brighton and dining at Red Iguana.  honestly... how did i get so lucky?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Observations of Desert Majesty

My work contract in Nevada is coming to an end; I’ve only got 4 weeks left of a 15-week stint.  I’ve had a lot of time (traveling most weekends back to Salt Lake City ~ about 420 miles one way) to observe and make note of the natural world around me.  I wish I could have gotten my camera out to capture these images, but I’m not sure that a photo would have done them justice ~ they were just so beautiful.  My words will have to suffice.

I think of the majority of Nevada as a vast expanse of desert, dotted with rabbit- and sagebrush, interspersed with stubby alluvial mountains, and scattered with the remnants of human existence in the form of trash.  But the majesty of the natural world reveals itself once in a while.

Five images stick clearly in my mind’s eye:

Driving east out of Tonopah in Railroad Valley I looked over my shoulder at the snowcapped peaks awash in the pink penumbra of the rising sun, and noticed in the foreground a herd of wild horses feeding on the sparse desert grass.

Driving out of Wendover towards the southwest, I again looked back over my shoulder at the salt flats shimmering in the distance behind me and saw a bald eagle sitting on a large bolder 100 yards off the side of the road.  It turned its head ever so slightly as I passed.

Driving my car early in the morning, I noticed a group of birds feeding on a freshly killed animal in the middle of the road.  Several large ravens flew away, and just as I got within about 10 feet of the site, a golden eagle, with its enormous wingspan, took flight from the middle of the road right in front of my car.

I came home from the hospital in the evening and let the dogs out the back gate for a short run.  I looked up at the full moon that was lighting up the desert ground and saw the mystical glowing ring of the moon dog, which promised snow that never came.

Driving east towards Blue Lake, I looked to the side of the road on my left and saw about 500 sheep running through the sagebrush in the open range.  I slowed down to make sure none of them was going to dart out in front of me, and noticed a Great White Pyrenees dog standing watch at the side of the road.  Just his white face and chest poked out from the golden cheat grass.  He looked straight at me with his dark, sparkling eyes as I drove past and seemed to explain to me that he had a job to do and wouldn’t let anyone or anything interfere.
sunset penumbra on the BLM roads north of Tonopah, NV

Saturday, January 15, 2011


when i was a little kid, probably around 8 years old, i remember looking at a map we had of Garmisch-Partenkirchen as i sat in front of the fire at the table in our den.  there was a trail marked on that map:  Die Loipe.  this trail intrigued me.  i asked my dad, "what is 'die Loipe'?"  and he replied, "it's a cross-country skate track.  they groom the walking trail on the edge of town in the winter.  it's several miles long."

Heaven, i thought to myself.

they have them all over the place in southern Germany.  because paved bike trails typically connect towns in the non-winter months, it only seems practical to groom these same trails in the winter time for non-motorized use.

they don't have snowmobiles and ATVs in Europe like we do in the US.  things tend to be more human-powered over there.  when i was a kid, i used to cross-country ski to school with my brother on the track that our mom laid down for us.  across the corn fields and through the woods.  it only seemed natural to our practical family.  why ride the bus or take a car, when your own two feet can carry you there?  it was really fun on the way home from school, because we always had more time to mess around; building jumps and practicing our telemark turns on the steeper hills.

these days, i have my own version of die Loipe.  it is an old railroad bed up by Park City.  i take the dogs and we skate.  the word 'loipe' sounds just so happy to me.  it is one of my feel-good words.  and i feel good when i am out there, on the skate track.  i think of a loping coyote.  i watch my dogs scamper along.  Artie's ears flopping make me think of a flopsy bunny rabbit.

Die Loipe.  it is Heaven.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dog Day

Millie and Franklin.
sometimes, you gotta just sleep in, snuggle with your fluffy muffin dogs, drink an extra cup of coffee, eat a donut, and ski a loop with the dogs.  today was ski touring day for me, and although i had initial plans to hit the Cottonwoods for a big tour, i just couldn't bring myself to leave my babies today.  we called up a friend and his dog, and we hit Summit Park.

ridgetop at Summit Park.
Artemis takes a break half way to the top
  thousands of people drive past this little gem everyday and see the cluster of homes tucked up in the hills, one gas station at the pass, and don't think twice about just passing on by.  no, we were not alone today.  there was a handful of  other dogs out with their canine-loving people.  enjoying the 360 views and the sun.  the populous city below was hidden by a dense layer of clouds.  four inches of 3% density snow on top of a wind crust made for some challenging conditions, but we didn't care.  it was a dog day of skiing today.

me.  enjoying the sunshine.
sometimes you have to stop and take a look around to realize just how good you've got it.  being an orphan, i do this a lot.  my parents worked hard their whole lives to retire and enjoy life in their later years.  it seems they died too young, and before they really had the chance to enjoy what they wanted to.  they did, however, instill in me a love for the outdoors, skiing, and dogs.  friendship abounds.  dog-lovers unite, with your canine friends on skis.  the beauty of the Wasatch was experienced full-force today.  magical.
dogs waiting for Carl to attain the ridge.

Carl makes his way up the skin track.
view of the Wasatch abound from atop Summit Park.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl ~ Artemis
today was the two year anniversary of Artemis joining me and Franklin, so i have dubbed it Artemis's birthday.  you will recall, that Artemis got her name from the Greek goddess of forests and hills.  indeed, Artemis has chased down a critter or two in her two years with us, and today was no different.

hey, look ~ there's horses over there...
i'd heard that with all of the high-pressure weather, that the trails in Park City are in great shape for skate skiing, so that's what we decided to do.  first, however, was a quick trip to see Dr. Wilson at Foothill Animal Hospital to get a yearly check-up and shots, then to Hillside Tire to visit the boys and get a headlight fixed (we brought them donuts afterwards), then to PetSmart for some new toys and treats, then up to Park City!

the weather up there wasn't as clear as i was hoping, but the air was definitely cleaner than the pollution-filled Salt Lake Valley that results from high-pressure weather scenarios as we are currently having.  actually, a small storm started to blow in as we were headed home.  but first, let me tell you about Artemis's day...

me & Franklin, before Artemis decided to skip through the fence
of course, no adventure would be complete without a bit of critter chasing, but i must tell you that "no critters (or horses) were harmed in the making of this adventure".  we skated (and the dogs ran) for about 6 miles.  three miles into it, i stopped to eat a tangerine and drink some water and snap some photos.  Artemis had other designs on the day.  she had spotted the horses feeding on some hay in a nearby pasture, behind a barbed-wire fence, and didn't think twice about skipping through the fence to "say hello" to the horses ~ and just as the rancher was backing up his pickup truck to the fence line!

Hot Dog on a stick ~ no horseplay allowed!
we had heard him shooting his gun up on the ridge only moments before, so of course my thoughts moved to the worst-case scenario.  my words to Artemis, when she did finally come back to me, and decided that no, she wasn't really in the mood to chase horses today:  "ranchers don't care if there is one less yellow dog in this world... in fact, they might enjoy that!  so stick around, lady!"

we skated back to the car, having averted certain danger, and had a lovely time.  Happy Birthday, Artemis!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

7 miles for luck in the new year...

brrr ~ single digits temps in Park City on 1/1/11.
i'm going to be quite frank, and say i'm not sad to see 2010 come to an end.  not only was it not the best year for me (i'd rather not go into all of the details), but it was also not a great year for some of my friends.

there were some really great high points too, though!  don't get me wrong ~ the "summer of running" was amazing and i hope to be able to do it again in 2011.  i've already been on the website to register for a couple of races, and i will let you know how the lottery on Jan 9th goes for "the big dance" later in the summer.

to ring in 2011, i took the dogs out for a run up on the Rail Trail in Park City.  the temps were in the single digits, and i didn't really realize how cold i was until we got home and i spent a good 20 minutes in the shower trying to warm up.  i wore my new Kahtoola microspikes for the run (thanks Santa!) and they were awesome.  who knew running on firm-packed snow could be so much fun.  we went about 7 miles ~ 7 miles to symbolize luck in the New Year.

here's to 2011 ~ may it be prosperous and joyous for all!