It’s paddling season again

It is ironic that in Golden, where I live, the advent of paddling season is marked by the closure of Clear Creek, which bisects the town from west to east. Sometime near the end of June, whenever snowmelt has caused water levels to rise to 1,000cfs or so (cubic feet per second—picture, if you stood at any given point on the banks of the narrow creek, a thousand basketballs streaming past you each second), the Sheriff restricts the section of the creek that runs through Golden. Depending on your vessel (kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and multi-chambered boats are still allowed; tubes and the odd inflatable mattress are nixed), you enter the creek only at your own risk. Continue reading “It’s paddling season again”

How to live in a mountain town

I’ve lived in close proximity to mountains my whole life. Everyone I know who grew up near a big body of water says they feel a little lost in a place without it; that’s how I feel about big hills. I don’t even know how to give directions in cities where I can’t just be like, “Head west—toward the mountains” or “Hold on, I’m running late because there’s a moose in my front yard.” Continue reading “How to live in a mountain town”

These feet are made for walking

My feet are unsightly—some might even say they’re downright gross—but they’re pretty useful. They’ve been up mountains and down rivers, across glaciers and talus fields, over miles of trail both soggy and dry. I have stuffed them into too-small climbing shoes, smelly ski boots, worn-out trail runners, my beloved Chacos, and, on very rare occasions, a pair of sky-high heels. I rarely have ten toenails.

The week of my wedding, at my best friend’s insistence, I got a pedicure. This was uncharted territory for me.

“Look,” she told me, “If you insist on getting married in those sandals, the least you can do is make your feet presentable.”

“They’re Chacos,” I explained cheerily, “And what’s wrong with my feet?” Continue reading “These feet are made for walking”

2015: My Search for the Endless Winter

It was just after seven o’clock on what was shaping up to be an unseasonably warm, sunny, late September morning, and I sat perched on a rock outcrop at the top of St. Mary’s Glacier, about a thousand feet above the little hamlet of Alice, Colorado. I rifled fruitlessly through my pack, hoping to find something more appetizing than an ancient, misshapen Clif bar.

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No-snow September. Bix’s face says it all.

Bix, long since resigned to going along with any number of harebrained schemes, fiddled with a half-empty Nalgene bottle, perhaps in an attempt to avoid making eye contact with the slope below us.

“And you’re sure this is a good idea?” he asked hesitantly, though he already knew the answer. Continue reading “2015: My Search for the Endless Winter”

Throw bags, throw up, and other things I did this summer

It’s an uncharacteristically rainy May afternoon in Colorado, and I’m gasping for breath in the deep end of the Evergreen Rec Center pool.

What the hell am I doing here? I wonder, but I don’t have much time to rethink my life choices.

“Again!” the head boatman cries, and I do my best to hoist my slippery carcass onto the upside-down raft for what feels like the hundredth time. I wedge the t-grip of my paddle into one of the boat’s self-bailing holes, shakily rise to my feet, and flip the beast onto its back.

It is my first day of raft guide training, and right now, I’m pretty sure it will be my last.

Continue reading “Throw bags, throw up, and other things I did this summer”