Friday, April 29, 2011

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflections on a Fall well spent

30˚ and steady snow.

Today had an air of significance for me, for no reason other than I can say it truly feels like winter. Bozeman has had snow on the ground for well over a week, I've hit the double digits in ski days, and there is well over 3 feet of snow in the bridgers at this point, so it might seem silly that my eyes have only opened today, but up until now, there feeling of the past two weeks has been nothing short of surreal. I suppose it was a fairly rapid transition from riding bikes to skiing, 6 days after my (unbeknownst to me) last ride of the season, the Bridger range was completely blanketed in snow, and my bike has not left its corner since. While riding my bike to class this morning though, I was hit with a deja vu: something about the piles of melting snow and dead leaves, something about the wind - a stiff headwind is not something that occurs quite as often (and while I do not miss it in the least, pedaling in a stiff breeze does bring a pang or two of nostalgia), and something about the crisp dry air, was the exact feeling that I would used to have riding down fourth street to spend the day sitting in desks thinking about skiing. Funny how, a couple years later and 800 miles away, not much has changed.

I walked into my last class of the day at 3:30, the sky was no longer spotted with the high lenticular clouds of the morning, but was rather smothered in a sloppy grey blanket, hovering a thousand feet up. When I walked out of the lecture hall, two things struck almost instantaneously. One, it was very dark - class did not get out late - no it was 5:00, but the sky had practically no light left, and... it was snowing. Ah, thats what winter is like. By my estimates, winter is four inches deep on the ground outside, and I would reckon there is a good deal more in the hills. And for me, its not a bad deal that there's more a coming.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Today is one of those days that makes me infinitely grateful for the life I live. Eggs and biscuits and bacon, skiing with friends and family, soft snow and smiles. A day that leaves you legs up on the couch with a cup of tea and a smile, because days like these - no matter how often they happen - do not happen often enough.

On a side note, there is a plus side to having a poorly organized computer, in that every now and again you come across a little nugget of something that you thought was there but previously overlooked. Here's a multi-photo stitch of CJ skinning up the ramp from a few weeks ago:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Of skiing and food

Sometimes I imagine life as a box of cereal. Everyday, you open a box, and everyday, you choose what bowls you get to pour that cereal into. Everyone has a different set of bowls, but for me, there is a bowl for activities that occur out of doors, there is a bowl for the necessary chores in life, and there is a bowl for work. For other people, there may exist other bowls, bowls for relationships, bowls for dealing with stress, and bowls for anger, negativity, or hatred - its all about where you choose to invest your consciousness - but for me, there are only three. In the ideal life, one would be able to eat cereal out of each bowl every day. The outdoors; to keep one happy and healthy, the chores; maybe not the most spectacular activities, but honorable for their practicality, and the work; so one might buy more cereal.

Last week, I ate exclusively from the bowl of work, perhaps school is a better label for this bowl, for me, school is a job - one that will hopefully pay off down the road, one of these days, in the future - at least, thats what I keep telling myself. Long story short, it was a horrendous week. An exceptionally good reminder that if you eat exclusively out of one cereal bowl, you get a sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach. This week, hours were made for the other bowls, cooking good food, painting, family time, going to yoga, running, and yes, the granddaddy of them all - skiing. Believe it or not, yes this was a damn good week. So with that, we learn life's weekly lesson: that when you work hard to make the daylight for the things that count - chicken curry and skiing powder come to mind - those are the moments of satisfaction. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Its been a helluva week folks, no doubt about that. working overtime on the school front, and doing my best to stay sane on the outside. The best victories are sometimes the smallest ones, the ones that you appreciate the most. Simple things, like a good run, or a hefty plate of homemade enchiladas. Or sometimes its hiking in the dirt and the mud to make 10 turns on a foot of mushy snow. Sometimes being able to say that you went skiing,  thats enough.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The last few days have been the kinds of days that make me feel like I need a pinch. Somebody to reassure me that this is not just a dream. But deep down, I don't really care if its a dream or not, I just want it to keep going. Wednesday morning was a whirlwind re-introduction to the winter life: shocker of a memory jog as to what it means to be skinning, and more importantly, to be skiing powder. A solo mission to reacquaint myself with the frosted peaks now bordering town, with two runs of hooting, hollering knee to thigh deep snow - giggling to myself like a lunatic. Yesterday was a warm mid day jaunt - one run of blissful bouncy turns through brilliantly soft shaded north facing snow. Sam s and I, covered head to toe in snow from faceshots, were reduced to giggling with sheer joy like a pair of crazies. Today, myself and (I feel like I can safely speak for them) my companions, were on the borderline of criminal insanity.

It started last night, with a phone call (reenacted to the best of my recollection).

"hey sam, were going skiin' tomorrow, wanna come?"

"oh jeez, sounds like a blast, but I've got 8 oclock math, I should probably stick around."

"are you sure you can't learn math while we're skiing? we can teach you?"

"pretty sure, have a good time though. :("


Five minutes later, I was looking at myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth, and I found myself thinking, "hey, hang on a sec. If skiing is your favorite thing to do, why would you bail on a perfectly good opportunity to make some turns to sit through an hour 99.99% utterly useless crap?" So all it took was a groveling message proclaiming my rearrangement of priorities, and a 0400 wake up call it was.

Skins on in the dark, breath billowing white under cold headlamps, and under clear skies we were left to place one foot in front of the other marveling at the stars and the snow covered peaks. Our ascent to the ridge line was followed by the exponential growth of a band of color over the easterly horizon - really one of the best sunrises I've witnessed in a long time - and it was timed to a t, as we arrived on the top, the pink glow turned orange, and the great ball of fire was lifted above the distant absaroka mountain range.

The descent was a thready drop through steep trees followed by a beautiful 35-40˚ slope that was empty save for one rock (which my ski mercilessly encountered). I guess you can only ski so many days in october before you get a core shot...

But for two of our group, it was the first day on skis in a year, for one, it was the first day of the season, and for two more, the third day in a row of turns. And for these reasons, along with many more, these turns were incredible.

A trip back to the top of the ridge, a well vegetated traverse, and we were standing at the mouth of a good lookin 'cooler' that choked down and out of sight around a great big fin of rock. Definitely a line I would give serious consideration to with a big spring snowpack, but here we were in october, with an incredibly dense 3 ft of creamy delish, so there wasnt much more to do than let the cameras roll and give'r.

As we rounded the choke, a 6 foot tall boulder was blocking the narrowest point in the chute, and the broad apron below. After a bit of hemming and hawing, Ned stomped the small leap of faith and the grand hero turns all the way to the bottom. After following and nearly collapsing at the bottom from sheer unadulterated joy, I regained enough composure to watch the smiles on the rest of everyones faces tearing up the snow on the way down.

Now thats something to smile about.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Wintery thoughts have been floating around for a little while now, with talk of snow in Colorado, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, even Loveland has opened the white carpet of death for the season. It seemed to be snowing everywhere but south west montana.
And then there was sunday night. 
And then there was monday, monday night, tuesday, and tuesday night. 
And then there was today. 

Some days skinning, you start out slow, down in the trees, the world is you, the trees, and the snow. Everything is quiet, peaceful, gentle and serene. 

And some days you just have to drift your subaru into the parking lot, bumping heavy techno beats, and toss your skins on to start the day with a bit of fire and fury. These days are those such as the first day of the season, and powder days, and days when the lot is full, and its your turn to get to the top first - but only if you want to work for it. When all three of these things happen at once, theres only one word for it - majik.

But then you get to the top of the mountain, dripping, pouring with sweat, lungs burning, damp hair frozen in the breeze, and the sun lifts above the horizon - lighting up the ground below your feet, turning the world from shades of blue and grey to rich hues of orange, yellow, and gold, and mother nature slaps you in the face and tells you to calm down. Because there is plenty of powder to share, and there is enough time to skin up and take another lap, and everyone out there is after a little bit of the same thing you are. And then the skins are stripped, and the skis begin to slide, and everything that could have been wrong in the world is at once right again amid a cloud of frozen water and smiles.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Snow Dance

 After too many biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and too little time out of doors, it was damn good time to get out for a bit. Cruised up the local ski hill with the hiking boots for a poke around the slopes. It was a fun change of perspective that ended up jogging a lot of memories from the multitude of smiles that were had last season. Interesting how one can consider themselves completely familiar with an area, but if you take away one element - snow, for example - and you might as well be halfway across the world. The mellow bunny slopes suddenly become wind sucking hills, and the steeps with which winter gives the most smiles are not slopes at all, but sheer rock faces. Standing on the ridge, it was impossible not to smile with recollections of last winter playing on repeat in my head, but unfortunately the trip down this time was much slower, rockier, and less powder filled than before. It was agreed on by all parties that the next time we hiked up, it would be skis. But the snow dance has been completed, and hopefully the weather gods will grace us with all that is good, white, wet, and cold.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

There are not many things in this world I am sure of, but this is one of them:

I would much rather cook and eat chicken momos and go ride my bike, than spend my life learning about interneuronal signaling pathways in the hippocampus. It may seem trivial, but for me, this victory is significant, It is checking one off the list.

Now thats more like it

350 AM MDT THU OCT 21 2010