Sunday, March 27, 2011

I skied one for Uncle Mike today.

i talked with my Aunt Jo  back in Michigan about a week ago.  although we live several thousand miles apart, she always checks in with me to see how i'm doing and what i'm up to.  i directed her to check out my blog, because i'm posting a lot of photos and short stories about the places that i go.  her emailed response was, "Thanks also for your blog address, I will check it out. I'm sure you have photos that Mike will absolutely  love. You are living the life  he has always dreamed about." 

My Uncle Mike has always been an avid skier.  He doesn't get out after it like he used to, but i'm sure he still dreams of the perfect powder run.  when we were kids, he used to sit us down and put on Warren Miller VHS tapes and say, "See?  this is what you guys can do someday..."  he was right.  today i skied for Uncle Mike.  it was a really good day.

sometimes i feel like it's just not right, that the people i love are either not alive anymore, or they're not able to ski with me like we both would rather have.  but i skied with a good friend today and was fortunate in his company.  he breaks trail and never complains about it, and always seems to let me in on his favorite spots.  friends don't get much better than that.

we made three great runs today, and as we were starting the third run, the next storm began to blow in.  my friend said to me as we finished our day, "you'd better ski everyday this week, because tonight we're supposed to get another 20 inches."  ... i'll do my best.

last run of the day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home Turf

it's funny that no matter how many ski areas you might ski, you always tend to come back to your home mountain.  am i right?  there seems to be some special connection that skiers have with their favorite mountain.  you know every line, every bump, every low-lying tree limb.  you have your secret stashes and your routines on which slopes you will ski and in which order.

this past weekend i skied Vail, Colorado with my sister-in-law.  it was awesome.  we had a great time, and the Spring conditions were excellent.

today, i skied my "home" mountain here in Utah.  and there was in some way a deeper connection to the lines that i skied.  there were familiar faces bumping my chair, and i joked with the lifties that i must have found something good because i kept doing laps on the same 2 or three chairs.  i avoided the upper mountain today, because i found some hidden stashes down low.  they were deep.  i smiled and raised my hands in victory after i skied them, because it seemed that only i had been stealth enough to find them.

i almost felt guilty today, neglecting the upper mountain.  it called to me at 2:15pm, so i decided to make a couple laps up high.  i was not disappointed.  i marveled at the fact that the tourists were few and the locals were for the most part, not present ~  it's late in the season after all, and there are only about 3 weeks of skiing left.  the die-hards remain; or in my case, the ones who missed the first 3 months of the ski season and feel like they've got to make up for lost time.  i passed a girl as i hiked up the traverse, and ducked into the trees before she could see which line i took.  after i was down the slope, i let the lifty know which line had been good to me, because it's not so much of a secret between friends...  and we pondered which slopes would be good to us tomorrow.

as i skied my favorite lines today (and some lines that i have been fortunate enough to have learned from others) i got just a little bit sentimental.  tears welled up in my eyes and i fought them off ~ am i really crying over a ski run?  yes, with two feet of new powder spraying up into my face, yes i am.  i recalled all of the good times that i've had over the years skiing by myself and with friends at this mountain.  the memories flash vividly across my memory and they seem like they were only yesterday.

how long have i been skiing this mountain?  i struggle to do the math.  it seems like only a year or two ago that i left that other mountain, the one that i knew so well and swear i could have skied the steepest lines with my eyes closed.  i knew every rock and every turn there as well, but she got too popular for me, and i felt that others were stealing her away from me...  so i had to leave.  and then i found this gem.

i hope it stays this way for a while; that i can ski this beautiful little mountain and have her to myself on the deepest of powder days like today.  sure, i'll still share her with friends from time to time, but in my heart of hearts i know that she belongs to me.  funny thing is ~ i'm sure you feel the same way.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There's No Need to be an Ass About It

There’s a good chance you’ll screw it all up, you know.
It could all go horribly wrong.
It’s daring, this thing you long to do. Unheard of in your own life.
Laden with risk. Crawling with goblins.
There are countless opportunities to tumble.
You could choose to not do it. That might keep you safe.
Not doing is always an option. Always.
But here’s a thought: what if you did the thing, with one condition?
I promise not to be an ass to myself if it all goes wrong.
Hmm? What then?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Lucky am I?

some scenes from an excellent trail run today ~ 7 miles in the hills above Salt Lake City with my two favorite running partners:  Franklin and Artemis.  although Artemis got a bit frisky running after critters in the scrub-oak and across the high meadows, she always came back.  true, she was covered in burrs when she came back, but re-joined us nonetheless.

i brought a water dish for the dogs, but they were more interested in eating melting Spring snow from the snowbanks.  the trails were surprisingly dry, and the sunshine was brilliant.  it's days like this that i realize how lucky i am to be healthy and do the things i love to do.

tomorrow is my dad's birthday, and i will think of him.  i probably won't be skiing, like i wished i would have been able to do on his birthday, because my new car will be getting a clear coat and interior stain barrier protection.  then on Thursday, it's off to Vail with my sis-in-law; to stay at the condo, pay too much for skiing, drink too much coffee, and i'm sure have one too many cocktails.  i will think of dad as i enjoy the mountains, as he and my mom taught me so well how to do.  next week is my mom's birthday and it's really hard to believe that she has been gone for 10 years already.

i think of them both every day, and especially when i am in the mountains (which is nearly every day as well!).  even though i've lost them, i feel their spirit and generally think to myself, "Seriously... how lucky am I?"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Forward Progress

just when i think my hip is back to normal, i make a little more positive progress with it!  Ha!  i find this very encouraging.  i've really just been stretching a lot and using the foam roller daily on the bad hip and knee, and several times a week on the good side as well.  i owe so much to KStar at the Mobility Project.  his blog is amazing.  and although i am not a CrossFit fanatic (indeed, i've never participated in CrossFit) Kelly is obviously an amazing physical therapist and trainer. 

i'm not quite sure what i would have done without these amazing exercises and stretches.  the "clunk" that has been present in my left hip for about 5 months now is only intermittent, rather than with each step.  i'm sure i was headed for an impingement of the joint and possible labral tear, and i am so thankful that i found this website without reaching that point.  i typically lay on the floor in the evenings and do the workout of the day (WOD) in addition to some of my favorite past external hip-rotation exercises and some foam roller work.

even if you do not have any active injuries going on, and even if you do not participate in CrossFit, check out this website and dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to mobilizing your joints.  you will be amazed at how much better you can perform.

Friday, March 11, 2011


for as much fun as i had playing in the snow yesterday,  skiing at Solitude and skate skiing with the dogs in Park City, i had an equal amount of fun in a different way today out on Antelope Island.

my friend Sue and i put the running shoes down on the dirt, which is sometimes a difficult thing to find in the Springtime here in Salt Lake.  most of the trails are covered in mud or slushy snow, but the trails out on the island were smooth and dry.  best of all?  there's pretty much no one out there.  we had the place to ourselves after saying hello to my ultra-running friend Roger and a group of Vaqueros on horseback.

it was absolutely gorgeous out on the island.  we planned on running 8 to 10 miles, and ended up running just under 12.  it was 55 degrees, brilliant sunshine, and a light breeze was blowing.  the lake was shimmering below us.  there were bluebirds flitting through the grasslands as we made our way back up to the higher elevation.  buffaloes grazed on the fresh prairie grasses and lifted their heads to make certain we would not threaten them.  the moon rose above one of the peaks.

i haven't been able to run more than 4 or 5 miles comfortably for almost 6 months now, since my injuries to my hip and knee back in September of 2010.   but out on the island today, i definitely had a breakthrough.  Sue was patient with me as i stopped to stretch out my hip several times on the side of the trail.  we chatted along at a comfortable pace, and i was pleasantly surprised to learn that we had run faster than 4 miles per hour.

i was definitely worked by the end of the run, but i am feeling positive about the progress that i have made in getting healthy over the past few weeks, and what has gotten me to this point today.  skiing, ski touring, and skate skiing have definitely helped my get my strength back, and i am remarkably not having any hip or knee pain this evening, post-run.

i rewarded myself with french fries, a corn dog, and a chocolate ice cream cone after the run.  it was Sue's treat.  we went to the Iceberg drive-thru in Syracuse, and i actually took my time driving home in the new vehicle.  we had a near miss on the drive home:  a lid from the fry sauce took on a mind of its own and flipped out of Sue's hand, and under the seat.  thankfully, no upholstery was harmed in the making of this adventure:  the lid landed gooey-side up on the floor of the car.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Double Duty

just a short post today, because i'm tired ~ in a good way.  skied my new alpine touring set up today for 3 hours up at Solitude in the variable snow conditions (heavy powder, wind-blown powder, sluff-debris) and had a fantastic time.  got face shots in Upper Crystal that were cool and refreshing.  could have skied longer, but Patrol closed the gates to Honeycomb Canyon because it was getting too warm and when things heat up, they have a tendency to slide...

driving down the canyon, i definitely looked around a bit, and there were a lot of wet slides and sloughs visible from the road.  didn't bother me to end my ski day early, however, as i went home, got a late lunch, loaded the dogs into the car and then went up to Park City for round two.

the dogs and i skate skied Round Valley for a little over an hour.  it was slushy spring conditions on the Loipe today, and i forgot my water-bottle waist pack, so i was a thirsty squirrel when i got back to the car.  then i realized i had forgotten the dogs' water dish, so they had to try to drink out of the cap to the water bottle.  so they were thirsty too.

i got a bunch of phone calls today, but i decided not to answer them.  spent the day taking care of myself and enjoying the mountains.  i'll deal with that other stuff tomorrow.

all in all, it was a very good day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Looking for Mr Motivation

there's a wee bottle of nuun on my shoulder ;)
some of you might think that with as much as i get out and get after it, i have boundless stores of energy.  but on the contrary, sometimes it is hard for me to get off the couch.  i sometimes wonder where Mr Motivation went...  so i set a plan in place and go out looking for him.

my friend Sue had a 20 mile run planned out on Antelope Island.  i had originally intended to go with her today, but my hip and knee are just starting to feel good, and i don't want to have a set back by trying to get back into running long distances too soon.  and besides, i have another "Summer of Running" planned for this year too.

today i found Motivation up in Park City, at Round Valley with the dogs.  it's true what they say; it takes you as many minutes to warm up as you are old in years.  it took me at least 39 1/2 minutes to warm up today, but once i did, i was able to skate ski comfortably for a good hour and a half.

i think the same is not true for dogs, because they were ready to bolt out of the back of the car as soon as i pulled into the parking lot.  they did a really good job to contain themselves and not bolt into the street.  i love it after we have gone for a little while, because we all settle into a good rhythm on the Loipe...  me with my head down and music on, Frank off to my left, and Artie just behind.

what a spectacular day it was, and i'm glad that i was able to find Mr Motivation in the magical hills of the Wasatch.  i set out with the intention of only stretching my legs and seeing how things would go, but after i was warmed up, i felt as if i could keep going and going. 
Artie looks tired ~ Frank looks like he could go another round
but alas, the dogs could not handle skate skiing all day.  it's always nice to hit the downhill back to the car, and i found that my yellow dog was not having as easy of a time as i and was lagging a bit behind.

when we got back to the trailhead there was a guy with a great young Golden Retriever named Moose.  Moose was all legs and quite a charmer (both my dogs liked him very much) and he even tried to jump into the back of our car.  Moose's person had been towing a Chariot behind, with what looked like a very sleepy 6 month old, and i just thought to myself, "Good on ya, Daddy, for getting that kid out in the sunshine and mountains and showing him what it's all about."

when we find motivation, we are lucky indeed;  i am fortunate enough to have found some successfully today.  it makes sitting on the couch drinking coffee this afternoon so much more rewarding.  and the dogs are happily napping...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Carharts Runnin'

i absolutely love this time of year.  we just had a storm four days ago that dropped a couple feet of new snow in the mountains, and now we are in the middle of a "warm-snap" ~  mid-winter mildness when we get days of sunshine and warm weather that is so perfect for ~ everything.

this morning, i went skiing up and Solitude and did a couple of slack-country laps.  (slack-country means you are just outside the boundaries of a ski area, technically in the "back-country", but using the ski lifts to access the terrain.  some might say that this is the lazy-man's way of ski touring.  i say, work smarter, not harder.)  it was a beautiful bluebird day.  the birds are actually chirping in the trees this time of year.  i found some excellent fluffy snow, four days after our last storm.  very fortunate.  it feels so good to be back at Solitude and see so many familiar faces and be greeted on the hill after missing the first half of the ski season and wondering if people would still remember me.

i only skied a half day, because when the weather is this nice, i just feel like i have to get the dogs out on the trail for a jaunt as well.  we did pretty much the same loop as yesterday, up above Salt Lake City on the Shoreline trail, a loop near Prayer Flag Hill as i like to call it; because one of the peaks has a pile of rocks and a pyramid of prayer flags strung above it.

it was gorgeous.  muddy, but gorgeous.  55 degrees, sunny, friendly people and dogs on the trail, and a beautiful pink sunset that could not be captured on photo.  Franklin even got some stick-chewing in on the pass, and Artemis chased some birds down the hillside.

it was about as close to perfect of a day as i could have asked for.  why did i call this post "Carharts Runnin", you might ask?  because after a half-day of skiing, i wasn't expecting to go all that fast on the trail with the dogs in the afternoon.  i wore my Carharts expecting just to stroll along, but the moment got a hold of me, and i ended up running in my Carharts...  you know they are the perfect amount of being broken-in when you can do a 4-mile trail run in them!