Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Alpine Tundra

This morning I hiked Longs Peak, 14,255 feet. Its taken me over 4 years to hike a single 14er so I thought to myself "If I'm going to do one... I may as well go all out."

This morning I left Sunrise at the ungodly hour of 12:30 am and was on the trail at 1:30. I had a tremendous amount of energy and made it to the keyhole in great time. Coming through the boulder field in the dark was a little challenging, searching from one cairn to the next.

The whole hike was reminiscent of my time in Argentina. Hiking solo is beautiful because it gives you unwarranted time to yourself. Just you. My thoughts were all over the place, thinking about the farm, what's next, hey alpine tundra sounds like morning thunda... future adventures and wondering if this was a dangerously bad idea...

This is a shot outside Barlioche, Argentia. 4 day solo.

When I arrived at the keyhole the wind was howling and it was still pitch black. A few people trickled into the little hut but no one wanted to go for the summit yet.

After an hour of waiting for day break (on the farm I was told that the difference between day break and sunrise is day break is as soon as you can tell the difference between cilantro and parsley) I decided to go for it.

The wind gusts coming through the keyhole could be described as the feeling you get when you stick your head out of a car window. The winds were so powerful they literally took my break away. Not in that romantic first kiss kind of way, but the kind where you think you may suffocate.

I continued onto the summit, passing the trough, the narrows and the homestretch. I loved that exposed feeling, literally tip toeing on the edge with hundreds of feet of nothingness below you.

This is a shot of the homestretch. It looks much worse in this photo then it actually was.

Longs Peak Summit, around 7 am this morning

I'm not one to hike with an ipod, but I brought it along for this very moment. There on the summit I enjoyed a nice cold glass of Morning Fresh Dairy chocolate milk, a delicious sandwich with peanut butter, honey, and banana and the sweet sweet sound of music. What would you want to listen to at 14,000 feet? That question was also going through my head for 7.5 miles but the answer was easy. Wolf Parade.

The decent was so beautifully breath taking. I was a grinning idiot on cloud nine the entire way down. As I was headed back, hordes of people were on their way up. I really enjoyed making small talk with just about every single one of them and even bumping into a few friends.

Longs Peak 2010. I know we will meet again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I like to give credit when credit is due. So this is my correction and apology out to Dave Etlinger. In my post It's Gettin' Hott in Hur (please note the awesomeness of the fact that I just referenced my own blog) I accused Dave of breaking Rule #7: Don't Opt for the Quick Fix... and clearly, shown by THIS picture, I was wrong to prematurely deem Dave's repair job a 'quick fix.' It has in fact stood the test of time. Way to go Dave.

On another note, Dave did however break Rule Numbero Uno: Don't sleep on the job. I didn't ACTUALLY see Dave sleeping, but check out the wonky-ness of these rows, sleeping on the job is the only explanation that seemed reasonable.

In addition to the two corrections, I have decided to make a new rule, Rule Number 11: Don't Pee Your Pants on the Job.

Dave: Guilty

Myself: Also Guilty

...Just had to clear up a few things, thanks for reading!

Nutten’ Like Da Mornin’ Thunda

The farm is roaring along like a locomotive steam engine at full speed. The days are getting shorter, the mornings colder, and harvests of plenty. Our team is dwindling but at the same time we are receiving outside help from friends and family.

The Rim Rock Region

Our team of 7 is now a team of 4. Avana has moved out of the Gabes and onto her next adventure. Currently in Milwaukee, headed further east in a couple days for a sailing adventure, then onto her last semester at CSU. It’s not the same with out her here though. I can see a parallel between my relationship with Avana and the movie Brokeback Mountain… minus the sexual intimacy, but filled with love, great memories, wild, beautiful country and years of friendship to come. I think it’s a mile marker in our relationship that we make light talk of the baby egg we will have together one day. Avana has made my experience here at Sunrise what it is. Thank you Avana for the smiles, laughs, whip crackens and conversations. Watch out Jackson’s Thriller, here comes the Roto-tiller!

With out Avana here, the mornings are a little harder. No one to make me eggs or brew me coffee or to sit and chat with. However, the only thing that has been pulling me through, which still doesn’t hold a candle to Avana, is da mornin’ thunda (insert Old Greg voice). You know, that delicious black tea infused with mate for Celestial Seasonings? If you don’t, oh your world will be turned upside down.

Well this last weekend I had a double dose of the mornin’ thunda.

It started with another early morning farmers market with Kate then off to Shelf Road with Bligh and Hans. The double dose consisted of the mornin’ thunda and actual morning thunder.

Shelf Road is one of my all time favorite climbing areas. For a few reasons actually, there is amazing limestone climbing, beautiful vertical crimpy routes, easy approaches, thousands of climbs, a feeling of familiarity, sense of place, and the fact that every time I have gone it has been with stellar folks and has created a deep love and connection to the land.

I was particularly excited about this trip for two reasons: 1.) Bligh and 2.) The raw and the roasted. I promised myself I would lead this route since it has been on my mind for the last 3 months.

After a successful market, filled with many friendly faces, (Lara stopped in, Jake Whipple came by and bought an arm roast, Professor Rick Knight, and fellow bike co-op’er Rick Price) we packed up and headed south.

It was already getting dark on our arrival but we hopped on a 9 anyway. I couldn’t help but to think back when Mer and I first climbed at Shelf and got horribly lost. We were just so excited about climbing at this new spot that when we were hiking back to the car we completely missed the cairn and walked a good 45 minutes into the middle of nowhere. Some 3 hours later and a conversation that consisted of “If I had to be lost with anyone, I’m glad it’s you” we made it back to the car.

Sunday was the day for climbing however. No nighttime climbing escapades or getting lost. A day filled with simply great temps, perfect rock and wonderful company.

Last time I was in Shelf, with some random from Mountain Project, Mike, we top roped the raw and the roasted. After climbing it he said next time I’m in Shelf I have to lead it, promise. Even though I haven’t talked to this rando since then, I felt an immense obligation to stay true to my word. Besides that, it’s a beautiful route, exactly my style and I just plain wanted to get on it again. I haven’t led many routes of this grade before, but I have been wanting to push my climbing, so here we go:

Some of my greatest sends have come out of a lackadaisical stupor, and this was exactly that. Some how, those little catnaps give me the energy and strength I need. I put my shoes on, chalked up, tied in and mentally ran through the crux(s). Hans said not to get to confident, after all I just had been passed out on some rock moments before. I though, yeah just give it your best shot.

Then I thought of Mer. Her climbing out in Europe, hopping on 11’s off the couch, and thought, I’m going to do this one for Mer.

I really miss climbing with her. Our styles and attitudes really compliment each other. Never competitive, always supportive and encouraging. I miss her. I can’t wait for her to be back in the states. Anyway.

That route got crushed with the same intention, discipline and confidence that Mer has when she so gracefully sends hard routes without a glimpse of fear or hesitancy. Thanks Mer, I just wish you could have been here with me. Redpoint 5.11c, check matey!

At Shelf we didn’t have any unexpected detours like Mer and I did our sophomore year, but we have a pleasant little detour on the way home.

Sunday was spent hiding from rain and the morning thunder and moving slowly, so when it was getting toward the end of the day, we were deciding if we wanted to climb one more route…. OR go to the World’s Largest and Greatest (Top to Bottom) Tropical Insect Museum. It was a toss up. Hans and I were voting insects, but Bligh wanted to climb. We thought maybe we could do both, but Hans said “If I miss those f-ing bugs, I’m gunna be pissed.” I mean really, once in a lifetime opportunity. We went with the bugs. After all, this was Hans’ last day of summer. And Shelf is great climbing and all but it ISN’T the World’s Greatest, like the Tropical Insect Museum.

Bligh WAS a little stick in the mud, those aren’t my words, they are Avana’s. But Bligh really bit the bullet on this one and decided to come in. However, as soon as we stepped in the museum chateau we were all in bug euphoria, even Bligh.

What a beautiful weekend. Thanks for sharing in my adventures.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Hope You Have a Terrible Day

Dave, you’re weeding in the gaps as well as around the base? Asked Kate.

Yeah. I’ve been doing it since about half way down the row. Dave responded.

Yeah, well you’ve been doin’ a bad job, so I’ve been doin’ everythang you just done with the stirrup hoe. I pompously remarked (reread and insert pretentious hillbilly voice)

Dave looks up like he wanted to ignore the fact that he doesn’t know if I’m being sarcastic or not and focuses on the fact the he wants to punch my teeth out.

Dave's cheeky remark was, "I hope you have a terrible day." Chuckling I said, that's going to be the title of my next blog.

But back to the story...

Dave really pulled out the big guns with this come back. I mean, Whoa! Dave, simma down! Have a terrible day!? You had to go there? I know he has been storing that one up for years, just like how he can’t wait to unload all his nasty comments to past professors, but he really pushed the envelope this time. Winky face.

Time passes…

Dave? I hold up a poor wilted cucumber plant and give him that condescending look as if saying, look what you have done! What do you have to say for yourself? Before Dave could defend himself for doing the (not-so) unforgivable mistake of killing our one (of about 50) and only cucumber plants, Avana chimed in saying she could have been the culprit.

Then Lish, she too said she could have been the killer. This was a mile marker in our team development. Really, a touching moment. All the team members present stepped up to take responsibility for the catastrophe. We came together as a whole. We all took blame for the poor cucumber. Even though I was the accuser, I was beginning to think that I could have easily been the murderer of that poor plant, we all know it’s certainly not my first time taking something out with the stirrup hoe. I was starting to feel a little guilty that I even pointed it out.

Thanks Dave for putting up with me. This post goes out to you. So you better leave me a comment. Fool.

The moral of this story is it’s time to put the hoe down. Hoedown! It’s time for a hoedown. Really, Happy Birthday Phoenix &Quetzal my favorite little trolls. Time for cake.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It’s the Little Things

I love having this conversation. I love it so much that I felt it’s worthy to be its own web log post, err um, blog. That’s what you kids are calling it these days. I can say “you kids” now since I’m a seasoned adult, no longer the new to the game, freshly 21 years old, spring chicken. I now have 22 years behind me. With those years have come many experiences, stories, lores, tales, tips, and spouts.

So, the little things. Little like… chocolate chips? Those sure do count don’t they? Or jelly beans? Yeah! Or chocolate covered jelly beans?! Surely those are the little things that count. No, no, although I do have an undeniable sweet tooth, I would say thanks to my pops, I’m not talking about those sweet little things.

Grasshopper in the hoop house

The sweet little things I’m talking about are the things that we so easily take for granted. Things that we live for but only realize that until their gone. The actions and thoughtful doings of your friends and families. Or the random acts of kindness from that stranger who walked away before you could even say thank you. On my NOLS course I really started to find appreciation and gratitude in the little things. And now over a year later I’m realizing how quickly we adapt and readapt.

Last week I went climbing up at Lumpy Ridge with two amazing friends, Brian and Erin. We got a late start, but went for it anyway. You would think I would know to bring a rain jacket after spending the larger portion of my time in Patagonia dripping wet, but for whatever reason, it slipped my mind. So we got on a not so user friendly warm-up route, especially for a crack climber wanna-bee like myself, then moved onto another. As Erin gracefully danced up the crack I sat and watched in awe. While being amazed by her movement, it was like being awaken from a dream with a friendly rain drop on my arm. Just a sprinkle. Then another. Then, as if the entire sky were a dam holding back a million gallons of water breaking loose and taking out an entire town, that was THE rain that actually came flooding out of the sky.

But there wasn’t a dam. There was no town that was wiped out. But there were a million gallons of water. A torrential down pour.

In that moment I was brought back to Patagonia. I thought about being wet for days. I thought about how I wanted my rain jacket in that moment. And I thought about how there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the situation. I couldn’t find shelter, I had no jacket. All I could do was just stand there and soak up the rain like a sponge.

Brian, who looked incredibly uncomfortable and cold stood there with me in the rain, belaying Erin and clearly wanting to be somewhere warm and pleasant. Can I get you your jacket? I said. How are you not shivering?? He responded.

I’m sitting here comfortably in my room now, on my birthday, and when I think about it, I just wanna be back there in the rain.

While in Patagonia I resented everyone who ever said they loved the rain. You love the rain?! I would think, well try loving the rain when your living in it 24/7. When you’re soaked through and through. When you ring your clothes out in the morning and you muscles contract as you slip them on because you’re so cold. But just last week in Estes Park I loved the rain. I loved every single second of it. Every single fucking drop. I love the feeling of defeat and comfort. There was nothing I could do, nature had won. It was so peaceful accepting the situation I was in. Not finding stress, but relaxation.

I’m not shivering because it’s not worth it, just take a couple deep breathes. My dad always says mind over matter, if you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter. I remember holding so much animosity toward him when he would say that, but now I find myself saying and thinking the same thing. The rain was so heavy you wouldn’t have known there was a beautiful valley out there, just one big blob of grey. I didn’t mind it though. All that being wet and cold, controlling the shivering-s, turning the feelings of paralysis into empowerment. I loved it.

So those little things, rain drops, birthday notes, helping your friend put their jacket on are the things I’m talking about. I just wanted to take a moment and honor them. Thank you sun. Thank you rain. Thank you friends. Thank you family. It’s easy to let the people and things you care about go unappreciated, but not today.

Thank you for the birthday wishes and sayin' I'm a nice gurl.

The most delicious cake I have ever received. Everyone at the Gables also sends a big thank you to you Bligh.

Avana's first outdoor climb at the Crystal Wall! Check out her rocken style. Thanks for a great day. You're not a half bad ledge partner.

My new goal is to find as many ways to creep Avana out. This is my partner in crime.

A beautiful afternoon pipe change filled with birthday wishes and songs.